Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 53–70 | Cite as

Assessing the potential ecological risk of Co, Cr, Cu, Fe and Zn in the sediments of Hooghly–Matla estuarine system, India

  • Somdeep Ghosh
  • Madhurima Bakshi
  • Alok Kumar
  • A. L. Ramanathan
  • Jayanta Kumar Biswas
  • Subarna Bhattacharyya
  • Punarbasu ChaudhuriEmail author
  • Sabry M. Shaheen
  • Jörg Rinklebe


Hooghly–Matla estuarine system along with the Sundarbans mangroves forms one of the most diverse and vulnerable ecosystems in the world. We have investigated the distribution of Co, Cr, Cu, Fe and Zn along with sediment properties at six locations [Shamshernagar (S1), Kumirmari (S2 and S3), Petuaghat (S4), Tapoban (S5) and Chemaguri (S6)] in the Hooghly estuary and reclaimed islands of the Sundarbans for assessing the degree of contamination and potential ecological risks. Enrichment factor values (0.9–21.6) show enrichment of Co, Cu and Zn in the intertidal sediments considering all sampling locations and depth profiles. Geo-accumulation index values irrespective of sampling locations and depth revealed that Co and Cu are under class II and class III level indicating a moderate contamination of sediments. The pollution load index was higher than unity (1.6–2.1), and Co and Cu were the major contributors to the sediment pollution followed by Zn, Cr and Fe with the minimum values at S1 and the maximum values at S5. The sediments of the Hooghly–Matla estuarine region (S4, S5 and S6) showed considerable ecological risks, when compared with effect range low/effect range median and threshold effect level/probable effect level values. The variation in the distribution of the studied elements may be due to variation in discharge pattern and exposure to industrial effluent and domestic sewage, storm water and agricultural run-off and fluvial dynamics of the region. The study illuminates the necessity for the proper management of vulnerable coastal estuarine ecosystem by stringent pollution control measures along with regular monitoring and checking program.


Potential toxic elements Sediments quality Pollution indices Environmental risk Riverine systems 



We are thankful to the Scientific and Engineering Research Board (SR/FT/LS-155/2011 dated 25.04.2013), Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, for funding this research in University of Calcutta. We are also thankful to Science Academies’ of India (IASc-INSA-NASI) and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for providing their support in this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Somdeep Ghosh
    • 1
  • Madhurima Bakshi
    • 1
  • Alok Kumar
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. L. Ramanathan
    • 2
  • Jayanta Kumar Biswas
    • 4
  • Subarna Bhattacharyya
    • 5
  • Punarbasu Chaudhuri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sabry M. Shaheen
    • 6
    • 7
  • Jörg Rinklebe
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of CalcuttaKolkataIndia
  2. 2.School of Environmental SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia
  3. 3.Department of Environmental ScienceCentral University of RajasthanRajasthanIndia
  4. 4.International Centre for Ecological Engineering and Department of Ecological StudiesUniversity of KalyaniKalyani, NadiaIndia
  5. 5.School of Environmental StudiesJadavpur UniversityKolkataIndia
  6. 6.Department of Soil and Water Sciences, Faculty of AgricultureUniversity of KafrelsheikhKafr El-SheikhEgypt
  7. 7.School of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Institute of Foundation Engineering, Water- and Waste-Management, Soil- and Groundwater-ManagementUniversity of WuppertalWuppertalGermany
  8. 8.Department of Environment, Energy and GeoinformaticsSejong UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea

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