• Health Effects of Lake Atitlan Contamination

    Posted on June 1, 2016 by in Lake Atitlan Project, Recent News & Events, Senior Media Project


    by Mateo Ratzan Ramirez Solola, Guatemala 31May16

    Como principal causa de muchas enfermedades en los pueblos alrededor del Lago es este mismo. Para poder conocer sobre si las personas en verdad se enfermaban por esto o no y que hacían para cuidarlo les pase una encuesta conformadas de las siguientes preguntas. A continuación, les presentare una respuesta formada por los resultados acumulados entre veinte personas.

    One of the main causes of a lot of sickness in the towns around Lake Atitlan is the Lake.  In order to know if the people actually got sick because of the lake or not and if they did something to improve the lake’s health, I conducted a survey. This survey was passed to twenty people. The questions asked are the following (Note the answers are composed of every different point of view that twenty people made):

    1) ¿Usted piensa que el Lago Atitlán está afectando la salud delas personas?

    El lago si afecta la salud de las personas ya que muchos de los habitantes que se encuentran alrededor de esta área lo consumen, nadan y se bañan en él. Como la gente no está concientizada sobre los efectos dañinos que posee nuestro lago el día de hoy, se enferman. Usualmente la gente al salir del lago se contagia de enfermedades pequeñas como la tos, fiebre, gripe, aunque ha habido casos de que las personas salen del lago hinchados, con marcas en el cuerpo, picazón, ardor en las partes íntimas, y entre otros. En mi opinión esto es debido a que cuando llueve toda las insecticidas y químicos que se ponen en las plantaciones son arrastrados hasta el lago. No solo eso, sino que mucha gente tira basura y las lanchas queman gasolina a diario liberando químicos tóxicos en el lago.

    1) Do you think Lake Atitlan affects the healthiness of people around it?

    The lake does affect people’s health due to the fact that they live around it, they consume it, swim in it and shower in it. Of course not everybody does that but the majority of the population does because they haven’t been taught about the damaging effects that the lake possesses nowadays. Usually after people come out of the lake they get minor sicknesses like a cold, a fever, but nevertheless there have been some cases in which people who swim in the lake get the following effects: either their whole or part of their body swollen, the whole body itching, or burningP1120059 sensation in their private parts. In my opinion this occurs because of all the substances and chemicals mixed up in our lake. Whenever there is rain, the pesticides, insecticides etc. from the plantations are dragged into our lake. Not only that but there is a significant amount of people contaminating it every day by throwing garbage inside it and the boats keep on burning gasoline which releases dangerous toxins.

    2) ¿En su familia, alguien alguna vez se ha enfermado por estar nadando en el Lago Atitlán?

    Más de un familiar de los entrevistados se ha enfermado por nadar en el lago Atitlán. Los síntomas que contaron la mayoría son ronchas en la piel, hinchazón en la parte privada y comezón en los ojos. Ellos contaron que después de salir del lago ellos pensaron que esto era debido al cansancio y a la falta de natación. Después de una semana no paraban los síntomas y decidieron ir al doctor para tratarlo.

    2) Has anybody in your family ever gotten sick from swimming in Lake Atitlan?

    The twenty people surveyed answered that one or more of their family members had gotten sick by swimming in the lake. Most of the symptoms, according to them, are hives on the skin, swollen private parts and itching eyes. They mentioned that after coming out of the lake they thought the things they felt were because of tiredness and the lack of swimming. After a week passed, the symptoms didn’t disappear so they went to the doctor to treat them.

    3) ¿Usted está haciendo algo para solucionar este problema?

    Casi nadie de las personas entrevistadas está haciendo algo para solucionar el problema. Algunos tratan de no tirar basura en el lago y alentar a otros a hacer lo mismo, pero son muy pocos. Esto es debido a que ellos piensan que las organizaciones alrededor del lago van a solucionar este problema.

    3) Are you doing anything to solve this problem?

    Almost no one of the people surveyed are doing something about this problem of lake pollution causing health damage. There are some people who try to not throw trash in the lake and they try to convince others to do the same thing. Unfortunately, most of them say that they aren’t doing anything because they are waiting for the organizations surrounding the lake to clean it.

    4) ¿Cuáles son las posibles soluciones a este problema?

    Las posibles soluciones a estos problemas serian dejar de usar muchas pesticidas, encontrar una gasolina menos dañina y económica, y concientizar a la gente en no tirar basura en el lago. Además de eso se podría hacer plantas de tratamiento en todos los pueblos alrededor del lago para que los desperdicios no paren directamente en el lago. Para solucionar esto, la gente indígena debería dar las charlas ya que los escucharan más que a los extranjeros por que muchos piensan que los extranjeros no saben nada de la vida al rededor del lago. Si usamos todo el dinero acumulado para salvar el lago donadas a las organizaciones, encontraremos una solución para el problema de efectos dañinos a la salud ocasionados por el lago.

    4) What are the possible solutions to this problem?

    The possible solutions to this problem would be to stop using too much pesticides, to find or create a new type of gasoline that is less harmful to the environment which costs at an economic price and to teach people all around the lake to not throw trash inside the lake. Also, we could build treatment plants in all towns around the lake so the feces don’t just go directly in the lake. In order to solve this problems, the indigenous people should do be the ones to teach the population on why not to throw trash in the lake. The reason for it is because they would listen to them more than they listen to foreigners because they think foreigners don’t know anything about their way of living and the lake. If we use all the money donated to the organizations, we could save the lake and find a solution to this problem of health effects caused by the lake.