Consumers subjected to ‘serious health risks’

Millions of residents in Old Town of Dhaka are exposed to serious health risks such as cancer through the water supplied to them by the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, according to experts.
The water used by many living in Old Town comes from the River Buriganga and is treated at the Chandnighat Water Treatment Plant, installed in 1874, which experts say is not equipped to treat the highly contaminated water containing untreated chemical wastes and other kinds of sewage.
Public health experts also claim that the presence of toxic heavy metals in the drinking water may cause cancer.
The first water treatment plant installed at Chandnighat during the British period still supplies 3.9 crore litres of ‘drinking’ water to the densely populated areas of Chandnighat, Sowarighat, Sadarghat, Begum Bazar, Mitford, Postagala, Islambagh, Lalbagh, Chawkbazar and other areas under the Lalbagh and Kotwali police stations.
The plant uses alum, chlorine, bleaching power and a coagulant to treat the water which experts say is not adequate to deal with heavy metals present in the water.
The plant was last renovated in 1997 resulting in an increase in the amount of water that could be treated,
A routine monthly test carried out by the Department of Environment at Chandighat in March 2011 indicates that highly contaminated Buriganga is ‘biologically dead.’
The dissolved oxygen in the river water is only 0.14 mg/litre when the acceptable level is 5 mg/litre, about 36 times the current level, it found.
The tests also found a high rate of both organic and toxic chemicals. It found that the chemical oxygen demand (COD) level was 120 mg/litre against the permitted level of 6 mg/litre and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) was 46 mg/litre, which is around 15 times higher than the permitted limit of 3 milligrams per litre.
‘The dissolved chromium and other toxic heavy metals found in the Buriganga cannot be treated through the conventional treatment method used in the Chandnighat water treatment plant,’ Professor Mujibur Rahman, a teacher of environmental engineering at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology told New Age.
‘WASA must test the heavy metal and other chronic parameters in the treated water that is supplied to the consumers and make the reports public,’ he added.
Professor Kazi Matin U Ahmed, a teacher of geology at Dhaka University, also told New Age, ‘Even the water extracted through the deep tube wells of Dhaka WASA adjacent to the River Buriganga must be tested as toxic metals have been found in the underground water near the Hazaribagh tanneries.’
He was referring to an area of a 2006 study, undertaken by two local and two foreign hydro-geologists, which found high levels of chromium and lead in shallow groundwater (10–20m below surface) in Hazaribagh.
Health experts warn that the high level of heavy metals and industrial wastes in drinking water and the high level of chlorine used to treat that water during dry seasons impose serious risks to consumer health involving their kidneys, livers, lungs, and stomach.
‘Intake of dissolved heavy metals like chromium, cadmium, mercury and others with drinking water create neuro-chronic effect in the human body and can destroy antibodies,’ Professor ABM Faroque of pharmaceutical technology at Dhaka University, told New Age.
‘As such heavy metals accumulate in human body, they can damage the kidney, heart, liver and other vital organs,’ he added.
He also said that these toxic chemicals can cause cancer.
A senior Dhaka WASA official admitted to New Age that authorities had never tested for any toxic chemicals in the treated water, saying that they only test for colour, acidity, cloudiness, level of chlorine and dissolved solids.
‘I do not know whether heavy metals can be found in dissolved form in water. We use a coagulant called Cat Flog for sedimentation of the un-dissolved heavy metals in the treatment plant to separate them from the supplied water,’ M Liaquat Ali, deputy managing director (research, planning, development) of Dhaka WASA, told New Age.
‘There be may a small amount of heavy metals in the treated water. I do not believe it is at a level to create risks. To improve the quality of the treated water, we add water from the deep tube wells installed in the treatment plant,’ he added.
Asked about the situation with dissolved heavy metals, he admitted that the treatment plant had no system to remove them and that he did not know how high their levels were in the treated water.
Mujibur Rahman was also doubtful about whether the treatment plant was capable of removing all the un-dissolved heavy metals as the levels in the river were so high.
Commissioned by the World Bank and WASA, the Institute of Water Modelling has carried out a variety of tests on Dhaka’s river water quality in the last decade.
The tests showed not only very low levels of dissolved oxygen, and high levels of bio-degradable organic pollutant in the Turag-Buriganga river system but also levels of other chemicals including ammonia and heavy metals such as aluminium, cadmium, lead, mercury, along with sulphates, said SM Mahbubur Rahman, principal specialist and director of the Water Resource Planning Division of the institute.
A World Bank’s unpublished 2008 report, citing a United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s (Unido) study, mentions that the chrome — contained in sludge and solid waste, especially wastes that is generated by the tanneries at Hazaribagh — is highly contaminating the Buriganga and its surrounding areas.
Geologists have also found hazardous heavy metals at high levels in the in the groundwater in the area.
There are small shipyards, dyeing units and small industries on both sides of the Buriganga between the Bangladesh-China Friendship Bridge 1 and 2, at Babubazar, Jinjira, Kaliganj, Postagola and Shyampur that discharge untreated washing and clinical wastes, used batteries, plastic bottles and containers, and other discarded plastic materials and burnt oil into the river water.
They also dump the useless solid wastes of crushed materials into the river.

