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'People should take to clay kitchen utensils'

A majority of people in Medawachchiya, Padaviya and Kebithigollewa areas in Anuradhapura district are reluctant to drink water in fear of contracting renal ailments in the region. They are also afraid of using aluminium utensils for domestic purposes.

It is the duty of the intellectuals to clear their doubts and suspicious and make them continue their normal lifestyles, said Dr. (Mrs) Janitha A. Liyanage of the Department of Chemistry, University of Kelaniya.

She was delivering the keynote address at the residential workshop on "Safe use of Pesticides and Aluminium Utensils" held at the "Nature Resort" Anuradhapura recently.

The two day residential workshop was sponsored by "World Vision Lanka" and organised by the Environmental Committee of the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLAAS).

A team of 30 persons consisting of senior science students and a group of science and Agriculture teachers in Galenbindunuwewa Educational Zone participated at the workshop. The workshop is the first programme of a series of workshops to be conducted in this year on "Safe Use of Pesticides and Aluminium Utensils," for schoolchildren in order to enhance the knowledge on the subject.

"The Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science has decided to give priority to the North Central Province where pesticides are used extensively as well as aluminium utensils.

This workshop will undoubtedly develop the communicating skills and knowledge of the students to enable them to pass the message to the elders in their villages including the parents regarding the aluminium appliances and agro chemicals," Dr. (Mrs) Liyanage explained.

"Several studies conducted by agricultural and other organisations have found that a high percentage of farmers in the country use pesticides exceeding the required dose and concentration. On the other hand considerable numbers of deaths are also reported due to pesticide poisoning yearly. In addition people are used to using aluminium utensils for their household purposes.

Specially in the NCP coincidently and simultaneously the number of chronic kidney failures and numerous kidney ailments are on the rapid increase," Dr. Liyanage pointed out.

The Chemist Janitha Liyanage who is a PhD holder of the Cardiff University in United Kingdom in Chemistry and also the Chairperson of the Environment Committee of Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science, said that the exceptional quality in Aluminium was that both acidic and basic elements dissolved with Aluminium in the same manner.

The Aluminium made a complex when mixed with water which couldn't go through the body cells and as a consequence its diffusion and absorption, in the human body was low she explained.

Also the Aluminium oxide layer which protects the underlying Aluminium in coming into contact with any more oxygen and when cooking in these utensils the protective layer gets dissolved or erased and absorbed into the body.

In the process when the Aluminium percentage has exceeded a dose of grams o.1 which is the maximum of Aluminium, a human body, weighing 70 kilograms should have in it, the surplus metal is known to accumulate in intracellular sites of brain tissues and in the central nervous system. Such aluminium could induce loss of memory, having impaired intellect, Dr. Liyanage stressed.

"This situation influences the filtering mechanism in the kidneys and in the process aluminium would deposit in the kidneys, along with other waste which leads to the kidney ailments effecting the urinary system.

In the circumstances aluminium could enter the body even from drinking water from a Aluminium water pot.

In the context it is more advisable to reduce the usage of Aluminium utensils as much as possible as such a practice immensely helps for a healthy life," she emphasised further.

She pointed out that for avoiding health hazards caused by overdose of Aluminium in the body the people should take to the utilisation of clay kitchen utensils, cooking vessels, coconut spoons and traditional appliances such as 'Pittu bambuwa' made out of bamboo, wooden string hoppers squeezer etc instead of Aluminium accessories.

There should be a adequate awareness among the people regarding the importance of this type of a lifestyle to get rid of formidable ailments, such as renal diseases anamia, digestive problems, liver failures etc.

The chartered biologist and senior lecturer in zoology at the Open University, Ms. Anuruddhika Abesekera from Bathalagoda 'Rice Research Centre Lasantha Rathnaweera, Sumith Jayakody, Chandana Kularatne attached to Pesticides Registrar's Office, Justin Perera consultant, Dr. A. Malawathanthree of UNDP and R.C. Watawala from Ministry of Agriculture also participated at the two day workshop.

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