Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 31, pp 31326–31345 | Cite as

Spatio-temporal variability and source identification for metal contamination in the river sediment of Indian Sundarbans, a world heritage site

  • Debojyoti Roy
  • Arnab Pramanik
  • Satabdi Banerjee
  • Abhrajyoti Ghosh
  • Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay
  • Maitree BhattacharyyaEmail author
Research Article


Metal pollution is a subject of growing concern as it affects the whole food chain of an ecosystem by bioaccumulation. Growing industrialization and anthropogenic intervention have put tremendous pressure on self-sustaining ecosystems worldwide. Sundarbans mangrove estuary, being a UNESCO World Heritage site, suffers severely from anthropogenic stress, urbanization, ecotourism, overexploitation of natural resources and discharges of industrial as well as municipal waste products. Our study unfolds the extent of metal pollution in the sediment of this estuarine mangrove ecosystem and also investigates the source and distribution of these metals. Extensive samplings were performed during three major seasons, namely pre-monsoon, monsoon, and post-monsoon for two consecutive years at ten sampling stations along the major river networks of the mangrove estuary. Seasonal variations of these metals, physicochemical properties, and soil texture studies were performed to explore the sediment quality of the study area. Positive correlation was observed between the pollutants and siltation. Several environmental indices were investigated to explore the degree of metal pollution which revealed contamination of Cd, Cr, and Pb to cross the permitted safe index in the study area. Pollution load index indicates the spatial as well as seasonal variation of eco toxic metal load along the course of the rivers. Statistical analyses such as principal component analysis and correlation matrix identified different sources for metal contamination. Almost 700 tannery industries are located in the upstream region of the rivers, and several small- and large-scale battery industries seem to be the main possible source for Cd, Cr, and Pb pollution. Analysis of the results indicates the alarming condition of this heritage site. The metal concentrations beyond toxicity thresholds are responsible for gradual deterioration of this estuarine mangrove which may only be protected by developing sustainable management planning.


Metal pollution Seasonal variation Sundarbans Mangrove Sediment Estuarine ecosystem Potential ecological risk Source identification 



We acknowledge the World Bank for all the necessary support for the execution of the ICZM project (54-ICZMP/3P), West Bengal. Debojyoti Roy likes to acknowledge the University Grants Commission (RGNF-2015-17-SC-WES-16366) for providing his fellowship. Dr. Arnab Pramanik is supported by the Research Associateship from World Bank ICZM project. We would like to acknowledge the continuous encouragement and enthusiasm expressed by Mr. Tapas Paul and Dr. Herbert K. Acquay from The World Bank in our venture to explore the world heritage site, Sundarbans. We express our sincere gratitude to SPMU, NPMU, and IESWM for their continuous support. We are thankful to Dr. Somnath Bhattacharya and Professor Marika Vicziany for providing the necessary information about this ecologically important area. We like to acknowledge UGC-CAS, DST–FIST, DBT-IPLS, UGC-UPE in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Calcutta. It would not be possible to carry out this work without the help and support of the local people of the Sundarbans. We express our inability to acknowledge them individually.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical statement

The article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3092_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 3406 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debojyoti Roy
    • 1
  • Arnab Pramanik
    • 1
    • 2
  • Satabdi Banerjee
    • 1
  • Abhrajyoti Ghosh
    • 3
  • Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay
    • 4
  • Maitree Bhattacharyya
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryUniversity of CalcuttaKolkataIndia
  2. 2.Jagadis Bose National Science Talent SearchKolkataIndia
  3. 3.Department of BiochemistryBose InstituteKolkataIndia
  4. 4.Amity UniversityKolkataIndia

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