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Uranium, metals make Punjab toxic hotspot

 

Balwant Garg, TNN, Jun 15, 2010, 01.25am IST

BATHINDA:

After discovery of high levels of uranium in hair samples of a large number of mentally retarded children in Punjab's Malwa region last year, another study suggests Punjab has become a hotspot of environmental toxicity of multiple types.

While a top German laboratory revealed that hair samples of 80% of 149 neurologically-disabled children, mainly from Malwa region, had high levels of uranium, a study by Greenpeace suggested that all the three major types of toxicity — chemical, radiation and biological — are rampant in Punjab.

The adverse health effects on plants, animals and humans are visible and some of the studies have proved this. "It's clear that Punjab is in a deep ecological crisis with its ramifications on socio-economic and cultural aspects of its population," said Dr Reyes Tirado, a scientist from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, who conducted the study in 50 villages in Muktsar, Bathinda and Ludhiana districts last year under a Greenpeace Research Laboratories investigation.

The study found the effects of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in groundwater in agriculture-intensive areas in three districts of Punjab. It showed that 20% of all sampled wells have nitrate levels above the safety limit of 50mg of nitrate per litre, established by WHO.

"Nitrate pollution is clearly linked with the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. The higher the application of nitrogen (urea) in fields, the higher the nitrate pollution found in drinking water from nearby well," said Reyes.

Among villages with high levels of nitrate pollution in drinking water is Doda, a village of Gidderbaha, the constituency of Punjab's finance minister Manpreet Badal.

 

Uranium, metals make Punjab toxic hotspot


The Times Of India Delhi; Date: Jun 15, 2010
Balwant Garg | TNN


Bathinda: After discovery of high levels of uranium in hair samples of a large number of mentally retarded children in Punjab’s Malwa region last year, another study suggests Punjab has become a hotspot of environmental toxicity of multiple types.


While a top German laboratory revealed that hair samples of 80% of 149 neurologically-disabled children, mainly from Malwa region, had high levels of uranium, a study by Greenpeace suggested that all the three major types of toxicity — chemical, radiation and biological — are rampant in Punjab.


The adverse health effects on plants, animals and humans are visible and some of the studies have proved this. ‘‘It’s clear that Punjab is in a deep ecological crisis with its ramifications on socio-economic and cultural aspects of its population,’’ said Dr Reyes Tirado, a scientist from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, who conducted the study in 50 villages in Muktsar, Bathinda and Ludhiana districts last year under a Greenpeace Research Laboratories investigation.


The study found the effects of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers in groundwater in agriculture-intensive areas in three districts of Punjab. It showed that 20% of all sampled wells have nitrate levels above the safety limit of 50mg of nitrate per litre, established by WHO.


‘‘Nitrate pollution is clearly linked with the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. The higher the application of nitrogen (urea) in fields, the higher the nitrate pollution found in drinking water from nearby well,’’ said Reyes.


Among villages with high levels of nitrate pollution in drinking water is Doda, a village of Gidderbaha, the constituency of Punjab’s finance minister Manpreet Badal.Anti-pollution laws only on paper in Punjab.


Bathinda: The fertile state of Punjab now battles grave chemical toxicity. Gidderbaha, the constituency of finance minister Manpreet Badal, is known for high prevalence of cancer cases. Two water samples in Doda found the nitrate levels at 94.3 mg/l and 72.8 mg/l, much above the WHO safety limit of 50 mg/l.


In Muktsar, the home district of Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, a state health department survey revealed that 1,074 people died of cancer between 2001 and November 2009 and 668 others are on their deathbed.


In Lambi, the home constituency of Badal, 211 residents lost their lives and 164 got afflicted with cancer in the last eight years, revealed health department survey report.


On Sunday, Germany’s Microtrace Mineral Lab had revealed high levels of uranium in hair samples of mentally-retarded children in Malwa region.


‘‘The hair results are surprising. We expected an arsenic exposure. Instead, over 80% of adult and children, many of which are suffering from cerebral palsy and mental retardation, showed pathological levels for uranium,’’ said Dr Carin Smit, a South African toxicologist who had sent the samples to the German laboratory in March 2009.


With no apparent source of uranium in Punjab, Carin added, ‘‘We were not testing for radioactive element but heavy metal toxicity, which results in illhealth and premature death.’’


Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, a known eco-activist whose relentless efforts led to resuscitation of many rivers in Majha area of Punjab, said the Punjab government is drafting anti-pollution laws only on paper and not implementing these against those causing serious type of water and air pollution.


He said harmful chemicals, including cyanide, was flowing from factories from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Phagwara into drinking water sources, particularly of the Malwa region and the adjoining Rajasthan, as a result of which disease like cancer was prevalent in these areas. Everyday, 1,144 million litres of polluted water was being discharged into the Sutlej by various drains flowing through these industrial areas.


‘‘Punjab has long been a hotspot of chemical toxicity. But now, with studies indicating high levels of uranium in hair samples, the situation is indeed alarming,’’ says Umendra Dutt, executive director, Kheti Virasat Mission (KVM), which works in the field of eco-friendly farming.


A report filed by V D Puranik, head of the environmental assessment division, Bhaba Atomic Research Center, about a year ago, had revealed the uranium content in water sample in the Malwa in the range of 2.2-244.2 micro grams per litre while WHOs safe limit is 15 microgram per litre.


‘‘Three samples exceeded the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) limit for uranium in drinking water of 60 micrograms per litre,’’ said Pritpal Singh, incharge of Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot.

