New Delhi: As pictures and videos of devotees offering prayers in the Yamuna on the occasion of Chhath Puja emerged earlier this week, the toxic foam floating on the surface of the river not only led to a political slugfest, but among the medical community, it sent alarm bells ringing. Being one of the most polluted rivers of the country, taking a dip in its toxic water of Yamuna can lead to severe health consequences, say doctors.
Why is Yamuna water so toxic?
"Presence of Phosphates and Surfactants in untreated sewage from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is a major reason behind frothing in the river. These effluents find their way into the water through untreated waste water from unauthorised colonies. A major reason for an increase in the pollution of the river is poor connectivity between drains and sewage treatment plants. This has caused the discharge of untreated sewage at different locations of the river Yamuna and thereby breeding of these pathogens," says Dr Rajinder Kumar Singal, Senior Director and HOD, BLK-Max Super Speciality Hospital.
Symptoms you might have post that dip in toxic water
Here are some symtomps that you can show, says Dr Singal, if you have taken a dip in the toxic water of Yamuna:
- Since ammonia is corrosive, exposure to the pollutant can cause a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat including the respiratory tract
- Exposure to harmful concentrated amounts, even in limited concentrations, are enough to cause irritation in nose and throat.
- Short-term exposure to polluted water can lead to skin issues and allergies
- If ingested, these chemicals may cause gastrointestinal problems and diseases like typhoid
Other experts agree with Dr Singal. Bathing in the river's toxic foam can cause drying of skin, severe eczema, hairfall, conjunctivitis and other issues, experts point out.
Long-term exposure can lead to serious issues :
While the above are the impact of short-term exposure, long term exposure to heavy metals in industrial pollutants can cause neurological issues and hormonal imbalances, says Dr Singal, who adds that exposure to harmful concentrated amounts over a longer period of time can even result in lung damage, blindness or death.