Heavy Metal and Physicochemical characteristics of River Ganga



Ajay Kumar* and Vandana Garg

Zoology Department, D.N. College, C.C.S. University, Meerut 250004

E-mail*: ajaymavey11@gmail.com

Received: 21-10-2019                                                                                                                                 Accepted: 30-01-2020

 Ganga is the life line of millions of people, provide water for their life but pollutants affects its nature of water and also effects the aquatic organism specially fish, which is the food source of millions of people. These pollutants are different types like heavy metals, industrial effluents and untreated sewage which are being dumped into the river at numerous places and the residues of pesticides and insecticides used in the farms are washed directly and indirectly in to the river Ganga. The present study deals with the water quality of Ganga river in Brijghat (Hapur). In this study, water samples of river Ganga and some its tributary were monitored for pH, dissolved oxygen, total hardness, heavy metals likes As, Fe, Mn, Cu, Pb, Cd, Hg, Cr, Zn, Ni, nitrate, nitrogen, phosphate and phosphorous at different sampling locations. The study of physico-chemical parameters indicates that the quality of water has substantially declined and destroys water quality of river. This creates potential health risks to drinking water consumers and organisms in Ganga River basin.

Key words: Heavy metal As, Fe, Mn, Cu, Pb, Cd, Hg, Cr, Zn, Ni, Physico-chemical characteristics.


Now-a-days Water Pollution is the biggest problem of India. Water pollutants destroy the neutrality of water and these pollutants abrade the natural history of river and degrade the water quality. Water is a very essential and valuable natural resource for life on this planet. Ganga is the major river of India (Abed and Jazie, 2014). It is the life line of about 20% of total population because it provides water as an essential requirement of life directly and indirectly. Water is one of the prime requirements for agricultural practices. India is a land of farmers, and agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy (Chopra et al., 2012). In the present day Ganga river pollution is a serious and emerging problem in India. The Ganges River Catchment Basin covers an area of 390,000 sq miles (1,000,000 sq km) and supplies to one of the maximum populated areas in the world and through the states of Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal. There are 223 urban areas/towns (districts/partnerships) creating huge measure of sewage in the Ganga Basin (Kumar and Chopra, 2012). The Ganga River emerges in the western Himalayas in the Uttarakhand and stream south and east through the Gangetic Plain of India and Bangladesh, in the long run discharging into the Bay of Bengal. The present study deals with the river Ganga in Brajghat (Hapur). Gajroula is a town of district Amroha, UP. It has many types of industries. Due to the rapid industrialization, there has been an increase in the amount of effluents being deposit to the water bodies. These industries directly and indirectly discharge wastes in to the Ganga water body. Industrial effluents and sewage entering the water bodies are one of the prime sources of environmental toxicity, which endangers aquatic biota and deteriorates water quality (Kumar et al., 2015, Sinha & Paul, 2012, Khatun and Jamal, 2018, Mitra et al., 2014). From year to year Ganga and its tributaries have increase in pollutant loads due to commercial and domestic sources, sewage discharge and industrial effluents (Murty et al., 2000). Heavy metals is a common term that embed to metal and metalloid with atomic density greater than 4g/ cm3 and 5 time or more then water (Hawkes 1997). Mostly heavy metals have positive valencies and thirty five elements are considered as heavy metals (Hussain et al. 2017). This heavy metal affects the aquatic life of different river organism. Different researchers use fish as a bio-indicator of harmful effects of these heavy metals (Srivastava et al., 2016, Rasul 2017, Janaydeh et al., 2019, Matta, 2016, Singh et al., 2016, Shukla et al., 2017, Dhanakumar et al., 2015, Paul, 2017, Kabir et al., 2019, Singh, 2005, Singh et al., 2010, Singh, 2011) Monitoring of the water is an essential step to understand the trends and pattern of pollutants and their effect on living aquatic systems (Authman et al., 2015). The few issues centered in above tests make it important for organizers to consider the effect of various types of toxins that have been constantly released into waterway in unmannered manner and afterward apply best accessible strategy to deal with the stream water quality.


Sample of the water were collected at selected site of the Ganga River like Garudchatti at Rishikesh, Trivanighat, Haridwar, Roorkee canal, Bijnor Barrage and Brijghat (Gardhmukteswar) at Hapur District Uttar Pradesh, India. In this study we focus mainly the Brajghat because in this region different types of Industries are established Gajroula town near to Brijghat has a broad spectrum of the Industries. So the water directly collected at this site in Pyrex glass specimen bottles and examine some parameters on present. Parameters like pH, temperature, EC, DO were estimated on the spot immediately after the collection of the samples with the help of HACH multi meter model No. HQ40D, Colour by Colorimeter HACH, Turbidity by turbidity meter HACH, TS and TDS by Gravimetric analysis method, Alkalinity and Hardness by titrimetric analysis, COD determine by Close reflux method, BOD by multitube method, Silicate by U.V. spectrometer and heavy metals Arsenic, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Chromium, Zinc and Nickel with the help of Inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was done in the laboratory at IIT Hydrology Department Roorkee. It is a type of mass spectrometry that uses an Inductive coupled plasma to ionize the sample. The mean value of the observations was taken for determine the physico-chemical characteristics of water standard methods (APHA 2005) for examination of water characteristics.


