Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 82, Issue 2, pp 203–223 | Cite as

Potential Health Risks Due to Toxic Contamination in the Ambient Environment of Certain Indian States

  • B. R. Gurjar
  • Manju Mohan


Toxic or hazardous substances pose two types of risks in the environment, namely `short-term or acute risk' and `long-termor chronic risk'. The short-term risk is associated with the one-time acute exposure to potentially hazardous substancesaccidentally released in the environment, whereas the long-termrisk is resulted from continuous exposure to potentially harmfulsubstances present in different environmental media. This articledeals with the assessment of potential health risks related to certain carcinogens and non-carcinogens (e.g. cadmium, chromiumand nickel) present in three environmental media, viz. air, waterand food in different Indian states (regions). Appropriate dose-response models have been identified and used for this purpose with the assumptions and input data as per the Indian context. Mean values of ambient air concentration levels of Cd,Cr and Ni have been used to estimate the individual and societalrisks of extra cancer in different states of India. The hazardquotients and hazard index representing the non-carcinogenic chronic health effects caused by chromium and cadmium due to their long-term exposure through water and food have also beenestimated. The risk results have been compared with the diseasesurveillance data. A definite correlation between the estimatedrisk results and the reported number of lung cancer cases and chronic liver diseases have been observed in different regions. As a matter of fact, it is not possible to derive precise risk estimates due to various uncertainties included both in availabledata and in the models which are used to calculate potency factors and effective concentration. However, average risk levelsas estimated and presented in this article are quite useful forplanning purposes.

average daily dose carcinogenic risk hazard index individual risk societal risk 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anke, M., Grun, B., Gropped and Kronemann, H.: 1983, 'Nutritional Requirements of Nickel', in B. Sarkar (ed.), Biological Aspects of Metals and Metal Related Diseases, Raven Press, New York, pp. 88-105.Google Scholar
  2. ATSDR (Agency for a Toxic Substances and Disease Registry): 1993a, Toxicological Profile for Cadmium, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, G.A.Google Scholar
  3. ATSDR: 1993b, Toxicological Profile for Chromium, U.S. Department of Health and Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.Google Scholar
  4. ATSDR: 1995, Toxicological Profile for Nickel, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA.Google Scholar
  5. Constantinou, E. and Seigneur, C.: 1993, 'A mathematical model for multimedia health risk assessment', Environ. Software 8, 231-246.Google Scholar
  6. Doll, R., Mathews, J. D. and Morgam, L. G.: 1977, 'Cancers of lung and nasal sinuses in nickel workers. Reassessment of period of risk', J. Ind. Med. 34, 102-106.Google Scholar
  7. Fiksel, J.: 1985, 'Quantitative risk analysis for toxic chemicals in the environment', J. Hazard. Mat. 10, 227-240.Google Scholar
  8. Friberg, L., Nordberg, G. F. and Vock, V. B.: 1986, Handbook of the Toxicology of Metals, Vol. 1, General Aspects, Elsevier Science Publishers, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  9. Gossel, T. A. and Bricker, J. D.: 1994, Principles of Clinical Toxicology, 3rd ed., Raven Press, New York, pp. 179-214.Google Scholar
  10. Goyer, R. A.: 1991, 'Toxic Effects of Metals', in M. O. Amdur, J. Doull, and C. D. Klaassen (eds), Casarrett and Doull's Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons, 4th ed., Pergamon Press, New York, pp. 623-680.Google Scholar
  11. Gurjar, B. R., Manju Mohan and Sidhu, K. S.: 1996, 'Potential health risks related to carcinogens in the atmospheric environment in India', Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 24, 141-148.Google Scholar
  12. Gurjar, B. R.: 1999, 'Environmental Risk Analysis for Industrial Siting, Planning and Management', Ph.D. Thesis, Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  13. Krishnamurti, C. R. and Vishwanathan, P. (eds): 1991, Toxic Metals in the Indian Environment, Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. Ltd., New Delhi.Google Scholar
  14. Mahendra, K. P.: 1991, India's Population: Heading Towards a Billion, B. R. Publishing, Delhi.Google Scholar
  15. Mancuso, T. F.: 1975, 'Consideration of Chromium as an Industrial Carcinogen', International Conference on Heavy Metals in the Environment, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 27-31 October, pp. 343-356.Google Scholar
  16. Masters, G. M.: 1998, Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Sciences, Prentice-Hall of India Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi.Google Scholar
  17. Mertz, W.: 1969, 'Chromium occurrence and functions in biological systems', Physiol. Rev. 49, 163-239.Google Scholar
  18. MHA: 1991, 'Survey of Causes of Death', Annual Report 1991, Office of the Registrar General, India, (Vital Statistics Division), Ministry of Home Affairs (Govt. of India), New Delhi.Google Scholar
  19. Pandya, C. B.: 1978, 'Evaluation of Occupational Exposure to Trace Metals in Small and Medium Scale Industries', Ph.D. Thesis, Gujarat University, Ahmedbad, India.Google Scholar
  20. Rao, D. N. and Ganesh, B.: 1998, 'Estimate of cancer incidence in India in 1991', Indian J. Cancer 35, 10-18.Google Scholar
  21. Reible, D. D.: 1999, Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering, Lewis Publishers, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Sharrett, A. R., Carter, A. P. and Orheim, R. M.: 1982, 'Daily intake of lead, cadmium, copper and zinc from drinking water. The Seattle study of trace metal exposure', Environ. Res. 28, 456-475.Google Scholar
  23. Sidhu, K. S.: 1991, 'Standard setting processes and regulation for environmental contaminants in drinking water. State versus federal needs and viewpoints', Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 13, 293-308.Google Scholar
  24. Sidhu, K. S.: 1992, 'Current methods for assessment of exposure to environmental contaminants', Int. J. Toxicol. Occup. Environ. Health 1(3), 84-96.Google Scholar
  25. Sidhu, K. S., Hesse, J. L. and Bloomer, A. W.: 1993, 'Indoor air: Potential health risks related to residential and wood-smoke as determined under the assumptions of the USEPA risk assessment model', Indoor Environ. 2, 92-97.Google Scholar
  26. Sunderman Jr., F. W., Lan, T. J. and Cralley, L. J.: 1981, 'Inhibitory effect of manganese upon muscle tumorigenesis by nickel subsulphide', Cancer Res. 34, 92-95.Google Scholar
  27. USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency): 1986, Guidelines for carcinogen risk assessment. Fed. Reg., 51 (185), 33,994-34,003 (24 September, 1986).Google Scholar
  28. USEPA: 1989, Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund: Human Health Evaluation Manual, Vol. 1, Part. A, Interim Final EPA/540/1/89/002. Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  29. USEPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency): 1995a, Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Online computer database. File cadmium, USEPA, Cincinnati, OH.Google Scholar
  30. USEPA: 1995b, Integrated Risk Information Systems (IRIS). Online computer database. File chromium. USEPA, Cincinnati, OH.Google Scholar
  31. USEPA: 1995c, Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Online Computer database. File nickel. USEPAc Cincinnati, OH.Google Scholar
  32. Washburn, S. T. and Edelmann, K. G.: 1999, Development of Risk-based Remediation Strategies. Practice periodical of hazardous, toxic and radioactive waste management, April 1999, pp. 77-82.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Air-Chemistry DivisionMax-Planck-Institute for ChemistryMainzGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Atmospheric SciencesIndian Institute of TechnologyHauz Khas, New DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations