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ISSN 2321 9149 IJAEES (2015) Vol.3, No.

2, 30-37
Research Article
International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental


Mashkoor Khan* & Shadab Khurshid
Department of Geology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India (*email: mashkooramu89@gmail.com)
ABSTRACT: Trace elements ions being used as an evidence for phenomenal rise in Agricultural as well as
Industrial sectors in present scenario. The present study was carried out in Aligarh city to evaluate the
concentration of trace elements (Al, Cd, Co, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn) in groundwater. Pre monsoon
groundwater samples were collected in 2013 from ten different locations throughout the study area and were
analyzed using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES). Trace element analysis
shows high concentration in Al, Fe, Mn, Zn and Pb in most analysed samples. In few samples, the high
concentration of Co, Cu has been found as per [(1), (2)] standard for drinking water. These high concentrations
of metal ions in groundwater were probably due to discharge of untreated effluents from lock and hardware
industries, metal casting industries. The adverse effects of large scale industrialization in these areas can now
be distinctly observed in the quality of groundwater.

KEYWORDS: Groundwater, Trace elements, Aligarh City.

1. INTRODUCTION: Water is ubiquitous asset not for only human being but also plants and other livings without
which life cannot flourish. It is used in all phase of life and health for producing food, agricultural activity and energy
generation. About 80% of the rural population mainly depends on untreated groundwater for domestic water supplies
in India. Rapid growth of industrialization and urbanization causes release of trace elements from waste materials into
the environment at a rate higher than its natural purification. Heavy metals are among the most persistent of pollutants
in the aquatic ecosystem because of their resistance to decomposition in natural conditions (3). Metals of high
concentration released into the aquatic environment through leaching from the bedrocks, atmospheric deposition,
water drainage, runoff from riverbanks, and discharge of urban and industrial wastewaters. Some metals present in the
trace concentration are important for physiological functions of living tissue which regulate many biochemical
processes (4). Higher concentration of the metals may have severe toxicological effects on human beings and the low
concentration of the metals is equally harmful. Several studies have been carried out on trace elements in groundwater
of the Ganga basin [(5), (6)]. Umar and Umar (7) carried out heavy metals study in the aquifers of the Ganga-Kali
interstream area in parts of the Etah district. They have been find out the concentrations of Pb, Cd, Fe and Cr6+ in
shallow groundwater exceed the permissible limits which may pose health problem. Umar (8) has also mentioned high
value of Pb, Fe, Cu, Cr and Se in groundwater samples of the YamunaKrishni sub-basin in Muzaffarnagar district.
Khan et al.(9) reported that the concentrations of Fe, Mn, Sr, Cr and Pb above permissible limit in western Uttar
Pradesh. Studies carried out by various authors (3) concluded that the concentration of trace elements i.e., nickel, iron,
lead and cadmium in the drinking water of Aligarh city is higher than the permissible limits established by WHO (10).
This high concentration may be causing the detrimental effect on the inhabitants of the area that is evident from the
poor health status.

2. STUDY AREA: Aligarh is famous for Aligarh Muslim University Campus and lock Industries, located in the
middle of doab region between the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. The study area lies between latitude 2745and 28N
and longitude 78and 7810 E (Fig I). The area lies between the Karwan River in the west and the Sengar River in the
east and is a part of the Central Ganga basin. Aligarh city is located in a central depression and it is bounded by
eastern and western uplands. The depression forms one of the distinct physiographic features of the district which runs
in NW-SE direction. The study area comes under the category of subtropical climatic zone and it is represented by hot
summer and chilly winter. Hottest period of the year lies in the month of May and early June. Heavy precipitation
takes place in the month of July and August. During summer the temperature shoots up to 47C and in winter the
temperature may fall up to 2C. The area receives an average of 760 mm rainfall per year (3).
Khan & Khurshid/ International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol.3, No. 2 31

Fig I: Map of the study area showing the locations of sampling points.

