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

about 250 million people in urban India drink municipal water, which is treated and disinfected before being supplied. A recent study shows the chemicals used for treatment methods might give the

Another 80 new patients, all of them garment factory employees, were diagnosed with gastroenteritis (GE) on Tuesday. With this, 204 employees of the Embee Apparels garment factory have taken ill after drinking contaminated water. The jurisdicational police have taken up a case. The factory manager was arrested and released on bail, and police are awaiting laboratory reports. "All the patients are stable right now,' said ESIMS Director Dr Rahimunnisa.

Unsafe for consumption: Samples of contaminated water drawn from well at a house in Sai Nagar in Thoraipakkam. Dumping of garbage in the heart of the Pallikaranai Marshland (Perungudi Dumping Yard in official parlance) and letting out of untreated sewage from different sources into the Buckingham Canal have resulted in an irreversible damage to the quality of sub-surface water in residential localities of the fast developing Thoraipakkam and Perungudi. On a visit to nearly half-a-dozen localities in Thoraipakkam on Monday, presspersons found that water drawn from domestic and deep borewells in Thoraipakkam was orange in colour and accompanied by a pungent, foul smell. Environmentalists fear that the problem is fast heading towards an unprecedented catastrophe in this part of Chennai. Residents complained that quality of water drawn from wells in Sai Nagar, Selva Ganapathy Avenue and Saravanan Nagar, among other adjoining localities, was consistently deteriorating over the past few years. Of late, the residents were forced to depend on water drawn from wells for washing clothes and cleaning utensils. Office-bearers of civic groups in Thoraipakkam attributed the problem to the dumping of garbage and the letting out of raw sewage. Residential areas in Okkiyam Thoraipakkam village panchayat and Perungudi town panchayat were the worst affected, said Periasamy, President, Sai Nagar Residents Welfare Association. At least, a few thousand wells in the areas were contaminated, a few residents of Sai Nagar said. They said while the affluent sections could afford expensive water purifying equipment, the poor were left with little option but to use the contaminated water for household purposes. In the absence of a complete, safe and protected drinking water supply scheme, even economically weaker sections have to purchase bottled water. Owing to the dumping of garbage, leachates seeped into the sub-surface and entered recharge channels through which groundwater entered the domestic and deep borewells. Leachate was caused by the percolation of waste from garbage dumped on landfill sites, said N.Srinivasan, environmentalist. The problem was not restricted to Perungudi or Thoraipakkam, but to far-off places, including Muttukadu, through which the Buckingham Canal meandered . Mr. Srinivasan said a study revealed that fishermen were deprived of their normal catch of fish as a large number of fishes died owing to the sewage content in the Kovalam creek. Mr. Periasamy said the laying of the Pallavaram-Thoraipakkam Radial Road had only made it easier for rural and urban local bodies along Rajiv Gandhi Salai (formerly Old Mamallapuram Road) and East Coast Road to dump solid waste on the fringes of the marshland. Putting an end to dumping and burning of garbage and ensuring the discharge of only completely treated sewage might, to a large extent, help reverse the trend, he added.

For years, residents in Khadki have been facing severe shortage of water. And the situation shows no sign of improving. Civic activists say both the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Khadki Cantonment Board have been passing the buck while doing little to improve water scarcity situation. Compounding the citizens woes, the water being supplied to some inner areas of Khadki is allegedly contaminated. Yuvraj Jain, a resident of Juna bazaar, says people have been affected by jaundice due to contamination of water during the early showers last year. "We get water supply only for 15 minutes daily and then it stops. How are we supposed to store it for the entire day?' says Kulsumbi Maniyar, a resident of Khadki bazaar. The Ram mandir area, Mangalya Society, Gadi Adda, and Depotline are some of the areas affected by water shortage. Also, drinking water is getting mixed with drainage water. According to Santosh Gayakwad, junior engineer from Holkar Water Supply centre, Khadki, "Drinking water gets mixed with polluted water due to unauthorised pipelines drawn underground. This is done at night so that nobody notices it.' When contacted, a KCB official said water supply is not under the board's control. He however said water tankers are ensuring that residents get their daily quota. PMC deputy city engineer Anil Talathi declined to comment on the issue.

