Potable water highly contaminated in Mahabubnagar district schools

Updated - November 01, 2016 11:43 pm IST

Published - October 09, 2016 12:00 am IST - HYDERABAD:

Some of bacterial organisms cause severe diarrhoea and dysentery

Latest study by the Microbiology department of Palamuru University in the government schools of Mahabubnagar district finds high levels of contamination in the drinking water.

The study on the drinking water quality carried out in 64 government schools-- one in each mandal of the district-- shows water contaminated by thousands of bacterial organisms, well over the norms prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Some of them, as identified through further studies, cause severe diarrhoea and dysentery, which could compromise the physical growth of children and lead to stunting and malabsorption of nutrition.

As part of the study done for the Rajiv Vidya Mission, water samples were collected from the primary schools of all the 64 mandals, and assessed for various parameters related to potable water quality, including the presence of Colony Forming Units (bacterial pathogens), pH balance, turbidity, hardness, and presence of chemicals.

The presence of colony forming units (CFUs) was especially alarming in all the schools, except five. In microbiology, a CFU is used to estimate the number of viable bacteria or fungal cells which have the ability to multiply under controlled conditions, says Pindi Pavan Kumar, Associate Professor (Microbiology), Palamuru University who guided the study.

As per the WHO standards, the number of CFUs should not be more than 500 per millilitre for potable water from source, and not more than 100 per millilitre for purified water.

However, the numbers quoted by the study are mind-boggling, with the school in Farooq Nagar mandal topping the charts by recording 32,500 CFUs.

Another school in Chinnachintha Kunta showed 30,000 CFUs.

In 15 mandals, the samples revealed more than 10,000 CFUs per ml of water.

Only four mandals apart from the district headquarters had schools supplying water with less than 500 CFUs per ml, namely, Vangur, Kothur, Boothpur, and Gopalpet. The study said over 70 per cent of the samples were found not meeting the standards prescribed by World Health Organisation (WHO) in terms of bacteriological quality. “We sent some randomly picked samples to a private lab for genetic identification of the bacteria, as we lacked funds to send all of them. Coliform as well as non-coliform types were found in these samples, some of which caused diarrhoea and dysentery,” says Prof.Pavan Kumar.

Shigella, bacterium which causes Shigellosis, and Escherichia coli which causes diarrhoea, apart from those belonging to Enterobacter genus were common in all the samples, he revealed.

Presence of these in drinking water consumed by primary school children makes them susceptible to various kinds of infections, and proves perilous to their future health parameters, Prof.Pavan Kumar says.

Turbidity levels too were very high in the samples. While the acceptable limit of turbidity is less than one Nephelometric unit (NTU), samples from all the schools had levels much higher, with 12 among them crossing the 25 NTU mark, and 44 more touching 10 NTU.

While presence of harmful chemicals is by far not alarming, total hardness was found to be much above the acceptable limits in two mandals, namely Nagarkurnool and Lingal, the study report said.

It compromises the physical growth of children and leads to stunting and malabsorption of nutrition: study

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