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Mar 26, 2013

Water Pollution Due to Improper Waste Management

Real life examples of the impact of waste management on water pollution mentioned in this article are provided in my latest report Observations from India's Waste Crisis (February, 2013).

Unsanitary landfills, which are more commonly referred to as open dumpsites can contaminate ground and surface water resources when the leachate produced percolates through the soil strata into the groundwater underneath or is washed as runoff during rains. Leachate is generally a strong reducing liquid formed under methanogenic (anaerobic) conditions. The characteristics of leachate depend on the content of various constituents in the dumped waste (4).
Studies on Environmental Quality in and around Municipal Solid Waste Dumpsite” in Kolkata, by Biswas A.K., et al. found moderately high concentrations of heavy metal in groundwater surround the dumpsite. The study found out that the groundwater quality has been significantly affected by leachate percolation.
Leachate generally contains organic chemicals formed by anaerobic digestion of organic wastes and heavy metals leached from inorganic wastes.
Percolation of leachate in to the ground from a dumpsite like this can effect the quality of ground water used by the nearby community - Pimpri Chinchwad, Maharashtra, India (Ranjith Annepu)
The heavy metals generally observed in leachate are Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr) and Nickel (Ni). All these heavy metals are characterized as toxic for drinking water. Due to the reducing property of leachate, during percolation through soil strata, it reacts with Iron (Fe) and Manganese (Mn) species underground and reduces them into more soluble species, thus increasing their concentrations in groundwater (4). Such reactions when they occur, pose a serious drinking water toxic risk. These predictions are substantiated by studies which found high concentrations of Cr, Cd and Mn in groundwater due to leachate percolation. Nitrates present in the environment can also be reduced to nitrites due to leachate. Nitrites consumed through drinking water can oxidize haemoglobin (Hb) in the blood to methaemoglobin (met Hb), thereby inhibiting the transportation of oxygen around the body (4).
The study clearly establishes that unsanitary landfills in India and elsewhere are potential sources of heavy metals contamination in groundwater sources adjoining the landfills. It also points out that there is an urgent need to adopt credible solutions to control water pollution caused due to indiscriminate dumping of wastes.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. this blog describe about the Water Pollution.to see it Indian waste report

      Waste Disposal

  2. Water pollution has always been a problem for the environment. People need to understand the value of proper waste management. Hopefully people will learn to do so quickly before its too late.

    1. My hopes are similar Mr. Howard. But, the impact of solid waste management on water pollution has not been studied enough! Research on this issue will drive policy and attitudinal changes to this issue.

      Thank you for stopping by to comment.

  3. This is a mind opening report that should have your people seeking actions to alleviate it. Having a comprehensive environmental impact assessment, effective waste management programs and sectors focusing on proper waste collection service will remedy this.

  4. Fabulous post...Great thanks for this information.
    Waste it once…pay for it twice!....So we need environmental services and waste management for protect and keep clean the our environment.

  5. Great Informative blog.. Now a days pollution is very big problem for human health... So we need waste management services and environmental services for good human health and keep clean the environment.



CH4 Methane
Carbon Dioxide
Government of India
INR Indian Rupee
JnNURM Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission
LFG Landfill Gas
Mechanical Biological Treatment
MSW Municipal Solid Waste
NEERI National Environmental Engineering Research Institute
Refuse Derived Fuel
SLF Sanitary Landfill
SWM Solid Waste Management
USD United States Dollar
WPs Waste Pickers
WTE Waste-to-Energy
WTERT Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council