3. GEOLOGY OF THE STUDY AREA: Aligarh district falls in Central Ganga Plain which lies in the interfluvial
tract of Ganga and Yamuna. The Ganga basin is the biggest groundwater repositories of the world. It is situated
between the northern fringe of Indian Peninsula and Himalayas. It extends from Delhi Haridwar ridge in the west to
Monghyr Saharsa ridge in the east. In the study area the bed rock is encountered at a depth of 340 meter below
ground level. Hydrogeological data indicates that the area is underlain by moderately thick pile of quaternary
sediments, which comprises of sands of various grades clays and kankar. Alluvial sediments overlies Vindhyan group
of rocks in an unconformable manner (Table I). The thickness of deposits varies from 287 to 380 metres. Older
Khan & Khurshid/ International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol.3, No. 2 32

alluvium occupies the upland of the district while the newer alluvium occupies low land area along the courses of
Ganga Yamuna and their tributaries and paleo channels of the Ganga and Kali rivers.

Group Age Formation Lithology

Recent to Upper Newer/Younger Fine sand silt, clay

Pleistocene Alluvium admixed with gravels
Clay with kankar and
Upper Pleistocene Older alluvium
sand of different grades


Upper Vindhyans
Palaeozoic Cambrian Red sandstone & shales
(Bhander Series)

Table I: The generalized stratigraphic succession of study area

4. MATERIALS AND METHODS: In the study area groundwater is the main source of water supply that fulfils all
requirements of human being. Potable water supply is mainly done by shallow aquifer in the area. Ten water samples
were collected by the hand pumps in one litre plastic bottles for trace element analysis and duly treated with 6N HNO 3
in the field. Prior to the collection of the water samples, the hand pumps were duly pumped for some time due to
removal of the stagnant water if, present in well assembly. Trace elements like Al, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni, Co, Cu, Zn, Cd,
and Pb were analyzed at National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) Hyderabad by Inductively Coupled Plasma-
Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES).

5. HYDROGEOLOGICAL SETUP OF THE STUDY AREA: In the study area three to four tier aquifer systems is
found. Aquifer seems to merge with each other and developing a single bodied aquifer.

5.1. FIRST AQUIFER GROUP: It is most potential aquifer group generally occurs between the depth range of 0-
122 metres below ground level (mbgl) and covering almost entire area below soil capping. In aquifer fine to medium
grained sand is found and Kankar is associated with clay formation. At some places it occurs below the surface soil.
Ground water is mainly found under water table to semi-confined conditions. The quality of formation water of this
aquifer group is generally fresh. This aquifer group is the main source of water supply to open wells, hand pumps and
shallow tube-wells, Government tube-wells that have been installed in this aquifer zone.

5.2. SECOND AQUIFER GROUP: This aquifer group is separated with the overlying shallow aquifer group by
thick clay and it occur at the depth range of 100 to 150 metres below ground level. The aquifer material consists of
medium grained sand but at some places blend of fine to coarse grained sand is found. Ground water is brackish to
saline in nature in this aquifer group which is also confirmed by the packer test in this aquifer group. Total clay
content of this aquifer group ranges from 30 - 40%.

5.3. THIRD AQUIFER GROUP: The disposition of this aquifer group ranges between 130 to 300 mbgl. This aquifer
group is regionally extensive and in confined state. It has the great quantitative potential but the quality of formation
water is brackish to saline. Cumulative thickness of granular zone in this aquifer group varies from 50 100 metres

6. TRACE ELEMENT DISTRIBUTION IN GROUNDWATER: Trace elements in groundwater are found in

meagre amount that means concentration less than one mg/l (12). Although the presence of trace elements in small
quantity is mandatory for proper functioning of human body. Excess or deficiency of trace elements may cause severe
health hazard. Trace elements in groundwater may be pouring from domestic and industrial waste water, use of
chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and also through water- rock interaction. A cluster of ten trace
elements known for their poisonous effects on human body were analysed. These trace elements are Al, Cd, Co, Cr,
Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn (Table II) represents the concentration of trace elements in water samples collected from
Khan & Khurshid/ International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol.3, No. 2 33

hand pumps. Range of trace element concentrations in shallow groundwater samples and their comparison with
[(1),(2)]. Drinking Water Standards are given in (Table III).

