Thursday, January 19, 2017

Effects of industrial wastes on streams, land and human health

  • Streams  
    • Organic wastes in industrial wastewaters deplete the oxygen content of receiving streams
    • Discharge from fertilizer industry contains toxic components such as metals, nitrates and ammonia are responsible for causing metabolic impairment in aquatic organisms and may be fatal at higher concentrations.
    • Heavy metals such as Zn, Cu, Cr and Pb binds with certain proteins in fish and disrupt membrane integrity, cellular metabolism and ion-transport that causes harm to the maintenance of homeostasis
    • Inorganic substances like carbonates, chlorides, nitrates and phosphates make the water unfit for further use and encourage the growth of undesirable aquatic plants leading to eutrophication and its associated problems
    • Acids and / or alkalies cause damage to aquatic life and seriously hinder the operation of sewage treatment plants
    • Toxic substances like cyanides, sulphides, acetylene, alcohol, etc damage aquatic life, adversely affect treatment processes and endanger safety of workers
    • Colour producing substances are aesthetically objectionable
    • Oil, grease and other floating substances cause receiving streams to appear unsightly in addition to interfering with self-purification capacity of streams
  • Land
    • Industrial wastewater containing heavy metals when disposed on land has an adverse effect on plant growth and leads to accumulation in the food chain
    • Industrial wastes with high BOD and COD has an adverse effect on soil health by causing immobilization of plant nutrients
    • Direct use of industrial waste for irrigation less yield and decreased soil microbial activity
    • Indiscriminate disposal of industrial effluents may cause soil to develop anaerobic conditions and disrupt the physicochemical properties of soil
    • Disposal of industrial effluents on land may lead to problems like salinity, alkalinity and or toxicity
    • Metals present in industrial wastewater affect the growth and metabolism of plants irrigated by such water.
    • Reduction in soil fertility and crop yield
  • Human health 
    •  Industrial wastewater contains several toxic organic and inorganic substances that harm human health causing deformed limbs, birth defects, carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic effects
    • The discharge of metals from industrial wastes is listed below:
      • High concentrations of Aluminum (Al) can lead to memory damage and convulsions. It is also linked to Alzheimers disease
      • Cadmium (Cd) is carcinogenic, embryotoxic, teratogenic and mutagenic. It might cause hyperglycemia, reduced immunopotency and anemia as it interferes with iron metabolism. Cd in the body also causes damage to kidney and liver while also causing deformation of bone structures.
      • Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) is extremely toxic and has toxicity equivalent to cyanides. It causes skin ulcer, convulsions, kidney and liver damage. It causes genetic damage to cells in mammals and intensive exposure to chromium compounds causes lung cancer in human beings.
      • High concentration of Iron leads to production of free radicals which are responsible for degenerative diseases and ageing.
      • Lead accumulates in kidney, liver, bone and brain leading to encephalopathy in children
      • Mercury causes brain damage, heart, lung and kidney disease in humans. At very low concentrations it can permanently damage human nervous system. Methyl mercury (MeHg+ or CH3Hg+) is an organometallic cation is toxic and persistent. It crosses the placental barriers and leads to foetal brain damage
      • High exposure to Nickel (Ni) can lead to cancer
      • Excessive concentrations of Zinc can lead to muscular pain and intestinal haemorrage.
      • High concentrations of fluoride causes dental and skeletal fluorosis, deformation of ligaments and bending of spinal cord.
      • High concentrations of nitrate can cause methemoglobinemia in infants and cancer.
      • High concentration of Potassium nervous and digestive disorders, kidney, heart disease, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, pre existing hyperkalemia. Infants may experience renal reserve and immature kidney function.
      • Excessive sulphate concentration may cause laxative effect and affect the alimentary canal

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