Panic spreads after mercury, cyanide detected in well water

A bore well in Kerala
A bore well. Photo credit: File photo/ Manorama
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Chottanikkara: The dangerous levels of mercury and cyanide detected in well water of Kureekkad area, near Chottanikara has set off panic among residents of the 20 households in the region. It is feared that a private gold jewellery manufacturing unit nearby is the source of contaminants.

After the residents complained of soreness and allergic reactions to water, especially amongst children, the officials of the Pollution Control Board found the presence of heavy metal elements in levels higher than the safe limit.

Wells within a 100-metre radius of a private gold jewellery manufacturing unit were tested after complaints were lodged.

The normal levels of mercury and cyanide in water are 0.001 and 0.05 mg per litre respectively. Tests revealed that wells in the Kureekkad locality, which is in Kerala's Ernakulam district, had 0.12 to 2.25 mg mercury and 0.07 mg cyanide.

Residents say neither the panchayat nor the health department had responded to this crisis. They allege chemicals from jewellery manufacturing unit are the reason for the pollution. The residents have decided to stage a protest in front of the unit on April 25.

The presence of mercury in water can cause kidney damage and will affect the nervous system. Cyanide severely damages brain and heart and may even cause death.

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