Analysing Elements Inside Water Supplies Biology Essay

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I will now highlight the main changes between the new and old regulations. This will then allow me to complete further research on why the new regulations are necessary. The main changes are as follows:

One significant change is that the new regulations place a duty on the local authorities to carry out a risk assessment within five years and to monitor quite regularly all large supplies in agreement with the specific sampling frequencies which decide compliance with appropriate standards [1] 

Another change is the type of sampling conducted. The new regulations have introduced two new types of monitoring for large supplies called 'check monitoring' and 'audit monitoring'. Check monitoring is conducted quite frequently for some very important parameters where as audit monitoring is conducted less frequently for all other parameters.

The new regulations require all private water supplies large or small to meet the appropriate standards in the regulations. Therefore during monitoring if the local authority incurs a fail against a standard they must conduct an investigation into why this has produced a failure. They then need to ensure the necessary steps are taken to solve the problem so that it complies with the standard. If for some reason they cannot secure action by a competent person through informal negotiations and authorisation has not been given they must serve a notice under Section 80 of the Water Industry Act 1991 on that person as the relevant person.

If the local authority concludes through risk assessment and monitoring that a private water supply poses significant danger to human health it must take the correct procedures to ensure that the people must likely to consume the water will be informed quickly and advice to alleviate the danger. Also when any private water supply is classed as a potential risk to human health the local authority must serve a notice on the relevant person under regulation 18 of new regulations instead of under Section 80 in the Water Industry Act 1991.

The new regulations stipulate that any relevant person may apply to the local authority for an authorisation. This allows access to continue supplying water to lower standard on a temporary basis while remedial action is being sought. This is only allowed if the supply is maintained by other reasonable means and it does not cause any adverse affects to human health.

The new regulations state that any authorised local authority representative has power to enter any premises under Section 84 (3) of the Water Industry Act 1991 to ensure that the provisions of the regulations are complied with. These authorised representatives can carry out inspections, measurements or tests on the premises.

Shown in appendix 1 are tables of parameters from both Private Water Supply Regulations 1991 and 2009. I will now highlight the key parameter changes in a table and explain with supporting information on why these changes were made.

Table 4.1 illustrates the concentration or valve changes between the two regulations. I will now justify why these changes were made to the new regulations by using medical, scientific and technological information for my support.

4.2 Analysis of parameter changes

4.2.1 Antimony in Drinking Water

As it can be seen from table 4.1, the antimony parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 5µg/l. An example is with soluble antimony salts which after oral intake can place a sharp irritating effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa and set out constant vomiting. Similar effects include abdominal cramps, chronic diarrhoea and cardiac toxicity (Elinder & Friberg, 1986). Continual oral exposure to therapeutic doses of antimony has been linked with optic nerve destruction, uveitides and retinal bleeding. Exact symptoms of intoxication are assisted by headache, coughing, anorexia, sleep deprivation and vertigo (Stemmer, 1976). In a case study where a patient suffering from visceral leismaniasis was treated with meglumine antimoniate it was noted that an increase in the number of cells with micro-nuclei but no changes in its sister chromatid exchange or structural integrity of the chromosomes in the lymphocytes (Hanston et al. 1996). Therefore based on this study's findings it was concluded it did not represent a mutagenic or carcinogenic risk to humans.

4.2.2 Arsenic in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the arsenic parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 40µg/l. The levels which are present in some groundwater could cause short term or acute health problems that have one or more of the following symptoms:

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain

Fatigue, abnormal heart beat

Abnormal bruising

The main reason why more stringent standards for arsenic in drinking water are been implemented is because of WHO's Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality which documented research on the contamination of groundwater in Bangladesh. This was the largest poisoning of arsenic ever recorded with millions of people being exposed. Research studies from other countries where such population has had long-term exposure to arsenic in groundwater highlights that 1 in 10 people who consume drinking water with 500µg/l could die from cancer by arsenic; these include lung, bladder and skin cancers. The Bangladesh case study highlights how groundwater sources throughout the world are used and this justifies why the new regulations on drinking water have reduced the allowable concentrations to be 40µg/l lower. Various other studies have indicated non-cancer related effects to humans which include cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, reproductive, immune and nervous system problems.

4.2.3 Boron in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the boron parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 1mg/l. Litovitz et al. (1988) conducted a series reviews on almost 784 cases of boric acid ingestion between the periods 1984-1985. He found that 88.3% of all the cases were asymptomatic. He stated that only two of all the cases showed acute ingestion with 80.2% involving children under the age of six. Significantly, no major health effects occurred but the cases included vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and nausea. Fewer cases had shown rashes, headaches, fever, irritability and muscle cramps. I feel even these non life threatening effects justify why the new regulations have reduced the concentration by 1mg/l.

