Radiation Protection and Environment

: 2013  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 106--108

Distribution of pollutants in ground water samples collected from uranium mining area

Sukanta Maity, SK Sahu, Gauri G Pandit 
 Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Section, Health Safety and Environment Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Gauri G Pandit
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Section, Health Safety and Environment Group, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay, Mumbai, Maharashtra


Environmental pollution by chemical pollutants such as heavy metals, radionuclides, and anionic constituents such as sulfate and nitrate originated from mines and mining operations can become a very important source of contamination in water. Pollutants mainly present in the chemical industrial wastes as well as in the low level liquid releases from the nuclear fuel cycle. The solid hazardous radioactive wastes arising are usually disposed of in near surface/shallow land burial facilities. The heavy metals components of these solid wastes (radioactive and stable) could find their way either into the ground water through infiltrating water or to the soil by runoff. In this study, an approach is made for distribution of pollutants in ground water collected from seven locations around the premises of a uranium mining site, Turamdih located at Jharkhand state of India. Major and trace elements such as Na, K, Zn, Ni, Mn, Fe, Pb, Cu, Al, Ba, Mo, and U, etc., were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometry and differential pulse adsorptive stripping voltammetry. Sulfate, nitrate, chloride, and fluoride were analyzed using ion chromatogram. Bicarbonate was analyzed by titration method.

How to cite this article:
Maity S, Sahu S K, Pandit GG. Distribution of pollutants in ground water samples collected from uranium mining area.Radiat Prot Environ 2013;36:106-108

How to cite this URL:
Maity S, Sahu S K, Pandit GG. Distribution of pollutants in ground water samples collected from uranium mining area. Radiat Prot Environ [serial online] 2013 [cited 2022 Oct 6 ];36:106-108
Available from: https://www.rpe.org.in/text.asp?2013/36/3/106/137472

Full Text


Any natural material on the earth even "pure water" contains the whole of periodic table of elements at least in traces. All the groundwater irrespective of their sources of origin contains mineral salts and other chemical components. The kin and concentration depends upon various geological, geo-hydrological, and physical factors. Since most of these factors vary from place to place, the groundwater of any region are characterized by marked differences in their chemical characteristics. The presence of metals has received worldwide attention due to the important role played by them in determining the drinking water quality. The metal may be present in water in dissolved form as cations or colloidal dispersions and suspended particulates depending on the environmental conditions, the latter part may settle to the bottom and form part of bed sediments. Concentrations of these metals ions are strongly depend on biological processes, redox potential, ionic strength, pH, activities of organic and inorganic chelators and scavenging processes. [1]

Trace metals in drinking water mainly arises from the dissolution of minerals during their course of surface or ground water movement. Toxic trace metals constitute a class of environmental pollutants, which require particular attention in the management of environment due to their toxicity to man and general ecosystem.

Industrial wastes, geo-chemical structure and mining create potential sources of chemical pollutants such as heavy metals, anions, organo pollutants radionuclides etc., in the aquatic environment. [2] Under certain environmental conditions metals may accumulate to toxic concentration and they cause ecological damage. [3],[4] The major sources of metal pollution in marine and freshwater systems come from domestic wastewater effluents (especially Cu, Mn and Ni), nonferrous metal smelteries (Ni and Pb), iron and steel plants (Mo and Zn) and dumping of sewage sludge (Mn and Pb). [5] Chemical, toxicological and ecological approaches have been studied extensively in assessing impacts of heavy metal pollution in aquatic environments.

Accurate measurement of trace and heavy metals in drinking-water at levels relevant to health requires sophisticated and expensive techniques and facilities, which is not easily available or affordable. The methods capable of analyzing metals at trace and ultra-trace levels are atomic absorption spectrometry, neutron activation analysis, X-ray fluorescence, atomic emission spectrometry with inductively coupled plasma excitation atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES), differential pulse adsorptive stripping voltammetry (DPASV), which offer sufficient sensitivity for easy, effective determination of metals at concentrations usually encountered in environmental samples. Similarly, ion chromatograph offers very good sensitivity for estimation of anions in environmental samples such as water at ultra-trace level. In this study, chemical characterization of ground water samples collected around the premises of a uranium mining site with respect to pH, cations and anions have been carried out using various analytical techniques. The data generated will be helpful for impact assessment of chemical pollutants through water consumption as well as it will insight on the migration of pollutants due to mining operations.


