The Santiago River The Santiago River.

Kidney failure cases probed in Jalisco

High incidence recorded in municipality of Poncitlán

Chronic kidney failure continues to be diagnosed among residents of a municipality in Jalisco, and the cause continues to elude researchers.

More commonly associated with advanced age, diabetes and hypertension, kidney failure has been affecting patients aged between five and 20 in Poncitlán, located near the Santiago River and 10 kilometers from Lake Chapala.

A team of specialists from the University of Guadalajara, the National Institute of Public Health, medical laboratory Grupo Pisa and other institutions responded when the Civil Hospital of Guadalajara started reporting an increase in cases of kidney failure in young patients.

According to nephrologist Karina Renoirte López, 40% of the inhabitants of Poncitlán presented some level of kidney failure and traces of lead and other heavy metals. The symptoms were more prevalent among young, male farm workers.

The specialists began doing field research in the area two years ago, but have yet to reach any conclusions.

Industrial pollution in rivers and creeks in the greater Chapala and Santiago aquifers has been cited as a possible cause, as well as the agrochemicals and pesticides used on local farms.

Renoirte told the newspaper Milenio that the state of Jalisco ranks second in the world for the number of people suffering kidney ailments, second to Taiwan.

Pollution in the greater Chapala aquifer and in Poncitlán have been reported before. As early as 2013 the non-governmental organization Greenpeace focused on a grassroots movement from El Salto de Juanacatlán — located some 50 kilometers away from Poncitlán — in a documentary called Un Salto de Vida (A Leap of Life).

The film reported that over 1,900 chemical substances related to industrial activity in the region had been identified in the Santiago River and were causing serious health problems in children and adults alike.

At the time, Greenpeace stated that the National Water Commission had acknowledged that the health of anybody living within five kilometers of the Santiago River was at risk.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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