Monday, October 17, 2016- Georgetown, Guyana: The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), the Nation’s supplier of Water and Sanitation Services, wishes to put to rest claims that the product Antinfek is harmful for human consumption. Antinfek is an organic chemical being researched by GWI for effective disinfection prior to distribution to the public. Similarly, GWI is dispelling reports that the use of Antinfek has replaced that of chlorine for the decontamination of water. GWI also wishes to categorically state that chlorine is being used as the sole disinfecting agent in all the treatment plants, while laboratory studies are being done on the use of other treatment alternatives. For the period of September – October, 2016, GWI purchased 342 cylinders of chlorine gas from JCI Jones Chemicals and Ansa McAL Group of Companies to treat water.
GWI’s statement comes on the heels of recent reports in the media that the company has disregarded warnings of an alleged negative effect of Antinfek.
In this vein, GWI, as the nation’s sole water utility, would like to caution media outlets to thoroughly research and investigate their findings before publishing articles that seek to cause public panic.
GWI’s Managing Director Dr. Richard Van West-Charles had noted with deep concern, the inadequate efforts that were being placed on disinfection and filtration, when he took over at the helm of the organisation. Thus, the decision was made to research the use of Antinfek as a means of boosting the treatment of water to ensure an overall better quality for distribution. With quality as a top priority, GWI is constantly finding new solutions to reduce the prevalence of water borne diseases, especially in hinterland and riverain areas. One such method for improved quality is the use of filters which have been subject to robust analysis and have been proven to effectively and consistently remove microbial contamination. Additionally, GWI has implemented a 24-hour laboratory at its Shelter Belt location to test water for any contamination, even as it moves to establish mini labs at all of its water treatment plants countrywide.
Meanwhile, it was found that the residual concentration of chlorine has a short life, thus does not protect the water from recontamination during prolonged storage. The residual is also consumed by organic and inorganic substances which may become present during distribution. Therefore, when the water goes into a black tank, the effectiveness of the protection that chlorine offers is reduced. GWI’s aim is therefore to boost the pressure of its distribution system, coupled with 24 hr supply, thereby allowing customers not to become dependent on storing water in black tanks and to resort to direct use from their taps. Chlorine is also known to cause disinfection by products (DBP’s) which are carcinogenic.
Water distributed to the nation must be safe for consumption, and delivering water of compromised quality is not an option for the utility.
To date, research shows that Antinfek was tested by a number of other laboratories in countries such as Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Switzerland, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago and Germany, all showing favorable results in its use. Among the uses for the active ingredient in Antinfek are: disinfection of fruits and vegetables, wound dressings, eye drops, baby wipes and disinfection of pools and spas etc. The reference made in the local newspapers regarding its rejection in Haiti is based on a study done by one university, which is insufficient to disregard its advantages altogether.
It should also be noted that the use of Antinfek was not introduced to Guyana by GWI as it is currently being utilized by other organizations in the country for disinfection of water for human consumption.
GWI also wishes to make clear that the comments made by Director of the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department, Mr. Marlan Cole, were inaccurate and irresponsible as a senior government functionary. Instead of contacting GWI to gain clarity on the thinking behind the use of Antinfek and whether or not chlorine was still being used, Mr. Cole added to an unnecessary cause for public alarm.
The utility would like to reiterate that all of the water treatment plants are using chlorine as their sole disinfecting agent (some using chlorine gas, calcium hypochlorite powder and sodium hypochlorite produced from brine). These plants include: Shelter Belt; Central; Sophia; Eccles; Lima; Bartica; Pouderoyne; Fellowship, Vergenoegen; Amelia’s Ward; LPC; Mckenzie; West Watooka; Wisroc; Better Hope; Mon Repos; Cotton Tree; New Amsterdam; Port Mourant; No. 56 and Queenstown.
All customers can rest assure that GWI is committed to distributing safe and uncontaminated water at all times. “We cannot knowingly distribute water that is contaminated by pathogens, our first call is to ensure that whatever water distributed is safe for consumption”, Dr. Van West-Charles posited.
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