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Water near dump found contaminated

Levels of arsenic, aluminium discovered not deemed dangerous for residents

The level of arsenic and aluminium in water near the garbage dump in Samut Prakan where a huge fire erupted last week are at high but not dangerous levels, authorities revealed yesterday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents living near the dump have flocked to the Praksa Administration Organisation and Samut Prakan Hospital to undergo health checks to find out if they have been affected by toxic smoke.

Pollution Control Department (PCD) director-general Wichian Jungrungreon said he had ordered pollution inspectors to collect water samples from the dump in tambon Praksa and found that the level of arsenic in underground water was 0.004 milligrams per litre compared to the standard 0.001 milligram per litre.

Wichian said inspectors found that the level of aluminium in the water was at 0.1 ppm.

He said although Thailand had not designated a standard level of aluminium contamination in the environment, this amount was not dangerous for humans. In the US, the contamination standard for aluminium is 0.2 milligrams per litre.

The PCD also studied lead, cadmium and mercury contamination near the dump and found that the level of these hazardous substances did not exceed standard levels.

Smog from the massive fire has dispersed, but the PCD found that the level of sulphur dioxide in the heart of dump measured at 4 ppm to 5 ppm. The standard is 0.2 ppm.

Wichian said the results of volatile organic compound tests would be released by the end of the month.

The cause of week-long fire is unknown. It generated a toxic haze that spread over a 5km radius and led to the evacuation of thousands of nearby residents.

Dr Kate Sadyapongse of Samut Prakan Hospital said at least 4,000 people were at risk of contamination, including fire-fighters, local residents and reporters. She said the hospital would spend a year monitoring people.


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