CHENNAI : You know Ennore Creek in Chennai is one of the most exploited and polluted waterbodies surrounded by thermal power plants. There is now empirical evidence, as the first-ever official study detected high concentration of heavy metals and said the fish caught here are not edible. The study was conducted by a noted soil biologist and ecologist Sultan Ahmed Ismail, who is the founder of Ecoscience Research Foundation. He is also a member of an Expert Committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal to conduct detailed investigation into the environmental degradation at Ennore.
As per the preliminary report, 60 environmental samples were collected in September last with 20 each of fish (finfish, bivalves, prawns and crabs), water samples and fly ash. Fish were collected directly from fishermen who had caught them from various parts of Ennore Creek. The samples were analysed as per established protocol by Tamil Nadu Testing House, Chennai, for heavy metals and other related parameters. Each fish and fly ash sample was analysed for eight heavy metals, including mercury, cadmium, selenium, total arsenic, total chromium, tin and copper. Additionally, pathogenic parameters like aerobic microbial count, E coli and total coliform were analysed. Besides, water samples were analysed for 17 chemical parameters.
The test findings showed that all fish samples contained high concentration of heavy metals, which can be hazardous and kill people in the long run when consumed. For instance, all 20 samples contained detectable levels of copper as high as 68.42 mg/kg in oyster and 66.18 mg/kg in fish. In India, there are no prescribed standards for heavy metals in fish or food. In water, Bureau of Indian Standards says the permissible level of copper is 1.5 mg/litre.
“Also, high selenium content has been seen in the edible catches from the water bodies. Selenium is a reproduction toxin for fish and is harmful for diversity and density. High selenium can induce carcinogenesis, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity. This can have a disastrous effect on the population that would be consuming such catch. The levels found in various fish taken from Ennore Creek have levels of cadmium and lead in excess of maximum concentration limit prescribed by European Union Regulation,” said Ismail in the report, a copy of which is available with this newspaper.
High levels of heavy metals, can be fatal
Fish samples from the Ennore Creek have a high concentration of heavy metals, which can kill people in the long run when consumed, according to a preliminary report. High selenium content was also found in the edible catch from the region.