Organic contaminants in Ganga basin: from the Green Revolution to the emerging concerns of modern India

Elsevier, iScience, Volume 24, 19 March 2021
Ghirardelli A., Tarolli P., Kameswari Rajasekaran M., Mudbhatkal A., Macklin M.G., Masin R.
The Ganga basin includes some of the most densely populated areas in the world, in a region characterized by extremely high demographic and economic growth rates. Although anthropogenic pressure in this area is increasing, the pollution status of the Ganga is still poorly studied and understood. In the light of this, we have carried out a systematic literature review of the sources, levels and spatiotemporal distribution of organic pollutants in surface water and sediment of the Ganga basin, including for the first time emerging contaminants (ECs). We have identified 61 publications over the past thirty years, with data on a total of 271 organic compounds, including pesticides, industrial chemicals, and by-products, artificial sweeteners, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products (PPCPs). The most studied organic contaminants are pesticides, whereas knowledge of industrial compounds and PPCPs, among which some of the major ECs, is highly fragmentary. Most studies focus on the main channel of the Ganga, the Yamuna, the Gomti, and the deltaic region, while most of the Ganga's major tributaries, and the entire southern part of the catchment, have not been investigated. Hotspots of contamination coincide with major urban agglomerations, including Delhi, Kolkata, Kanpur, Varanasi, and Patna. Pesticides levels have decreased at most of the sites over recent decades, while potentially harmful concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organotin compounds (OTCs), and some PPCPs have been detected in the last ten years. Considering the limited geographical coverage of sampling and number of analyzed compounds, this review highlights the need for a more careful selection of locations, compounds and environmental matrices, prioritizing PPCPs and catchment-scale, source-to-sink studies.Earth Sciences; Environmental Science; Environmental Monitoring; Pollution