Bio-Management of Malathion Effluent In Excel Industries Limited

Sudhir D. Ghatnekar, R. P. Pandey, Uday B. Kulkarni and S. P. Iyer,

Bio Engineering Group, Environment Improvement Divn., Excel Industries Limited,

Bombay 400058.


In Excel Industries Limited, Malathion (0,0 - dimethyl - S - (1-2- dicarbethoxy) ethyl phosphore dithioate], a widely used nonsystemic insecticide acaricide is manufactured at the rate of 1.5 tonnes per day. The eflluent water coming out of the plant at the rate of 20,000 Ii tres/day is an intermediate product of tbe pesticide containing traces of benzene, alcohol, toluene, DTA and DEM washings etc. If the effluent stream is given usual chemical treatment of oxidation and neutralisation 350 kgs of semi-solid sludge (3000 ppm C. O. D.) comes out every day.

To cher.~page problems plantation technique is modified. P. V. C. bags are used for cultivation of the species . under investigations. The results obtained from our 3 1/2 years of research work on the selected species made us think that the effluent water, if properly fed, can be utilised as a plant food.

The startling features of the present work is increase in the number of bolls of 1007 variety of cotton plant. Similarly the clustered bean yield is also increased by the treatment of eflluent water and sludge.

The aquatic species like Lemna also responded nicely to the effluent water (about 3,500 ppm C. O. D.). Yet another startling feature is the survival of Carps upto 2,100 ppm C. O. D. of the effluent water.

In fine, the effluent water and sludge both can be used successfully as plant foods,


Plants give us oxygen, food, increase humidity, absorb air pollutants, detect noxious gases and bind our soil to prevent erosion. They also filter water and process the degraded environment by providing sound and wind barriers. Above all the green plants also exhibit remarkable ability of filtering many of the toxic substances. They are capable of selective absorption as far as the various chemical sub, ranees in the soil are concerned. It is this selective absorption capacity of selected species which is mainly utilised in the present bio-engineering investigations. (L,2,3). This in other words means that plants using different mechanisms degrade or break down the chemical pollutants tram the soil. They serve as a very specialised kind of osmotic filters with selectively semi-permeable membranes.

The experiments are carried out in two directions. (I) the initial effluent (30,000 ppm C. 0.' D.) is diluted (to about 3000 - 5000 ppm C. O. D.) and used for irrigation. (2) EfIluent is oxid ised and neutralised to lower down the C. O. D. value upto 700 ppm. The water thus purified is used for the garden. And the sludge (3000 ppm. C. O. D.) obtained in doing so is utilised as' a fertiliser and even as soil in some species.

Broadly speaking the plants we studied can be classified into 10 groups as listed below:-

Group A - Group B - Group CGroup D - Group E Group F Group G Group H Group I Group J

Large Crown. Small Crown. Shrubby Types. Non-edible Oils. Edible Oils. . Vegetables. Ornamentals Fibre Yielding. Cereals. Aquatic.

The above group of plants are studied with respect to controlled ones for the morphological variations. The soil and. plant analysis is also reported for the selected species.


This theory of osmosis of plants being used by N. A. S. A. scientists for the recovery of various toxic metals through the help of water hyacinth plants encouraged us to do further work on parallel lines, taking a wider spectrum of the species from the plant kingdom. (1).

In the present research paper the biological management of malathion effluent is described in detail. The limits specified by the Maharashtra Prevention of Water Pollution Board and lSI are listed. in Table No. 2 along with our operating limits. The analysis of sludge is also given in Table No .. 1.




IS 2296--74 IS 3307-77 MPWP Bio-experiment
Inland surface Irrigation Limits Values as in
water purpose Excel untreated
Running water effluent
5.5 to 9.0 5.5 to 9.0 5.5 to 9.0 8.0 to 9.0.
N.A. 1000 N.A. 2500/4000
N.A. 600 N.A. NIL
N.A. 60 N.A. N.A.
N.A. N.A. N.A.
30 500 100 N.A.
10 10 N.A. N.A.
N.A. 2100 N.A. 3000/5000
250 N.A. 250 3000/5000
N.A. 100 100 N.A.
N.A. N.A. N.A. 1000/2000
Absent. Absent. Absent. 400 / 500 ~ pH value

Residual Chlorine mg/I ...