 

Courtesy of New Age

Related News

PM opens country’s first metro rail

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formally inaugurated the country’s first metro rail this morning. She opened a section of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Line-6 by unveiling a plaque at the playground of Uttara sector- The PM’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana waved to the audience after the plaque was unveiled.

Bangladesh enters metro rail era

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh’s commuting system entered a new era on Wednesday as prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the first ever metro rail service in the capital. She inaugurated the operation of the first phase of the project, Uttara to Agargaon, from Uttara sector-15 playground. Marking the occasion, the prime minister also unveiled a ... Read more

The WB will revive Dhaka’s rivers

$20b project plan News Desk : dhakamirror.com The World Bank will lead a $20 billion project to restore Dhaka’s five rivers. “We see the World Bank’s imprint in countries where it has large-scale operations. Bangladesh lacks World Bank signage. It’s hard to spot the World Bank here,” Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal recalled his conversation ... Read more

Bangladesh lifts ban on visiting tourists

World Tourism Day today News Desk : dhakamirror.com The government is set to withdraw embargo on the visit of foreign tourists to Bangladesh as the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 on Monday recommended doing so if the tourists can show their ‘full vaccine certificates’ on arrival. Civil aviation and tourism state minister Md Mahbub ... Read more

UNICEF Bangladesh Ambassador Mim visits children affected by the floods

News Desk : dhakamirror.com UNICEF National Ambassador for Bangladesh Bidya Sinha Mim is visiting Sylhet this week to meet children whose lives have been upended by floods that ravaged northeastern Bangladesh in May and June this year, according to a press release Thursday. The widespread flooding affected the lives of 7.2 million people, including 3.5 ... Read more

Bangladesh plans to hire 6,000 social workers to improve child protection services

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Bangladesh plans to hire 6,000 additional social workers to improve the effectiveness of the provision of child protection services at the local level. This hiring will increase the workforce from the current 3,000 social workers to 9,000, representing a 200% increase in the number of social workers. The statement was made ... Read more

SSC, HSC equivalent exams for 2023 will be held on all subjects

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Secondary School Certificate, Higher Secondary Certificate and equivalent examinations will be held on all subjects and with full marks from 2023, said a circular issued on Sunday. Inter-Education Board Coordination Committee released a circular in this regard that was signed by its chief, professor Tapan Kumar Sarkar on Sunday. The ... Read more

SSC, equivalent exams begin today

News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Secondary School Certificate and its equivalent examinations for 2022 are going to start from today. Some 2,021,868 students are expected to take part in the examinations this year. Of them, 1,599,711 would participate in SSC, 2,68,495 in Dakhil, and 153,662 in vocational examinations. Some 3,790 centres were made available for ... Read more

