The Presence of Uranium in Excess in Bathinda Waters can be one of the Reasons of High Cancer Deaths in the District (Prof. Surinder Singh)*
Bathinda district, an important cotton growing belt of the state is in light since the last few years due to the higher mortality rate in the area. Giana, Malkana and Jajjal villages of Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda district are the worst effected areas. Various Government and Non Government agencies such as the Public Analyst, Punjab; Public Health and Welfare, Punjab; Punjab Pollution Control Board; Kheti Virasat; Greenpeace, India have focused their attention in the area as far as the health aspects of the general public are concerned. The Civil Surgeon, Bathinda has reported an increased occurrence of cancer cases over the last five years. About 70 cancer deaths have been reported to occur during the last five years only in Jajjal village and 25-28 patients are still under treatment at a Charitable Hospital, Bikaner (Rajasthan). The villagers attribute this high occurrence of cancer risks to unhygienic living conditions that prevail there and underground water, which is unfit and dangerous for human consumption. As per the report of Chief Agricultural Officer, Bathinda (Civil Surgeon Bathinda report, 2002) the commonly used insecticides in the villages of Giana and Jajjal are synthetic carbonate, organophosphatic and organochlorinated groups and pesticide in use is sulphas. There is no history of use of the drugs that could lead to cancer amongst these cases as reported by the Civil Surgeon Bathinda report (2002) and has attributed the higher number of various cancer cases to the better awareness about the disease and availing of better diagnostic facilities. Senior Most Professor, Department of Physics, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar Mobile: 9872325311; Res: 0183 2257007; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Though the awareness among the people and better diagnostic facilities may have explored the high mortality yet it was essential to find the actual cause. The presence of radioactive elements and heavy metals of toxicological significance in excess in the environmental samples especially water could be one of the reasons for the higher number of cancer cases in the region. Punjab Pollution Board has estimated some of the toxic heavy metals (Cr As, Se, Hg,) and has reported very low or negligible values. The values of pesticides were' also reported to be low. In light of the above facts when the concentration of heavy metal and the drugs is found to be low the only other possibilities for a large number of cancer deaths in the area could be the high radioactivity in the environmental samples. Keeping the above facts in mind the research team from the Department of Physics Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar Headed by a Senior Professor Dr. Surinder Singh thought of analyzing environmental samples viz. soil, water, food stuff and the blood and urine samples of the normal and the affected persons of the area. The water samples collected from the area were initially analyzed for uranium analysis using Nuclear Techniques viz; Fission Track and Laser Flourimetery with the help of the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre Mumbai. To our surprise a high content of uranium was found in most of the water samples. These values were much higher than the recommended safe limits set by various International Environmental Protection Agencies. Uranium, a toxic radioactive element, is found in traces in almost all types of rocks, soils, air and water. Uranium is soluble in aqueous solutions in hexavalent (U6+) form and precipitates as insoluble material in tetravalent form (U4+). The conversion of tetravalent to hexavalent form and viceversa is through oxidation reduction process in the suitable geological environment. A detailed toxicological profile has been published by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry...
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