Environment

Sunderbans’ water getting toxic, say scientists

KOLKATA

Climate change is causing toxic metals trapped in the sediment beds of the Hooghly estuary in the Indian Sunderbans to leach out into the water system due to changes in ocean chemistry, say scientists, warning of potential human health hazards.

They predict that after about 30 years, increasing ocean acidification – another dark side of spiked atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide – could in fact unlock the entire stock of metals like copper and lead gathered in the sediment layer, and release them into the water system, leading to health issues, reports Economic Times.

Sunderbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger. More than two-thirds of the forest lies in Bangladesh and the rest in West Bengal.

Oceans act as cleansers by taking up a chunk (around one-fourth) of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels shoot up, the levels absorbed by oceans increase, lowering their pH (indicator of acidity) and making them more acidic (ocean acidification).

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