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Nualgi Nano Biotech to save polluted Ulsoor Lake in Bengaluru

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A view of pollution at Ulsoor lake. Photo: mashable.com
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Bengaluru: A novel product developed by Nualgi Nano Biotech (NNB), a low-profile biotech company here, is helping clean up sewage-polluted Ulsoor Lake where thousands of fish were found dead last week owing to depletion of dissolved oxygen.

Ulsoor Lake, famous for army rowing competitions as well as for boating among tourists, was seen covered with thousands of dead fish that left people here stunned.

“Called Nualgi, it is a mixture of micro-nutrients in the form of nano-particles, including silica, iron, and manganese,” said Thothathri Sampathkumar, who founded the company which patented the product in India in 2008.

“‘Nualgi’ triggers the rapid growth of a type of algae called ‘diatoms’ and the oxygen released by the diatoms through photosynthesis quickly increases the dissolved oxygen level of water and thus keeps the pond clean,” Sampathkumar told IANS.

According to Sampathkumar, one kg of Nualgi can treat four million liters of water, adding that the affected fishermen — who have the contract for fishing in Ulsoor lake – have purchased 40 liters of “Nualgi” from his company on March 6 to increase the dissolved oxygen level and stop further fish death.

“We can see the results very soon,” added Sampathkumar.

“Nualgi can be used to grow “diatom” algae in any water including sewage polluted water. The growing “diatoms” absorb carbon dioxide from the air and, by photosynthesis, release oxygen at the micro plant level. The oxygen released helps aerobic bacteria breakdown organics in the water into base constituents, thereby eliminating the stinking odour from the water.

The growing “diatoms” are eaten by zooplankton that, in turn, is consumed by fish. “The fish clean up the lakes of all ‘diatoms’, zooplankton and organics, thus restoring the polluted lakes and water bodies to its original glory,” said Sampathkumar.

According to him, the mass fish death in Ulsoor lake took place, perhaps because the fishermen ran out of their stock of Nualgi or missed its timely application.

The tragedy could have been averted had the authorities installed monitors to continuously record the level of dissolved oxygen (DO) in the lake water and alert them when DO falls below a critical level. These DO monitors, he said, are now commercially available.

“Nualgi has been patented also in the US, Britain, Germany, and South Africa. Five years ago, the three-acre “Duck Pond” in New York state in the US that “was in a highly impaired state with a variety of water quality issues” was restored to normal health thanks to “Nualgi.”

Lake Savers, the US company that tried it out, had acknowledged in an email to Sampathkumar that the water quality of “Duck Pond” showed a “remarkable and sustained improvement” after a single dose of Nualgi application and that “fish productivity and health improved dramatically.”

Encouraged by its successful experiment in New York’s “Duck Pond”, Lake Savers had obtained clearance from the US Environmental Protection Agency for using Nualgi on a large scale in the country.

Nualgi, that requires no skilled labor, is an economical alternative to treat sewage and organic wastes in “eutrophic” lakes and ponds contaminated by nitrogen or phosphorus compounds, such as by laundry detergents, untreated sewage, and fertilizer run-off from agricultural lands.

“Nualgi is being used in many lakes in southern India for the past several years and fishermen are buying the product to increase fish catch in water bodies.

Sampathkumar is hopeful of promoting its use worldwide to revive fresh water “eutrophic lakes” and “dead zones” in coastal regions that are so much deprived of oxygen that they can’t support aquatic life. (K.S. Jayaraman, IANS)

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Air Pollution: WHO Releases List of The Best And Worst Cities

90% of world's population breathes badly polluted air: WHO

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Air Pollution
WHO releases a list of most and least polluted cities. Pixabay

Nine out of every 10 people on the planet breathe air that contains high levels of pollutants and kills seven million people each year, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) study released on Wednesday.

The study is an analysis of what the WHO says is the world’s most comprehensive database on ambient air pollution. The organisation collected the data from more than 4,300 cities and 108 countries, reports CNN.

People in Asia and Africa face the biggest problems, according to the study.

More than 90 per cent of air pollution-related deaths happen there, but cities in the Americas, Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean also have air pollution levels that are beyond what the WHO considers healthy.

The new WHO data show that US cities on the more polluted side of the list include Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Fresno, California; Indianapolis; and the Elkhart-Goshen area of Indiana.

Air Pollution.
Air Pollution. Pixabay

Peshawar and Rawalpindi in Pakistan, have some of the highest particulate air pollution levels in the database. Varanasi and Kanpur in India; Cairo; and Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, also show higher levels.

“I’m afraid what is dramatic is that air pollution levels still remain at dangerously high levels in many parts of the world,” CNN quoted Maria Neira, director of the WHO’s Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, as saying.

“No doubt that air pollution represents today not only the biggest environmental risk for health, but I will clearly say that this is a major, major challenge for public health at the moment and probably one of the biggest ones we are contemplating.”

Particle pollution, a mix of solid and liquid droplets in the air, can get sucked into and embedded deep in your lungs when you breathe. That can lead to health conditions including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), according to the study.

Also Read: Air Pollution And Its Effects On Our Health

These outdoor particulates — including sulphate, nitrates and black carbon — are largely created by car and truck traffic, manufacturing, power plants and farming. In total, air pollution caused about 4.2 million deaths in 2016, it added.

“Many of the world’s megacities exceed WHO’s guideline levels for air quality by more than five times, representing a major risk to people’s health,” Neira said. This is “a very dramatic problem that we are facing now”.

Cleaner air accounts for in cities like like Wenden, Arizona (population 2,882), or Cheyenne, Wyoming (population 64,019).

The Eureka-Arcata-Fortuna area of California; Battlement Mesa, Colorado; Wasilla, Alaska; Gillette, Wyoming; and Kapaa, Hawaii, are all on the cleaner-air list.

One of the bigger US cities with cleaner air is Honolulu, according to the WHO data.  (IANS)