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Hexavalent Chromium laden Hazardous Wates Dumped in Delhi

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, April 24, 2010 | 6:49 AM

Note: Three years ago Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) did a survey in 2007 on the inventory of industrial units generating hazardous waste. While DPCC had given authorization to only 1,747 units, the survey compiled data for 2,689 units.
As per this survey, annually 5,300 tonnes of hazardous waste is generated in the capital. DPCC has no information on generation of hazardous waste for 2008 and 2009.

Hexavalent chromium laden hazardous wastes that has been found at the 23 sites in Delhi is matter of huge concern. Hexavalent chromium is used for the production of stainless steel, textile dyes, wood preservation, leather tanning, and as anti-corrosion and conversion coatings as well as a variety of niche uses.

Hexavalent chromium is recognized as a human carcinogen through inhalation. Workers in many different occupations are exposed to hexavalent chromium. Problematic exposure is known to occur among workers who handle chromate-containing products as well as those who arc weld stainless steel. Within the European Union, the use of hexavalent chromium in electronic equipment is largely prohibited by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive.

Hexavalent chromium was found in drinking water in the Southern California town of Hinkley drew popular attention by the involvement of Erin Brockovich. The 0.58 ppm in the groundwater in Hinkley exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level of 0.10 ppm currently set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A similar case occurred in 2007 in Asopos River, near Oinofyta, Greece and Brockovich was again involved.

The case alleged contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium(VI), in the southern California town of Hinkley. At the center of the case was a facility called the Hinkley Compressor Station, part of a natural gas pipeline connecting to the San Francisco Bay Area and constructed in 1952. Between 1952 and 1966, PG&E used hexavalent chromium to fight corrosion in the cooling tower. The wastewater dissolved the hexavalent chromium from the cooling towers and was discharged to unlined ponds at the site. Some of the wastewater percolated into the groundwater, affecting an area near the plant approximately two miles long and nearly a mile wide. The case was settled in 1996 for US$333 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a direct action lawsuit in US history.

In June 2009, Brockovich began investigating a case of contaminated water in Midland, Texas. "Significant amounts" of hexavalent chromium were found in the water of more than 40 homes in the area, some of which have now been fitted with state-monitored filters on their water supply.[11] Brockovich said "The only difference between here and Hinkley, is that I saw higher levels here than I saw in Hinkley."

Brockovich's book entitled Take It From Me: Life's a Struggle But You Can Win was published in October 2001. Her story is the topic of a feature film, Erin Brockovich, starring Julia Roberts in the title role.

In India, Sukinda Valley, in the State of Orissa, contains 97% of India's chromite ore deposits and one of the largest open cast chromite ore mines in the world. Sukinda is a classic example of pollution where the wastes are spread over a large area and residents are affected by the chromium through multiple pathways. The pollution problem from the chromite mines is well known and the mining industry has taken some steps to reduce the levels of contamination by installing treatment plants. However, according to state audits from Orissa, these fail to meet agency regulations. The Orissa government has said, "It is unique, it is gigantic and it is beyond the means and purview of the [Orissa Pollution Control] Board to solve the problem."

While debilitating health impacts of the toxic pollution is routine, remediation actions are non-existent. Be it Sukinda or Delhi, the way Hexavalent Chromium causes cancer is no different. It happens both through consumption of drinking water and as a result of inhalation exposure in certain occupational settings. It can cause allergic reactions, such as skin rash. After breathing it in chromium(VI) can cause nose irritations and nosebleeds.

Other health problems that are caused by chromium(VI) are: Skin rashes, Upset stomachs, and ulcers, Respiratory problems, Weakened immune systems, Kidney and liver damage, Alteration of genetic material, Lung cancer and Death.

The health hazards associated with exposure to chromium are dependent on its oxidation state.

The metal form (chromium as it exists in this product) is of low toxicity. The hexavalent form is toxic. Adverse effects of the hexavalent form on the skin may include ulcerations, dermatitis, and allergic skin reactions.

Inhalation of hexavalent chromium compounds can result in ulceration and perforation of the mucous membranes of the nasal septum, irritation of the pharynx and larynx, asthmatic bronchitis, bronchospasms and Respiratory symptoms may include coughing and wheezing, shortness of breath, and nasal itch.

Five states- Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka taken together, generate more than 80 percent of the country's hazardous wastes. The quantification of Delhi's hazardous waste is incomplete else it would surely have found a place in this august group of states.

Gopal Krishna

Many illegal dumping sites have hazardous waste: Survey

Bindu Shajan Perappadan

“Long-term exposure can cause lung, kidney, stomach and skin problems”

47 samples collected from various Delhi areas

23 sites found to be containing the chemical


NEW DELHI: Several illegal dumping sites across the Capital have been found to have hazardous waste hexavalent chromium, long-term exposure to which is known to cause lung, kidney, stomach and skin problems, according to the last survey conducted by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

The Committee looked at all the units generating hazardous waste in the city and the method used to dispose it. The survey also looked at illegal dumping sites and 47 samples were collected from various areas in Delhi and analysed for various parameters. The study found that 23 sites were found to be containing hexavalent chromium which exceeds the prescribed limit.

During the survey, data for 35 industrial areas in the Capital was complied and it was found that the Wazirpur Industrial Area was generating the highest quantum of waste about 790 tonnes per annum, industrial regions including Okhla, Nariana and Samaipur were also generating significant quantity of hazardous waste.

Highlighting the hazards of waste, the study said: “The quantification of hazardous waste lying at illegal dump sites needs to be assessed before rehabilitation of the dump sites. Further study is required to be carried out to work out detailed strategy for rehabilitation of these illegal dumpsites. Since the quantity of the hazardous waste generated from Delhi is not very high compared with other States and land is also not easily available for the disposal hence it is suggested that the possibility of transferring the hazardous waste to the nearby State should be looked into.''

Through the data it was found that the North-West Delhi is generating maximum land disposal waste which is 62 per cent of the total land disposal waste generated from various industrial locations in Delhi.

About 595 TPA incinerable hazardous waste and about 73 TPA recyclable waste is generated from South Delhi, which is about 34 per cent of the total incinerable waste generation and 12 per cent of the total recyclable waste generation in the city.
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