HYDERABAD: What are the health problems that arise out of drinking water contaminated with pollutants? Well, there aren’t many epidemiological studies to understand the impacts. A study that was published recently, conducted at Nacharam in Hyderabad, highlights the need for epidemiological studies to understand the burden of waterborne diseases in the State.
The study, conducted by researchers from St. Pious X Degree and PG College for Women, surveyed 363 people residing in areas like Indira Nagar, Errakunta, Ambedkar Nagar and Erkala Basthi in Nacharam. Many of them reported various health problems. For instance, 39 per cent of them reported hair loss, 10 per cent had skin rashes, 8 per cent had tooth decay, 6 per cent diarrhoea and 4 per cent had joint pains.
The findings on health problems was correlated with findings on contamination levels of piped water supplied by government and pollution levels of ground and surface water in those areas. Researchers found that piped water supplied by government in Nacharam had several contaminants —a wide range of fungus species like Aspergillus, Cladosporium, Curvularia, Fusarium and Drechslera.
Another study conducted in 2016 by Institute of Preventive Medicine reported presence of fecal coliforms in the water. While not all forms of fungi cause health problems in humans, Aspergillus causes serious infections on the skin and even in organs inside the human body, especially among people who already have weak immunity suffering due to some disease.
Testing of surface and groundwater by researchers revealed the presence of high amounts of heavy metals like Hexavalent Chromium, Cadmium, Lead and Nickel. A study published last year, conducted by researchers from JNTU reported the presence of Arsenic, Rubidium, Barium, Molybdenum, Chromium, Zirconium, Aluminium and even Lead in high amounts in the soil and groundwater of Nacharam.
Ingestion of these heavy metals is known to cause a variety of health issues, including those mentioned by respondents who were interviewed by the researchers. More dangerous health complications, however, are cancer and neurological development of children. When contacted, Dr Mala Das Sharma, head of chemistry department at St Pious X college who authored the research paper with Padmalatha P of biotechnology department, said, “Water in Hyderabad is highly polluted, as it was observed in studies conducted by us and in earlier studies as well. It will prove helpful if a city-wide such epidemiological is undertaken by government to understand its burden on public health in the city.”
What do studies say?
A recent study by college students found that findings on health problems was correlated with findings on contamination levels of piped water supplied by government and pollution levels of ground and surface water in those areas
Another study conducted in 2016 reveals that Aspergillus causes serious infections on the skin and even in organs inside human body, especially among people who already have weak immunity