High iron content in water, a health concern for citizens

Environment Health

Rusted pipelines and eroding water tankers, raise the risk of water-borne diseases.

May 13, 2021 Sudeept Singh

Khurda: The residents of Retang Colony, Jatni, are worried about the quality of water they are bound to use on a daily basis. “The supplied water contains bleaching powder and churns out muddy with high-iron density, which is useless for domestic purposes,” said Rashmita Sardar, resident of Railway Colony Khurda.

“Iron is not hazardous to health but is an aesthetic contaminant. The permissible limit of iron is 0.3 mg/l (milligrams per litre),” said Swatishree Swagatika, Water Resource Engineer, Koraput.

According to residents, one can smell the iron in the water. We have to regularly change the candles of our water filters to get potable water. “The water turns muddy in the monsoon,” said Ms. Sabita Murmu, a resident of Retang Colony, Jatni.

“Water is extracted from Daya River, 40 km away from Khurda, and is administered by engineers of the Water Department,” said KC Sardar, the Chief Office Superintendent Engineer at Khurda. “Water stored for a day, undergoes halogenation to kill bacteria, viruses, and other microbes, after which it is further bleached and then transported, this process takes two days, after water is extracted from the river, ” he said.

“Water is stored in tankers before distribution which is the reason for the high iron content. The other problem can be the pipelines. If the pipelines used to import water from Daya river are eroded then it can start rusting and the quality of iron would be found in water, in the monsoons,” said Ms. Swagatika.

She said that the soil contains about 30-40 percent of iron. If the water flows through the mines which contain high iron it can dissolve in water and can seep through the soil. “Iron can be of two forms, either soluble ferrous iron or insoluble ferric iron. The ferrous form is normally indistinguishable, as it dissolves completely so one can see the water as clear. But when the water contains the ferric form it will change its colour to cloudy and reddish-brown substance begins to form when stored in a tank or when exposed to air,” she added.

Health Impact
“The intake of such iron content in drinking water in the long-term can lead to tooth stains, gastric irritation, skin rashes, bronze diabetes,” said Sumitra Panda, from Bijapur Lingayat District Educational Association’s University. “Long-term exposure to lead in the drinking water can lead to liver damage, muscle tremors, or high blood pressure,” she added.

“The consumption of high iron content in drinking water can lead to bone and dental problems,” said Mr. Bishal Kumar Majhi, Research Scholar at GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, Uttarakhand. “Halogenation leads to fluorosis, where fluoride is attracted to positively charged calcium in teeth and bones, causing health impacts,” added Mr.Majhi.“The odour of bleaching would exist in the tap water,” said Dr.Bibhu Prasad Panda, Ph.D. at Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (SOA). The water of Daya river is treated with halogenation and bleached, where the water needs to be still for a few hours to complete the process,” said Mr.Panda. Dr.Bibhu said that the tap water can be treated with RO(reverse osmosis) purification for drinking water purposes.