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Monday, October 15, 2007

Third World Groundwater pollution

Groundwater pollution is the movement of contaminants through the subsurface soil and groundwater. Everywhere we go we have water flowing beneath our feet at a variety of depths and i a variety of strata.

Gdoundwater pollution is more dangerous because as wiki puts it well:

Groundwater pollution is much more difficult to abate than surface pollution because groundwater can move great distances through unseen aquifers. Non-porous aquifers such as clays partially purify water of bacteria by simple filtration (adsorption and absorption), dilution, and, in some cases, chemical reactions and biological activity: however, in some cases, the pollutants merely transform to soil contaminants. Groundwater that moves through cracks and caverns is not filtered and can be transported as easily as surface water. In fact, this can be aggravated by the human tendency to use natural sinkholes as dumps in areas of Karst topography.

Developed nations generally have good controls on controlling and investigating sources of groundwater pollution. However, for developing countries, these issues are not of top priority. For them, the top priority is typically economy. Some third world places with groundwater pollution do not realize they have groundwater pollution or if they do then they don't have the capicity or means to stop it at the source.

As a case study take a look at the sources of drinking water pollution in Pakistan ( all of them explained on the WWF website):

  • Muncicpal wastewater
  • Industrial
  • Agricultural
  • Landfill leechate

So as mentioned before the issues are the lack of will, means or sources for third world countries to provide clean drinking water to their population. One way to clean water is to provide clean water downstream by purifying contaminated water but depending on the level of contamination, that may not be possible specially given that the third world lacks techniques to purify water on a large scale and sometimes even on a small scale. However there is good work being done and some charities from the developed world provide downstream solutions. For example:

However preventing the pollution at it;s source remains a challenge and sometimes multi national companies are responsible for huge catastrophic disasters in the third world. For example;

Oil companies in Nigeria
Chemical companies in India
and many more ...

Listed below are the 10 most polluted cities in the world in alphabetic order ( surprise surprise-most of these are in the third world):
Chernobyl (Ukraine) | Dzerzinsk (Russia) | Haina (Dominican Republic) | Kabwe (Zambia) | La Oroya (Peru) | Linfen (China) | Mailuu-Suu (Kyrgyzstan) | Norilsk (Russia) | Ranipet (India) | Rudnaya Pristan (Russia)

Lot of work and awareness needs to be spread in the third world about groundwater pollution. however as with other issues political will, resources, technical skills, etc are issues that need to be tackled as well.

You can help by spreading awareness, donating money and writing letters to your local leaders to help reduce pollution in the third world.

LIsted on this page are some useful charities.


Humairah Irfan said...

Go blog action day!

Anonymous said...

This is really a worldwide problem, and getting worse every day in industrialized countries, and even in third world countries where industry in starting up, whether it is multi-national or local. The answer is local, however, each community recognizing the problems and fighting to correct it, as you said.

Ya Haqq!

garauzo@email said...

The years 2006 and 2007 the Blacksmith Institute have accomplished a research about the cities more contaminated to the world and arrived to the conclusion that the Oroya city was between the 10 cities more polluted of the world and, the environment Graffiti 2008 said that is between five more pollute too to the world and the 2008 Blacksmith Institute and Green Cross Switzerland say that Oroya is between the most polluted of the world. This qualifications are benevolents; according to my researchs to many years who I am publishing, the Oroya city is the more polluted to Peru, Latin America and of the world and every day is being more polluted: lead in blood in children in the Ancient Oroya in average 53.7 ug/dl ( DIGESA 1999); pregnancies women 39.49 ig/dl ( UNES 2000), new borns children 19.06 ug/dl, puerperal 319 ug/100 grams/placenta ( Castro 2003) and workers 50 ug/dl ( Doe Run 2003).Top lead in blood accepted 10 ug/dl; present day is 0 ug/dl ( Pediatric of Academy to USA)
When the Oroya city was in hands to the CentroMin eliminated only by the upper chimney to 167.500 meters, in average by day in tons: sulfur dioxide 1000, lead 2500, arsenic 2500, cadmium 40, particulate matter 50 and so on, more 24,000 to toxis gas product to the incomplete combustion of the coal, without count it is eliminated by industrial incinerator y by the 97 smalls chimneys, it is estimated 15,000; overall 45,000 tons for day (PAMA . El Complejo Metalúrgico de la Oroya, 1996); other research say that by this chimney only eliminate overall 119¨917,440 tons too every day to a velocity to 8.7 meters by second ( Chuquimantari C. Yauli-La Oroya Minería y Ciudades Empresas Pág. 57, 1992)
Doe Run envoy every three months the concentrations of the heavy metals to the Ministry to the Energy and Mines and with the sames datums Ceverstav have demostrated the pollution was increased; for example the sulfur dioxide it have increased in near to 300 %, by increment to the production (Cederstav. La Oroya no Espera 2002
The American Association to the Environment say that the environmental quality to the Oroya it is serious deteriorated since that Doe Run was owner and the same enterprise
declared that the concentrations of the heavy metals gas it is ncreased in the air: lead 1160 %, cadmium 1990 % and arsenic 6006 % (Portugal, et al. Los Humos de Doe Run 2003)