A government deputy has suggested that the state waterworks authority create a map showing the levels of arsenic in groundwater in order to prevent further pollution of drinking water.
“Arsenic levels should be charted immediately and a data map of arsenic in groundwater should be created, as in the United States,” Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputy professor Mustafa Öztürk said, describing his proposal for the State Waterworks Authority, or DSİ, in his article “Arsenic Level in Drinking Water and Its Effects on Health.”
Defining “purification” as a simple and economic way to clean up arsenic pollution in drinking water sources, Öztürk argued that it was not accurate to classify water in drinking water networks as “unfit for drinking.”
Discussions about the arsenic concentration of Turkey's water sources began when the city of İzmir's tap water exceeded the legal limit for arsenic levels.
Emet and Eşme regions sound alarm about drinking water
“Due to global warming, groundwater use has increased recently. Since water is drawn from wells above their capacity, the quality of the water decreases,” Öztürk said, drawing attention to the high number of legal and illegal wells in Turkey.
He also warned local authorities, including municipal officials in İzmir, against transferring water with arsenic pollution to drinking water networks without treatment. A drastic increase in the arsenic concentration in İzmir's water sources is shown when the previous and present arsenic levels are compared. The article said the arsenic concentration had recently risen from 3 micrograms/liter to between 35 and 39 microgram/liter. “Especially the arsenic concentrations in groundwater in the Emet and Eşme regions are very high; the water in the region should be purified before it is transferred to the drinking water network,” Öztürk wrote in his article.
Arsenic triggers cancer risk
Öztürk's article also drew attention to the fact that cancer risk increases in line with arsenic rates in water, and cited a U.N. report from 2006 that lists Turkey, Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile and China as countries where the arsenic concentration in water is very high.
The maximum arsenic level in drinking water is determined as 10 micrograms/liter by the European Union and the World Health Organization. The use of drinking water with an arsenic concentration higher than the determined level may cause skin, lung, bladder, kidney and thyroid cancers, the article said, and stressed that an arsenic rate of 10 to 11 micrograms/liter in children and 30 microgram/liter for adults may bring about mental deficiency. “Arsenic components do not enter the body through skin contact or hand washing and washing,” Öztürk claimed.
Children hospitalized due to water pollution, claims say
Meanwhile, the number of infants to 15-year-old children hospitalized with vomiting and diarrhea complaints rose to 310 in Manisa's Kırkağaç district. Medical personnel from the Akhisar and Soma districts were sent to Kırkağaç as reinforcements.
While local authorities confirmed the children's lives were not threatened, the families claimed they had experienced a water outage due to construction work on the drinking water line for the Aksu region and that the children's complaints appeared after the water outage had ended. Following the complaints, municipal employees started to warn inhabitants against drinking tap water.