Archive for the 'waterborne diseases' Category

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Scientists Warn Of Citarum Pollution Dangers

Citarum River. Retrieved from:

“Sunardi, a lecturer in environmental toxicology at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java, said that if the pollution continued it would disrupt the river ecosystem, which could lead to the loss of fish and diseases for humans. “The first diseases that could hit people living along the river are skin diseases and diarrhea. If the river is heavily polluted by heavy metals, the effects are not be seen instantly. It will take years, even decades, to see the impact,” he said.

Gadis Sri Haryani, limnology director at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), expressed a similar opinion saying that if the Citarum River continued to be polluted by heavy metal substances, it could have results similar to the Minamata disease in Japan.

Minamata disease is a neurological syndrome caused by mercury poisoning. It was caused by the release of methyl mercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation’s chemical factory, which happened from 1932 to 1968. The toxic chemical accumulated in fish which were eaten by locals.

Symptoms include numbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision and damage to hearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanity, paralysis, coma and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms.

By March 2001, 2,265 victims had been officially recognized with 1,784 fatalities,and over 10,000 receiving financial compensation from the company. By 2004, the company had paid US$86 million in compensation, and in the same year was ordered to clean up its contamination.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

Citarum River Brings Fresh Water Along With Disease, Poor Harvests

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“The heavily polluted Citarum River has become a vector for disease for the 25 million people in western Java who rely on it for potable water and irrigation. In the first of three articles, The Jakarta Post’s Tifa Asrianti reports on the river’s deteriorating condition and its public health effects.

Nurhayati, 38, a resident of Sukamaju village in Majalaya, Bandung regency held up her right hand.

Compared to her smooth left hand, the right was wrinkled and had swollen wounds, making it look as if it belonged to a much older person.

“This has been going on for eight months. At night it feels hot and itchy. I can’t concentrate on my work,” Nur said.

She is one of hundreds of people in Sukamaju suffering from the same symptoms.

While medication obtained from a local health community center has helped other residents with the same malady, the problem will return if the residents continue to draw water from the river.

Citarum River traverses 269 kilometers through nine regencies and three cities. Of the 25 million people who depend on the river, 10 million live along its banks, split evenly between urban and rural residents.

There are significant agricultural activities along the riverbanks, interspersed with scattered industrial clusters.

Pollution in Citarum River raises health and food security issues, as residents living along its banks use water from the river for their daily needs.”

Read more: Jakarta Post

Yunnan’s Chromium Trail

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“The dumping of 5,000 tonnes of toxic metal tailings next to an important drinking source has brought to light years of illegal disposal of factory waste.

In mid-August, the Yunnan-based blogger Dong Rubin revealed that a nearby factory in south-west China – Luliang Chemicals – had dumped 5,000 tonnes of toxic chromium tailings on a hillside in the township of Yuezhou. The resulting water pollution killed fish and livestock, endangered the drinking water of tens of millions of people and attracted widespread media attention across China.

Speaking to Guangzhou’s Yangcheng Evening News, Dong explained the impact of the pollution incident: “At its highest, the most toxic type of chromium, hexavalent chromium, was 2,000 times over the limit. Contaminated water was flowing directly into the Nanpan River, which feeds the Pearl River.” The Pearl River is an important source of drinking water for the downstream city of Guangzhou.”

Read more: China Dialogue


How The Environment Agency Has Spun The News On River Quality

A clean-up operation of the Thames at Brentford, south-west London. Retrieved from:

“But we must take the EA’s words with a heavy pinch of salt. The Wandle, which it says has “become a vibrant rich habitat due to better environmental regulation”, was massively polluted only a few years ago when Thames Water spilled thousands of gallons of industrial-strength chlorine into it; and only three months ago 450,000 tonnes of raw sewage escaped into the Thames, killing fish and leaving pollution.

However, the greater spin is to suggest that these and other English rivers are in good nick. The 10 rivers chosen here have been carefully selected and do not reflect the true status of our rivers, most of which are suffering because of abstraction, sewage, blockages to fish passes and other pollution.

What the government has done is to measure these rivers via what is called the General Quality Assessment (GQA). This assesses the water quality by the levels of oxygen demand (BOD), ammonia and dissolved oxygen found in the water. By this measure, rivers are indeed improving across the board and it is correct to say there has been a steady improvement in quality for 20 years, with 70% of rivers reaching “good” or “fair” standard.”

Read more: Guardian


Unchecked Pollution Chokes Lebanon’s Rivers

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”Poisoned with effluent and often strewn with garbage, Lebanon’s rivers are grotty and unwell. They should be both a source of usable water and recreation, but a report published by the United Nations Development Program and the Environment Ministry in 2010 compiled data showing that rivers, both coastal and inland, contain unacceptable levels of raw sewage. In many, E-coli and coliform are not only above acceptable levels for drinking water, they are also above levels acceptable for bathing water as set by the Environment Ministry.

Blessed among its neighbors in terms of water potential, Lebanon’s contaminated rivers are both a source of sickness and disease and a contributor to the pollution of the country’s coast and marine life.

