A consumer looking for a water purifier is most likely to be confronted with a fusillade of quality claims. K J Nath, president, Institution of Public Health Engineers in Kolkata is not sure about their veracity. "A lot of the tall claims by private players cannot be substantiated scientifically,' he says.

The BIS drinking water specification (IS 10500:1991), which is a voluntary standard, was drawn up in 1983. It was last revised 17 years ago. A revision initiated in 2003, is still in its draft stage.

The presence of lead in water was harming the IQ of children in a big way and immediate steps must be taken to control this, said Giridhar J Gyani, secretary general of the Quality Control of India (Q

Some 90 illegal plants are playing with the health of Noida residents by supplying impure drinking water.

2 persons hospitalised each week; 25 fish released in contaminated water died BY V KRITHIGA Tirunelveli The villagers of Poolangulam (near Alangulam), are in deep trouble and confusion due to repeated illnesses caused in their village. Though the villagers argue that the illness is due to the contaminated drinking water, the panchayat chairman claims it to be the handiwork of 'some persons' who want to bring down his reputation. Since December 2007, an average of two persons are admitted tothe hospital every week due to diarrhoea and vomiting. A couple of days back, six villagers were admitted to the Primary Health Centre in Pavoorchatram with complaints of diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain. The villagers pinpoint the contaminated drinking water as the major cause of continuous illness. They were stunned when around 25 fish which were put in this contaminated water died recently. The village has a population of around 3,000. Two bore wells, one open well and water from a combined drinking water scheme are the sources of drinking water. The panchayat chairman, Navaneedha Samy first said, that 'some persons' had mixed an unknown chemical in the drinking water in order to tarnish his reputation for him but later said the illness was not due to water contamination but due to regular consumption of beef by the villagers. 'The villagers consume beef regularly and around 100 kg of beef is sold every day in the village', he claims. According to Ramar of Poolangulam, 'our village is going through a bad phase for months due to repeated illness caused by the contaminated water. The panchayat chairman doesn't seem to be bothered about the villagers and does not visit those who get admitted to the hospital'. The villagers want the district administration to intervene immediately and check the level of contamination. They want a strict warning to be given to the the panchayat chairman for his uncaring attitude.

Over 50,000 residents of Palampur and adjoining areas are being forced to consume muddy and contaminated drinking water as the water treatment plants of the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Department have virtually become non-functional. Though the state government had spent crores of rupees on the water treatment plants installed at Bundla village near the town but it hardly functions to the satisfaction of the residents, who have to consume contaminated and muddy water which carries mud insects and other foreign material. Many residents said when it rained the water treatment plant stops functioning and muddy and contaminated water was supplied to them. Officials of the IPH Department blame the power company which is executing a hydel project near the town to have damaged the drinking water sources by reckless cutting of hills and the entire silt and mud flow to the water reservoirs. The water tanks of the IPH Department are in a bad shape. There is no regular cleaning of these tanks. Most of the water tanks were full of mud, leaves and insects. In absence of the boundary wall stray animals freely enter inside the water treatment plant complex. These animals could fall in the water tanks any time. The officials of the IPH Department were unconcerned with the situation, it seems that no official had ever visited these water tanks. Official sources revealed that the state government had spent over Rs 3 crore on water treatment system installed for the town recently, but in the absence of proper maintenance and repair the plant was not functioning to the satisfaction of the consumers.

Provision of pure water has resulted in a marked decrease in the number of absentees BY D MADHAVAN For 3,000 students of the Government Higher Secondary School in Anakaputhur, pure drinking water is only a few steps away thanks to a water treatment plant on the premises. Allegedly the first of its kind in Kancheepuram district, the plant has been in use since December. There has been a marked decline in the number of absentees since the facility has helped provide safe water for students, thereby protecting them from sickness. We even allow students to take the purified water home, school authorities said. The facility, which costs Rs 1.5 lakh, can hold 1,000 litres of water. However, for every two litres of water taken for purification, one litre is left as wastage. Nevertheless, school authorities maintain this is used for saplings on the premises. The local body supplies the entire quantity of water for the school and electricity charges are met by the revenue allotted for the school by the State Education deparment, they added. The school, inaugurated in 1964, has 35 classrooms, including a newly tiled computer room. It is the only school available at the higher secondary level for thousands of students in Anakaputhtur municipality. Similar treatment plants are available

The objective of this study was to use data collected by Gonoshasthaya Kendra, a large nongovernmental organization providing health care to some 600 villages, to describe the epidemiological pattern of stillbirth and any additional contribution made by arsenic contamination of hand-pump wells in Bangladesh. March 2008

In this population-based study the researchers aimed to elucidate the effect of nutrition on As methylation among women in Matlab, Bangladesh, where people are chronically exposed to iAs via drinking water. March 2008

Inorganic arsenic (iAs), a toxic metalloid, affects millions of people worldwide, mainly from drinking contaminated water. Arsenic is a human carcinogen that targets skin, lung, bladder, and possibly other sites. iAs and its methylated metabolites readily cross the placenta and reach the fetus [National Research Council (NRC) 1999], producing effects ranging from developmental toxicity to cancer (NRC 1999; Waalkes et al. 2007). Thus, early-life As exposures are drawing escalating health concerns. (Editorial) March 2008