S.NO. Location Source Al Cd Co Cr Cu Fe Mn Ni Pb Zn

1 Shahjamal (H.P.) 0.0759 0.0000 0.0165 0.0033 0.0000 0.3698 0.0026 0.0000 0.0322 0.0000
2 Sasnigate (H.P.) 0.0600 0.0000 0.0582 0.0122 0.0000 0.2192 0.0058 0.0000 0.0712 0.0000
3 Mandir nagla (H.P.) 0.1007 0.0000 0.0327 0.0356 0.0000 0.3616 0.0064 0.0000 0.0570 0.1893
4 Sarai sultani (H.P.) 0.2068 0.0000 0.0565 0.0171 0.0000 0.3428 0.6547 0.0000 0.0342 6.7370
5 (H.P.) 0.0978 0.0000 0.0114 0.0110 0.0000 0.4060 0.0294 0.0000 0.1085 0.0000
6 (H.P.) 0.8910 0.0067 0.0195 0.0148 0.0787 8.1100 0.1108 0.0000 0.0000 2.4008
police chauki
7 Sarai garhi (H.P.) 0.2842 0.0005 0.0485 0.0108 0.0000 0.3315 0.0339 0.0000 0.0888 0.3340
8 Delhi gate (H.P.) 0.1943 0.0000 0.0132 0.0186 0.0361 0.3231 0.5881 0.0000 0.1067 0.9171
9 Nagla masani (H.P.) 0.1283 0.0000 0.0342 0.0077 0.0242 0.3831 0.0223 0.0000 0.1764 0.2454
10 Sarai labarya (H.P.) 0.5588 0.0007 0.0167 0.0233 0.0332 0.4464 0.0467 0.0000 0.0611 2.0400

Table II: Trace elements concentration in the groundwater of the study area in (mg/l).

BIS (1993) (mg/l) WHO (2004) (mg/l) Trace elements in the study
area (mg/l)
Constituents Highest Maximum Highest Maximum Minimum Maximum
desirable permissible desirable permissible
limit limit limit limit
Copper 0.05 1.5 0.05 1.5 0 0.0787
Iron 0.3 1 0.1 1 0.219 8.11
Lead 0.1 0.1 0 0.176
Manganese 0.1 0.5 0.05 0.5 0.0025 0.654
Cadmium 0.01 0.01 0.01 0 0.0066
Nickel 0.1 0.3 0 0
Cobalt 0.01139 0.05815
Chromium 0.05 0.05 0.00333 0.03559
Zinc 0.1 15 5 15 0 6.737
Aluminium 0.03 0.2 0.2 0.06 0.891
Table III: Range of concentration of trace elements in groundwater samples of the study area and their comparison
with [(1), (2)] drinking water standards

6.1. ALUMINIUM (Al): The maximum permissible limit of Aluminium is 0.2 mg/l (1). Aluminium values in the
study area ranges from 0.06 to 0.891 mg/l, and about half of the samples have values higher than the permissible limit
(Fig IIa). The spatial distribution indicates more than one source, which may be geological or related to industries.
Presence of significant concentrations of aluminium in groundwater can cause the serious health effects, such as
damage to the central nervous system, dementia, loss of memory, listlessness and severe trembling (4).

6.2. LEAD (Pb): The highest desirable limit of lead is 0.1 mg/l (1). The value of lead in the study area varies from 0
to 0.1764 mg/l. Manohar kayastha, Delhi gate and Nagla masani having the value higher than desirable limit. (Fig IIb).
Concentration of lead in natural waters increases mainly through anthropogenic activities (13). The household
plumbing fixture made up of lead may contribute lead in the drinking water. The other contributors are the leaded
gasoline and lead in paint. The study of the lock factory workers of Aligarh represents the high concentration of lead
in their blood which indicates the discharge of lead from the lock factories in the form of effluents that percolate
downward and contaminate the groundwater (3).