Sample collection and processing

Ground water samples (well, bore well) were collected from different locations across Turamdih, Jharkhand state of India. Collected water samples were filtered through 0.45 μm filter paper. Around 400 mL of filtered sample was digested using 1 mL electronic grade HNO 3 , evaporated nearly to dryness. Final solution was made in 50 mL of 0.25% electronic grade HNO 3 for metal analysis. All chemicals used were Merck, Suprapur, Analar or electronic grade. Filtered samples were used directly for determination of pH and anions. Standard stock solutions (5 ppm) of trace metals were prepared and necessary dilutions were made as and when required.


Trace metals (Na, K, Zn, Ni, Mn, Fe, Al, Ba, and Mo) were analyzed using ICP-AES (Jovin Yvon-Ultima 2, France).Pb, Cu and U were analyzed using DPASV (663 VA Stand Metrohm, Switzerland). Filtered samples were used directly for analysis of anions. Anions (Cl− , F− , NO3− , SO4− − ) were analyzed using ion chromatograph (IC Metrohm 733, Switzerland) and HCO3 − was analyzed by titration procedure.


The pH of the ground water samples vary from 6.82 to 7.27 shows nearly neutral behavior of ground water in all the locations shown in [Figure 1]. Fluoride, chloride, nitrate, sulfate and bicarbonate, were analyzed and concentration of these anions vary from 0.26 μg/mL to 1.73 μg/mL, 3.47 μg/mL to 94.2 μg/mL, 0.29 μg/mL to 39.8 μg/mL, 10.37 μg/mL to 132.7 μg/mL and 80.7 μg/mL to 214.4 μg/mL respectively in the ground water samples shown in [Figure 2] and [Figure 3] respectively. Concentration of chloride, nitrate and sulfate was maximum in Gilinguda site compare to the other locations. In Kudada well water highest concentration observed for fluoride and bicarbonate. The concentrations of Na, K, Zn, Ni, Mn, Fe, Pb, Cu, Al, Ba, Mo and U vary from 3.41 ± 0.02 μg/mL to 26.66 ± 0.35 μg/mL, 0.67 ± 0.01 μg/mL to 9.30 ± 0.20 μg/mL, 57.7 ± 1.2 ng/mL to 1056 ± 32 ng/mL, 3 ± 0.03 ng/mL to 30.25 ± 0.15 ng/mL, 10.5 ± 0.05 ng/mL to 48.5.5 ± 1.8 ng/mL, 32.5 ± 0.57 ng/mL to 55 ± 0.32 ng/mL, 5.27 ± 0.11 ng/mL to 14.18 ± 0.43 ng/mL, 3.67 ± 0.02 ng/mL to 337.56 ± 1.69 ng/mL, 95 ± 6.3 ng/mL to 162.5 ± 3.2 ng/mL, 11 ± 0.04 ng/mL to 71.25 ± 2 ng/mL, 2.5 ± 0.03 ng/mL to 11.25 ± 0.04 ng/mL and 2.01 ± 0.11 ng/mL to 5.54 ± 0.14 ng/mL respectively in ground water samples in all the different locations across Turamdih mining area [Table 1]. Concentrations of the anions and trace metals in ground water samples are found to be less compared to the drinking water limits given by WHO, EU and BIS.{Table 1}{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}


Concentration of cations and anions vary randomly from location to location across Turamdih uranium mining site. As the sampling locations are patch wise mineralized area the concentration variation of anions and trace metals observed in different locations. The exact reason for the variation in the anionic and cationic concentrations at different places of the study area is not possible on the basis of the limited observations.


1Larocque AC, Rasmussen PE. An overview of trace metals in the environment from mobilization to remediation. Environ Geol 1998;33:85-90.
2Lee YH, Stuebing RB. Heavy metal contamination in the river toad, Bufo juxtasper (Inger), near a copper mine in East Malaysia. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 1990;45:272-9.
3Jefferies DJ, Freestone PJ. Chemical analysis of some coarse fish from a Suffolk River carried out part of the preparation for the first release of captive-bred otters. J Otter Trust 1984;1:17-22.
4Freedman B. The impacts of pollution and other stresses on ecosystem structure and function. In: Environmental Ecology. London: Academic Press; 1989.
5Nriagu JO, Pacyna JM. Quantitative assessment of worldwide contamination of air, water and soils by trace-metals. Nature 1988: 333 (6169): 134-139.