Sulphate (SO;') mg/L max.

Chloride (CI') ...

Percentage Sodium max.

Phosphorus (P) mgrl ,

B. O. D. 5 days at XfC'mg/L

Oil & Grease mg/L

Total Dissolved Solids (Inorganic) mg/I max.

C. O. D. mg/I.

Suspended Solids mg/I max.

Phosphate mg/! max.

Pesticide Intermediate mg/! max.



I. Moisture 80-82%

Analysis of Calchan Phospbate Sludge.

2. Ca++ on dry weight basis 22.4 %.

3. Calcium Phosphate 57.8 %

(Analysis as per soil analysis technique of Piper).

Available Available Available Pesticidal Residue.

1750 ppm. 3J2.4 ppm. 10,800 ppm. JO ppm. 3,000 ppm.



Broadly speaking the plants we studied can be classified into to groups listed as follows .

Large Crown (Group A)

1. Sesbania indica (Dhencha)
2. GJyrecidia sepium (Madre tree)
3. Millingtouia hortensls iAkash-
4. Teetona grandis (Teak-wood)
5. Prosopls juIlifera (Vilayti Babul]
1 .. Casuriana eqnisitifolia (Sum)
2~ Eucalyptus globuJus (Niligiri).
1. Euphorbia species (Cactus).
2. Sanseveria roxburghiana
(Bow-string Hemp).
I. Ricinus communis (Castor).
2. Cymbopogau citratus (Lemon-
3. Cymbopogan nardus (Citronella).
1. Se~amnm indieum (Til).
2. Glycine max. (Soya bean).
3. Brassica species (Mustard). 1. Solanum meJongena (BrinjaJ).

2. Hibiscus escuIentus (Lady's finger).

3. Lycopersicum escuIentus (Tomato)

4. Capsicum auum (Chilly).

Small Crown (Group B)

Shrubby Types (Group C)

Non-edible Oils (Group D)

Edible Oils (Group E}

Vegetables (Group F).

S. Cymoposis species (Clustered-
Bean). Variety Surti long.
6. Cajanus Cajan (Cajan Pea).
Ornamentals I. Canna indica (Kardal).
(Group G.) 2. BougainviUae species.
3. Aster species (Aster).
Fibre Yielding 1. Gossypium hsrbaecum (Cotton).
(Group H). Var, 1007
Var H4•
Var. 97
2. Hibiscus cannabin is (Hemp).
Cereals I. Pennisetum typboides (Bajra).
(Group 1.) 2. Sorghum Fulgare (Jowar).
Aquatic l. Lemna gibba (Duckweed).
(Grou.p J). Two types of experiments are performed.

1. The initial effluent stream (30,000 ppm C. O. D.) is diluted (abou.t 3,000-5,000 ppm C. O. D.) and fed to the botanical species under study at the rate of 1 litre/day.

2. The initial effluent stream is oxidlsed and neutralised to lower down the C. O. D. value upto 700 ppm. The water thus purified is used for our botanical garden. The sludge obtained (during neutralisation with lime Ca3 (P04)2 is precipitated out), in doing so is utilised as a fertiliser and even so il in the selected species.

Except vegetables and aquatic groups all groups of the plants listed above have been fed with effluent water of very high C. O. D. value (3,000-5,000 ppm) at the rate of 1 litre/day for the last 3t years. Amongst these groups some species are selected for studying the morphological peculiarities.

Sludge resulting after chemical treatment is utilised as a fertiliser for vegetable and fibre yielding groups. It is also tried as - a soil for fibre and cereal groups'

Clustered Bean, Cajan Pea, Cotton 1007 , and Hemp are selected for detailed studies.

For Cotton and Hemp effluent stream is used jn two ways.

1. Effluent water (3,000-5,000 ppm C. O. D. ). is given to the plant at the rate of 1 litre twice a week.


2. With the help of an ASPEE Sprayer the sprays of the effluent water (30,000 ppm C. O. D.) are given to the experimental plots twice in vegetative phase and twice in flowering phase. The sludge is added at the rate of 250 gms as a fertiliser four times. I. Before sowing. 2. One week after sowing. 3. 3 weeks after sowing. 4. Immediately after floral initiation.

