The Health Effects of Sachet Water in Nigeria
The most widely used type of water in Nigeria is sachet water, often known as pure water. It is affordable, incredibly practical, and widely accessible. Both in-store and street hawkers both sell sachet water. Because it’s quite simple to start a sachet water business, there are so many of them in the country that two or more of them may supply a street’s worth of businesses.
Additionally, many people in Nigeria depend on sachet water for drinking and even cooking because the public water supply is virtually nonexistent.
Sachet water is widely used for several reasons, including the widespread belief that it is effective, hence the term “pure water.” The sachets are always transparent, making them usually very simple to look through, which gives the impression that the water is cleaner than that from the well or other sources. How clean is it, though?
Sachet water has gained immense popularity in Nigeria due to its affordability and widespread availability. It’s sold in small, single-use plastic pouches and is a primary source of hydration for many Nigerians. However, this convenience comes at a significant cost to public health and the environment.
Never assume that water is safe to drink just because it appears to be clean; there may be many germs and bacteria there that the naked eye cannot see. This is not to argue that sachet water is dangerous to consume, but it is not enough to rely on it since it appears to be clean. Sachet water may be dangerous for a variety of reasons, including:
- Water source: You should constantly take water source into consideration. Some businesses obtain their water from wells, while others do so from boreholes, etc. Different water sources have varying degrees of purity.
- Operations of the Company: Although sachet water firms claim that their water goes through some sort of filtering and purifying procedure, many of them lack the facilities or equipment for such processes and as a result, they wind up doing little to nothing to ensure that their water is unsuitable for consuming.
- Storage: The location of the water’s storage could have an impact on its quality. This could change the flavour and odour, making it dangerous to drink.
- Sachets of pure water have no stated expiration date: Most often after two months, yes. The majority of sachet water businesses in Nigeria do not, however, provide an expiration date. Consuming water from a sachet that has expired is bad. This is due to the possibility that plastic may eventually start to contaminate water with compounds like antimony and bisphenol A (BPA).
The Negative Health Effects of Sachet Water in Nigeria
Consuming contaminated sachet water can lead to a host of health problems. Short-term effects include stomach ailments, diarrhea, and vomiting, which can be particularly dangerous for vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. Additionally, prolonged exposure to contaminants can lead to more severe illnesses like typhoid, cholera, and even chronic health issues.
Some people refrain from drinking sachet water because of certain health risks, and we’ll look at a few of those risks below.
One form of plastic, the kind used to produce the sachet for sachet water, contains a chemical known as bisphenol A, or BPA.
BPA does not constitute a concern at low concentrations, but when it is present in high concentrations, it may have harmful effects on health. For instance, exposing the sachets to the light makes the BPA present in the water.
The amount of BPA in the water increases with the length of exposure. Numerous health problems, including hypertension, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, angina, and even variations in blood pressure, have been associated to BPA.
As we mentioned earlier, not all water that appears to be clean is safe to drink. Drinking it could result in cholera, which is brought on by drinking contaminated water, as well as other health issues because there are still some germs present.
The environmental issues that Sachet water causes in Nigeria are another adverse influence on external health. One of the main environmental issues facing the nation is improper dumping of sachet water bags by users after usage.
According to a 2019 study, Nigeria’s major sources of river pollution and environmental trash were incorrect sachet water disposal. The study also included suggestions for enhancing Nigeria’s environmental health by eliminating improper sachet water dumping.
Large dose of heavy metals
An analysis of the health risks associated with the heavy metal variations in the sachet water marketed in South-Western Nigeria was done in 2017. In certain samples of the sachet water supplied around Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria, they discovered the presence and quantities of heavy metals as chromium (Cr), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), aluminium (Al), and zinc (Zn).
Heavy metals in water can be harmful to people’s health. Lead, cadmium, and mercury are examples of heavy metals that can be harmful even in little doses. They can harm the brain system, kidneys, and liver, among other organs.
While sachet water may offer a temporary solution to Nigeria’s water access challenges, its negative health effects and environmental consequences cannot be ignored. It’s imperative for stakeholders to collaborate and address these issues collectively, ensuring that clean and safe drinking water is accessible to all Nigerians.
- What is sachet water? Sachet water, also known as “pure water,” is packaged drinking water sold in small plastic pouches.
- How does sachet water get contaminated? Sachet water can get contaminated during the production process or due to improper handling and storage, leading to the presence of harmful substances.
- What are the short-term health effects of consuming contaminated sachet water? Short-term health effects include gastrointestinal issues like stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Can boiling sachet water make it safe to drink? Boiling sachet water can help kill harmful microorganisms, making it safer to consume. However, it may not remove chemical contaminants.
- What initiatives are being taken to address the sachet water issue in Nigeria? Various initiatives involve raising awareness, improving regulatory measures, promoting alternative water sources, and encouraging responsible waste disposal.