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Study finds carcinogenic chemicals in Dhaka’s water supply

  • Published at 04:54 pm January 23rd, 2021
Water
Collected

The study was carried out by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO)

A recent study of Dhaka’s water supply has found the presence of a number of toxic chemicals, including carcinogenic compounds, posing risks to public health in the capital.

According to the PFAS Bangladesh Situation Report 2020, traces of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) were found from samples taken from two specific areas of the capital and one from its surrounding area.

Stockholm Convention Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee in 2017 established the link between PFOA and serious illnesses in humans, including high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension, while PFOS has been identified as extremely persistent and has shown no degradation under any environmental condition that has been tested. 

These two chemicals along with other PFAS together cause more dangerous effects in human health.

The study was carried out by the Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) and water samples were taken from Dhaka’s Lalmatia and Banani areas and Savar’s Panpara Bazar in 2019, which were tested at Brown University in the United States.

Both PFOA and PFOS are in the polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals group. 

The report found 8 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA in samples taken from Lalmatia, 6.8 ppt in Panpara and 5.18 ppt in Banani. As for PFOS, 2.3 ppt was found in Lalmatia's sample, 2.6 ppt in Panpara and less than 1ppt in Banani, reports a national daily.

ESDO report also tried to identify the most harmful 13 chemicals of the PFAS group in tap and surface water in Dhaka and its surroundings, it said.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has established the health advisory levels for the chemicals at 70 ppt. The European Union regulated the use of PFOA and PFOS, and different states of the USA have fixed different limits of PFAS level in drinking water. 

PFOS and its related substances are used in a variety of products and processes including firefighting foams, carpets, leather goods, upholstery, packaging, industrial and household cleaning products, pesticides, photographic applications, semiconductor manufacturing, hydraulic fluids, catheters, and metal planting, the report mentioned.

PFOA is used to make non-stick pans, and is found in different products including textiles, fire-fighting foams and medical devices. PFOA-related compounds, including side-chain fluorinated polymers, are used as surfactants and surface treatment agents in textiles, paper and paints, and firefighting foams, it added.


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