For Cajan Pea and Clustered Bean the sludge at the rate of 250 gms is added four times. I. Before sowing of feeds. 2. One week after germination. 3. Just prior to floral initiation. 4. Just prior to fruiting phase.

For all experiments controlled set of plants are also kept. All experiments are replicated a number of times.

To check the seepage problem to the highest extent, the cultivation' of most of the species is done in P.V.c. hags. (I)

The aquatic species Lemna gibba is cultured in a circular cement tank of 720 litres capacity, with surface area of 122 feet. Then steadily C. D. D. of the water is increased by addition of the effluent water. Carps were also kept in association with this duck weed. However, in this experiment, double blind trials have not been completed.

The soil and plant analysis following Piper's gravimetric method (J) is reported in case cf Cotton, Hemp, Cajan Pea and Clustered Bean Species.


Table No. 3 depicts the morphological details of the selected species compared with the controlled ones. From the table it can be seen clearly that in all the species there is no Significant ill effect of the effluent feed. On the contrary in case of Millingtonia hortensis treated with the effluent, the number of berries have been increased at least by 100 times. (J)

It is also found that the majority of the species selected here showed healthy growth after feeding wi th effluent water rather than pure water.

Table No. 4 highlights the details of research on cotton plant. Results are also compared with Yeotmal district, which is a traditional cotton growing area. It is clear from the table that because of the effl.rent water and sludge, cotton has grown rapidly

with increase in number of bolls. It is also evident from Plate No.3 that the addition of sludge at the rate of 250 gms at four different stages is the most optimum for the healthy growth of cotton. It may be also noted that the thickness of the leaves of the treated plants is much higher compared to the controlled ones. The number of bolls have not only increased in size but also in weight. (Plate No. 2,3,4,5,6,7 & 8).

Table No.5




Sowing of the seeds. 22nd Sept. 22nd Sept. ,
Germination. 3 days. 4 days.
Vegetative phase upto, 45 " 45 ..
Flowering phase started
after. 90" 85 "
Morphological data after
flowering phase height. 100 ems. 98 cms.
Crown. 78 " 74 "
No. of branches. 17 18
Girth of stem at the base. 4 em. 3.8 cm.
Girth of stem at branching. 4 " 4 "
Branching started at. 13 " 13 "
Flowering and fruiting. Profuse. Profuse. Table No.5 gives the highlights of another fibre yielding plant Hemp. Here the field results were not available. It is quite evident that there is no significant difference between the controlled ones and the treated ones. (Plate No. 9,10,11)

Table No. 6 gives the details of Clustered Bean Surti Long. The treated plant of Clus tered variety Bean could give fruits within 40 days only, whereas the controlled plants could gi ve i n ~O days. In field conditions, it took about 55 days. The important


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Table No.4
Cotton : Var. 1007
Treated Controlled Field data of'Yeot-
mal District.
Sowing of the seed s. 27th August. 27th August. 27th May.
Germination length If' 4 days. 6 days. 7 days.
First leaf stage. 8 days. 12 days. 16 days.
Vegetative phase upto. 27th September. 12th Octo ber. 20th October.
Flowering phase started after. 30 days. 46 days. 140 days.
~ I
Profuse bloom after. 60 days. 75 days. ]75 days. ,"'-----'
Boll formation after. 75 days. 90 days. 200 days.
Bursting of the bolls after. 90 days. l,l0 days. 228 days.
Morphological data after boll formation
Height of plant. 123 em. 100 em. 90 em.
Grown. 110 em. 90 em. 81 em,
No. of main branches. 36 28 17
Girth at the base. 8.9 em. 7 em. 6 em.
Branching started at. 10 em. 13 em. 15 em.
Girth of stem at branching. 8.5 cm. 6.4 em. 5.8 em.
No. of bolls. ]60 60 40
No. of flowers. 28· 20 8
Wt.ofbo!!' 26.48 gms, 16.45 gms. 13.58 gms. 6

thing to be noted in this plant treated with sludge is that the fruiting has started immediately after the soil layer. The fruits of the plants treated with sludge are very sweet, increased in number, and in size and weight also (Plate No. 12,13,14,15).

ever, there is no significant increase because of the effluent and sludge feed (Plate No. 16, 17 & 18)

Table No.8 depicts the soil leaf and fruit analysis of Cotton, Hemp, Clustered Bean and Cajan Pea. The water and plant analysis of Lemna, aquatic species is also given. The Table clearly shows that there is no Significant increase in the T. D. S. and C. O. D. of leaf or fruit tissue.

