, Volume 141, Issue 1-3, pp 257-273
Date: 21 Sep 2007

Impact of untreated wastewater irrigation on soils and crops in Shiraz suburban area, SW Iran

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Abstract

In this study an assessment is made of the negative impacts of wastewater irrigation on soils and crops sampled along the Khoshk River channel in suburban area of Shiraz City, SW Iran. For this purpose, samples of soil profiles (0–60 cm in depth) and crops were collected from two wastewater irrigated sites and a tube well-irrigated (control) site. Total concentrations of the five heavy metals (Ni, Pb, Cd, Zn and Cr) and their phytoavailable contents were determined. The Pollution Load Indexes (PLIs) and Contamination Factors (CFs) for soils and Hazard quotients (ΣHQ) for some vegetables were also calculated. The results showed the use of untreated wastewater has caused the following changes as compared to control site: (1) a 20–30% increase in organic matter content of soil; (2) increase in pH by 2–3 units; (3) significant concentration increase in Ex-Ca especially in top layers of soil resulting in high CEC; (4) build up of heavy metals (notably Pb and Ni) in topsoil above Maximum Permissible Limits (MPLs) indicating a moderate contamination (PLI > 1, CF > 2.5); (5) contamination of some vegetables (spinach and lettuce) with Cd due to its high phytoavailability in topsoil causing a HQ > 1; (6) excessive accumulation of Ni and Pb in wheat due to continual addition of heavy metals through long-term wastewater application. The study concludes that strict protection measures, stringent guidelines and an integrated system for the treatment and recycling of wastewater are needed to minimize the negative impacts of wastewater irrigation in the study area.