6.3. IRON (Fe): Iron is most abundant element in earths crust but its deficiency occurs throughout the world. Anemia
caused by lack of iron is the commonest nutritional deficiency in the world (14). The maximum permissible limit of
Iron is 1 mg/l [(1), (2)]. The value of iron in the study area ranges from 0.219 to 8.11 mg/l. Bhujpura police chauki
sample value lies above the maximum permissible limit and Sasnigate sample value lies below the highest desirable
Khan & Khurshid/ International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol.3, No. 2 34

limit and rest of the samples found just above the highest desirable limit 0.3 mg/l (1) (Fig IIc). Besides natural
sources, the corrosive nature of casing pipe used for water supply might contribute to the elevated iron

6.4. ZINC (Zn): Zinc is also found as an essential trace element found in all kind of food and potable water
in the form of salt or organic complexes. The maximum permissible limit of zinc is 15 mg/l [(1), (2)]. All the
samples were found below the maximum permissible limit and half of the samples were found above the highest
desirable limit 0.1 mg/l (1) (Fig IId). Zinc concentration was found in range between 0 to 6.737 mg/l. The presence of
excess amount of Zinc in groundwater can cause many health disorders (15) lethargy, electrolytic imbalance,
abdominal pain, nausea, lack of muscular coordination and renal failure. Chronic dose of zinc increases the risk of
anemia, damage of pancreas, lowers down High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels and raises Low Density
Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels which may enhance the symptoms of Alzheimers disease.

6.5. MANGANESE (Mn): Manganese is one of the most abundant metal in the earth's crust and usually occur
together with iron. The most abundant compounds of manganese are sulphide, oxide, carbonate and silicate. Mn can
form insoluble oxides that may result in undesirable deposits and colour problems in distribution systems (16). In the
study area the concentration of Mn is observed between 0.00256 to 0.6547 mg/l. Maximum permissible limit of Mn is
0.5 mg/l [(1), (2)]. All the samples are found below the maximum permissible limit except Sarai sultani and Delhigate
(Fig IIe).

BIS(1993) BIS (1993)
0.8 0.16


0.6 0.12

Pb (mg/l)
Al (mg/l)

0.4 0.08


0.2 0.04


0.0 0.00
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Sample Sites Sample Sites

(a) (b)

BIS (1993)
7 BIS (1993) 6

6 5

Fe (mg/l)

Zn (mg/l)


2 2

1 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Sample Sites
Sample Sites

(c) (d)
Khan & Khurshid/ International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol.3, No. 2 35

BIS (1993)


Mn (mg/l)



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Sample Sites

Fig II: Bar diagram representing the concentration of trace elements in the study area (a) Al (b) Pb(c) Fe (d)Zn (e)Mn.

6.6. COPPER (Cu): Copper is an essential element vital for functioning of humans, animals and plants. It is found in
several enzymes and it is present as trace concentrations in groundwater. Highest desirable limit of Cu is 0.05 mg/l
[(1), (2)]. The value of Cu in the study area range from 0.0 to 0.07872. In Bhujpura police chauki sample
concentration of Cu is found above the highest desirable limit (Fig IIIa). Reduced concentration of trace element has
been reported in pregnancy and pathological conditions, e.g., anemia, renal disorders, leukemia and certain type of
tumors, invasive diseases caused by worms are also connected with the deficiency of Copper and Iron in the body (3).

6.7. COBALT (Co): Cobalt is a requisite element for all living beings as it is the part of vitamin B12 molecule. In
nature it is found in the form of carcinogenic if it is found in low concentration, it causes vomiting, weakness,
giddiness, lack of concentration, hearing impairment, thyroid problems, memory loss and cardiovascular
disease. In the study area cobalt range from 0.01139 to 0.05815 mg/l (Fig IIIb). It is used in decorating and plating and
for remedying cobalt deficiencies in cattle and sheep. The primary source of cobalt in human diets is green verdant
vegetables. Cobalt enters in the groundwater by the effluents coming from industries dealing with corrosion and wear-
resistant alloys. Other sources of contamination are colours and pigments used to colour glass and ceramic objects,
lithium-cobalt batteries and permanent magnets. Petroleum based industries are also the cause of Cobalt contamination
into the environment (17).