Table No. 7 gives the differences of Cajan Pea in between the controlled ones, treated ones and field data of Yeotmal District. In case of Cajan Pea how-

Table No. 6.



Field data of Yeotmal District.


Sowing of the seeds.

29th August 29th August
4 days. 4 days.
20 days. 22 days.
30 days. 37 days.
40 days. 50 days, 29th August.


4 days.

Small seedling.

I month.

Flowering started after.

40 days.

60 days.


Morphological data after fruiting phase


125 cm. 120 cm. 110 cm.
27 cm. 24 em. 20 cm.
4.5 cm. 3.8 em, 3 em,
4.5 cm. 3.8 cm. 3 em,
250 pods. 75 pods. 110 pods. Crown.

Girth of stem at the base

Girth of stem at branching,


r.,. Size of the pod ..


12.5 cm. 6.S ern, 6.2 cm.
cm. 0.9 cm. 0.92 em,
0.25 em, 0.2 cm. 0.2 cm.
3.654 gms, ¥ 1.5059 gms. 1.6232 gms. Breadth.



Paper presented at the Seminar-Cum-Exhibition on "Environmental Management and Pollution Control" Organised by Indian Chemical Manufacturer at the President Hotel, Bombay, on February 16 & 17,1.979.




Table No. 7


Field data of Yeotma! Dist.


Sowing of the seeds. 22nd August. 22nd August.
Germination. S days. 5 days.
Small seedling. 30 days. 30 days.
Vegetative stage upto, 75 days. 70 days.
Flowering phase. ].00 days. 120 days.
Morphological data after flowering phase '-
Height. III em. 120 em.
Crown. 99 cm. 97 em.
No. of main branches. [4 16
Girth of stem at the base. 9 cm. 9.7 em,
Girth of stem at the branches. 4.5 ern. 6 em.
Branching started at. 10 em. 10.8 em, 20th June.

5 days.

32 days.

90 days.

140 days.

180 em.

110 em.


10.2 em,

5.8 em,

]).7 em.

Table No. 9 depicts the startling results of Lemna gibba, an aquatic duckweed. (Plate No. 19, 20). This particular species could thrive only in the presence of effluent water. It started growing very fast at 1,500 ppm C. O. D. va Iue. The Carps are also kept in association of Lemna and found that they are living upto 2,[00 C. O. D. of the water. At 2,400 ppm C.O.D. however, they died. It is also noticed that this species is playing a key role in the aquatic eco web. Tiny animalcules, dragons, crabs, Azolla, algae, Ceratophyllum started coming near experimental tanks on their own (naturally).

The cereal and fibre group selected in the present investigations could also show very healthy growth on sludge alone.


The increase in number of berries in Millingtonia hortensis is one of the remarkable features of the present study. The controlled variety not only started flowering [ate but even the number of berries are very much less. This result can be attributed to one of the following causes. I. The effluent might have been consumed by Millingtonia bortensis as an optimum dose of nutrient material. 2. The intermediate products of the pesticide present in the effluent might be killing the toxic soil flora, 3. The plant might have developed resistance to the effluent by induced mutation.(I)

Chaphekar (4) also reported mutation caused in Clustered Bean due to the effluents of Kalu River at Ambivali, Dowdy and Dubos (5) also reported that Bean yield triples in sludge. In the present investigations on Clustered Bean the size and the number of fruits have

The results presented here and in our earlier studies 1" been increased tremendously. Nevertheless, the second

indicate that the effluent water and sludge if properly and third generation results are not completed

fed to the plants, can act as plant foods. (I ). so far.


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Table No.9
-" Days Total vol. of Mal. eff. added C. o. D. after C. O. D. after No. of Carps No. of Carps
Mal. eff. in in Lit. addition ppm. 4 days interval increased
Lit. (reduced by
~ Lemna ppm)
0 140+ 4 65 50 24
4 144 9 75 60 24
II 153 12 125 110 28 4
12 165 10 145 130 30 2
~" 16 175 35 250 200 35 5
20 210 40 450 350 37 2
24 250 40 650 530 30 7
28 290 50 1000 850 30
32 340 50 1800 1600 30
36 390 50 2100 2000 30
40 440 50 2800 2500 0 0 Notes:

1.+ 2.



