The aim of the present study was to assess the levels of heavy metal contamination in soils and its effects on human health in the northern Telangana, India. Soil samples were collected randomly from 15 sampling stations located in the northern Telangana and analyzed for arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), nickel (Ni), and lead (Pb). The index of geo-accumulation (Igeo), ecological risk index (ERI), hazard quotient (HQ), hazard index (HI), cancer risk (CR), and lifetime cancer risk (LCR) were used to estimate the heavy metal pollution and its consequence to human health. Results indicated that As, Zn, Cu, Pb, and Ni were within recommended limits, while Cr concentration (60 mg/kg) exceeded the maximum recommended limit in 93% of soil samples. The HI values of Cu, Ni, and Zn were all less than the recommended limit of HI = 1, indicating that there were no non-carcinogenic risks from these elements for children and adults. LCR for As and Cr concentrations of the soils was found higher than the acceptable threshold value of 1.0E−04, indicating significant carcinogenic risk due to higher concentration of these metals in the soils of the study region. The chronic daily intake of the metals is of major concern as their cumulative effect could result in several health complications of children and adults in the region. Therefore, necessary precautions should be taken to eradicate the health risk in the study region.
Soil contamination Heavy metals Index of geo-accumulation Ecological risk index Heath risk Northern Telangana
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The authors are also highly thankful to the two anonymous reviewers for their meticulous observations, their suggestions, and constructive comments, which helped us to improve the quality of the paper.
This work was supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India, under Fast Track Young Scientist Scheme Grant No. SR/FTP/ES-13/2013 to the first author (Narsimha Adimalla), which would like to express his sincere gratitude and appreciation for the financial support.
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