Poisons alleged in Hodeidah’s distributed water [Archives:2006/936/Health]

April 10 2006

Abdulwahab Al-Sofi
[email protected]

Doctors advise starting the day by drinking two glasses of water and then drinking at least six to eight more throughout the day because water is vital for the body to function properly. Water also helps clean the body, so one should bathe daily. However, when water is blended with chemicals, citizens begin wondering about the safety of using such water.

“Sometimes this purified water tastes weird!” a student in the Faculty of Sea Science's environment department at Hodeidah University, said when describing the taste of water he drinks daily.

Another student expressed his feeling, saying, “Nobody knows exactly when we will have clean, pure and healthy water in our area. We're used to the bad taste of water, as some of these stations sell water with added random chemical substances. We have no alternative but to use it.”

He blamed the majority of water purification station owners who he said do not comply with the main standard measurements. “Alternative installment of tanks and apparatus in many water purification stations likely are hardly unexecuted.”

A teacher working at Al-Saeed School said, “We constantly hear many complaints from our neighbors and other friends that this type of water contains tiny things mixed with sand, plus its repeated strange taste.” She insisted that since water is the main source of life, those working in water purification stations should be subjected to permanent oversight by concerned responsible parties.

English inspector Hassan Baghawi said those working in water purification stations often are not completely clean, hygienic or healthy. “They wash their clothes and sleep in the same station in which they work,” he noted.

Some students and teachers are resigned to using such water for the time being, as it is the sole choice. “There is no other choice but to use this water, as it is the only water for drinking,” they said. “We may be deprived of any clean water in Yemen's next era,” they added regretfully.

Another teacher noted that pure, healthy water has no taste, color or smell “but this water has a bad taste because of added chemicals.”

Fikri Al-Domaini, a laboratory manager in Hodeidah University's, the Faculty of Sea Science, which is an official and authenticable laboratory for the Health Office in Hodeidah, regularly takes samples from water purification stations. He stressed that the main reason water tastes weird or contains parasites is due to station owners not complying with chlorine or Ph percentages. He also blamed grocery owners who often expose tanks to sunlight, which activates bacteria. “Tanks filled with water from these stations should not be exposed to sunlight.”

Al-Domaini pointed out that discovering parasites varies from one station to another. Moreover, filters used in such stations expire after six months, whereas they often are used for purification for more than a year, he explained.

He expressed his anxiety, confirming that he often finds fecal bacteria in some stations' samples. “These types of bacteria cause many dangerous diseases to human beings,” he added.

Dr. Mohammed Ali Al-Ariqi, a dentist, said that imbalanced combination of chemicals like Ph, which are added during purification, leads to tooth decay. Besides, excessive chlorine added to water also leads to change in tooth color.

Other medical studies revealed an increase in the number of those suffering diseases like cancer and kidney failure, which may be caused by air and water blended with chemical materials.

Station owner Nasser Hussein explained the three stages of water purification. First, impurities are allowed to settle down by storing the water in tanks. Next, it is filtered through sand. Finally, chlorine and other materials are added to kill bacteria. Hussein asserted that some station owners do play with the materials measurements during purification. “They must comply with standard criteria, as this is honest. We should bear this responsibility on our shoulders and act accordingly,” he added.

A statistical study by Faculty of Sea Science students proved that a majority of water purification stations do not adhere to standard chemical specifications. According to the study, some stations either added only chlorine to water or randomly added chemicals. Moreover, barrels such stations used to store water were dirty and even rusty.

Hodeidah residents may know that the water they use is not completely pure or healthy, but they are sure that authorities must take immediate steps to save the city from disease and epidemics spread via water that has been poisoned in purification stations.