The United States has become the country with the world’s highest rates of water pollution.
But some of the country’s poorest residents are also struggling to find clean drinking water.
Al Jazeera’s Daniel Sandford reports from a village in Bangladesh where children have been using plastic containers to drink drinking water, and from the capital Dhaka where the government has imposed a ban on plastic containers for the sake of children.
“In Bangladesh, there is a lot of plastic in the streets.
But in Bangladesh, it’s all made of plastic,” said Sohail, an unemployed mother of two who uses the plastic container for drinking water to help keep her children clean.”
We’re trying to do something for our children, but we’re not getting anywhere,” she said.
Sohail’s children were among the 1.6 million people who were already suffering from water contamination when the World Health Organization warned of the growing problem of contaminated drinking water in Bangladesh last month.
The agency said it was concerned about the growing levels of toxic contaminants in the water, particularly as some areas have not had the same level of treatment as others.
Soha, a resident of a small village in Dhaka, said she had never seen the children drink from plastic containers before.
“I haven’t seen it before, and I don’t know what the reason is.
I’m trying to help them, but I can’t.
They are children.
I have to watch them.
They’re a very precious family.
We just want to keep them safe,” she told Al Jazeera.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned last month that the number of children with elevated levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in their drinking water had risen to 1.4 million in Bangladesh.
This year, there have been concerns that the PCBs could be found in drinking water supplies across the country, but officials have refused to comment on the cause of the problem.
The WHO, however, said that in some areas, there was a significant rise in PCB levels in the drinking water of people who did not have access to treatment facilities.
“A very high level of PCB contamination in drinking-waters in Dhakabazar, Dhaka and other places has been detected in the past three years,” said a WHO official in Bangladesh on Tuesday.
“It is not clear if it is caused by a natural occurrence, or by industrial activities or contamination from other sources.”
But critics say the government is trying to deflect blame for the contamination by blaming other sources.
“People are saying, ‘I’m not responsible for the water pollution, I’m not to blame, it was all caused by the poor people, the poor women who have no access to drinking water’,” said Soha, adding that people like her were not the only ones affected by the pollution.
The problem is especially acute in rural areas where water pollution has become so prevalent that it has caused widespread water shortages.
A recent survey by the local council found that 1.2 million people were affected by water pollution in Bangladesh’s countryside, and that almost a quarter of them did not even have access the treatment facilities for drinking-watered water.
“The government is saying we can’t get the water because of the poor quality of the water and the contamination, but this is not the case,” Soha said.