Our Bureau

New Delhi, June 8

The primarily agrarian State of Punjab is facing a huge health problem.

High levels of pesticide residues have been found in blood samples of the people of the State. A study by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a New Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation, has found six to 12 types of pesticide residues in the blood samples of people from different villages in Punjab. The study has been conducted by the Centre's Pollution Monitoring Laboratory.

The study tested 20 randomly selected blood samples from Mahi, Nangal, Jajjal and Balloh villages in Bhatinda district and Dher village in Ropar district.

The samples included old and persistent pesticide residues, such as DDT and Lindane. They also included residues of highly toxic pesticides, such as Monochrotophos and Chloropyrifos.

While there are no standards for "safe levels" of pesticide residues in the blood, the level of residues in the samples does not appear to be "acceptable", according to the CSE report. The level of certain persistent Organochlorine pesticides in the samples was found to be 15-605 times higher than those found in the blood samples of people in the US.

While the effects of these toxic substances on the body is not clear, there is a growing unease on the use of pesticides in the country. Many experts believe that there should be a paradigm shift in the way pesticides are regulated and monitored in the country, says the CSE.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 9, 2005)
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