Strict limits to hexavalent chromium in the water
Top international and Greek scientists set the new standards
Representatives of the World Health Organization, California, the European Union and leading Greek scholars such as Professor of Epidemiology Dimitrios Trichopoulos, were in Athens last Saturday to exchange experiences in an international forum organised by the Special Secretariat of Water of the ministry of Environment.
The aim was to study the problem of anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic factors that engender the existence of the substance in water and the use of international experience to address lingering problems of pollution in the Asopos river, at Messapia in Evia and other parts of Greece.
This immediate action is imposed by the harrowing details of the first epidemiological study by the University of Athens, held a few months ago in Oinofita, whereby the presence of hexavalent chromium in drinking water is associated with increased incidents of cancer in the area in recent years.
Closed conference and nagging
The announcement of the scientific conference was made by the minister of Environment Tina Birbili in February 2010, in parallel with the announcement of the environmental protection program for the Asopos area. The conference was held behind closed doors and with a limited number of Greek participations, to the extent that there were complaints and misunderstandings even within the walls of the ministry.
Itis noteworthy that members of the ministry that had played a role in matters of pollution by hexavalent chromium, such as the Special Secretary of Environmental and Climate Change Inspectors Margarita Karavasili and the General Inspector Panagiotis Merkos, were absent. Officially they were both at Chalkidiki attending a scheduled public consultation for the investment of Greek Gold!
«We want international collaborations»
«By organising the conference today we realize that similar concerns of the Greek state about hexavalent chromium are shared by other countries and that international cooperation and response will create maximum benefits» said the minister on opening the conference, and added that the ministry will make the best use of this experience and search for collaborations with international experts and organizations.
In addition to the legislation on the limits of hexavalent chromium in drinking water, the ministry plans to intensify its activities to provide alternative sources of drinking water in affected areas. At the same time, it will ask the industry to establish a waste management plan for the Oinofita region, and of course will initiate actions to restore environmental damage in the Asopos river and wherever there is pollution.
The limit in California stands at 0,02 mg
A similar discussion began months ago in the state of California too, which concerned the adoption of very strict limits in drinking water (on the boundaries of detectability), which is 0,02 micrograms per litre. For the time being, scientists have not arrived at the ultimate limits of hexavalent chromium.
As it is well known, this hazardous substance comes from anthropogenic activities like industrial pollution but also from geological problems such as its presence in bedrock composition. The debate that has been developing internationally at this time is related to the economic and social dimensions of the issue, when the pollution is due to natural causes.
«What happens in this case?», «Will a state shoulder the cost of decontamination and the provision of clean drinking water? Experts from countries that are facing similar problems are called upon to answer these and other questions. The questions are crucial for Greecetoo, which is now dealing with serious financial difficulties and severe pollution problems which are spreading alarmingly throughout the country.
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