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Study finds high levels of metal pollution in cities in Kannur district

Improper solid waste management, untreated wastewater disposal main cause of the problem, say researchers

Anthropogenic (originating due to human action) activities due to the rapid urbanisation in Kannur district have affected the environment and led to a higher level of metal pollution, which can have serious health problems in the near future.

The finding was made in a study conducted by researchers including T.K. Prasad, Head of the Geography Department; G. Jayapal, Government College, Kasaragod; Associate Professor, Department of Geography; V. Vineeth Kumar, lecturer in the Department of Physics; and research scholar K.P. Shimod.

The main objective of the study was to find the role of urbanisation in the heavy metal pollution of Kannur district, Mr. Prasad said.

He said the district was eighth in population and fourth in urban population among the 14 districts of Kerala. Of the total population in the district, 65.04% lived in urban areas.

For the study, soil samples were collected from 20 different areas of major towns in the district and the concentration of heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, zinc, and iron were analysed using X-ray fluorescence spectrometer.

The soil study found the presence of heavy metals dangerously high in the urban areas of Kannur, Thalassery, and Payyanur. These cities were all high in lead, mercury, and cadmium, he said.

The study found that rapid urbanisation had led to pollution of the environment. It was evident from the fact that construction work had increased in the district and the total built-up area, which was 85 sq km in 2000, had risen to 195 sq km in 2020. Besides, surface temperatures had also risen by 2 degrees Celsius over the past 10 years, he said.

The researchers concluded that improper solid waste management and untreated wastewater disposal in and around the study area influenced the heavy metal contamination.

The study suggested that a detailed master plan for solid waste management, wastewater treatment for each city, periodical evaluation of pollutant origins and development of practical strategies for remedial action were needed to reduce the heavy metal contamination in these areas.

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