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Awareness of `blue baby syndrome' to be created in Perambalur

By M. Balaganessin

ARIYALUR, APRIL 26. Stray cases of a fatal disease, `blue baby syndrome,' have been reported in parts of Perambalur town in the past few years due to excess presence of nitrate ions in underground water.

M. Vasanthy, head, Department of Environmental Sciences, Government Arts College, Ariyalur, told The Hindu here today that more than the syndrome, what caused more concern was the lack of awareness of the cause of the disease.

Dr. Vasanthy said the presence of nitrate up to 45 milligram per litre was not hazardous to health. But, the presence exceeding 45 milligrams would reduce the quantum of oxygen in water.

The phenomenon was also known as metheglobinemia. The colour of the skin of those afflicted turned blue and mostly children were the victims. Hence, the disease was popularly known as `blue baby syndrome.'

She said her department would shortly conduct a survey in and around Perambalur town for an analysis of the nitrate content in the underground water. Special focus would be on residential pockets and domestic wells.

The samples would be collected and the study conducted in coordination with geological experts from the Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage (TWAD) Board.

The department would also take up de-nitrification process, so that the nitrate content could be reduced and water made potable.

An awareness programme would be launched among the citizens of Perambalur town shortly.

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