4.3.4 Chloride in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the chloride parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 0.1µg/l. A typical human body consists of roughly around 81.8g of chloride. On this basis the overall loss of chloride is around 530mg/day therefore dieticians recommended a daily intake of 9mg of chloride per every kg of human body weight. [2] For children in there teenage years the daily recommended intake is 45mg. Hardly any research has been conducted on chloride toxicity of humans but in a unique case of impaired sodium chloride metabolism, e.g. seen in congestive heart failure. [3] Most healthy humans can deal with the intake of large quantities of chloride but only if its directly proportional to fresh water intake. As this is only about justifiable for reducing the chloride concentration I can now understand why it was only reduced by 0.1µg/l.

4.1.4 Copper in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the copper parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 1mg/l. The lethal dose for adults is between 4 and 400mg of copper ion per kg of body weight. This is based on results from accidental ingestion and suicides (Chuttani et al., 1965; Jantsch et al., 1984-1985; Agarwal et al., 1993). If humans intake large quantities of copper suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding, haematuria, intravascular haemolysis, methaemoglobinaemia, hepatocellular toxicity, acute renal failure and oliguria (Agarwal et al., 1993). At lower doses which could be present in drinking water cause symptoms similar to food poisoning, headache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. The reduction and removal of using copper pipes in households will help reduce copper poisoning significantly as this was its main entry into drinking water. These symptoms alone justify why the new regulations have reduced its acceptable concentration limit from 3mg/l to 2mg/l.

4.1.4 Lead in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the lead parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 25µg/l until the 25th December 2013 where it will be reduced by a further 15µg/l from 25th December 2013 onwards. Lead is normally present in old household plumbing and water service pipes. The health effects of lead in drinking water have been highlighted in recent times because of its effects on babies and children. Research shows that exposure to lead in drinking water above normal level can result in stunned physical and mental development closely accompanied by slight deficiencies in attention span and learning abilities. Where as in adults who consume lead in drinking water over a long period suffer from increased blood pressure and kidney problems.

4.1.5 Nickel in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the nickel parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 25µg/l. A case study shows that after acute exposure a 2½ year old girl died after ingesting about 15 g of nickel sulphate crystals. 4 hours later the girl suffered cardiac arrest. The post-mortem showed acute haemorrhagic gastritis (Daldrup et al., 1983). Another case shows how thirty-two industrial workers accidentally consumed drinking water which contained nickel sulphate and nickel chloride. The estimated levels recorded in the workers range from 7 to 35 mg/kg of human body weight. Other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, lassitude, headache and loss of breath were recorded in twenty other workers (Sunderman et al., 1988).

4.1.6 PAH's in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons parameter concentration has been reduced in the new regulations by 0.1µg/l. The main health effects that can be associated with exposure to PAH's, depends on, the quantity in your body, the exposure time length, how the body reacts to it.

Short term health effects of PAH's in the body causes symptoms of eye irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and confusion where as long term exposure includes cataracts, kidney and liver failure. If there is regular contact with PAH naphthalene could result in redness and inflammation of skin. The PAH Benzo(a)pyrene has been tested on animals with studies showing cancer occurring. Also studies show workers exposed to mixtures of PAH's have increased cases of skin, lung, bladder and gastrointestinal cancers. These cases alone justify why the new regulations reduced its acceptable concentrations in drinking water from 0.2µg/l to 0.1µg/l. [4] 

4.1.6 Aldrin and Dieldrin in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the aldrin and dieldrin parameter concentrations have been reduced in the new regulations by 0.07µg/l. Both parameters are highly toxic to humans. Its main damage has being to the nervous system and the liver. In recent times severe cases of accidental and occupational poisoning where number of fatalities have been reported. Dieldrin is lethal at a dose of 10mg/kg of body weight per day. The effects of occupationally exposed workers have been studied in two epidemiological mortality studies. One study showed no signs of carcinogenic activity another showed the mortality rate to malignant neoplasms to be lower than first anticipated (WHO, 1989).

4.1.7 Heptachlor and Heptachlor Epoxide in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide parameter concentrations have been reduced in the new regulations by 0.07µg/l. In clinical cases acute exposures through oral, dermal or inhalation route to chlordane-containing heptachlor highlight a pattern of central nervous system effects similar to does found in animals e.g. irritability, salivation, laboured respiration, muscle aches and convulsions. [5] 

4.1.8 Tetrachloroethene in Drinking Water

As illustrated in table 4.1, the heptachlor and heptachlor epoxide parameter concentrations have been reduced in the new regulations by 90µg/l. If doses of 4.2-6g are given orally to control parasitic worm infections cause effects such as inebriation, perceptual distortion and exhilaration. [6] Numerous developmental effects such as eye, ear, and central nervous system, chromosomal and oral cleft anomalies are related to exposure of tetrachloroethene and solvents in contaminated drinking-water supplies. [7]