Initially 140 Lit. well water taken for culturing Lemna.

Carps increase in number from 24 to 37 upto 450 ppm C. O. D. Carps survived upto 2100 ppm C. O. D.

All the carps died when C. O. D. reached upto 2800 ppm.

One of the fears of the effluent water being used in the soil is the alterations in the soil flora and soil structure. Our earlier work on soil analysis of the entire complex at various sites indicated that no major changes were occurring. (1). Nevertheless, if the land is kept barren, indication of leaching is understood. If the soil is kept under cultivation no leaching is found.

However, to avoid seepage problem the cultivation is done in P.V.C. bags. Another advantage of this technique is whatever 'nutrients' we add to the plant, is utilised by it to the highest extent. That

apart it is also difficult to measure the exact effect of effluent stream on the plant.

Sewage sludge and effluent have been spread on land for many years. Irrigation of sewage onto land was practised in Prussia in 1559 and continued for 300 years (6). Numerous sewage farming projects sprang up in England during the mid 1800s (7). However, as the quantities of sewage increased and inplant treatments were perfected, land application of sewage sludge and effluents in the United States became a means of disposal rather than a method of salvaging plant nutrients . (8,9,10,11)

The renewed interest and activity in land application of sewage sludge and effluent over the past 5 years has wide and diverse origins. Use of these materials as a source of plant nutrients is a part of this renewed interest. (6,7).

However, the authors have not come across a single reference stating that the industrial sludge is used as a nutrient for the botanical species. This is perhaps the pioneering work in the 'industrial sludge' application.

One of the greatest potential hazards in applying sewage sludge to land is the build up of heavy metals in the soil (6,7, 8). The same holds equally true for the industrial sludge and water.

The uptake and accumulation of metals in the edible parts of vegetable tissue represent a direct pathway for incorporation of heavy metals into the human food chain. According to the observations of Dowdy and Larson sewage sludge additions did not adversely affect either potato yields or specific gravity (6). Generally metal contents of the vegetative tissue were higher than those of the fruiting, root and tuber tissue. They reported that in most edible tissues heavy metal accumulations did not increase more than two or threefold as a result of amending the soil with 450 tonnesl ha sludge (6).

In the present investigation also it is observed that there is no significant accumulation of dissolved salts in the leaf and fruit tissue. The fact that T. D. S. has decreased significantly in the Clustered Bean fruit poses no d anger at all.

One of the startling features of the present research is increase in number of bolls in 1007 variety of cotton. The significant thing to be noted is the late sowing of the cotton seeds in Bombay weather. The bolls are not increased in quantity but even in quality as regards the weight and stapleness of cotton.

The results on the use of sludge as soil in cereals and fibre yielding crops also suggest their potential use as land fillers for agriculture.

The rapid growth, nutritional value and high bio-mass productivity of Lemna gibba. the floating species, suggest their use in water treatment, as feed crop and in energy-efficient farming. Culley suggested the use of Lemnaceae for clearing of dairy waste products (12).

Yet another startling feature of the present studies is that Carps could live along with Lemna even at


2,100 ppm C.O.D. value. Lemna is also found to reduce the C.O.D. of water at a rapid rate.

While the Lemnaceae, specifically, are by no means the only plants with promise for systems such as the one described here, their unique growth characteristics and world wide distribution offer important advantages. Current concern with problems of the environment and limited resources should direct attention to this and other novel approaches to managing them.

Justus Von Liebig, the greatest chemist of all times, 100 years back commented on the modern trend of reprocessing waste. "A time will come when the fields and plants will be fertilised with waste substances that are produced in factories". Ours is a marginal work in that direction with phenomenal success.


It is a great pleasure to acknowledge Mr. K. C.

Shroff, Jt. Mg. Director, for giving unstinted encouragement, help and guidance during the course of these investigations. Encouragement and constructive criticism offered by Mr A. C. Shroff, Director, is also gratefully acknowledged. The authors also like to thank Mr. Gunwant Godhankar, field recorder, for keeping excellent field records. Photographic documentation of the work which was possible because of the timely co-operation of Mr. J. J. Khatri is also sincerely appreciated. Last, but not least, the authors like to acknowledge Mr. V. Krishnamurthy for the patient and careful typing of the entire manuscript.


