Seeing red: An aerial view of the bauxite central collection centre in Kuantan Port.
PETALING JAYA: While water and food samples taken at the bauxite mining area in Kuantan are found to be still safe for consumption, the Health Ministry will increase the frequency of its monitoring for heavy metal parameters.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said its state department had been monitoring the health effects from bauxite mining on the community.
As in December, Dr Noor Hisham said all samples from the water treatment plants in the area taken by the ministry and analysed by the Chemistry Department were found to be within the heavy metal parameters of the National Drinking Water Quality Standards.
There were 10 water treatment plants supplying water to the Kuantan district, including the Semambu, Bukit Sagu and Bukit Goh facilities located near the mining area, he said.
The frequency of sampling for heavy metal parameters, he added, was carried out once every three months while that for the service reservoir outlets and distribution areas was once every six months.
“For the aluminium parameters, the frequency of sampling was once every month in treatment plant and service reservoir outlets and once every six months at the distribution areas,” he said.
The ministry, he said, would now increase the frequency of monitoring for heavy metal parameters to every fortnight and other metals every week.
Eleven clinics in Kuantan had also been selected to monitor patients with upper respiratory tract infection, asthma and conjunctivitis since last year, said Dr Noor Hisham.
These are the Bukit Goh, Balok, Beserah, Bandar Kuantan, Paya Besar, Kurnia, Indera Mahkota, Gambang, Sungai Lembing, Jaya Gading and Permatang Badak health clinics.
On Thursday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam had said there were definite health risks due to bauxite-related pollution but the hazards were long term and would take time to manifest.
On food quality, Dr Hisham said all raw materials analysed had met requirements under the Food Regulations 1985.
Samples taken for heavy metal parameters (plumbum and cadmium) included New Zealand big onions, Chinese garlic and Chinese sweet potatoes.
Fruit samples were rambutans, limau bali, durians, mangosteen as well as ready-to-eat food such as chicken curry puffs, cincau and guava drinks, he said.
Analysis of five types of fish and seafood such as the mengkerong, kekek, gelama, andeng dan lokan fish for plumbum, cadmium and inorganic arsenic also met the Food Regulations, he said.
The Kuantan community, he added, need not worry about the quality of treated water from the treatment plants but advised people to avoid using raw water sources from any polluted river.
They were also advised to avoid eating fish or any river produce from those certified as polluted by the Department of Environment (DOE) and to get early treatment if they did not feel well, said Dr Noor Hisham.