Toxic water wells in Ho Chi Minh City pose cancer threat

By Le Phuong   September 30, 2016 | 01:55 am PT
Tests have revealed alarming levels of acidity and ammonia in the water.

Water samples taken from many wells in Ho Chi Minh City do not meet quality standards set by the Ministry of Health, said the city’s Preventive Medicine Center.

The proportion of residential households with access to clean water in the city is 91.13 percent. The remaining 8.87 percent, or some 168,000 households, lack access to clean water so they are forced to drill wells or take advantage of rainwater.

The center said that if the wells are drilled near contaminated areas, hazardous substances will seep into the water affecting the well-being of users.

Results from the center showed that 41.62 percent of samples taken were acidic, which can lead to skin diseases and digestive problems.

The samples were taken in the districts of Go Vap, Tan Binh, Tan Phu, Hoc Mon and 12.

More seriously, many samples had excessive ammonia content. The substance can combine with amino acids in the body to form nitrosamine, a carcinogen.

Last year’s report also said that 110 out of 1,400 water samples had high levels of ammonia. The majority of the samples had low pH levels and high iron content.

To minimize the effect of unsafe water, the center has advised local people to purify water before using it and protect wells from contamination by using tank covers.

Ho Chi Minh City has set a target of installing 1,282 kilometers of pipes and building 433 reservoirs and 21 water stations to ensure clean water for all its citizens by the end of this year.

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