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Now, tests on to find source of uranium


Amrita Chaudhry

Posted: Mon Apr 06 2009

High levels of radioactive element in special children: Experts collect water samples

After finding high levels of uranium in the hair samples of differently-abled children, experts have now sent water samples for testing to find the source of this radioactive element.

Experts and doctors working at Baba Farid Centre for Special Children along with metal toxicologist Dr Caren Smith, who is also a neuro-nutritional specialist working for Defeat Autism Now (DAN), a UK-based NGO, found high levels of the toxic element in children who come for treatment to this centre.

The water samples collected from Faridkot and adjoining areas have been sent to a Germany laboratory for testing. Dr Smith, who was at the centre recently, had said, "We have taken hair samples of 149 children. The problem that is baffling us is the presence of uranium in Punjab, as it is a radioactive chemical and can come from a radioactive source only, which we do not have in Punjab. The nuclear plants in Kota in Rajasthan and the one in Pakistan are the only ones which are close by.

We are conducting tests to establish the sources of uranium."

Dr Smith added, "This does not rule out the presence of other chemicals in these children. Disabilities, like autism, have found to have a link with mercury, which is found in immunisation injections, like BGC. Now one chance could be that with these immunisations, the detox ability of certain children is destroyed, thereby making their bodies sponges that absorb more toxic elements." His team has also taken urine samples of 43 more children.

Trace Minerals, a lab in Germany, had discovered uranium in children's hair. The finding may also provide a fresh insight into the cancer incidence in Punjab's Malwa belt.

Dr Pritpal Singh, a naturopath managing an NGO, Baba Farid Centre for Special Children in Faridkot, said high level of uranium may cause birth deformities, mental retardation, cancer, intestinal ulcer, impotence and infertility among women. He said the winds coming from Afghanistan carry high quantity of uranium and countries like China, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan were getting affected by it.

The experts said urine tests confirm one hundred times higher traces of uranium among people in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan than those hailing from some other parts of the world.

Medical experts hint that kidney and bone are the primary sites of uranium accumulation, but it also deposits in liver and spleen. The primary symptom of uranium excess is chronic fatigue.

Why hair?

Essential, nonessential and potentially toxic elements are secreted in hair. Hair analysis may provide an indirect screening for physiological excess, deficiency or mal-distribution of elements in the body. Clinical research indicates that hair levels of specific elements, particularly cadmium, mercury, lead and arsenic, are highly correlated with pathological disorders

GNDU to conduct research on uranium-induced disorders

Concentration in water samples was seven times beyond permissible limit

The state that is already reeling under the ill-effects of heavy pesticide usage in agriculture now has another issue to tackle: presence of uranium in its environment.

After the district administration, now researchers from Guru Nanak Dev University will carry out a detailed project to establish a link between high incidence of health disorders and presence of uranium in water.

The study will be jointly conducted by researchers of Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, and Kheti Virasat, an NGO.

According to Dr Surinder Singh, a senior geo-physicist at GNDU, recent discovery of uranium in hair of special children was not unexpected. He says, "The university has already established presence of uranium in water and soil of this area. The researchers will now probe the link between exposure to uranium and health disorders."

RO systems in Moga: Deputy CM proposes, CM disposes, public suffers

Amrita Chaudhry

Thu Jul 15 2010,

The government may admit to being hounded by the problem of toxins found in the potable water supplied to many areas of the state, but it seems to be completely confused and clueless on what should be the solution. As a result, months after Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced that the government would install water purification systems with reverse osmosis (RO) technology in the Malwa belt, most affected by water pollution, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said Moga did not need this.

And completely oblivious of all this, Lok Sabha member from this region Bibi Gulshan Kaur, during her recent visit to Bhagapurana, reiterated that the government would install RO systems in the region. This, when the civic body concerned has already returned the grant received for the purpose.

Nihalsinghwala and Baghapurana are some of the worst affected areas in the Malwa belt where water samples have regularly failed. According to a report filed by the district health department, people living in these areas suffer from diseases like hepatitis and cancer. A recent study by the Baba Farid Centre for Special Children, too, finds uranium and arsenic in the water samples collected from Nihalsinghwala.

In the December session of the Vidhan Sabha, Niahlsinghwala legislator Ajit Singh Shant had raised the issue of setting up RO systems in his area. The former Akali leader, who won the last Assembly elections as an Independent, says: “It may sound strange but the Punjab government’s survey conducted a couple of years ago and even the reports of Punjab Agricultural University and other institutes show that water in Nihalsinghwala is not fit for drinking . But when I raised the issue in the Vidhan Sabha, the reply I got was that the government had tested the water samples collected from Moga district and found it fit for drinking.” Shant adds: “What is worse is that Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had sent grants to this area in the early 2009 to carry out development projects. Rs 1.5 crore was to be spent on infrastructure, while Rs 50 lakh was to be spent on installing RO systems. But after the CM’s statement in the Assembly, the municipal council decided to return the money to the government.”

“We do not know whom to believe. The son sends money for RO systems, the CM says there is no need for this as the water here is fit for drinking. Their own survey belies this claim and people in this area are suffering from diseases,” he says.

Shant has threatened to launch an agitation if the government did not install RO systems at the earliest.

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