Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 11, pp 10848–10856 | Cite as

Management of tannery wastewater for improving growth attributes and reducing chromium uptake in spinach through citric acid application

  • Arosha Maqbool
  • Shafaqat Ali
  • Muhammad Rizwan
  • Wajid Ishaque
  • Nasir Rasool
  • Muhammad Zia ur Rehman
  • Arooj Bashir
  • Muhammad Abid
  • Longhua Wu
Research Article


The use of chromium (Cr)-contaminated tannery wastewater for irrigation is a common practice, especially in developing countries like Pakistan. This practice is due to the shortage of good quality irrigation water for crop growth as well as the issue of tannery wastewater disposal. The current study was done to evaluate the effect of citric acid (CA) (0, 1.0, and 2.0 mM) on the growth and Cr uptake by spinach irrigated with different mixtures of tap water and tannery wastewater (100:0, 50:50, and 0:100 tap water to wastewater ratio). Plants were grown for 8 weeks under ambient conditions. Results showed that 50:50% tap water and wastewater increased plant height, dry weights of shoots and roots, total chlorophyll contents, and gas exchange attributes than the plants treated with only tap water or only wastewater. Increasing wastewater ratio increased electrolyte leakage (EL) in plants and enhanced the leaf key antioxidant enzyme activities as well as increased Cr contents. Foliar application of CA increased the plant dry weights, photosynthesis, and enzyme activities, whereas reduced the EL and Cr concentrations in plants than respective treatments without CA application. It can be concluded that 50:50 tap water and wastewater irrigation along with foliar CA application might be an effective strategy for increasing vegetable growth with reduced metal concentrations.


Antioxidants Chromium Oxidative stress Photosynthesis Wastewater irrigation 


Funding information

This work was financed by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan and Government College University of Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences and EngineeringGovernment College UniversityFaisalabadPakistan
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Soil Environment and Pollution RemediationInstitute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina
  3. 3.Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology (NIAB)FaisalabadPakistan
  4. 4.Department of ChemistryGovernment College UniversityFaisalabadPakistan
  5. 5.Institute of Soil & Environmental SciencesUniversity of Agriculture FaisalabadFaisalabadPakistan
  6. 6.Key Laboratory of Crop Physiology, Ecology and Production ManagementNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingPeople’s Republic of China

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