Inquinamento da arsenico

di Marco Mancini 44

Arsenico

L’arsenico è un semi-metallo molto utilizzato in campo chimico in quanto fortemente reattivo. Per questo è facile trovarlo in molti prodotti di uso comune come insetticidi, pesticidi ed erbicidi. Purtroppo è anche un agente fortemente inquinante. La sua pericolosità è stata riconosciuta già a metà del secolo scorso, quando si è notato che veniva rilasciato sul terreno che diventava così tossico e, quando bruciato, la sua cenere finiva con l’intossicare uomini e animali. Venti grammi di cenere di arsenico, equivalenti ad un solo cucchiaio, sono in grado di uccidere un uomo.

Nonostante si conoscesse la sua pericolosità, la poco informazione diffusa ha fatto si che molti prodotti contenenti arsenico circolassero tranquillamente nelle case e nell’industria per anni, con le conseguenze sulla salute che sono facili da immaginare. Oltre che per gli usi già descritti, l’arsenico infatti è utilizzato per la lavorazione del legno e, in parte ancora oggi, nei circuiti integrati e nei pannelli fotovoltaici, nei LED, nei materiali per la disinfestazione delle termiti, nei fuochi d’artificio e persino è usato come cura per la leucemia promielocitica acuta, sifilide e psoriasi.

Ma a parte questi usi, è facile venire in contatto con l’arsenico anche perché è sprigionato nelle eruzioni vulcaniche, quindi le popolazioni che vivono nei pressi dei vulcani possono facilmente inalarlo, ed in generale attraverso il cibo, visto che l’arsenico si deposita facilmente sul terreno dove viene inglobato dal bestiame, o nelle acque in cui viene a contatto con i pesci. Anche i lavoratori delle fonderie e chi lavora con i metalli può facilmente subire l’avvelenamento da arsenico. Per questo molti impiegati nel settore dell’acciaieria o del legname si sottopongono a controlli periodici.

Gli effetti sulla salute da esposizione per inalazione all’arsenico possono essere nausea, diarrea e dolore addominale in dosi lievi, mentre le dosi più acute possono facilitare dei disturbi al sistema nervoso periferico. L’esposizione per via orale invece può provocare la morte, o comunque attacchi gravi di nausea, vomito, mal di testa, delirio, debolezza, shock, anemia e leucopenia. Il contatto con l’arsenico invece favorisce il tumore alla pelle.

Oggi, nonostante la forte attenzione verso questo elemento chimico, ancora è possibile trovare arsenico, anche in quantità pericolose, sul suolo italiano. E’ il caso di Quirra, dove nei pressi del Poligono di tiro sono state rilevate presenze inquietanti di queste ed altre sostanze pericolose, oppure persino dei tubi della rete idrica nazionale che, secondo i dati di Legambiente, sono fuorilegge almeno in 128 Comuni. Il limite massimo previsto di arsenico nell’acquedotto è di 10 microgrammi per litro, ma a quanto pare, circa un milione di cittadini ricevono acqua con quantitativi superiori ai limiti di legge, una situazione preoccupante ma non ancora allarmante, visto che si tratta di quantità che non possono crear problemi alla salute umana, ma perché rischiare?

Per approfondire:

Arsenico in acqua potabile, Legambiente: “inqualificabili omissioni”
Inquinamento da arsenico, elenco Comuni a rischio
Sindrome di Quirra, quando l’inquinamento nascosto mette in pericolo la salute
Sindrome di Quirra: intervista a Stefano Deliperi, presidente del Gruppo d’Intervento Giuridico e Amici della Terra

[Fonti: Ecologiae; Wikipedia; Epa]

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