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Assessment of the surface water quality and primary health risk in urban wastewater and its receiving river Kathajodi, Cuttack of eastern India

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Kathajodi, the principal southern distributary of the Mahanadi River, is the vital source of irrigation and domestic water use for densely populated Cuttack city which receives anthropogenic wastes abundantly. This study assesses the contamination level and primary health status of urban wastewater, and its receiving river Kathajodi based on the physicochemical quality indices employing inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy and aligning with guidelines from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and WHO. The high WQI, HPI, and HEI in the catchment area (KJ2, KJ3, and KJ4) indicate poor water quality due to the influx of domestic waste through the primary drainage system and effluents of healthcare units. A high BOD (4.33–19.66 mg L−1) in the catchment indicates high organic matter, animal waste, bacteriological contamination, and low DO, resulting in deterioration of water quality. CR values beyond limits (1.00E − 06 to 1.00E − 04) in three locations of catchment due to higher Cd, Pb, and As indicate significant carcinogenic risk, while high Mn, Cu, and Al content is responsible for several non-carcinogenic ailments and arsenic-induced physiological disorders. The elevated heavy metals Cd, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, and Zn, in Kathajodi, could be due to heavy coal combustion, vehicle exhaust, and industrial waste. On the other hand, Cu, Fe, K, and Al could be from agricultural practices, weathered rocks, and crustal materials. Positive significant (p ≤ 0.05) Pearson correlations between physicochemical parameters indicate their common anthropogenic origin and similar chemical characteristics. A strong correlation of PCA between elements and physiological parameters indicates their role in water quality deterioration. Assessing the surface water quality and heavy metal contents from this study will offer critical data to policymakers for monitoring and managing public health concerns.

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We express our sincere gratitude to President, Siksha ‘O’ Anusandhan (Deemed to be University) for providing the support and infrastructure to conduct this study. We are also grateful to Rajesh Lenka, Ballygunge Science College, University of Calcutta, for preparing ArcGIS images of the sampling locations.

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Conceptualization: Nahid Parwin, Enketeswara Subudhi. Methodology: Nahid Parwin, Sangita Dixit, Saubhagini Sahoo, Rajesh Sahoo. Formal analysis and investigation: Nahid Parwin, Sangita Dixit. Writing—original draft preparation: Nahid Parwin, Sangita Dixit, Enketeswara Subudhi. Writing—review and editing: Nahid Parwin, Sangita Dixit, Saubhagini Sahoo, Rajesh Sahoo, Enketeswara Subudhi. Funding acquisition: Enketeswara Subudhi. Resources: Enketeswara Subudhi. Supervision: Enketeswara Subudhi.

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Correspondence to Enketeswara Subudhi.

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Parwin, N., Dixit, S., Sahoo, S. et al. Assessment of the surface water quality and primary health risk in urban wastewater and its receiving river Kathajodi, Cuttack of eastern India. Environ Monit Assess 196, 551 (2024).

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