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Environmental Geochemistry and Health (2006) 28:11–17  Springer 2006

DOI: 10.1007/s10653-005-9006-0

A survey of lead pollution in Chhattisgarh State, central India

K.S. Patel1,4, K. Shrivas1, P. Hoffmann2 & N. Jakubowski3

School of Studies in Chemistry, Pt. Ravishankar Shukla University, Raipur, CG, India
Chemical Analytics, Department of Materials and Earth Sciences, Darmstadt Technical University,
Petersenstrasse 23, D-64287 Darmstadt, Germany
Institute for Analytical Science (IAS), Bunsen-Kirchhoff-Strasse 11, D-44139 Dortmund, Germany
Author for correspondence (e-mail:

Key words: Central India, lead pollution, soil, sediment, water

Lead (Pb) is of major environmental concern due to its toxicological importance. The anthropogenic
emission of Pb is at least 100 times higher than natural emissions. Soil and dust are significant sources
of Pb exposure. Lead is generally immobile in soil and accumulates in the upper layers. Lead particles
may enter homes via shoes, clothes, pets, and windows. Central India is rich in deposits of natural
resource materials such as coal, pyrite, dolomite, and alumina that contain Pb and other heavy metals
at the trace levels, and the substantial exploitation of these materials has tended to increased con-
tamination of water and geological formations. Here we present data on Pb concentrations in the water,
soil and sediment samples (n=158) collected from 70 locations in Chhattisgarh state, Raipur region.
Lead concentrations in the surface water (n=44), groundwater (n=44), soils (n=60) and sediments
(n=10) ranged from 6 to 1410, 3 to 52, 12.8 to 545, and 31 to 423 lg g)1, with mean values of 305, 16,
102 and 190 lg g)1, respectively. Most of the Pb fractions of >80% can be leached out with the
chemical extractants EDTA, acetic acid, and hydroxylamine hydrochloride. Lead has accumulated in
the soil clay fraction due to its relatively large surface area and decreases with increasing depth in the
soil profile.

Introduction some regions of the world (Reeder & Shapiro

2003). Because Pb is not biodegradable, once soil
Lead (Pb), an extremely stable element, is very has become contaminated it remains a long-term
toxic to humans and animals. It is a neurotoxin source of Pb exposure.
and lead poisoning is one of the most common There are heavy deposits of fossil fuels such as
pediatric health problems in India. The average coal and of minerals such as pyrite, alumina, and
concentration of Pb in the Earth’s crust is around dolomite in central parts of India, including
13 lg g)1 but there is considerable variability in Chhattisgarh state. There are several thermal
natural concentrations because of inputs from power plants for energy production, heavy indus-
mineralized deposits of Pb. However, a major tries such as steel, aluminum and cement plants.
feature of the environmental chemistry of Pb is the These heavy industries tend to increase the
general diffuse pollution in topsoils from a range deposition of Pb and other metals in the environ-
of sources, including mining and smelting, ment. Here, we present the results of a preliminary
recycling of sewage sludge and from motor vehicle survey on the distribution, speciation, mobility
exhausts. Consequently, Pb is known to show and sources of Pb in Chhattisgarh state, Central
significantly enhanced levels in surface soils of India.
12 k.s. patel et al.

Materials and methods the sample was then acidified with 1% (v/v) ultra
pure nitric acid. All the samples were filtered
Study area through Whatman no. 42 filter paper.
Soil and sediment samples were collected from
Chhattisgarh is 146,361 km2 in area and is one of 70 sites and placed in polyethylene bags. The
the mineral-rich states of India. It is situated in a samples were air dried and passed through a 0.2-
peninsular plateau at 17–22N, 80–82E at alti- mm sieve prior to analysis for total Pb, Ni, and Cu.
tudes of ‡300 meters above sea level (Figure 1)
and has a population of 20 millions. It is richly Reagents
endowed with natural resources including a 43%
forest cover and has rich deposits of limestone, Analytical grade acetic acid, hydroxylamine
iron ore, copper ore, rock phosphate, manganese hydrochloride in ethylenediaminetetra-acetic acid,
ore, bauxite, coal, and asbestos. The State pro- hydrochloric acid, and nitric acid were used for
duces substantial amounts of rice grain and sup- leaching of the metals. Standard Pb, Cu and Ni
plies food grain to 600 rice mills. Some details of solutions (1000 mg l)1) supplied by E. Merck were
major industries, thermal power plants, mines and used for calibration.
rice mills in operation are summarized in Table 1.
Soil properties
The soils of this region have pH values of around
Water, soil and sediment samples were collected neutral to slightly acidic in the range 4.6–7.8 and
from different locations in urban and industrial most have low P status, usually <10 mg kg)1.
sites of Chhattisgarh state between January and
February 2003 using procedures described by Extraction
Keith (1991). Surface water and groundwater
samples were collected from 100 points and stored Four extractants, 0.11 M acetic acid (AA), 0.1 M
in pre-cleaned 500-ml polyethylene bottles. The hydroxylamine hydrochloride (HAHC) in HCl
pH of the sample was immediately measured and (pH=2), 0.1 M ethylenediaminetetracetic acid

Fig. 1. Map of Chhattisgarh state showing location of Raipur and Korba regions.
pb pollution in central india 13
Table 1. List of emission sources in Chhattisgarh state.

