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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064


GOMEZ, Luis; AMAYA, Suli  and  BECERRA, Carlos. Assessment of an environmental incident in the town of Cimitarra, Santander. Rev. salud pública [online]. 1999, vol.1, n.1, pp.53-57. ISSN 0124-0064.

An oil company shed industrial pollutants into a stream, which supplied water to the inhabitants of a village in the town of Cimitarra, Department of Santander, in March 1998. A study of this environmental incident was carried out in order to determine the affects of pollution and the possible occurrence of an epidemic outbreak. The information available in the local health institution from before and after the incident was studied. An epidemiological survey was carried out which included a thorough clinical study of the inhabitants in the area and skin samples were taken in suspected cases. Simultaneously, two private laboratories and a university laboratory analyzed water samples for different parameters. All of the results obtained were found to be within the normal ranges. Changes in water were found both before and after the shedding which can be attributed to prolonged pollution with domestic residues and to severe deficiencies in the environmental sanitation of the village. Beside the emergency measures, recommendations were made regarding the infrastructure for basic sanitation together with sanitary education.

Keywords : Contamination; environment; dermatitis; sanitation.

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