Nitrate content in well water in Yogyakarta and surrounding areas tends to increase for these past twenty years. Moreover, this exceeds the standard which had been determined by the government and WHO.
This condition is alarming and affects the health of society who use the well water continuously for a long period. One of the health impacts is colorectal cancer. Based on data in Dr. Sardjito General Hospital, the number of rectum cancer prevalence in 2004 is up to 6 per 100 percent of patients.
“All this while there is no research on the risk of colorectal cancer caused by consuming water which has high nitrate content in Yogyakarta,” said Fathmawati, Lecturer of Environmental Health Department, Pontianak Health Institute (Politeknik Kesehatan Pontianak), during an open examination for Doctoral Program at Faculty of Medicine UGM on Monday (17/4).
According to Fathmawati, the impacts caused by nitrate pollution in well water are not only health impact but also economical impact in which the society should pay the treatments fee and lose their income because they cannot work due to their unhealthy condition. In addition, they also have to buy clean water to fulfill their daily water needs.
In her dissertation entitled Economic Valuation as the Impact of Nitrate Pollution in Well Water on Colorectal Cancer in Dr. Sardjito General Hospital, Yogyakarta, Fathmawati reveals the risk of colorectal cancer is four times higher for the community who consumes well water containing nitrate more than 50 mg/L. Moreover, the risk is five times higher for men who consume the well water more than ten years.
“They who are more than 50 years old and consume well water containing nitrate more than 50 mg/L can have a risk of colorectal cancer six times higher. Meanwhile, the economic loss caused by it can reach IDR 69,904,000 per person if they do not use health insurance,” she explained.