Haddad points out that the high concentration of heavy metals in river water can accumulate in the human body, affecting the nervous and digestive systems and damaging the heart and kidneys. Meanwhile Mark Saadeh, PhD, a hydrogeology specialist, recites a phrase well known in his profession: “The health of a marine environment is determined by the state of rivers.”
Read more: The Daily Star

Louisiana Paper Mill Spill Causes Massive Fish Kill

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“A rotten stench hung over a 60-mile stretch of Louisiana’s Pearl River as boats trawled through thick layers of hundreds of thousands of dead fish, and sweating workers bent to scoop the carcasses from the water.

The fish, including federally protected Gulf sturgeon as well as catfish and flounder, died after a paper mill in Bogalusa, Louisiana, released a high concentration of waste material into the river on August 9.

“This is really sickening,” said St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis, unable to hide his disgust at the view from Crawford Landing, 40 miles northeast of New Orleans.

The liquid material, which mill owner Temple-Inland Inc. refers to as “black liquor,” effectively sucked the oxygen from a large section of the river, killing every breathing organism within its reach, including the fish. Davis put the number of fish killed at hundreds of thousands.

More than 400 people worked from boats and the river banks over the weekend to clean up the river in 90-degree heat. By Monday, the water was nearly clear of carcasses, but a ban on fishing and swimming remained in place pending water testing.”

Read more: Reuters


Pollution In Ganga Claims More Lives Than Bomb Blasts

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“Today most people do not realize that nearly a million people living along the banks of the Ganga die each year due to illnesses caused by its polluted water…,”

“A few dozen people dying in bomb blasts in India becomes big news worldwide, and rightly so. But the tragic deaths of many people, who are dependent on the Ganga, goes unnoticed even in India. We must change this,” he said, quoting Swami Chidanand.

“Ganga is languishing in such polluted state that people hesitate to bathe in her waters even in Kashi. This is caused by reckless and ill-planned industrialization and urbanization, made worse by lack of elementary civic facilities in towns and villages along it,” Advani observed.

“In the upper reaches of the river, hydro-electric projects have caused considerable damage to the Ganga and its natural ecology, leading to drying up of long stretches of the river-bed and depriving the nearby villagers of their main source of water, he said.

Suggesting measures to clean the river, the BJP leader quoted Swami Chidanand, “We must launch a mission, which I call the 3-T Mission — toilet in every home, tap in every home bringing clean water, and tree-plantation on a massive scale in every village and town.”

“Millions of Indians abroad would be inspired if India takes up this comprehensive Ganga Mission. They would even be willing to make generous contribution to this project,” Advani said on his blog, quoting Swami Chidanand.”

Read more: Times of India

Kalamazoo River Oil Spill One-Year Anniversary

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“The Lakehead Line 6B re-opened in September, and today carries 1,020,600 gallons per day of medium to heavy grades of crude oil from Griffith, Ind., to Sarnia, Ontario, traversing southern Michigan under communities such as Niles, Mendon, Marshall and Howell, according to the company’s website. The affected portion of the river, however, remains closed to the public.

The cleanup that was launched in the days after the spill has recaptured nearly 90 percent of the escaped oil — more than 766,000 gallons —  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported last week.

A summer cleanup plan targets areas where residual oil was found and roughly 600 gallons of submerged oil has been recovered since work resumed last month, said Jason Manshum, senior adviser, community relations for subsidiary Enbridge Energy Co.

About 500-700 workers remain of the more than 2,500 government and company workers dispatched at the height of the response effort.

EPA’s cleanup costs to date: $29.1 million. Enbridge will be required to repay the government for all response costs, the agency reports on its website devoted to the incident.

In the end, no one was injured, groundwater supplying residential and municipal water wells has so far remained unaffected, and air monitoring has shown no serious persistent problems, in spite of a lingering odor along the site.”

Read more: mlive


Congolese Ignore Cholera Warnings

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“In any case, said Keto, he was not worried: he had drunk the river water and still felt fine. And in any case, he added, he had never heard of water making you sick.

Keto lives on one of the islets along the river Congo, a stone’s throw away from Kinshasa’s port of Ngamanzo.

Like a lot of other local people who don’t have running water in their homes, he uses the river not just for drinking water but for cooking and the laundry.

And in the the absence of decent sanitary facilities, the river also serves as a toilet, which only increases the health hazards.

The country’s latest cholera outbreak began in the northeastern province of Province Orientale in March, spreading west to Bandundu before reaching Equateur and Kinshasa.

Or to put it another way, it followed the course of the Congo river.

According to the latest official toll, the outbreak has already killed 279 people out of the 4,062 cases detected across the country.

The Ngamanzo dispensary recorded its first case in mid-June and has since recorded 15 cases in all, including a 35-year-old woman who succumbed to the disease.”

Read more: ioL News


What’s In the Water?

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“We like to believe that most tap water is safe to drink and that our state and federal regulators are on the job when it comes to ensuring that’s the case. But a new report from the General Accountability Office suggests that a lack of data from the states is causing problems for the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to monitor the quality of drinking water. The GAO found that states failed to report 26 percent of violations of water quality health rules and 84 percent of violations of water quality monitoring rules.

At the behest of Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the government watchdogs at the GAO examined the records of 14 states from 2009, looking for violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the 1974 law aimed at protecting public health. The report dinged “inadequate training, staffing, and guidance, and inadequate funding to conduct those activities” for the lapses. The report also included this frightening example of why water quality monitoring is important:”

Read more: Mother Jones