About 15 years ago, scientists discovered the presence of high levels of arsenic in Madhusudankati, an agricultural village about 14 km from the border with Bangladesh. Deep inside India’s arsenic territory, the shallow groundwater in the village had about 1,000 micrograms (mcg) per litre arsenic in places. The prescribed safe level by WHO is 10 mcg per litre. When such water is consumed for years, either directly or through the food chain, the mineral damages organs like the skin, kidneys and lungs.
The most visible symptom of arsenic poisoning is a classic blotchy pattern on the skin, known as raindrop pigmentation. In the absence of safe water, this can develop into hyperkeratosis — dark crusts on palms and soles, which can further get infected and make it painful to work. Eventually, the skin can turn cancerous.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Arsenic is one of the 10 chemicals classified as a public health concern by the World Health Organization. It is a slow poison and causes skin lesions, damage to the peripheral nerves, gastrointestinal ailments, diabetes, renal (kidney) failure, and cancer. At least half the people known to be at risk of arsenic contamination live in the Ganga-Brahmaputra basins of Bangladesh and India (across the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Chhattisgarh). Arsenic previously occurred in a harmless insoluble conjugate with iron called arsenopyrite. Overuse has split this compound, contaminating groundwater with a soluble ionic form of arsenic.”
Exposure to arsenic is also found to be significantly associated with a 23% greater relative risk of coronary heart disease and a 30% greater relative risk of composite cardiovascular disease.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “There is a need to ensure periodic testing of water in affected areas and individualized testing of each hand pump or tube well. it is important to encourage people to opt for low-cost, local solutions such as rainwater harvesting to get clean drinking water. The government can also look at curbing the use of groundwater and keeping a strict control on agricultural and industrial effluents that pollute aquifers that recharge groundwater.”
Some of these topics will be discussed at the 25th Perfect Health Mela to be held between 23rd and 27th October 2018, at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium, New Delhi.
Some tips from HCFI
Travelers should avoid consuming tap water. Avoid ice made from tap water and any food rinsed in tap water.
Chlorination kills most bacterial and viral pathogens but not giardia cysts.
Boiled, treated, and bottled water is safe. Carbonated drinks, wine and drinks made with boiled water are safe.
Freezing does not kill the organisms that cause diarrhea. Ice in drinks is not safe unless it has been made from adequately boiled or filtered water.
Hot tea and coffee are the best alternates to boiled water. Bottled drinks should be requested without ice and should be drunk from the bottle with a straw rather than with a glass.
Boiling water for 3 minutes followed by cooling to room temperature will kill bacterial parasites. Adding two drops of 5% sodium hydrochloride (bleach) to quarter of water (1 liter) will kill most bacteria in 30 minutes.
Adding five drops of tincture of iodine to a quarter of water (1 liter) will kill bacteria within 30 minutes.
About Heart Care Foundation of India
Initiated in 1986, the Heart Care Foundation of India is a leading National NGO working in the field of creating mass health awareness among people from all walks of life and providing solutions for India’s everyday healthcare needs. The NGO uses consumer-based entertainment modules to impart health education and increase awareness amongst people. A leading example of this is the Perfect Health Mela; an annual event started in 1993 that is attended by over 2-3 lakh people each year. The Mela showcases activities across categories such as health education seminars and check-ups, entertainment programs, lifestyle exhibitions, lectures, workshops, and competitions. In addition to this, the NGO conducts programs and camps to train people on the technique of hands only CPR through its CPR 10 mantra for revival after a sudden cardiac arrest. They currently hold three Limca book of world records for the maximum number of people trained in hands-only CPR in one go. Keeping article 21 of the Indian Constitution in mind, which guarantees a person Right to Life, Heart Care Foundation of India has also recently initiated a project called the Sameer Malik Heart Care Foundation Fund to ensure that no one dies of a heart disease just because they cannot afford treatment.
For more information, please contact
Heart Care Foundation of India
Md Adib Ahmed- 9873716235