Mysore

Your drinking water is highly contaminated

Phthalate contamination in drinking water sources in the cityis becoming a major threat, reveals a study conducted by the National Institute of Engineering (NIE). Phthalates, among the most widely used industrial chemicals, are extensively used in formulations of pesticides and plastics.

Contamination of ground water due to the entry of domestic sewage has been observed at many places and bore wells present near open drains carrying sewage have shown severe contamination. The ground water in industrial zones is contaminated with a variety of chemicals.

The two-year research on water quality, precisely on phthalate contamination in different water sources, was carried out by post-graduate students and two faculty members of Department of Civil Engineering at NIE with funding from Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP), a world bank – MHRD initiative.

Drinking water samples were collected from surface and ground water sources and sample locations included residential areas of Kuvempunagar and Gokulam, commercial areas like Irwin Road and Hootagalli industrial areas. In addition the water samples were also collected from Kabini and Cauvery rivers, the two main sources of drinking water.

The study revealed the presence of phthalates, particularly Di-n butyl phthalate (DBP) in the range of 44 to 213 µg/l in the drinking water samples.  The DBP concentration in the samples is far higher than the safe limit of 0.6 to 0.8 µg/l.

The study found surface water to be more contaminated than the ground water with more concentrated DBP residues. The highest concentration of 213 μg/L was observed in the water samples collected from Vani Vilas Water Works during post-monsoon.

The high concentration of DBP can be attributed to unscientific liquid and solid waste disposal, and use of plastics. Plastics represent about 10% of disposable waste, the study reveals.

Samples collected from Cauvery River and its tributaries at different locations revealed significant presence of phthalates in the form of DBP. The concentration of DBP were in the range of 34 to 48 µg/l.

The high concentration of DBP in river water can be attributed to contamination from direct discharge of municipal wastewater, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, agricultural and industrial wastes besides storm water runoff and runoff from sanitary landfills.  Even grey water from washing cloths and cleaning utensils and leakage from the plastic products disposed of in environment are adding to contamination.

How phthalates are harmful

Pesticides and phthalates are the most prominent classes of endocrine disruptors causing some of the diseases including breast/prostate cancer, infertility, diabetes/metabolic syndrome, early puberty, susceptibility to infections, autoimmune disease, asthma, heart disease/hypertension, stroke, Parkinson disease, learning disabilities etc.

Plastics are widely used in India in drinking water distribution system and for the storage of water. This releases phthalates into surface and subsurface sources directly.

Thus there is a need for the constant monitoring of drinking water quality from public health point of view and also to develop a stringent policy for the usage of phthalates as a raw material in manufacturing of plastics, pesticides and cosmetics, the study says.

 Concentration of phthalates in water samples within Mysuru city

Sl No.

Location of the Sample

Sources of  water Sample

Concentration of DBP (µg/l)

Pre-monsoon

Post monsoon

1

Belagola (agriculture area)

Ground

44

174

2

NIE (institutional area)

Ground

57

134

3

Kuvempunagar (residential area)

Ground

47

135

4

Irvin road (commercial area)

Ground

83

208

5

Hootagalli (industrial area)

Ground

47

161

6

Gokulam (residential area)

Ground

87

176

7

Stream near Mysuru Airport

Surface

47

155

8

Vani Vilas Water Works

Surface

less than 25

213

9

Kabini River water sample from pump house (near Pinjarapole)

Surface

74

191

 

Note: Permissible Limit for Phthalates in general for drinking water sources:

  1. USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) Limit = 0.6 µg/l
  2. WHO (World Health Organisation) Limit =0.8 µg/l
  3. DBP (Di-n butyl phthalate)

 What are phthalates?

The worldwide annual production of phthalates is approximately 2.7 million metric tonnes.

They are used principally as plasticizers, to impart flexibility, workability and durability to polymers.

They also found in products such as adhesives, inks, and cosmetics as well as solvents in perfumes and paints and additives in hair-sprays and insect repellent.

They are physically bound to the polymer chains and they are released to the environment during production, usage and incineration of the polymeric materials

They are also formed as transformation products of pesticide residues and can easily enter the environment through uncontrolled disposal of plastics in open environment.

Phthalates have attracted increased concern due to its carcinogenicity and endocrine disruption.

Exposure to phthalates has an adverse impact on the level of reproductive hormones.

 

 

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