Organic and Inorganic Pollutant Concentrations Suggest Anthropogenic Contamination of Soils Along the Manali-Leh Highway, Northwestern Himalaya, India

  • Rajarshi Dasgupta
  • Brooke E. Crowley
  • J. Barry Maynard
Article

Abstract

Most studies on roadside soil pollution have been performed in areas where petrol is the main fuel. Very little work has been conducted in regions where diesel predominates. We collected soil samples from four sites that span a precipitation gradient along the Manali-Leh Highway in northwestern Himalaya, India. This road traverses rough terrain and most of the vehicles that travel along it are diesel-driven. At each site, we collected samples at incremental distances from the highway (0, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 150 m), and at each distance we collected samples from three depths (3, 9, and 15 cm). We assessed the concentrations of 10 heavy metals (Al, Fe, Cr, Cu, Pb, Ni, Co, Zn, V, and Ba), total sulphur, and total organic carbon (TOC) at each distance, and we measured the concentration of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) at 2 m from the highway. Overall, we found that metal concentrations are low and there is no relationship between concentrations and distance from the highway, or depth within the soil profile. Sulphur concentrations, on the other hand, are high in roadside soils and there is a negative relationship between concentration and distance from the highway. PAH concentrations are low, but the proportion of different ringed species suggests that their source is anthropogenic. Correlations between TOC and the various pollutants further suggest that diesel vehicles and potentially biomass combustion are starting to affect the roadside environment in remote northwestern India. We suggest that pollutant concentrations be regularly monitored.

Supplementary material

244_2017_396_MOESM1_ESM.doc (894 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 894 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajarshi Dasgupta
    • 1
    • 3
  • Brooke E. Crowley
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Barry Maynard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeographyEast Calcutta Girls’ CollegeKolkataIndia

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