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Dissolved trace elements in Hooghly (Ganges) River Estuary, India: Risk assessment and implications for management

Mitra, Soumita, Sarkar, Santosh Kumar, Raja, Pushpanathan, Biswas, Jayanta Kumar, Murugan, Kadarkarai
Marine pollution bulletin 2018 v.133 pp. 402-414
World Health Organization, adults, aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, children, chromium, cobalt, copper, drinking water, estuaries, human health, iron, lead, manganese, neoplasms, nickel, risk, risk assessment, rivers, seasonal variation, silicon, surface water, water pollution, zinc, India
The study presents a spatio-seasonal distribution of 13 trace elements in the surface water (0–5 cm) along the north–south gradient of Hooghly River Estuary, India, and subsequently evaluates the human health risk by adopting USEPA standards. An overall homogeneous spatial distribution of elements was pronounced, whereas an irregular and inconsistent seasonal pattern were recorded for the majority of the elements. The concentration range (μg/l) of the elements and their relative variability were obtained as follows in the decreasing order: Al (55,458–104,955) > Fe (35,676–78,427) > Mn (651.76–975.78) > V (85.15–147.70) > Si (16.0–153.88) > Zn (26.94–105.32) > Cr (21.61–106.02) > Ni (19.64–66.72) > Cu (34.70–65.80) > Pb (26.40–37.48) > Co (11.16–23.01) > As (0.10–8.20) > Cd (1.19–5.53). Although Pb, Ni, Cr, Al, Fe, and Mn exceeded the WHO prescribed threshold limit for drinking water, Metal Pollution Index values (8.02–11.86) superseded the upper threshold limit endorsing adverse impact on biota. The studied elements were justified to have a non-carcinogenic risk as derived from hazard quotient and hazard index values. However, the trace elements As, Cd, Pb, and Cr exceeded the upper limit of cancer risk (10−4), thereby leading to carcinogenic risk concern for both children and adult population groups, where children are more susceptible than the adults. Hence, evaluation of bioavailable fractions of the elements is required for proper management of this stressed fluvial system.