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Anosha Nangraj, Speaker at Vaccine Research Conference
Habib University, Pakistan
Title : Water Quality and Environmental Analysis of Shrines in Karachi


Safe and readily available water is integral for public health. Karachi (Pakistan), ranked number 11 as the most populous metropolitan city in the world, is heavily impacted by the critical issue of water contamination. Shrines in Karachi, do not only serve as a place of worship and submission but also a point of community gathering. Certain practices at shrines may be prevalent due to religious and social perspectives, for example, the consumption of ‘holy’ water or bathing in said water without public realizing the potential dangers it may hold if water is not germ-free. This research investigates the water quality of randomly selected shrines in Karachi. The environment inside shrines was also observed for contributing factors.

The twenty-seven collected samples were tested for the presence of Coliform and E. coli using the IDEXX Colilert-18 test kit. The concentration of the contaminants was determined using the Most Probable Number (MPN) values. Each sample's turbidity was also evaluated qualitatively as a measure of the clarity of the water. Additionally, observations were made for other variables such as lavatory availability, the presence of dust, ventilation systems like fans and air conditioning and signs of unsafe behaviour, including substance-use among shrine attendees. Each shrine was given a scoring between 0-4 (with 0 as lowest level of cleanliness).

Analysis revealed that 40.74% of samples were turbid, while coliforms and E. coli were present in 74.07% and 63% samples, respectively. Seventy-five percent of the shrines showed efficient ventilation systems, including air conditioning and fan operations. About 45% of the shrines showed signs of dust, either on their floors or suspended in the air. It was shown that 40% of the carefully examined shrines were regularly visited by people who exhibited traits related to drug addiction. It is important to note that apparent cleanliness of a shrine did not necessarily indicate the purity of its water. Most shrines fell in the moderate or good cleanliness level, however, Coliforms were present in most of the samples indicating that cleanliness does not determine good water quality.

This study highlights the presence of pathogens in drinking water and reveals the risk to the public who consume basic necessities like water in public spheres. A lot of the times people visit shrines for healing but may, inadvertently, return with an illness. It is important that government monitoring agencies that overlook these shrines, disseminate relevant awareness and make quality water accessible for consumption.Top of Form


Anosha Nangraj, a third-year undergraduate student at Habib University, is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Social Development and Policy with a minor in Public Health. With a profound interest in public health research and social determinants of health, Anosha has engaged in significant projects, including one under a professor's supervision that not only garnered university funding but also led to their abstract's acceptance at the ASM Microbe conference in Atlanta, USA. Additionally, Anosha was a participant in the Invent for the Planet (IFTP) competition hosted by Texas A&M University, where she contributed to developing a prototype for temporary housing for displaced people during natural disasters. Further highlighting her commitment to innovation, Anosha was the sole representative from Pakistan at the Global Virtual Summer School offered by Michigan State University's Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP), focusing on global entrepreneurship and innovation, for which she received a full scholarship. These experiences underscore her dedication to addressing complex global challenges through research, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration.