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HomeNewsCosta RicaUCR Confirms Xylene Behind San José Water Contamination

UCR Confirms Xylene Behind San José Water Contamination

The University of Costa Rica (UCR) has officially confirmed that xylene is the identified component behind water contamination affecting various areas of San José.

This confirmation follows an in-depth investigation carried out by prominent research centers including the Electrochemistry and Chemical Energy Research Center (CELEQ), the Natural Products Research Center (CIPRONA), the Environmental Contamination Research Center (CICA), and the Materials Science and Engineering Research Center (CICIMA).

Xylene, a frequently utilized diluent in industrial processes, has emerged as the key contaminant. While investigations are still in progress, experts have shared preliminary data shedding light on the nature of the substance.

It’s worth noting that xylene is not classified as toxic, but it can pose harm, leading to symptoms such as dizziness and vomiting. Inside the human body, the substance can persist for up to 18 hours.

Reports of a gasoline-like odor and taste surfaced in areas like Moravia, Goicoechea, and Tibás from the beginning of the previous week. The issue later extended to districts of Montes de Oca and the central canton of San José.

Authorities initially withheld specific details until Thursday when AyA confirmed the presence of hydrocarbons in low concentrations. Despite this, they strongly advised against using or consuming the contaminated liquid.

Addressing the public jointly on Friday, AyA and the Ministry of Health outlined the challenges in pinpointing the cause of contamination and factors involved in the liquid.

In response to the potential risks associated with contaminated water, a distribution process involving tankers and tank cleaning was initiated a week ago, with results yet to be achieved. An additional measure this week involved interconnecting other supply tanks to the network, albeit causing temporary water cuts in unaffected areas to supply the affected sites.

Experts emphasized that ongoing research indicates the contaminant tends to dissipate, making the water increasingly safe for consumption.

Xylene, widely employed as a solvent in printing, rubber, and leather industries, also serves as a cleaning agent, paint thinner, and is a component in paints and varnishes.

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