The physicochemical characteristics of various constituents are present in table no. 1-2. The pH of the sea-going framework is a significant pointer of the water quality. The chemical and biochemical reaction are influenced by the pH. The pH value of Ganga water varies between the slightly acidic to moderately alkaline in the present study which is well within the permissible limit of pH (6.5 to 8.5) for multiple uses of water as prescribed by BIS 1992. The pH values of the Ganga river is averagely 8.41 indicate the moderately alkaline nature of the river water and close to permissible limit. Electrical conductivity (EC) of Ganga water is estimated the total amount of solids dissolve in the water. It is the ability to conduct an electric current. Salts or other chemicals that dissolve in the water can break down into the positively and negatively charged ions. In fresh water, the range of it may vary from 100 to 200μS. In the Ganga water it is found averagely 206.05 μS. The EC is relative to temperature. The temperature of Ganga water was recorded directly in the different sampling sites using digital thermometer. An average temperature was recorded 23.83°C. The digital thermometer had a thermocouple was immersed in the water for the desired level. Temperature influences the chemical, biochemical and biological characteristic of the aquatic system. The temperature indirectly regulates the coloration in aquatic organism specially fishes. Generally the low temperature brings about the darkening effect while its rise results in the concentration of pigments with consequent lightning of the color. Temperature is known to influence pH, DO, alkalinity of the water. pH is considered an important chemical parameter that determines the suitability of water. The pH meter HACH HQ40D was used method for an accurate and quick measure of the pH. pH of water is important for biotic communities and good indicator of the water quality because most of the aquatic organism is adapted to pH level of around 0–14. The optimal pH range for sustainable aquatic life is pH 6.5–8.2.There was not much fluctuation recorded in pH values (Table 1, average pH value is 8.41) by the present study.Exposure to extreme pH values results in irritation to the eyes, skin, mucous membranes, gastrointestinal irritation and in low pH, same effects occur. The estimation of turbidity is a key trial of water quality. Turbidity is the darkness or cloudiness of a liquid brought about by huge number of individual particles that are commonly imperceptible to the unaided eye like smoke in air. Temperatures play an important role in determining DO in an aquatic body. Dissolved oxygen data are useful in assessing the water quality criteria of an aquatic system. In the system where respiration level and organic decomposition are high, DO values remain lower than system value where photosynthesis rate are high. A high pollution load may also decrease the DO values to significant level. The average DO values of this data is 7.93 mg/L. Biological Oxygen demand has been used as a measure of the amount of organic materialism an aquatic solution which support the growth of microorganism. The BOD values range from 2.94 mg/L. No significant variation was observed between these sites. DO and BOD were calculated using the standard method. Alkalinity is an important parameter in determine the water quality. A variation in alkalinity valueswere recorded as a minimum of 87.14 mg/L. No significant variation was noticed. Furthermore the total alkalinity was significantly higher in sample no 3 than that of other sites.

