GHANA – The Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), the state organization in Ghana involved with surveillance of the use of nuclear energy, has urged owners of boreholes and producers of sachet and bottled water to test for radiological water quality.

The Commission said this would ensure the safety of drinking water, thereby preventing the long-term incidence of cancers in people who ingest contaminated water.

Dr David Kpeglo and Dr Gibrilla Abass who are both research scientists of the GAEC, made this call during a discussion on an Accra-based TV station to commemorate World Water Day on the global theme: “Groundwater – Making the Invisible Visible”.

Speaking on protecting groundwater, making it safe and sufficient with conventional and nuclear techniques, Dr Abass explained that groundwater was held in rocks beneath the earth’s surface, containing naturally occurring radioactive materials that could easily find their way into the water.

“That is why apart from the normal test for the physical and chemical parameters of the water, we encourage people to also test for radiological parameters,” he said.

Dr Abass indicated that human activities on the earth’s surface had the potential to interfere with the generally safe ground water and increase the level of contaminants that were not safe for human consumption.

He admonished the public to always seek the services of an expert before drilling a borehole because selecting the right site is a prerequisite at the initial stage to determine water quality and quantity.

“The professional will give you an idea of the water quality and quantity so that some mitigation measures can be put in place, when necessary. For instance, it is a requirement that a borehole must be sited away from a manhole with a permissible minimum distance of 50 meters,” he said.

He cautioned that it was illegal to drill a borehole without a permit. Dr Abass also said it is advisable to deal with a licensed borehole driller as they assist the Water Resource Commission (WRC) with data on the boreholes in the effective management of groundwater resources in the country.

Dr Kpeglo also advised that after drilling a borehole, individuals should take the necessary steps to ensure that the water quality is tested before drinking it.

He stated that the water quality analysis must include radiological, physical, chemical, and bacteriological tests, which are mandatory for all sachet and bottled water producers.

“The specific requirements under the radiological water quality test are Gross Alpha and Gross Beta with the screening values of 0.1Bq/L and 1.0Bq/L, respectively. This is well enshrined in the regulations of Ghana Standards Authority and the World Health Organisation (WHO),” he said.

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