New Delhi: Soil and water are highly contaminated with metals in Uttar Pradesh's Moradabad city due to illegal, unchecked recycling of electronic waste, according to a study.
Zinc levels were 15 times higher than the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards in the five different soil samples collected from near river Ramganga, an important tributary of the Ganga, at Moradabad, while copper levels were five times higher, said the Centre for Science and Research (CSE), which conducted the study, in a release.
It said as there are no standards to study heavy metal contamination of soil in India, the results were compared with Canadian and US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards, said
Chromium level in a soil sample collected from the riverbed was twice Canadian standards, while cadmium was 1.3 times, it adds.
The study says the results were similar for the water samples collected from Ramganga, where mercury levels were eight times higher than the Indian standard. Traces of arsenic were also found.
These metals are dangerous to the environment as well as can cause serious ailments, including cancer, the study says.
The study quoted Moradabad District Magistrate Deepak Agarwal as saying 50 percent of all printed circuit boards (PCBs) used in India end up in Moradabad, which gets about nine tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) daily.
"With such huge amounts of e-waste being dumped in the city, structural mechanisms are needed to deal with the problem," said CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan.
Rama Kant Sahu, deputy head of CSE's Pollution Monitoring Laboratory, 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."
Quoting experts, the CSE says most of the e-waste recycling in Moradabad was illegal and no safety standards were being followed.
Apart from promoting Moradabad as a brass hub, the CSE suggests that the government should promote it as an e-waste and PCB waste-dismantling centre to ensure that the business becomes legal and working conditions are made safer.
A complete ban on open burning of e-waste on the Ramganga river bank would also help check contamination, says the report.
CSE collected samples from Nawabpura, Karula, Daswaghat and Rehmat Nagar areas 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.