Shroff K. C., October 1978. Bio-management of Industrial Effluent in Excel Industries Ltd., Proceedings of the Seminar on Prevention and Treatment of Industrial Pollution (Its Cost and Management), Vadodara.

2. Ghatnekar, Sudhir D, June 1978. Biological Control of Pollution, Free Press Journal.

3. Ghatnekar, Sudhir D, January 1976. Before the Ungreening Begins, Science Today, 10(7) :34-48.

4. Chaphekar, S. B., Nov. 1978, Kalu River estuary- Present Status, Proceedings of the Seminar on Water and Environmental Pollution Problems of Bombay, Nehru Centre, Bombay.

5. Dowdy, R. S. and Dubos, R. Feb. 1977. Bean Yield Triples in Sludge, Agric. Res.

6. Webber, L. R. and Hillard, B. C., 1974. Agricultural use of Sludge. Proceedings of the Sludge Handling and Disposal Seminar Conf. Environ. Canada and Ontario, Ministry of

the Environ., Toronto. . _

7. Hartman, W. J. Jr., 1975. An evaluation of land treatment of Municipal Waste water and Physical Siting of facility installations. U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D. C. 65 pp.

8. Dowdy, R. H., Larson, W. E. and Epstein, E., 1976. Sewage Sludge and Effluent use in Agriculture. Land Application of Waste Materials, 138-153.

9. Dowdy, R. H. and Larson, W. E., 1975. The availability nf Sludge borne Metals to various Vegetable Crops; Journal of Environmental Quality 4(2) : 278·282.

Plate No.1. Sand-filter bed for sludge-slurry removed periodically from the settlers of chemi-

cal treatment unit. _ J

Plate No.3. Growth of cotton after 28 days. From right 1) Plant without sludge and fertiliser II) Plant with normal fertiliser III) Plant with 250 gms. of sludge IV) Plant with 500 gms. of sludge and fertiliser V) 500 gms. of sludge irrigated 8 times with effluent water.


10. Latterell, J. J., Dowdy, R. H. and Larson, W. E., 1978.

Co-relation of extractable metals and metal uptake of Snap Beans grown in Soil amended with sewage sludge. Journal of Environmental Quality, 5(3):435-440.

11. Dowdy, R. H. , Marten, G. C., Clapp, C. E. and Larson, W. E., 1978. Heavy Metal content and Mineral Nutrition of Corn and Perennial Grasses Irrigated with Municipal waste water. U. S. Dept. of Agriculture, Paper No. 10326, Scientific Journal Series.

12. Culley, D D. Jr., 1978. The use of Duckweed. American Scientist 66 :442.

Plate No.2. Cotton 1007 variety seedlings after 7 days of growth. Each bag contains 250 gms. of sludge and 250 gms. of soil.

Plate NO.4. The treated plot of cotton after one month's duration.

Plate. No 5. Cotton plant showing profuse flowering and fruiting after 60 days.

Plate NO.7. Internal section of the bolls. The right one is treated and the left one is controlled.

Plate No. 8 Staple of the treated plant is seen.

Plate No.6. Full grown boll. Right one treated.

Left one controlled.

Plate No. 10. Hemp plant treated with sludge and effluent water after 30 days.


.., __ j


Plate No.9. Hemp seedlings on 100 % sludge. a/ter 6 days.

Plat 11 No. 11. Top portion of Hemp plant showing flowering (45 days).

Plate No. 12. Clustered bean treated. Fruiting started right from base of the stern after 45 days.

Plate No. 13. Clustered bean pod. The left one controlled. The right one treated.


Plate No .. 14. Dehisced part. Right one treated. "<::'

Left one controlled.

Plate No. 16. Part of Cajan pea plot treated (one month), Plate No. 15. Seeds of clustered bean. Right one treated and left one controlled.

Plate No. 17. Part of Cajan pea plot treated (60 days.i


Plate No. 18. Profuse flowering of Cajan pea plant after 75 days.

Plate No. 19. Circular cement tank showing Lemna.

The C. O. D. of water is 2.500 ppm.

Plate No. 20. Circular cement tank showing Lemna.

The C. O. D. of water is 450 ppm.