Based on paper presentation made during Indian National Science Congress
Sciences (INSA)’s Society Programme and a position paper on ‘Hazardous
Metals and Minerals Pollution in India: Sources Toxicity and Management.
New Delhi, Nov 18, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB India) While anthropogenic activities are the major source of heavy metal pollution, natural sources contribute significantly to the burden of arsenic and fluoride. Apart from industries, road runoff is also an important source.
The toxic elements enter the body mainly through water, food and air. Cosmetics, dental products, some drugs, particularly Ayurveda and Unani drugs also contribute. More research is needed to assess the extent to which these products affect human health. Public awareness should be created. There should be monitoring and control over the concentration of heavy metals in cosmetics.
The existence of metals in nano form or otherwise should be determined. Toxicity of metals bearing nano particles is a domain where systematic research needs to be carried out to establish or negate toxic factors.
Susceptibility to toxicity is influenced by age, physiological status, nutrition status and genetic factors. More research is needed to study these interactions, particularly since malnutrition is rampant in India. Where specific interactions are known: e.g. lead and calcium, fluoride and calcium, populations exposed to these toxic substances (factory workers, communities living near the factories) should receive periodic health check-up and nutritional support.