Hindu devotees take holy bath during festival of Ganga Dashara at Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar of India. The photo is taken from Wikipedia.
A dip in river Ganga can possibly cause cancer, the Times of India reports quoting a study by the Department of Atomic Energy's National Centre for Compositional Characterisation of Materials (NCCM) in Hyderabad of India.
The NCCM has tested water samples from the Ganga and found the river water contained carcinogens.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared that cleaning Ganga was his top priority. But more needs to be done than expected.
The NCCM which functions under the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) collected water samples from the river during the Kumbha Mela in January 2013 and tested them.
It was found that the water collected by the devotees for puja contained Chromium 6. "Chromium is essential as well as toxic. The toxic form of chromium is hexavalent chromium. We have determined its content in the Ganga water collected during Kumbha Mela. It was 1 ng/ml, almost 50 times the permissible limit," NCCM head Dr Sunil Jai Kumar said. Being exposed to such high levels of chromium can result in health hazards, including cancer.
The impurities were said to have mainly come from the Kanpur tanneries.
"We have to develop technologies that can cleanse the Ganga of chemical impurities. It can be done," said Sunil Jai Kumar.
A C Sahayam, who heads the bulk analysis wing at NCCM, demonstrated the system of purification of water containing carcinogens.
Sunil Jai Kumar explained the functioning of the National Centre for Compositional Characterisation of Materials (NCCM). He said the NCCM had also developed fluoride testing kits with which visual detection of fluoride would be possible. The government had transferred the technology to different companies and the kits were made available to the public at low cost.
From hospital waste like X-ray films, CDs, and batteries, the centre has also developed a method to extract silver.
The NCCM, which conducted studies at Moula Ali in Hyderabad six months ago, found that groundwater contained 100 times more mercury than permissible limits. Centre checks water on 22 parameters including heavy metal contaminants. "For the electronics industry, we have the technology to analyse high purity materials of 99.9999 per cent or more," Sunil Jai Kumar said.