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High zinc levels found in soil near Ramganga in Moradabad

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

A study reveals that the zinc levels are 15 times more than the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards in the soil samples collected from near river Ramganga at Moradabad, known for its e-waste recycling industry.

Quoting specialists, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that since most of the e-waste recycling in Moradabad was illegal and no safety standards were being followed. Both dismantling and recycling methods are crude as a result of which 40-50 per cent of metals are left unextracted and cause contamination.

CSE found zinc levels 15 times more than standards while copper levels were found to be five times higher in the five different soil samples near river Ramganga, an important tributary of Ganga.

Since there are no standards to study heavy metal contamination of soil in India, CSE compared the results to Canadian and US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards, an official statement said.

"A soil sample collected one kilometre from the river was found to have zinc levels 15 times more than the USEPA standards while copper levels were five times higher. Chromium level in a soil sample collected from the riverbed was twice the Canadian standard while cadmium was 1.3 times," it said.

The results were similar for the water samples taken from Ramganga where mercury levels were eight times higher than the Indian standard.

Traces of arsenic too were found.

CSE collected samples from Nawabpura, Karula, Daswaghat and Rehmat Nagar- localities where a vast majority of the population is involved in handling e-waste and Bhojpur, a neighbouring village which is also a major e-waste handling centre.

"With such huge amounts of e-waste being dumped in the city, structural mechanisms are needed to deal with the problem," CSE's Deputy director general Chandra Bhushan said.

Quoting specialists, the study said that the soil and water of Moradabad contain heavy metals which are dangerous to the environment and can cause serious ailments, including cancer.

High levels of mercury and arsenic can lead to chronic poisoning as well, it said.

"The country does not even have soil contamination norms or standards. We need to develop them to gauge the level of pollution in cities like Moradabad. There is also a need to monitor all riverside activities on the Ramganga river," said Rama Kant Sahu, deputy head of CSE's Pollution Monitoring Laboratory.

CSE suggested promoting Moradabad as a brass hub and as an e-waste dismantling centre which will ensure business that the becomes legal and working conditions are made safer.

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First Published: Thu, September 24 2015. 20:57 IST