Effect of long-term application of treated sewage water on heavy metal accumulation in vegetables grown in Northern India.

Summary of "Effect of long-term application of treated sewage water on heavy metal accumulation in vegetables grown in Northern India."

Use of industrial and wastewater for irrigation is on the rise in India and other developing countries because of scarcity of good-quality irrigation water. Wastewaters contain plant nutrients that favour crop growth but leave a burden of heavy metals which can enter the food chain and is a cause of great concern. The present study was undertaken on the long-term impact of irrigation with treated sewage water for growing vegetables and the potential health risk associated with consumption of such vegetable. Treated sewage water (TSW), groundwater (GW), soil and plant samples were collected from peri urban vegetable growing areas of Northern India (Varanasi) and analysed to assess the long-term effect of irrigation with TSW on Cd, Cr, Ni and Pb build-up in soils and its subsequent transfer into commonly grown vegetable crops. Results indicate that TSW was richer in essential plant nutrients but contained Cd, Cr and Ni in amounts well above the permissible limits for its use as irrigation water. Long-term application of TSW resulted in significant build-up of total and DTPA extractable Cd, Cr, Ni and Pb over GW irrigated sites. TSW also resulted in slight lowering in pH, increase in organic carbon (1.6 g kg( - 1)) and cation exchange capacity (5.2 cmol kg( - 1)). The tissue metal concentration and relative efficiency of transfer of heavy metals from soil to plant (transfer factor) for various groups of vegetables were worked out. Radish, turnip and spinach were grouped as hyper accumulator of heavy metals whereas brinjal and cauliflower accumulated less heavy metals. Health risk assessment by consumption of vegetables grown with TSW indicated that all the vegetables were safe for human consumption. However, significant accumulation of these heavy metals in soil and plant needs to be monitored.


Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, 221005, India,

Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Environmental monitoring and assessment
ISSN: 1573-2959


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