Trace element distribution and risk assessment in South Indian surface waterways

  • K. S. GurugeEmail author
  • P. Goswami
  • I. Watanabe
  • S. Abeykoon
  • V. P. Prabhasankar
  • K. R. Binu
  • D. I. Joshua
  • K. Balakrishna
  • M. Akiba
  • N. Munuswamy
Original Paper


The concentrations of 27 major and trace elements are determined in surface water samples collected from 48 sites of diverse waterways in four states (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Telangana) of South India. The aims of this study are to identify the element distribution, comparatively assess the pollution risk, and evaluate human health risks related to diverse waterways in the study area. The results indicate that elements such as Cr, Se, As, Fe, and Mn are the major pollutants, as their concentrations exceeded the acceptable national and international water quality standards in several sites of Ennore, Adyar, Cooum, Periyar, and Vrishabhavathi rivers. Furthermore, statistical analysis reveals that the Ennore, Adyar, Cooum, Periyar, and Kaveri river basins are affected by various anthropogenic activities, leading to moderate-to-high pollution by As, Cr, Mn, Fe, and Se. Potential pollution sources are industrial waste, sewage intrusion, paint industry waste, and automobile runoff. Overall, the investigated sites are categorized into three major groups: highly, moderately, and least polluted. Risk on human health by metals is then evaluated using hazard quotients (HQs) and carcinogenic risk evaluation; the results indicated that As with HQ >1 is the most hazardous pollutant, which could lead to non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic concerns, particularly in children. This study helps in establishing pollutant loading reduction goal and the total maximum daily loads and consequently contributes to preserving public health and developing water conservation strategies.


Surface water Trace element pollution Arsenic Hazard quotient Carcinogenic risk Public health South India 



This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (A), 2012–2014 (24256004) to KSG and MA. Logistic support at Manipal University was provided by Dr TMA Pai Endowment Chair in Earth sciences to KB. The authors are thankful to Dr. T. Sathish, NIOT, Andaman, India, for his help in statistical analysis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Islamic Azad University (IAU) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. S. Guruge
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. Goswami
    • 1
    • 2
  • I. Watanabe
    • 3
  • S. Abeykoon
    • 1
  • V. P. Prabhasankar
    • 4
  • K. R. Binu
    • 4
  • D. I. Joshua
    • 4
  • K. Balakrishna
    • 4
  • M. Akiba
    • 5
  • N. Munuswamy
    • 2
  1. 1.Pathology and Pathophysiology Research Division, National Institute of Animal HealthNational Agriculture and Food Research OrganizationTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Unit of Aquaculture and Cryobiology, Department of ZoologyUniversity of MadrasChennaiIndia
  3. 3.Laboratory of Environmental ToxicologyTokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyFuchuJapan
  4. 4.Department of Civil Engineering, Manipal Institute of TechnologyManipal UniversityManipalIndia
  5. 5.Bacterial and Parasitic Disease Research Division, National Institute of Animal HealthNational Agriculture and Food Research OrganizationTsukubaJapan

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