The Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) on Monday defended its decision to use the chemical Antinfek in the treatment of potable water, stating that claims that the product is harmful for human consumption are false.
Guyana Times first reported that GWI was using the chemical, which not only Haiti refused to use, but is without certification from the US National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and failed to demonstrate its ability to meet the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) limited protection microbiological performance targets.
However, GWI in a statement on Monday said that Antinfek is an organic chemical that is being researched while noting that reports that the use of Antinfek has replaced that of chlorine for the decontamination of water were untrue.
“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,” the statement said.
It also argued that it was found that the residual concentration of chlorine has a short life, thus it does not protect the water from recontamination during prolonged storage, while highlighting that Antinfek was tested by a number of other laboratories in Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Switzerland, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Kenya, Trinidad and Tobago and Germany, all showing favourable results in its use.
This publication reported that the matter regarding the use of Antinfek was recently raised at the level of GWI’s executive meeting when it was discovered that Antinfek was procured, being used and will be used for disinfection at different locations within GWI.
This newspaper has seen internal communication at GWI, which points to the fact that the GWI’s Scientific Services Manager had vehemently objected to its use.
According to the communications seen by this publication, the meeting heard that online information with regard to Antinfek suggests that the product has failed to gain certification by NSF. It was also reported to the GWI management that the trademark application made for Antinfek has a status of ‘abandoned’ since December 2006 as the applicant failed to file a ‘statement of use’.
Antinfek is manufactured by Dovebiotech Group of Companies which describes the chemical as a powerful organic bio-polymer-based compound, effective in decontamination of water against waterborne diseases, bacterium and fungi.
Internal communication seen by Guyana Times corroborate reports that the GWI Scientific Services Manager, in outlining objections to the use of the chemical, pointed out that not only is the information on the product’s label insufficient and incomplete but “to date we have not been able to source equipment to test for Antinfek in water and as a department, we cannot monitor its use.”
It was pointed out too that research suggests that the chemical was not recommended for approval for household water treatment distribution in Haiti, which had no NSF certification for drinking water use.
But, GWI in its statement argued that it was just one university which determined that the chemical was not safe for use in Haiti, which is insufficient to disregard its advantages altogether.