Water is crucial to our survival; clean water is a matter of life and death. So, when news recently broke out that the Selangor government had been pumping water from disused mining ponds into Sungai Selangor to deal with the water crisis, there was a public outcry, especially when an independent report allegedly claimed that the water contained metal elements above safe limits (asl) such as manganese (135% asl), iron (554% asl), nickel (240% asl) and lead (460% asl).

For decades, scientists have shown solid correlation between heavy metal-contaminated drinking water and harmful chronic illnesses.

Effects of heavy metals in drinking water

Lead – Nephrotoxicity, neurotoxicity, hypertension, reproductive problems, abdominal pains, insomnia

Mercury – Liver damage, neural damage, teratogenesis

Cadmium – Kidney failure, chronic anaemia, painful bone disorders and vomiting

Copper – Liver cirrhosis, chronic anaemia, abdominal pain, metabolic disorders

Molybdenum – Liver cirrhosis

Arsenic – Cancers, kidney damage & failure, liver & respiratory problems, diabetes, anaemia, decreased intelligence in children, miscarriages, infant mortality

Manganese – Toxicity to the nervous system and reduced intelligence in children

Metal-contaminated water everywhere

Toxic heavy metals are found in drinking water in every continent. For example, high concentrations of arsenic have been found in drinking water in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Nepal, Chile, Western United States, and central New Mexico as well as Northern Ethiopia. Mercury pollution has been in Venezuela while in Denmark, nickel was detected in 3,362 wells.

Meanwhile, half of the hundreds of millions of people living in China cities are using tap water containing harmful pollutants. In Egypt, concentrations of heavy metals including iron, zinc, copper, manganese, cadmium and lead have been found in water and sediments in northern Delta Lakes.

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