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PUTRAJAYA, Jan 7, 2016:

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam today suggested that bauxite mining in Pahang be halted altogether if the activity continued to pollute waterways and water supply and posed a health risk.

He also advised the people of Kuantan against drinking bauxite-polluted river water because it was harmful to health.

He said they should not drink such water even by boiling it because it contained heavy metals that were detrimental to health and could remain in the body undetected for a long time.

They should also not eat fish caught in the polluted rivers, he told reporters after delivering his New Year message for the ministry here.

Subramaniam said the ministry was monitoring the situation to ensure that the water supply system in the Kuantan area was unaffected.

Asked to comment on reports that people exposed to bauxite dust could eventually suffer from Alzheimer’s, he said: “All forms of heavy metal carry a long-term effect. It will take some time for it to manifest.”

The federal government yesterday announced a three-month moratorium from Jan 15 on bauxite mining in Pahang.

Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said the ministry was awaiting a chemical analysis report to determine the effect of bauxite on man and marine life.

In his address to ministry staff, Dr Subramaniam said the ministry would implement the Domiciliary Care Service for patients requiring long-term nursing care after being discharged from hospital.

“For a start, the service will focus on the nursing and rehabilitation aspects at selected health clinics in the country,” he said, adding that there were now 160 teams providing the service.

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