Evaluation of the concentration of HCH, DDT, HCB, PCB and PAH in the sediments along the lower stretch of Hugli estuary, West Bengal, northeast India

L Guzzella, C Roscioli, L Viganò, M Saha, S K Sarkar, A Bhattacharya
Environment International 2005, 31 (4): 523-34
Detailed analyses of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) isomers (HCHs), dichlorodiphenyltrichloro ethane (DDT) and its metabolites (DDTs), hexachlorobenzene (HCB) and congeners of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in surface sediments from the coastal estuarine environment of West Bengal, northeast India allowed the evaluation of the contamination status, distribution and possible pollution sources. HCH, DDT, HCB, PCB and PAH were identified compounds in all the samples, whereas the concentrations of chlorinated pesticides (trans-eptachlorepoxide, dieldrin, endrin, metaoxychlor and mirex) were below the detection limits and were not of great concern. The pesticides did demonstrate markedly different distributions reflecting different agricultural and domestic usage in the region. The range of concentrations of HCH, HCB, DDT and PCBs in the sediments were 0.11-0.40, <0.05-0.98, 0.18-1.93 and 0.18-2.33 ng/g dry wt, respectively. Overall elevated levels of HCB, DDT and PCB were recorded at Babughat, a very closely located site of the metropolitan megacity Calcutta. Fluoranthene (flu) and pyrene (py), the dominant 4-ring PAHs, also showed an abrupt elevated concentrations at Babughat with values of 214 and 144 ng/g dry wt, respectively. Among the isomers and metabolites of HCH, DDT and PCB, alpha-HCH, pp'-DDT and PCB (101), PCB (118), PCB(153) and PCB (138) were found to be dominant. High ratios of metabolites of DDT to SigmaDDTs reveal recent use of DDT in this coastal environment. Fluoranthene, pyrene, 1,2-benzo(a)anthracene and chrysene formed the dominant congeners out of 19 identified PAHs. The sources of contamination are closely related to human activities such as domestic and industrial discharge, automobile exhausts, street runoff, slum sewage, agricultural chemicals and soil erosion due to deforestation as well as atmospheric transport. This study is compared to other coastal and estuarine environments in India and abroad. The baseline data can be used for regular ecological monitoring, considering the industrial and agricultural growth around this important estuarine ecosystem.

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