Fish from Harare’s rivers and dams a cancer risk

30 January 2012

Harare River (File Photo: Bill Harding)

Zimbabwe’s The Standard reports that:

Nine people in every 1 000 in Harare are at risk of developing colon or liver cancer from eating contaminated fish harvested from Lake Chivero and other water bodies around Harare, local scientific studies have indicated.

A researcher with the University of Zimbabwe’s department of biological sciences, Maxwell Barson said the city faces a major cancer outbreak if its residents are not prevented from  eating heavily contaminated fish from water bodies surrounding the city.

He said Lake Chivero, Manyame and other water bodies around the city were heavily contaminated with industrial pollutants, including chemical and heavy metals that cause cancer. Findings of an earlier study produced in African Journal of Aquatic Science recently, indicated that levels of metal contamination were too high.

“Harare water is not 100% safe to drink that is why people are encouraged to boil it or use water tablets,” he said. “At times you see algae and sediments and if it is like that it is not safe.”

The University of Zimbabwe researcher said all major rivers feeding into Lake Chivero were contaminated and the City of Harare had no capacity to purify water for drinking purposes. “At times the water has sediments and heavy metals because the treatment is not up to scratch,” said Barson. “The sewage treatment capacity is way below the population carrying capacity so there is urgent need to increase the treatment capacity.”


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