Industry Consumption year)1 Production

Thermal power plants 15 MT coal 5000 MW electricity

(National Thermal Power Corporation), Korba
Cement plants (6) 15 MT dolomitic limestone 11 MT
Bhilai Steel Plant, Near Raipur 5 MT iron ore 3.153 MT
Rice mills (>600) 4 MT 1 MT of raw rice and
1.8 MT of parboiled rice in this area
Aluminum plant (BALCO), Korba 4 MT bauxite 1 MT aluminum
Ferro alloys 0.8 MT
Sponge iron 1.3 MT
South-Eastern Coal Fields Korba 9 underground and 38 MT coal
open-cast mines extending
over 21627 ha

(EDTA) and aqua regia, were used for leaching of Table 2. Operating parameters for the acetylene – air flame
acid-soluble, reducible, complexed and total frac- AAS determination of Pb and other heavy metals.
tions of the metal in soil and sediment samples
Element Wavelength Slit (nm) Lamp current
(Chen et al. 2001). A 0.50-g soil or sediment sample (nm) (mA)
was transferred to a 25-ml centrifuge tube and a
10-ml aliquot of extractant was added. The mixture Pb 217 1 5
Ni 324.7 0.5 4
was shaken for 16 h at room temperature by shaker Cu 244.8 0.2 5
and all the extractants were decanted off and
retained for analysis of metals: Pb, Ni and Cu. For
the determination of total metals, the sample was with the results of AAS. A Meinhard nebulizer
placed in a 100-ml round bottom flask equipped and a Scott type spray chamber made of quartz
with a water condenser fitted with a U-tube (filled were used. The peristaltic pump (Gilson Minipulse
with dilute nitric acid). A 10-ml aliquot of aqua 3) had a sample delivery rate of 0.7 ml min)1,
regia was added and the sample was digested over a tuning was performed on 140Ce, and the forward
sand bath for 4 h. After digestion, the extract was power was 1400 W. The flow rates of argon gas
transferred into a 25-ml volumetric flask and made used were 16, 0.9 and 1.0 l min)1 for cooling,
up to volume with Milli-Q water. auxiliary and nebulizer gas, respectively. Conven-
tional Ni cones were used. An external calibration
Analysis with six standard samples was carried out using a
multi-element standard solution (E. Merck) with
A flame atomic absorption spectrophotometer subtraction of a blank value. The work: leaching
(GBC, AAS-932) was employed for analysis of Pb, of the heavy metals with extractants (i.e. AA,
Ni, and Cu using an air–acetylene flame. The HAHC and EDTA), and analysis of the metal
wavelength, slit and lamp current used are sum- contents in the extract was carried out in the TU
marized in Table 2. A graphite furnace atomic Darmstadt, Germany using technique: Perkin
absorption spectrophotometer (GBC, AAS-932 Elemer 4100-ZL graphite furnace atomic absorp-
equipped with GF-3000) was used to determine Pb tion spectrophotometer.
in water samples. A 20-ll aliquot of the sample
solution was used. The ashing and atomization
temperatures were 400 and 2000C. A blank was Results
used to avoid contamination from the sample
preparation and chemical reagents. An inductively Lead has unique chemical properties and is found
coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) PQ in many common consumer products and many
II Turbo Plus (VG Elemental, Winsford, UK) was sites in the environment. Lead from these many
used at the Institute for Analytical Science (IAS), different sources can enter and contaminate the
Dortmund, Germany to compare some of the data surroundings. Large amounts of effluents are
14 k.s. patel et al.

Table 3. Distribution of lead in water, soil and sediment samples.

