High arsenic level in drinking water poses serious threat to Pak Punjab residents

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Islamabad, Mar. 1 (ANI): Rising level of arsenic in the drinking water is increasing becoming a serious threat for the residents of Pakistan's southern Punjab, as cancer, still births, post-neonatal mortality are frequently being reported in the region.

A joint research carried out by Tokyo Institute of Technology and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) found that the water samples in the Southern Punjab were having arsenic level above 10 ppb of the WHO standards.

"The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set a standard of 10 ppb for safe drinking water in respect of arsenic whereas the level of fluorides should be less that 1.5 ppm," The Nation quoted Dr. Attiqur Rehman, postdoctoral research fellow at AIST, as saying.

Dr Attiq further said that it was a matter of great concern that even in cities like Lahore, where the WASA claimed the provision of high quality of water, the level of arsenic was almost five times higher than the WHO standards.

The geological phenomenon is believed to be the main reason of its presence in the area.

However, groundwater contamination is also associated with the extensive use of pesticides and insecticides for agricultural purpose in these areas.

Arsenic is difficult to detect while ingesting, as it is tasteless, odourless and colourless and its effects are not immediately visible.

According to the official statistics of in Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Southern Punjab, 197,730 patients were given chemotherapy treatment, 33,789 patients were surgically operated, 362,579 patients got radiation therapy, 717,562 got imaging studies, 12,777,051 pathology tests were conducted in this hospital whereas pharmacy was dispense to 5,416,988 patients.

"There is a need to conduct some research to determine the relation of high rate of cancer patients from those areas where arsenic and fluoride level is very high," Dr. Attiq said. (ANI)

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