’Matter of concern’: NGT directs TNPCB, WRD to file reports on ‘forever chemicals’ in Chennai waterbodies

Updated - April 19, 2024 12:42 am IST

Published - April 19, 2024 12:40 am IST - Chennai

The NGT directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the Water Resources Department, and the Environment and Climate Change Secretary to file reports on the issue. 

The NGT directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the Water Resources Department, and the Environment and Climate Change Secretary to file reports on the issue.  | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has expressed concerns about the presence of ‘forever chemicals’ in Chennai waterbodies. 

Taking suo motu cognisance of chemical contamination in Buckingham Canal, Adyar River, and Chembarambakkam Lake based on news reports on a study done by Indian Institute of Technology Madras, the bench noted that the presence of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — synthetic chemicals that do not degrade in the environment — in surface level waters, groundwater, and even treated water treatment plant near the lake. 

PFAS are known to have adverse health effects such as liver damage, hormonal imbalance, immune system effects, and even cancer.

According to the study, groundwater near the Perungudi dumpyard contained 2.72 nanogram per litre (ng/L) of perfluoro octane sulfonic acid (PFOS), significantly exceeding the EPA’s safe level of 0.02ng/L. 

Interestingly, it was observed that the concentration of all eight target PFAS tested increased in the treated water of the water treatment plant compared to the raw water. The study called for an advanced polishing treatment system that can remove PFAS from water as the conventional water treatment only makes them more prevalent.

“It is a matter of concern. You should take action,” the bench said and directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, the Water Resources Department, and the secretary to Environment, Climate Change departments to file reports on the issue. 

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