Pollution of groundwater: Burden, Scientific and Awareness Strategies


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Biovision Conference 2012, Biblotheca Alexandrina, Egypt


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Pollution of groundwater: Burden, Scientific and Awareness Strategies for Control By Ahmed M. Abdel-Azeem 1 , Mona M. Gab Allah 1 , Fatma M. Salem 1 and Gihan S. Soliman 2 1 Botany Department, Faculty of Science, University of Suez Canal 2 International-Curricula Educators Association

Introduction and Aim of the Work:

Introduction and Aim of the Work Groundwater contributes only 0.6% of the total water resources on earth (Meenakshi & Mehshwari 2006) and the main source of water for Sinai Peninsula is the fossil groundwater stored in the Lower Cretaceous aquifer and it is the most prospective aquifer in Sinai. Groundwater pollution is a worldwide phenomenon with potentially disastrous consequences. The aim of the present investigation was to: Raise the national awareness on the significance of the groundwater pollution in South Sinai being the sole water resource in the area Investigate the physico-chemical and microbiological properties of groundwater Explore the diversity and distribution of algal and fungal taxa in groundwater Detect the efficiency of some local microbes to biosorbe radionuclides and heavy metals of polluted groundwater, and Consider the possible effect of the fungal taxa on water quality and human health.

Materials and Methods :

Materials and Methods Sampling Physico-chemical analyses Microbiological analyses Awareness Campaigns and water saving activities Sampling - One thousand six hundred and twenty water samples (5 samples/well monthly) were collected from twenty seven wells during the period from June (2008) to May (2009). Physico-chemical analyses - Samples have been subjected to various analyses including water temperature at the time of sampling, pH value, total dissolved salts (TDS), electric conductivity (EC), NaCl %. Heavy metals (Zn, Pb, Cd, Mn and Cu) were analyzed by the total adsorbed metals method according to USEPA. Estimation of phosphate, nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia were analyzed according to standard methods for examination of water and wastewater (A.P.H.A. 1995). Fluoride concentration in the samples was measured by a fluoride selective electrode and a reference electrode.

Materials and Methods (Contd.) :

Microbiological Analyses For the recovery of zoosporic fungi, the baiting technique adopted by El-Hissy and Khallil (1989) was used. Terrestrial fungi were isolated by dilution plate method (Johnson et al. 1960) on Czapek's agar supplemented with 0.5 % yeast extract (CYA) amended with Rose bengal (1/15000) and chloramphenicol (50 ppm). Taxonomic identification using morphology characteristics of fungal isolates down to the species level on standard media was mainly based on the relevant identification keys. Total coliform bacteria were determined using the membrane-filter technique (Greenberg et al . 1992) on Endo-agar medium. Total viable bacteria plates were incubated at 28°C and total coliform plates at 37°C. All bacterial groups were counted after 24 hrs of incubation. For algal examination samples were preserved with Lugol’s solution and concentrated up to 100 ml by decantation (A.P.H.A. 1995) and identification was carried out according to some relevant references. Scanning electron microscopic studies to examine the surface features of alga ( Spirogyra varians ) and fungus ( Aspergillus niger ) were performed by Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (ESEM) model Philips (XL30) equipped with an energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer in the laboratories of the Nuclear Materials Authority, Maadi, Egypt. Materials and Methods (Contd.) Awareness campaigns and water saving activities 24 awareness campaigns, water education and competitions for 1200 local Bedouins and school students were complemented to teach the importance of safe drinking and water conservation in Saint Katherine. Based on our awareness campaign we were able to get two hundred devices of ecoBETA© water - efficient products donated and installed to safe groundwater for the Bedouins. Data Analyses - Obtained data were subjected to statistical analyses, including descriptive statistics, regression analysis, ANOVA and Student t test and graphical presentations using Excel software, Minitab Version 9.2 ad Statistica Version 5.1. In order to find out the relationship between environmental factors and microbiota under investigation, ordination in the form of Canonical Correspondence Analysis and classification in the form of Two Way Indicator Species Analysis by using PC-ORD version 4 were applied.


Results Physico-chemical Parameters Microbiological Analyses Uptake of natural radionuclides Water samples collected from 27 wells in Saint Katherine compared to the Egyptian and WHO standards for potable water Heavy metals and Fluoride contents of 1620 water samples collected from 27 wells in St. Katherine compared to the Egyptian & WHO standards for potable water Total counts, number of cases of isolation and occurrence remarks of aquatic and aquatic derived fungi isolated from 27 water wells in St. Katherine Water and algal cells content of Thorium (ppm) in 27 wells Water and algal cells content of Uranium (ppm) in 27 wells SEM of Uranium absorbed by Spirogyra varians after 60 minutes of immersion in polluted water Multivariate analysis of fungi & algae Raise of National Awareness Clusters dendrogram based on Two Way Indicator Species Analysis (TWINSPAN) Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CC) ordination biplot showing relationship between 4 chemical factors


Discussion The present investigation indicates that groundwater in Saint Katherine area affected directly by the microbial, heavy metals and natural radionuclides content. The results show that groundwater in Saint Katherine may be an important contributor to the transmission of a wide variety of microorganisms to water consumers. The total counts of viable and coliform bacteria are increased dramatically within twenty six years compared to those observed by Diab (1984) and Abdulla et al . (2003). Concentrations of heavy metals (Pb, Cd, Mn, Th, U) were exceeding the W.H.O. (2004) and Egyptian guidelines (2007) for drinking water in the majority of the samples. Aspergillus niger and Spirogyra varians are the most frequent species and their ability to accumulate uranium and heavy metals as Fungi and algae were reported by many investigators viz Gadd (1986, 1992, 2007), Gadd and Sayer (2000), Price et al. (2001), Hafez et al. (1999), Kapoor et al. (1999), Miersch et al. (2001), Pinto et al . (2003), Mallick (2003), Singhal et al . (2004), Aleissa et al . (2004), El-Morsy (2004) and Abdel-Azeem et al. (2007), Gupta & Rastogi (2008) and Kaonga et al . (2008). The effect of over flourosis in groundwater of Saint Katherine affected the enamel of local inhabitant's teeth. It is a universal problem in certain high water fluoride areas in Africa and Europe (Forsman 1974; Opinya et al . 1991; Browne et al ., 2005).


Recommendation Considering the fungal content of water when the microbiological safety and quality of Egyptian drinking water are assessed. Shedding the light and raise the national awareness on the hazardous effects of groundwater pollution in South Sinai as the sole source of water there. The pollution issue of the groundwater in South Sinai is overlooked or ignored completely by multimedia and more action urgently needed. Applying recent and cheap techniques for purification of groundwater from all sources of pollution such as solar energy, Nalgonda technique and local biosorbents microorganisms. Commercial production of calcium alginate beads of Aspergillus niger and Spirogyra varians (a new Egyptian patent) for immobilization of radionuclides and heavy metals from polluted groundwater sources in Egypt based on their potentiality.


Conclusion Sources of groundwater in Saint Katherine are heavily polluted and affected directly by the microbial, heavy metals and natural radionuclides content. More concentration of multimedia on the groundwater pollution is urgently needed. Application of new and cheap techniques is recommended. Adoption of businessmen and companies working in the field of water purification to these new microorganisms ( Aspergillus niger and Spirogyra varians ) to solve the problem with cheap technology and new Egyptian patent.

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