Sunday, January 29, 2023

Contamination by nitrates of water for human consumption

The presence of nitrates in water for human consumption is a cause of concern throughout the country, its toxicity being related to the formation of two types of substances: nitrites and N-nitroso compounds. Deficiency of nitrate to nitrite can cause methemoglobinemia, mainly in infants under 6 months of age, which includes “a condition in which there is a higher than normal amount of methemoglobin in the blood. Methemoglobin is a form of hemoglobin that cannot carry oxygen.” so not enough oxygen reaches the tissues. Symptoms of methemoglobinemia include headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, lack of muscle coordination, and blue-tinged skin. On the other hand, nitrites react with amines to form nitrosamines, which are known, from animal studies and some epidemiological studies in humans, to have carcinogenic activity. Finally, the formation of N-nitroso compounds has been linked to congenital malformations. Is.

For all these reasons, the World Health Organization established a value of 50 mg/l as the maximum level allowed in drinking water to prevent short-term toxic effects of nitrates. The Royal Decree on water for human consumption in Spain establishes, in the same way that the World Health Organization did, 50 mg/l as a parametric value for nitrates, also indicating that values ​​found below the parametric value of 50 mg /l should be treated as a possible non-compliance.

According to information available from the Ministry of Health, contamination of water for human consumption by nitrates is present in several municipalities of Spain: Mamblona, ​​Alicante and Blicos in Soria, Villarejo de la Penuela in Cuenca, San Salvador in Valladolid and a tall etc. Specifically, there is knowledge of at least 197 populations in which the permitted levels of nitrate in water for human consumption have been exceeded. According to these data, it is estimated that at least 1,016,359 people in Spain have been affected by nitrate contamination in their drinking water in recent times, which is about 2% of the Spanish population.

Unfortunately, these are partial data, as the Ministry of Health indicates that nitrate was only controlled in 2021 in 62.8% of supply areas, 12.4% in infrastructure and 11.4% of sampling points. The bias of available information suggests that the number of affected municipalities is higher than the 197 identified by the data provided by the Ministry of Health. Similarly, we can estimate that the number of affected people is much higher than the mentioned 1,016,359, given that many of the affected municipalities see an increase in their population during the summer months.

The lack of analysis is even worse in the case of the nitrite parameter, as it was only controlled in 57.5% of supply areas, 11.5% of infrastructure and 10.9% of sampling points. The outlook is dismal, although the number of analytical controls has undoubtedly increased in recent years, there has been no decrease in the number of non-compliances, which since 2008 have been around 1.67% of the total controls.

The main causes of nitrate contamination of supply water are found, on the one hand, in the widespread use of nitrogenous fertilizers in agriculture, especially in irrigation, and on the other, in the spread of intensive livestock farming. Both produce so-called diffuse pollution by nitrates, affecting both surface water (rivers, springs, fountains, …), and groundwater. Most of the affected municipalities are either located in highly irrigated areas, or have many macro-farms surrounding them. Specifically, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics, municipalities in which nitrate contamination has been detected in the supply aquifers totaled 1,188,762 heads of pigs, cattle, sheep and goats, to which 4,546 should be added. .935 Registered Poultry. As an example, we can mention the cases of the municipalities of Puebla de la Reina (Badajoz) with 710 inhabitants and 876,448 registered heads of cattle, of which 845,836 correspond to poultry; Almazan (Soria) with 5,411 inhabitants and 121,543 pigs. In this last municipality, no less than 22 pigs per inhabitant.

This agronomic (agriculture and livestock) origin of nitrates is also the thesis of the European Commission, which filed an appeal on August 30, 2022 against the Kingdom of Spain for violation of Directive 91/675/EEC on the protection of water against pollution was filed for Produced by nitrates used in agriculture, including manure as a source of contamination. This last paragraph of the appeal includes the commission’s criticism of the lack of policies to reduce the pollution produced by nitrates or their inadequacy: “The Commission also reprimands the Kingdom of Spain for not adopting additional measures or reinforced actions needed to address eutrophication throughout the country, despite the fact that available data show that the measures provided for in the action programs are reducing and preventing are not sufficient for pollution,

This paragraph summarizes the serious problem of contamination of surface and groundwater by nitrates, and is one of many examples that show the inseparable link between environmental health and human health. Only a nitrate-free environment allows water for human consumption without the type of contamination suffered for the most part by the people of empty Spain.

Pollution abatement policies that allow access to quality water free from chemical contamination for human consumption should be one of the main objectives of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge in its task of avoiding overpopulation of rural environments . Well said, in order to avoid overpopulation, it is necessary to maintain the high quality of the rural environment and its natural resources, guaranteeing, among other things, a good quality water supply.

It is clear that there is a serious problem of contamination by nitrates in the water supply for the population of a good number of municipalities in our country, which together have more than one million inhabitants. Furthermore, as we indicated earlier, everything indicates that the number of municipalities affected, and therefore the population, is very high.

Access to drinking water and sanitation is a human right, recognized by the United Nations since 2010, so the fact that contaminated water, unfit for consumption, is being supplied to more than one million people in our country is a The setback represents the quality of life in our country. Furthermore, municipalities in the so-called “Empty Spain” are being particularly affected, thus contributing to further emptiness, as it is not at all attractive to live in a city where there is no tap water to drink. May or may not be used for cooking.

For all these reasons, it is necessary to intensify the control of the water supply to the population in all municipalities in Spain, in order to detect all non-compliance with respect to nitrates. Similarly, the expansion of irrigation should be stopped, and the use of nitrogen fertilizers should be reduced, and the expansion of intensive animal husbandry should also be stopped, as both activities are causing very significant environmental damage, and in many cases irreversible. Huh. And they are also directly attacking the health of the population, especially those who live in “Empty Spain”.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
Nation World News is the fastest emerging news website covering all the latest news, world’s top stories, science news entertainment sports cricket’s latest discoveries, new technology gadgets, politics news, and more.
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