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Experts reject report on uranium traces

 

Bathinda, July 27

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) report on uranium in Faridkot and Amritsar areas is being opposed by experts of the state. The BARC team had taken samples of water, soil, vegetation and hair of children to detect the uranium and the report states the level of uranium was not alarming.

Dr Pritpal Said “Coal has natural uranium and when burnt it vapourises and gets deposited on fly ash coming from thermal plants. A pond is used to extract uranium from fly ash. China is doing it. The two ponds at the thermal plants here are not controlled properly it seems. So uranium concentration here is high,.

He said Bengal had three power plants and uranium concentration in plant area was high. When it was detected, the government shut the plants were shut till way to control uranium level was found.

Dr Pritpal , said the BARC did not take samples from across the state and saying that water of the state did not have alarming levels of uranium was wrong. Acceptable limit of uranium according to the World Health Organisation is 15 micro grams per litre, and the BARC has reported 224 micro grams in some samples.

“The state government had got samples tested for uranium in Chandigarh too and high level of uranium was detected. There are no fixed limits of uranium in soil and air as these have natural uranium, but high level in water affects crops too. I feel the BARC report is an eyewash. We have started investigation into this,” Dr Surinder Singh added.

To control uranium concentration in Punjab, Dr Dhillon said the PSEB should be involved and fly ash ponds regulated. SK Malhotra, Head, Public Awareness Division, BARC, said today the BARC had plan to examine ground water in Punjab and Punjab was not the only state with high uranium concentration in India.

FARIDKOT: In the wake of discovery of high level of uranium and other heavy metals in hair samples of 80% of 149 neurologically-disabled children, samples of five children from worst-affected village of Teja Rohela, near Fazilka — with maximum density of congenitally mentally and physically challenged children — have been sent to Microtarce Mineral Lab Germany by the Baba Farid Centre for Special Children, Faridkot. Experts say that the results from the village would be more alarming.

While high concentration of uranium is attributed to use of depleted uranium in the Afghan war by US, the problem appears to be due to continuing of release of effluents in natural water channels, something which the government machinery has failed to check. The report from Germany on water samples from Budha Nullah has revealed heavy metal content as quite high and the presence of uranium one-and-a-half times more than the reference range.

"Toxicity of single element may not be that harmful, but when heavy metals are coupled with uranium, the toxic effect increases manifold," said Dr Amar Singh Azad, a paediatrician working on neurological disorders in children at Baba Farid Centre at Faridkot. Budha Nullah and Chitti Bein carry industrial waste into river Sutlej; its waters are used by the people in Malwa and parts of Rajasthan.

The report from German laboratory has revealed that if chromium was present over 50 times the reference range, aluminium and iron content was 20 and 60 times higher than the set parameters. The samples from Budha Nullah also have high concentration of silver, manganese, nickel and lead.

In Teja Rohella, over 100 children are mentally and physically challenged. And, going by the symptoms in these children, the results of samples from here are expected to be more alarming. While three of the children are mentally retarded, one is suspected to have motor neuron disease and another suffers from severe allergy of skin and eyes. Two samples of groundwater from hand pumps of the village , used by its residents, have also been sent.

"We expect the results can be more alarming," said Dr Azad and Pritpal Singh, president of the centre. They added that because the 149 children included in the study earlier were from different parts of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan , more studies should be conducted by the government.

Another alarming factor from the 2009 study is that uranium has entered the food chain and its concentration has gone beyond safe limits. Published in Indian Journal of Physics in August 2009, the study by Mukesh Kumar, Sangeeta Prasher and Surinder Singh from department on uranium analysis collected from Bathinda analysed uranium content in mustard seeds, wheat and milk samples and found that it would pose significant health hazard.

The study published in IJP has found that the measured values of the uranium content were found to vary from 0.38 mBq/g in mustard seeds to 4.60 mBq/g in wheat. In case of milk, the uranium content was found to vary between 28.57 to 213.36 mBq/g. This translates into a daily dietary intake of 0.90 Bq/day.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2805890/

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