At least 125 employees of a garment factory took ill after drinking contaminated water at Madanayakanahalli, Nelamangala on Monday afternoon. While four are in a critical condition, the others are reported to be stable. In this connection the Nelamangala police have received a complaint against the factory management. According to the information received, the ailing people were the employees of Embee Apparels Private Limited at Madanayakanahalli. In the afternoon they all had lunch and drank water in the factory. Half-an-hour after drinking water, they all started complaining vomiting and diahorrea. Soon the nearby primary health centre was contacted and subsequently the health department was informed about the incident. Before the ambulances could reach the factory, majority of patients were rushed to the ESI Hospital. The patients were earlier taken to the nearby primary health centre from where 94 employees were referred to the ESI Hospital, Rajaji Nagar. Four persons, who were suffering from severe dehydration, were rushed to the Lifeline Private Hospital from where they were taken to the Isolation Hospital on Old Madras Road. Sources said the sick people were diagnosed with gastroentritis (GE). Over twenty were treated at Raghavendra Nursing Home. Majority of the workers are the residents of Hoskur, Nelamangala, Lakshmipura, Hosahalli and Madanayakanahalli. On learning about the incident, former Chief Minister Yeddyurappa and former Congress MLA Narendra Babu met the patients at ESI Hospital and enquired about their health. In this connection some people lodged a complaint with the Nelamangala police against the factory management. Sources said that the officials from health department have taken samples of drinking water from the factory and sent it to the PHI for analysis. Besides stool and food samples have also been collected for lab testing. District health officer, Taluk health officer and district surveillance officers and staff are monitoring the situation at Madanayanakahalli and the ESI Hospital.

The Metrowater has claimed that sewage contamination in drinking water at Five Holes Bridge in Villivakkam was due to unauthorised tampering with water pipelines. This submission was made on behalf of the Metrowater General Manager Amudhavalli before the First Bench of the Madras High Court, which had directed her to appear before it on Thursday in person in connection with a public interest litigation. The PIL had been filed by P Cholaraja contending that because of the encroachments made on one side of the bridge and damage caused to the pipelines, sewerage coming under the bridge got mixed up with drinking water. On Thursday, in reply to a query from the Bench comprising Chief Justice AP Shah and Justice FM Ibrahim Kalifulla, the government pleader said on behalf of the Metrowater GM that water samples were collected and tested regularly and steps taken for preventing contamination. However, pipelines were being tampered with unauthorisedly, which caused contamination of drinking water, he said. Repair works were also being taken up as and when required. He also came forward to file an analysis and a detailed report on the steps taken to avoid contamination. And the Bench adjourned the matter till February 25.

The Madras High Court has directed the General Manager of the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board to be present in court on Thursday in connection with a public interest litigation petition seeking a direction to authorities to prevent contamination of the city's drinking water with drainage water. In the petition, which came up before the First Bench, comprising Chief Justice A.P.Shah and Justice F.M.Ibrahim Kalifulla, petitioner P. Cholaraja of Villivakkam submitted that the people of Chennai were using contaminated water supplied by the Board.

Underground drinking water samples at six different sites of hand pump at J.P. Nagar were collected and analysed for thirteen different water quality parameters following standard methods and procedures. Water quality index (WQI) has been calculated for all the sites using the statistical data of all thirteen parameters and WHO drinking water standards.

Weekly variations in free and total chlorine residuals and their impact on microbial concentrations were monitored for the IIT Kharagpur water supply to determine possible correlations between heterotrophic bacterial density, total and faecal coliform density, and total and free chlorine residuals.