6.8. CADMIUM (Cd): Cadmium is a poisonous metal and can cause serious health problems even if ingested
in small concentration in groundwater. It is a cumulative environmental pollutant and its exposure to the body results
damage of the kidney and causes renal dysfunction, arteriosclerosis, cancer etc. (13). Maximum permissible limit of
cadmium is 0.01 mg/l (1). In the study area cadmium ranges from 0.0 to 0.006675 mg/l. (Fig IIIc). In Bhujpura police
chauki, Sarai garhi and Sarai labarya samples the concentration is found below the maximum permissible limit.
Cadmium is frequently used in electroplating and in pigment manufacturing industries. It occurs in zinc ores and is an
important by-product in the zinc metallurgy. High amount of Cadmium is a poisonous and even small amount of it
taken for a long period of time accumulates in the biological system and causes serious illness. It is mainly retained in
liver and kidney, causing pathological changes in hepatocytes and kidney tubules.

6.9. CHROMIUM (Cr): Maximum permissible limit of Cr is 0.05 mg/l (1). In the study area Cr is ranges from 0.00333
to 0.03559 mg/l. (Fig IIId). Concentration of Cr in all the samples found below the maximum permissible limit. High
concentration of Cr in groundwater may cause ulceration of nasal septum and dermatitis (18). Chromium
(Cr6+) may cause skin disorder and cancer in respiratory track (13).
Khan & Khurshid/ International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol.3, No. 2 36

0.08 0.06

BIS (1993) BIS (1993)


Cu (mg/l)

Co (mg/l)
0.04 0.03



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Sample Sites
Sample Sites

(a) (b)

0.012 BIS(1993) 0.045
BIS (1993)
0.008 0.030
Cd (mg/l)

Cr (mg/l)

0.007 0.025
0.004 0.015
0.003 0.010
0.000 0.000
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Sample Sites Sample Sites

(c) (d)
Fig III: Bar diagram representing the concentration of trace elements in the study area (a) Cu (b) Co (c) Cd (d) Cr.

7. CONCLUSION: The present study reveals that the concentration of the trace elements i.e., aluminium, iron, lead
and manganese in the drinking water of the study area is above the highest desirable limits established by the (1). It is
obvious from the studies carried out in relation to the occurrence of diseases and metal toxicity in Aligarh that
determines the industrial town having a poor health record and the quality of groundwater is not good. Abnormal
concentration may cause the detrimental effect on the residents of the area. As far as source of these elements is
concerned, the simplest assumption would be that Fe and Al in groundwater can be derived through the weathering
followed by dissolution of Fe-bearing aluminosilicates as a result of water-rock interaction. The source for Fe and Al
may be due to anthropogenic activities. For Fe it is notice that in most of the wells casing pipes are very old and
corroded and this may be contributing some Fe to the system, but this may only be relatively minor. As far as high
values of Pb are concerned, a geogenic source may be ruled out directly. One possibility that has to be looked into is
the use of lead arsenate as a pesticide. Lead is also contributed to the groundwater from anthropogenic sources, such
as industrial effluents. Manganese is exceeding maximum permissible limits and their main sources are combined
effects of geogenic and anthropogenic sources. A proper planning and management is mandatory to alleviate the
problem of intake water contamination in the study area.
On the basis of the detailed study, the following implication have been made for protection of
groundwater of the study area:

(a) Old casing pipes, which are still in use in wells and old hand pumps should be replaced by new ones.
(b) The shallow hand pumps should be replaced by deeper hand pumps to avoid water from shallow aquifers
that are relatively more polluted.
(c) Assessment of groundwater quality is necessary to be done at regular intervals.
(d) There is an urgent need to verify the quality of effluent released from industries.
Khan & Khurshid/ International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vol.3, No. 2 37

8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The authors are thankful to Chairman, Department of Geology, Aligarh Muslim
University, Aligarh for providing necessary facilities for the purpose of research work. The author also gratefully
acknowledges the financial assistance received for this research purpose in the form of Junior Research Fellowships
(BSR) from University Grant Commission, New Delhi. We also grateful to Dr. Rama Mohan Kurakalva (Senior
Scientist) at National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI) Hyderabad for his help and co-operation for
geochemical analysis of the water samples by ICP-OES.


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