International Literacy Day: Government now aims 100% literacy by 2030

News Desk : dhakamirror.com About 24.40 percent of adults aged 15 and over remain illiterate, although the ruling Awami League pledged in its 2008 election manifesto to end illiteracy by 2014. The goal of achieving universal literacy by 2014 was also set out in the National Education Policy 2010 created in 2009 by the AL-led ... Read more

Uber made BDT 45 billion in economic contributions to Bangladesh Last year: report

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Public First, a UK-based policy research firm, conducted the research and produced the Ubers 2021 Bangladesh Economic Impact Report, which was released today at a ceremony in the capital. The study shows how Uber is helping to transform the on-demand economy for users, driver partners and the general public by producing ... Read more

Tea workers return to work after 15 days

Many of them say Tk-50 hike inconsistent with current prices of essentials Mintu Deshwara After a 15-day work abstention, tea workers resumed work for a daily wage of Tk 170 yesterday morning. Majority of them expressed their dissatisfaction over the Tk 50 pay hike and said they resumed work as they had no alternative. “My ... Read more

Impact of climate change: 14.8 million people at danger of starvation by 2030

News Desk : dhakamirror.com According to the Global Food Policy Report-2022, 14.8 million people would be at danger of becoming hungry by 2030 as a result of climate change. The analysis, created by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says, 11.3 million people would go hungry in 2030 if climate change had no effect. ... Read more

National Mourning Day today

The nation is set to observe National Mourning Day today. The government and numerous political, socio-economic and cultural organisations have chalked out programmes to mark the 47th martyrdom anniversary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members. On this day in 1975, Bangabandhu was brutally assassinated by a group of ... Read more

Tea garden workers begin strike for wage hike

Zaman Monir Bangladesh Cha Shramik Union, an organisation of tea garden workers, went on a countrywide strike from Saturday for an indefinite period demanding a hike in their daily wages. Leaders and activists of the organisation’s Sylhet and Chattogram divisional units expressed their solidarity on Friday night with the organisation’s Moulvibazar unit that the daily ... Read more

Over 14,000 children die of drowning in Bangladesh annually: WHO, UNICEF

News Desk : dhakamirror.com In Bangladesh, more than 14,000 children drown each year, according to a joint media release from the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Over 14,000 children in Bangladesh die from drowning each year, making it the second largest cause of mortality for children under the age of five in the country. The ... Read more

HC bans rooftop train journey

Action against rail officials if passengers travel on train roof News Desk : dhakamirror.com The Bangladesh Railway authorities were criticized by the High Court on Thursday (July 21, 2022) for poor administration of the railway services, including ticket scalping, and it was noted that no passenger is allowed to ride on the train roof. “If ... Read more

Nation celebrating Eid-ul-Azha

Eid-ul-Azha, one of the biggest religious festivals of the Muslims, is being celebrated across Bangladesh on Sunday with due solemnity, a sense of sacrifice and religious fervour amid the Covid outbreak for the second consecutive year.The celebrations began with Eid congregations all over the country followed by the sacrifice of cattle head in the name ... Read more

No motorcycle registration without driver’s license

News Desk : dhakamirror.com On Tuesday, the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority said that starting on September 15, no registration number will be assigned to any motorcycle if the driver lacked a valid driving license.The order, issued by the authority, was given to inform people about it, said the BRTA director (engineering) Sitangshu Shekhar Biwas.Currently, the ... Read more

PM Hasina inaugurates Padma Bridge

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Padma Multipurpose Bridge on Saturday. The prime minister unveiled the inauguration plaque of the much-anticipated 6.15 kilometre Padma Bridge for vehicular movement at 11:58am at Mawa end. Speaking at the auspicious moment of inaugurating the bridge, an emotion-choked prime minister remembered Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the family members ... Read more

Physical work of Bangladesh’s First underground metro rail to begin in Sept

News Desk : dhakamirror.com Physical work on Bangladesh’s first underground metro rail, formerly known as Mass Rapid Transit Line-1, or MRT-1, will start within September this year. MAN Siddique, managing director of Dhaka Mass Transit Company Ltd, revealed the information at a press conference at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre in Dhaka, on Wednesday. He said ... Read more