Study confims presence of uranium in Punjab

The study was conducted by the top five toxicologists, E. Blauroc Busch, advisor of International Board of Clinical Metal Toxicology, Albrecht Friedle, CEO of Labor Friedle, Regensburg from Germany, Michael Godfrey, director of the International Board of Clinical Metal Toxicology in New Zealand, Claus E.E. Schulte, professor of Age Breaking Center in Munich and in Germany and Carin Smit, neurotherapist at Synapse Neuro-Nutritional Clinic, Town Square, South Africa.

Results from the study

The tests were carried out on the hair sample of 149 children of Baba Farid Center for Special Children in Faridkot by a German laboratory which confirm the presence of uranium residues and other heavy metals.

The results prove that children have been affected by the chronic metal exposure.

The researchers claimed that India has become a dumping ground for toxic materials which has further added possibilities to environmental toxicity due to the excessive use of chemicals in agricultural practices.

The study reveals that the presence of excessive amounts of uranium in the ecosystem of Punjab is due to the coal based power plants.

Joint efforts should be taken by the laboratories and governmental agencies to do follow up studies that evaluate early metal exposure in children who are living in industrial or environmentally endangered regions of the state.

 

Metal Exposure in the Children of Punjab, India

Authors: E. Blaurock-Busch, Albrecht Friedle, Michael Godfrey, Claus E.E. Schulte-Uebbing and Carin Smit

Publication Date: 12 Jul 2010

Journal: Clinical Medicine Insights: Therapeutics

Citation: Clinical Medicine Insights: Therapeutics 2010:2 655-661

Abstract

Our test results documented that hair and urine mineral analysis results support each other. This is of interest, because hair analysis evaluates past exposure while urine analysis detects immediate exposure. We evaluated barium, cadmium, manganese, lead and uranium in hair and urine. Our test results indicate that all of the children show evidence of past and immediate exposure to one or more metals. Hair mineral test results for the 114 children aged 12 and younger showed some type of toxic metal exposure for each one of the children; 88% exceeded the uranium reference range for hair. This indicates past and chronic exposure. After renal evaluation, 55 children aged 3–12 years who passed certain criteria were selected for urine baseline testing. Urine baseline concentrations are a direct reflection of immediate exposure. Of the 55 children, 47 showed elevated urine concentrations for one or more of the toxins listed above, demonstrating immediate exposure. DMSA is recommended as an oral antidote for lead and other metals. We selected 55 children aged 3–12 for a DMSA (Dimercapto succinic acid) urine challenge test. Our results showed that 98% of this group showed lead concentrations above the baseline level, demonstrating lead binding and excretion. The DMSA challenge did not affect barium, cadmium, manganese and uranium, suggesting that for these elements, DMSA may not be the chelating agent of choice. In summary, hair and urine mineral testing demonstrated that chronic and immediate toxic exposure had affected our test group of Punjabi children. The DMSA challenge test was effective in detoxifying lead, but did not affect barium, cadmium, manganese or uranium.

“Over the past 6 years I have seen patients in several countries who have been tested for heavy metal toxicity. Except for the 100 children in Punjab whose hair analyses exceeded reference ranges for hair, another 37 patients in 5 other countries yielded test results that exceeded the reference ranges for uranium, for the respective tests.

The country with the highest number of individuals exceeding the references ranges for uranium in hair, baseline urine samples and post-DMSA chelation samples was South Africa - showing past and chronic exposure. I counted 17 patients in South Africa with excessive uranium levels, 6 of whom have a diagnosis of autism (i.e. 35%). 4 Neuro-typical adults also had excessive uranium - all four had significant health challenges.

4 Children with severe learning disabilities and 3 with neurological damage (blind, oral apraxia, brain injury due to hypoxia) also had excessive uranium levels. In Ireland 6 patients showed excessive uranium - of these 6 individuals, 3 have a diagnosis of autism (50%, one with significant Learning disabilities and 2 are neuro-typical adults with health challenges. Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, had 9 patients which excessive uranium levels. 7 of these have a diagnosis of autism (77%), 2 are neuro-typical adults with health challenges and one is both autistic and has an inborn error of metabolism (genetic abnormality). In Botswana 2 patients had excessive levels of uranium - one an LD child and one a neuro-typical adult.

In South Korea 3 patients from one family in Daejeon tested high in uranium - one neuro-typical teenager, one neuro-typical adult and one teenager with psychiatric challenges due to Tamiflu medication during a bout of swine flu. Excessive uranium was most commonly found in mineral hair test results (27 tests (55%)- some patients were tested repeatedly over several years). The Post DMSA chelation urine test yielded the next highest excessive uranium results (13/49) and the baseline urine samples least often showed excessive uranium (9/49).

It would seem, from my experience with these 137 patients in 6 countries, that hair mineral tests are the most valuable measure to detect past and chronic exposure to excessive uranium. Though DMSA didn't effectively chelate barium, cadmium, manganese or uranium in the Indian study, it chelated uranium on 13 of the 49 tests done across the population in South Africa, Ireland, Bahrain, Botswana and South Korea (26.5%). Along with uranium, aluminium, antimony, arsenic, barium, beryllium, bismuth, cesium, mercury, palladium, platinum, nickel, lead, silver, thallium, tin, titanium, tungsten and zirconium were successfully chelated by means of DMSA. Arsenic, Lead, Mercury, Nickel and Palladium were by far the most successfully chelated toxic metals by means of DMSA across all 47 tests. Carin S. Smit - C/CMT - South Africa - Synapse Africa Neuro-Nutritional Clinic - carinsmit@eircom.net”

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In the wake of discovery of high level
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