Evaluation of chromium contamination in water, sediment and vegetation caused by the tannery of Jijel (Algeria): a case study

  • E. Leghouchi
  • E. Laib
  • M. Guerbet


In order to evaluate the chromium (Cr) contamination due to the discharge of waste waters from the tannery of Jijel in the Mouttas river (Algeria), samples of water, sediment and vegetation (Agropyrum repens) were collected during a 6 month period in four stations located upstream (control) and downstream of the tannery. The total chromium was measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Metal inputs were clearly related to effluent discharges from the tannery into the river. Although only traces of chromium were found in water samples upstream of the tannery, very high concentrations (up to 860 times higher) were detected downstream. The contamination was not limited to water of Mouttas River because a same difference in chromium concentrations was also found in sediments and plants Agropyrum repens that were sampled upstream and downstream of the tannery. This work showed that the treatment process used in the wastewater treatment plant of the tannery of Jijel is not able to remove the chromium detected in their influents. The occurrence and chromium levels detected in the aquatic environment represent a major problem concerning drinking water resources and environmental protection of water bodies.


Chromium Water pollution Agropyrum repens Tannery effluents Sediment 


  1. Apte, A. D., Verma, S., Tare, V., & Bose, P. (2005). Oxidation of Cr (III) in tannery sludge to Cr (VI): Field observations and theoretical assessment. Journal of Hazardous Materials, B121, 215–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armienta, M. A., Rodríguez, R., Ceniceros, N., Juárez, F., & Cruz, O. (1995). Distribution, origin and fate of chromium in soils in Guanajuato, Mexico. Environmental Pollution, 91(3), 391–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bajza, Z., & Vrcek, I. V. (2001). Water quality analysis of mixtures obtained from tannery waste effluents. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 50(1), 15–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barceloux, D. G. (1999). Chromium. Journal of Toxicology. Clinical Toxicology, 37(2), 173–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barnhart, J. (1997). Occurrences, uses, and properties of chromium. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 1(2), 3–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cassano, A., Drioli, E., & Molinari, R. (1999). Saving of water and chemicals in tanning industry by membrane processes. Water Research, 4, 443–450.Google Scholar
  7. Cespón-Romero, R. M., Yebra-Biurrun, M. C., & Bermejo-Barrera, M. (1996). Preconcentration and speciation of chromium by the determination of total chromium and chromium(III) in natural waters by flame atomic absorption spectrometry with a chelating ion-exchange flow injection system. Analytica Chimica Acta, 327(1), 37–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chaudry, M. A., Ahmad, S., & Malik, M. T. (1997). Supported liquid membrane technique applicability for removal of chromium from tannery wastes. Waste Management, 17(4), 211–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaudhry, T. M., Hill, L., Khan, A. G., & Kuek, C. (1999). Colonization of iron- and zinc contaminated dumped filtercake waste by microbes, plants, and associated mycorrhizae. In M. H. Wong, J. W. C. Wong, & A. J. M. Baker (Eds.), Remediation and management of degraded lands (pp. 275–283). Boca Raton: CRC.Google Scholar
  10. Förstner, U. (1976). Lake sediments as indicators of heavy-metal pollution. Naturwissenschaften, 63(10), 465–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. International Programme on Chemical Safety (1998). Environmental Health Criteria 61—Chromium. Available on
  12. Jordão, C. P., Pereira, J. C., Brune, W., Pereira, J. L., & Breathen, P. C. (1996). Heavy metal dispersion from industrial wastes in the Vale do Aço, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Environment & Technology, 17, 489–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jordão, C. P., Pereira, J. L., & Jham, G. N. (1997). Chromium contamination in sediment, vegetation and fish caused by tanneries in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Science of the Total Environment, 207(1), 1–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Journal Officiel de la République d’Algérie (2006). Valeurs limites des rejets d’effluents liquides industriels. JORA n°26 du 23 avril 2006, p4.Google Scholar
  15. Khan, A. G. (2001). Relationships between chromium biomagnification ratio, accumulation factor, and mycorrhizae in plants growing on tannery effluent-polluted soil. Environment International, 26(5–6), 417–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Khwaja, A. R., Singh, R., & Tandon, S. N. (2001). Monitoring of Ganga water and sediments vis-a-vis tannery pollution at Kanpur (India): A case study. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 68(1), 19–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kornhauser, C., Wrobel, K., Wrobel, K., Malacara, J. M., Nava, L. E., Gomez, L., et al. (2002). Possible adverse effect of chromium in occupational exposure of tannery workers. Industrial Health, 40(2), 207–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Monteiro, M. I. C., Fraga, I. C. S., Yallouz, A. V., de Oliveira, N. M. M., & Ribeiro, S. H. (2002). Determination of total chromium traces in tannery effluents by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry, flame atomic absorption spectrometry and UV-visible spectrophotometric methods. Talanta, 58, 629–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Moody, J. R., & Lindstrom, R. N. (1977). Selection and cleaning of plastic containers for storage of trace element samples. Analytical Chemistry, 49, 2264–2267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Namminga, H., & Wilhem, J. (1977). Heavy metals in water, sediments, and chironomids. Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 49, 1725–1731.Google Scholar
  21. Pfeiffer, W. C., Fiszman, M., Lacerda, L. D., & Weerelt, M. V. (1982). Chromium in water, suspended particles, sediments and biota in the Irajà river estuary. Environmental Pollution, 4, 193–205.Google Scholar
  22. Rao, J. R., Thanikaivelan, P., Sreeram, K. J., & Nair, B. U. (2002). Green route for the utilization of chrome shavings (chromium-containing solid waste) in tanning industry. Environmental Science & Technology, 36(6), 1372–1376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rodier, J. (1996). L’analyse de l’eau. Eaux naturelles, eaux résiduaires et eaux de mer (p. 1434). Paris: Dunod Collection Technique et Ingénierie.Google Scholar
  24. Rodrigues, M. L. K., & Formoso, M. L. L. (2005). Geochemical distribution of selected heavy metals in stream sediments affected by tannery activities. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, 169, 167–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Srinath, T., Verma, T., Ramteke, P. W., & Garg, S. K. (2002). Chromium (VI) biosorption and bioaccumulation by chromate resistant bacteria. Chemosphere, 48(4), 427–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sule, P. A., & Ingle, J. D. (1996). Determination of the speciation of chromium with an automated two-column ion-exchange system. Analytica Chimica Acta, 326(1–3), 85–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tariq, S. R., Shah, M. H., Shaheen, N., Khalique, A., Manzoor, S., & Jaffar, M. (2005). Multivariate analysis of selected metals in tannery effluents and related soil. Journal of Hazardous Materials, A122, 17–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Van Groenestijn, J. W., Langerwerf, J. S., & Lucas, M. (2002). Reducing environmental emissions in tanneries. Journal of Environmental Science and Health. Part A, Environmental Science and Engineering & Toxic and Hazardous Substance Control, 37(4), 737–743.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Pharmacology and Phytochemistry, Faculty of SciencesJijel UniversityJijelAlgeria
  2. 2.Laboratory of Toxicology, ADEN EA 3234, Faculty of Medicine and PharmacyRouen UniversityRouen CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations