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India – Aruputo Chromium Contamination Assessment

the details…
Key pollutant
Hexavalent chromium
Product manufacturing - tannery scraps into fertilizer

Water, direct contact

Population affected
Children Under 6 Affected

The Problem

Aruputo lies to the east of Kolkata near Science City. There are around 40 large unlicensed facilities processing leather trimmings. The scrap leather trimmings, which appear blue from chromium tanning, are processed into fertilizer by boiling them in large pots; and the water is then dumped into local water bodies. The resulting black pieces are left to dry in the open after which they are bagged and sold as fertilizer to the tea estates in the northern districts.

Health Impact

No studies have been conducted here to study the human health impacts. When interviewed the local population did not have any health complaint, However, inhalation of chromium (VI) can cause irritation to the nose, such as runny nose, nosebleeds, and ulcers and holes in the nasal septum. Ingesting large amounts of chromium (VI) can cause stomach upsets and ulcers, convulsions, kidney and liver damage, and even death. Skin contact with certain chromium (VI) compounds can cause skin ulcers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that chromium (VI) is a human carcinogen.

Current Activity

This site was visited by Blacksmith Institute in January of 2005. A study will be conducted in cooperation with the West Bengal State Pollution Control Board authorities and local NGOs to test the water for contaminants.