Although water is life savior, but in some of the states in India polluted water has caused health hazards and increased number of cancer cases. In rural Punjab water has turned into poison because of excess of pesticides in groundwater. A study has been carried out to see the effects of pesticides on the health of villagers and it has some alarming findings which are as follows.
- Evidence of genetic damage in some cases.
- DNA mutations in 65% of the blood samples.
- Significantly high rate of miscarriages among women and slow growth in children.
- High concentration of heavy metals such as mercury, copper, cadmium, chromium and lead in drinking water. Evidence of these metals entering the food chain.
- Pesticides detected in vegetables, blood as well as human and cattle milk.
- Gastrointestinal skin, eye, dental and bone problems significantly higher in these areas compared with villages not in proximity of drains.
- Early symptoms of neuro-toxicity.
Rapid industrialization has caused several worst impact on health. In a village which is 4 Km. from Amritsar town, children complain of rashes and boils. The drinking water in these villages has turned toxic due to high concentration of heavy metals. These chemicals have seeped into the villageï¿½s groundwater from the polluted drain water causing these unlikely ailments. No surprise, thereï¿½s also evidence of these metals entering the food chain. According to the study, pesticides have also been detected in vegetables, even in human milk and blood samples.
There is clear evidence that irrigation of fields with highly contaminated drain water and exposure to pesticides is leading the neuro, reproductive and geno-toxicity. The genetic damage may not be visible right now. But it will manifest itself in future.
Residents point out that the water they draw from hand-pumps turns yellow in no time at all. Part of the problem possibly dates back to the Green Revolution in the mid-60s and 70s when pesticide use became common. Since then, the use of fertilizers has increased manifold. But rapid industrialization without any attention to the possible fallouts on health is also a major factor leading to the current state of affairs.
Image under license with Gettyimages.com
Neelima Garg is Executive Engineer with Uttarakhand Jal Sansthan, Dehra Dun