Drinking water quality analysis after 22 deaths in LaeMaromas, North Sumatera


Abraham Simatupang(1*), Seruni Kusuma Udyaningsih Freisleben(2), Maruli Pandjaitan(3), Christel Westerhausen(4), Hans Joachim Freisleben(5)

(1) Department of Pharmacology and Therapy, Faculty of Medicine Universitas Kristen Indonesia, Jakarta,
(2) Department of Physica, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Universitas Indonesia,
(3) Swiss German University, EduTown BSD City, Serpong Tangerang,
(4) Tarutung District Hospital, Tarutung, North Sumatera Province,
(5) Medical Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta
(*) Corresponding Author


The case of 22 deaths in LaeMaromas, North Sumatera suspected due to water contamination by
nearby metal mining was brought by local citizens to the Church-supported non-governmental
organization (NGO) Persekutuan Diakonia Pelangi Kasih (PDPK). The patients’ clinical symptoms
were fever, shivering, shaking chills, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting. In June 2011, a
team from the District Health Department analysed the drinking water quality, especially
microbiological contamination. Members of PDPK asked the German-Indonesian Medical
Association to conduct a second complete water analysis with focus on heavy metal content.
Six water samples from four different wells in LaeMaromas and two from Sopokomil and Bongkaras
were analysed according to international water quality standards. Taste, odour, colour, and turbidity
were determined by organoleptic and photometric methods. Temperature and pH were measured
with a calibrated thermometer and pH-meter. Total dissolved solids were determined gravimetrically,
hardness as CaCO3 content. Inorganic anions and nitrogen compounds were measured by titration.
Contamination with Eschericia coli and coliform bacteria, organic compounds and detergents was
determined according to standard methods. Heavy metals were measured by atomic absorption
spectroscopy. The pH of the water (4.5-6.5) was below standard (6.5-8.5). Heavy metals were
within the allowed concentrations. All samples from LaeMaromas contained high counts coliform
bacteria /E. coli with a peak of 1600 counts/100 mL and high organic compound level of 63 mg/L
in LaeMaromas III. Most probably, the 22 deaths were caused by drinking water contamination with
coliform bacteria rather than by heavy metals or other chemicals.


sanitation - E. coli - water contamination - heavy metals - mortality

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.19106/JMedScie004604201406

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Copyright (c) 2015 Abraham Simatupang, Seruni Kusuma Udyaningsih Freisleben, Maruli Pandjaitan, Christel Westerhausen, Hans Joachim Freisleben

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Journal of the Medical Sciences (Berkala Ilmu Kedokteran) by  Universitas Gadjah Mada is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://jurnal.ugm.ac.id/bik/.