Site Soil (lg g)1) Sediment (lg g)1) Surface water (lg l)1) Groundwater (lg l)1)

Steel plant 320 121 13

Power House 545 146 28
Bhilai-3 271 115 18
Bhilai, Sector-I 295 315 105 21
Bhilai, Sector-II 246 423 84 13
Bhilai, Sector-III 230 87 11
Bhilai, Sector-IV 234 79 14
Hudco 265 111 17
Supela 178 105 19
Civic Centre 271 98 16
Durg-I 86 66
Durg-II 72 88
Durg-III 101
Durg-IV 61
Durg-V 51
NTPC-1 (Korba) 198 267 1200 41
NTPC-II (Korba) 212 1050 30
BALCO (Korba) 125 1205 36
CSEB-East (Korba) 120 990 17
CSEB-West (Korba) 161 208 1110 15
Korba city 176 298 1345 51
Kusmunda (Korba) 92 1260 33
Gevra (Korba) 87 885 19
Manikpur (Korba) 67 1410 52
Dipka(Korba) 102 776 16
Tatibandh (Raipur) 99 61 12
Ashram (Raipur) 64 50 13
Tatyapara (Raipur) 76 39 8
Jaistambh (Raipur) 134 70 14
Main Hospital (Raipur) 88 62 11
Shankar Nagar (Raipur) 79 40 7
Telibandha (Raipur) 112 65 8
Railway station (Raipur) 121 89 13
Bus stand (Raipur) 98 65 9
Industrial area (Raipur) 129 150 99 15
Dabhara 13
Sakti 14
Nandghat 21
Bilaspur-I 31 50 29 17
Bilaspur-II 27 25 13
Dalli-rajhara 25 12 3
Rajnandgaon-I 28 31 10 5
Rajnandgaon-II 24
Dongargarh 20 8 4
Chikola 19
Kurud 18
Bankundpur 23 13 7
Ambikapur 15 6 3
Baladela-I 45
Baladela-II 40 18 9
Pithora 25 15 8
Basana 23 13 5
Saraipali 20 8 4
Mulethitola 17
Bhadsena 20 7 3
Meregaon 15
Kaudikasa 19 11 4
pb pollution in central india 15

Table 3. Continued.

Site Soil (lg g)1) Sediment (lg g)1) Surface water (lg l)1) Groundwater (lg l)1)

Sonsaytola 13
Joratari 20
Thailitola 21

emitted by stagnant point sources such as steel centration of Pb (271 lg g)1) was observed in the
plants, cement plants, and thermal power plants to winter (December–February) due to higher depo-
the environment of Central India and subse- sition and lower volatilization of Pb. The lowest
quently deposited in the geosphere and the concentration (231 lg g)1) was observed in the
hydrosphere. rainy season (July–September), possibly due to
dilution by rainfall. The lower concentration of
Lead in surface soils (250 lg g)1) observed was in the summer season
(April–June) may be due in part to higher vola-
Lead is immobilized by the organic soil components tilization of the organic Pb.
and Pb deposited from the air is generally retained
in the upper 2–5 cm of undisturbed soil (USEPA Lead in sediments
1986). Urban soils and other soils that are disturbed
or turned under may be contaminated down to The total Pb concentration in sediment samples
far greater depths. We collected 60 soil samples derived from 10 different ponds ranged from 31 to
for the analysis of Pb from various locations. 423 lg g)1 with mean, median and SD of 190, 179
The total Pb concentration ranged from 12.8 to and 133, respectively (Table 3). The total Pb con-
545 lg g)1 with mean and median values of 102 centrations in sediments are generally higher than in
and 73.9 lg g)1, respectively and a very high value the soils, perhaps due to leaching. The sediments of
of standard deviation (SD±103 lg g)1), possibly Central India are much more contaminated than
due to large heterogeneity in the distribution and other sites worldwide (Donazzolo et al. 1981; Neto
content of mobile and static sources (Table 3). The et al. 2000; Tam & Wong 2000), and this may be due
spatial variation of Pb in the soil was studied. The to intensive exploitation of natural resources such
highest Pb concentrations were observed in the as coal, pyrite, alumina, and dolomitic limestone.
soils of the iron smelting (Bhilai) and coal burning Lead in surface waters
(Korba) sites, perhaps due to emission of efflu-
ents from, inter alia, pyrite smelting (capacity Lead has a tendency to form compounds of low
5 MT year)1) and coal burning (capacity solubility with the major anions found in natural
15 MT year)1). The mean soil Pb concentration waters. In the natural environment, the divalent
(n=15) in the iron smelting sites ranged from 51.0 form (Pb2+) is the stable ionic species. Hydroxide,
to 545 lg g)1 with mean, median and SD values of carbonate, sulfide, and, more rarely, sulfate groups
215, 234 and ±132, respectively. The soil Pb may act as solubility controls in precipitating Pb
concentration of the coal burning sites (n=10) from water (USEPA 1986). The total Pb concen-
ranged from 67.4 to 212 lg g)1 with mean, median tration in stagnant surface water ranged from 6 to
and SD of 134, 122.5 and ±50, respectively. The 1410 lg l)1 with mean, median and SD of 305, 74
SD value was at least 2-fold less than for the coal and ±463 (Table 3). Very high concentrations of
burning sites, possibly due to the distribution of Pb were observed in water samples from steel and
high frequency emission sources (thermal power thermal power plant sites, probably due to atmo-
plants, aluminum plants, and coal mines) over a spheric deposition and leaching from contami-
large area. The soil Pb concentrations in urban nated sediments.
and rural sites ranged from 64.5 to 129 and from
12.8 to 31.3 lg g)1 with mean and SD values of Lead in groundwater
100±22.2 and 23.6±7.7 lg g)1, respectively.
Seasonal variation in soil Pb contamination was Percolation of Pb species in the groundwater of
examined at one site, Bhilai-3. The highest con- contaminated sites such as Korba may be due to
16 k.s. patel et al.

