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Complaint based on BARC research: NHRC asks for report on levels of bromate in drinking water

2,August, 2017
 

The complaint is based on a Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) report that found high levels of bromate in packaged drinking water in 27 per cent of the samples they tested in Mumbai. Bromate is known to have carcinogenic effects, reduce weight and affect renal function.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken cognizance of a Mumbai doctor’s complaint about “high levels” of bromate in packaged drinking water. The complaint is based on a Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) report that found high levels of bromate in packaged drinking water in 27 per cent of the samples they tested in Mumbai. Bromate is known to have carcinogenic effects, reduce weight and affect renal function. While the World Health Organization (WHO) limits bromate concentration to 10 microgram per litre in drinking water, the samples tested had 10.7 microgram per litre.

The report stressed on the need for the Indian government to lay down standards for bromate, chorite, chlorate and bromide concentration in packaged drinking water under the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). The report was prepared in 2015, but with no action on it in the past two years, a Mumbai doctor on July 7 wrote to NHRC to take congnizance of the research. The NHRC has now asked the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) to submit a report on this in four weeks.

In the report, BARC scientists had analysed 18 samples of 500-ml commercially packaged drinking water. In five samples, they found levels of bromate to be higher than international standards. Levels of chlorate and chlorite were found within accepted range. “When I came to know about this report, I realised people are at risk of carcinogenic chemicals through consumption of packaged water. Government should have acted on the report,” the Mumbai based doctor who filed the complaint said on condition of anonymity.

According to Dr V K Pancham, attached with FSSAI (western zone), the permissions for manufacturing packaged water are currently based on IS document 14543, which lists a series of requirements to maintain turbidity, colour, and chemical composition of water. “We are not aware of the BARC research,” he said.

The state Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which routinely samples drinking water from hotels, hawkers and restaurants, has its own criteria for testing water. “The levels of bromate are mandated by international standards, not Indian standards,” a joint commissioner at FDA said.

If ozonisation is used to disinfect water, intake of bromate may range from 120 to 180 microgram in a day for those who consume it.

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