June 1, 2010 11:20:12 pm
Till now,the big villains in Delhis drinking water story have been groundwater and tap water. Water in bottles and canisters have for long offered the middle class the only option for clean drinking water. But it appears even these are not as pure as they claim.
While the Central Pollution Control Board does routine checks on groundwater and river water,a one-off study of bottled mineral water in Delhi reveals that the so-called pure water has significant levels of pollutants,notably coliform (faecal matter),a major pollutant in the Yamuna,despite claims to the contrary.
The study took samples from five major mineral water brands. It revealed that most of these brands had levels of boron and iron exceeding safe limits. But what is more worrying is the presence of coliform (bacteria) matter in the water. In fact,all brands had excess levels of coliform,and in some cases there were traces of coliform from human faecal matter,the kind of pollutant found in sewage water.
There is already a Bureau of Indian Standard certification for mineral water,but the CPCB report points out that this was not being followed. The question now will be who will check and monitor standards in the more expensive bottled water.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) traditionally monitors pollution in water considered public like the Yamuna river and groundwater. But as of now,there are no plans to monitor mineral water.
Actual raids to check on whether this water is following standards will not be under our jurisdiction. This can be done by the Delhi Jal Board or other agencies, says a senior official of the committee.
IN YOUR BOTTLE
Faecal coliforms are facultatively-anaerobic,rod-shaped,gram-negative,non-sporulating bacteria. Presence of faecal coliforms in water may not be directly harmful,and does not necessarily indicate the presence of faeces.
Increased levels of faecal coliforms provide a warning of failure in water treatment,a break in the integrity of the distribution system,or possible contamination with pathogens. When levels are high there may be an elevated risk of water-borne gastroenteritis. Tests for the bacteria are cheap,reliable and rapid.
The presence of the bacteria in aquatic environments may indicate that the water has been contaminated with the faecal material of humans or other animals. However,their presence may also be the result of plant material,pulp or paper mill effluent.
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