Table 4. Examples of lead contamination in soils and sediments worldwide.

Location Sample material Pb (lg g)1) References

Belize Soil <5450 Reeder and Shapiro (2003)

Murcia, Spain Soil 1572 Walker et al. (2003)
Naples city, Italy Urban soil 100 Imperato et al. (2003)
Brazil River sediment 64–174 Neto et al. (2000)
Elbe river, Germany Estuary sediment 25–142 Shoer et al. (1982)
Ganges Estuary, India Estuary sediment 12–115 Subramanian et al., (1988)
Gulf of Venice, Italy Gulf sediment 5–84 Donazzolo et al. (1981)
Hawaii, USA Road sediment 4–1750 Sutherland (2003)
Marmorilik, W. Greenland Sediment 8922±622 Larsen et al. (2001)
North sea, UK Estuary sediment 52–207 Smith and Orford (1989)
Sai Kung, Hong Kong Estuary sediment 85.5 Tam and Wong (2000)
Central India Soil 12.8–545 This study
Pond Sediment 31–423

the extensive exploitation of coal deposits. Lead Leaching of Pb, Cu and Ni

also diffused into groundwater of urban sites with
aquifers with a low water table. The Pb concen- Metallic Pb is not itself toxic to humans (Wallace
tration ranged from 3 to 52 lg l)1 with mean and and Wallace, 1994). Bioavailable forms of Pb are
SD values of 16, 13, and ±12, respectively toxic because they are easily taken into the body
(Table 3). and cause plumbism (acute lead poisoning). Four
fractions of Pb from weakly held to strongly held
in the soil were extracted with four chemical
Discussion extractants, AA, HAHC, EDTA and AR, respec-
tively. The largest fraction of Pb (>80%) was
Size distribution and mobility of Pb extractable with EDTA (50.0–72.7%) and HAHC
(7.5–32.0%) whereas a small fraction was
The Pb content of soil and dust varies dramatically extracted with AA (4.0–7.0%) compared with AR
as a function of particle size (Duggan & Inskip (‘total’ Pb). Similarly, >80% Cu was leachable
1985). Several studies have reported that the Pb with the extractants EDTA, HAHC and AA,
content of soil, street dust, city dust, and house unlike Ni (data not shown).
dust increases as the particle size decreases.
Accumulation of Pb and other metals (Ni and Cu) Correlation of Pb with other heavy metals
in different size range categories of soil particles
(2–0.05 mm) was examined. Lead accumulation in Lead showed good correlation with Ni and Cu
clay particles increases as the mesh size decreases both in soils and sediments. The mean (n=5)
(r=)0.81) with slope and intercept of )150.5 and concentrations of Pb, Ni and Cu in surface soils
327. Similarly, Ni (r=)0.99) and Cu (r=)0.73) observed were 122, 60 and 236 lg g)1, respec-
concentrations increase as the particle size tively. The mean (n=5) concentrations of Pb, Ni
decreases, with slope and intercept of )82.7, and Cu in the pond sediments were 119, 141 and
)435.5 and 158.4, 780.5, respectively. Slope and 279 lg g)1, respectively. The Pb concentrations in
intercept increase in order: Ni Pb Cu, perhaps sediments and surface soils are very similar but Ni
due the high adsorption efficiency of the mud. and Cu were at least two fold higher in the sedi-
Lead accumulation in soil particles decreases as ments.
the depth profile increases, perhaps due to atmo-
spheric deposition and lower solubility of the Pb Sources of Pb
compounds in water. In the soils of Central India,
Pb accumulation shows a strong negative correla- Several major sources of lead exposure have been
tion with depth of profile (r=)0.98) with slope and identified. The important sources of lead exposure
intercept values of )2.89 and 233.7, respectively. in this region of the country would be expected to
pb pollution in central india 17

be mineral smelting and coal burning. The con- References cited

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