HYDERABAD: Groundwater in Nalgonda is a deadly concoction of various toxic elements like lead, cadmium, vanadium and arsenic in concentrations that are thousands of times higher than the maximum levels prescribed for drinking water quality by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). Consider this for example. While the maximum concentration prescribed by WHO and BIS for lead, vanadium and arsenic in drinking water is 0.01 micrograms per liter(µg/l), in the groundwater samples collected from various parts of Nalgonda, the concentrations ranged between 0.6-40.51µg/l, 9.9-36.9µg/l and 0.4-34.1µg/l respectively. For cadmium the standard is 0.003µg/l, whereas it was found to be in the range of 2.2-32.8µg/l.
These findings were reported in a research paper titled ‘Groundwater contamination in parts of Nalgonda district, Telangana, India as revealed by trace elemental studies’ published this month in the journal of Geological Society of India. For the study 30 groundwater samples were collected from different parts of erstwhile Nalgonda district.
The study was conducted by researchers from the National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), University of Hyderabad (UoH) and Kakatiya University (KU). Sibasish Mishra of NGRI is the corresponding author of the paper. Dr Mala Das Sharma, head of chemistry department at a degree college here, who had earlier conducted trace elemental studies of groundwater in Hyderabad, says, “Trace elements occur naturally in groundwater but such high concentrations are undoubtedly due to pollution as a result of human actions.
The presence of high levels of toxic elements not just affects human health directly through contaminated ground water but as groundwater is often used for irrigation, these toxic elements are absorbed by plants and enter the food chain.”“The sewage release of reactive pollutants, inadequate management of land, water resources, over exploitation, indiscriminate use of fertilizers/ pesticides are the main causes of anthropogenic pollution,” the researchers said in the paper.
1,000 times more than WHO prescribed limits
Trace elements like lead, arsenic and cadmium are thousands time more than the limits prescribed by WHO and BIS
The presence of these elements can lead to cancer, dermatological, cardiovascular, iiver, lung and kidney disorders