Position Paper

World Health Organisation Topic: Concerns over the escalating arsenic content in food, water and other articles of consumption and its implications. County: South Africa Delegate : X South Africa occupies the southern tip of Africa and has a total land area slightly more than 1. 2 million square kilometres. The common source of Arsenic in water are rivers. Africa has many rivers flowing across the country.

It is well know that rivers are a major source of drinking water. In spite of many rivers flowing across the country, the Arsenic content in these rivers are not alarming compared to other countries in the world. Arsenic is a natural component of the earth’s crust and is widely distributed throughout the environment in the air, water and land. It is highly toxic in its inorganic form. Arsenic is naturally present at high levels in the groundwater of a number of countries.

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However the content of Arsenic is not high in water as well as food and in articles of other consumption in South Africa. The government of South Africa also ensured supply of pure and uncontaminated water, clean and hygienic methods of food preparation and proper irrigation of food crops. The South African government signed many programs, policies and acts such as: * Water Services Act in 1997. * Free Basic Water Policy in 2001. * Basic Sanitation White paper in 2001.

Many measures have been taken for prevention and control such as: * Substituting high-arsenic sources such as groundwater, with low-arsenic, microbiologically safe sources such as rain water and treated surface water. * Discriminating between high-arsenic and low-arsenic sources. * Blend low-arsenic water with higher-arsenic water to achieve an acceptable arsenic concentration level. * Installing arsenic removal systems – either centralized or domestic – and ensure the appropriate disposal of the removed arsenic.

Technologies for arsenic removal include oxidation, coagulation–precipitation, absorption, ion exchange and membrane techniques. * The programme component of Water, Sanitation and Health (WSH) supports South Africa in providing access to safe water and adequate sanitation for all in order to improve the health and well being of the populations. South Africa aims at providing its citizens an unpolluted life without chemical substances like Arsenic in drinking water, food and other articles of consumption in future.

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