Heavy Metal Concentrations in water sample: The concentrations of the heavy metals in all different siteof samples and its considered tributaries were measured as dissolved pollutants. The dissolved concentrations of heavy metals (As, Fe, Cu, Pb, Cd, Hg, Cr, Zn and Ni) in water samples taken from the 7 sites along the River Ganga were found to the below of WHO standards for the various metals in fresh natural waters comparatively measured dissolved concentrations of heavy metals from all the sampling sites were below the WHO, CPCB, ISI, ICMR, USEPA standards. Fe, Cu, Zn, Cr and Mn heavy metal are essential as a micronutrient for plants, microbes and human beings (Singh et al., 2005 & 2006). But when these exposed in high amount it produce different side effect of the flora and fauna (Zaki, 2014). Cadmium is one of the most toxic heavy metals and is considered nonessential for living organisms. When it exposed into the environment via food chain, it cause various toxic effect. This element is found at low concentrations in natural environments, but human activities have resulted in increased levels in all over the countries (Kocaoba et al., 2005). The maximum concentration of the Cd (1.253 ppb) was recorded in the water sample of the Brijghat and lowest in the water sample of Song River (0.106ppb). Cadmium is a human health risk factor because it causes testicular degeneration (Benoff et al., 2000) and cancer of the prostate (Ye et al., 2000). It also damages each kidney nephron’s proximal tubules. The impacted individual suffers from leakage into urine and eventually kidney failure of low molecular weight proteins and vital ions such as Ca (Satarug et al., 2000). Because of Cd the individuals endure frail bone because of loss of Ca (Staessen et al., 1999). Utilization of heavy metals like Cr, Cd and Pb containing Ganga water for drinking has reason for carcinoma of nerve bladder in the individuals of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Western Bihar of India (Shukla et al. 1998, Strobel et al. 2001, Namasivayam and Rangnathan, 1995). Arsenic (As) has a great environmental importance, the main source of its pollution in surface water by biological activity, weathering of rocks and volcanic activity as well as anthropogenic activities includes industrial effluents (Kinniburg and Smedley, 2001, Kapaja et al., 2006) and is able to accumulate in large in aquatic organisms. ArseniteAs (III) are rapidly absorbed into fish and it is more toxic then arsenate As (V). Several study are reported that As is highly toxic heavy metal it produce carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, skin pigmentation loss or skin cancer, lung cancer and several other disease after acute and chronic exposer (Zaki 2014). In the river Ganga As has been reported high level to the permissible limits. In the six different sites, Brijghat have high level (13.6 ppb) and Haridwar has lower level (0.63 ppb), Trivanighat 3.44 ppb, Song river 10.21 ppb, Roorkee canal 6.83 ppb, Bijnore barrage 10.041 ppb. Iron (Fe) is an essential element in the human diet. The toxicity of Fe to the human body is governed by the absorption rate, when it absorb in high amount to the permissible limits than it show toxic effects. The Fe concentration observed may be related to the continual discharging of mining waste generated from Small Scale mining activities. It was found to be more than the accepted limit in all six samples because it has 300ppb permissible limit. Maximum Iron concentration was found in Garudchatti water samples (5405.77 ppb). Mn was analysed more than permissible limit in six water samples. Highest concentration of Mn (330.59 ppb) was found in water sample of Brijghat. Concentration of Cu was observed in six water samples, the highest observed in Garudchatti (26.00 ppb) and lowest in Haridwar (1.72 ppb). Pb content was highest were recorded in the water samples of Roorkee canal (5.58 ppb) and lowest in Haridwar. Lead (Pb) has 10ppb permissible limit in water. Several health problems are reported due to Pb high limit exposure, these problems are convulsion, renal failure and at higher concentration death may occur. Pb produces neurotoxic effects on developing foetuses. It has been reported that lead stored in the maternal bone are mobilized at high rate especially during pregnancy and lactation period (Gulson et al., 1997). Pb affects fetus birth weight, growth rate and mental development (Gonzalez-Cossio et al., 1997). Mercury (Hg) was analyzed in the six different sites water samples. The highest concentration in the water was found Song river and lowest in Haridwar. Chromium (Cr) (10.321 ppb) and Zn (376.69 ppb) concentration also recorded in six different sites samples, it has highest in Brijghat Ganga river water sample and also Nickel (Ni) highest value was recorded in the water samples of Song river. In this experiment we have used numerous chemicals and required for determination of water parameters of Ganga river. Preparation of solutions is done in distillated water. The research therefore indicates that Ganga water is extremely polluted at Brijghat and other sites and these industrial effluents are the main cause of heavy metal emissions. For the protection of Ganga water, the pressing need for sewage treatment plant, industrial effluent treatment plant and government awareness is suggested.


Thus, we can conclude that the Ganga river get seriously polluted due to discharge to untreated sewage, industrial effluents, pesticides residues and insecticides used by farmers where are washed in to it from the point and non-point sources. These toxic substances do not degrade easily and remain persistent in the environment, and also have the ability to bio-accumulate in the food chain, which might pose potential hazards in long run. This present data indicate further water quality deterioration and pollution from nearby anthropogenic inputs. Therefore, any future pollution should be reduced and this, of course, should involve the authority to control the pollution sources that would aggravate the pollution levels of river water. Regular monitoring and strict law enforcement is needed to develop a strategy to manage the environmental hazards due to these elements and to improve environmental protection of this area. Our current information will serve as the basis for future reference. In order to evaluate the physicochemical characteristics, present data deals with the effect of contamination on the River water Ganga at different sites. Although in the research topic the toxicity of these elements has been discussed. The analysis of Ganga River water samples reveals that the contamination at selected points are not suitable for drinking. Thus, this study suggests that Ganga water is highly polluted at Brijghat and some selected point in this study, industrial effluents are the major source of heavy metal pollution. For the cleaning of river Ganga in 1989 launched Ganga Action Plan and in July 2014, Namami Gange project were launched by central government, for this about 2,968 crore have been spent for various effort in cleaning up of river. Therefore, urgent need of sewage treatment and industrial effluent treatment plant and also required public awareness.  


The author thankfully acknowledges CSIR for provide me funding for this study and also thank of Hydrology Department IIT Roorkee for provide me instrumentation facility.


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