Dr Kousik Das and Dr Deep Raj, Assistant Professors in the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering (EVSE) at SRM University AP, along with Dr Uttiya Dey (Post-doc) and PhD Scholar Mr. Mijanur Mondal, have achieved a significant milestone with the publication of their research paper, “Microplastics in groundwater: An overview of source, distribution, mobility constraints and potential health impacts during the Anthropocene.
This pioneering work has been published in the esteemed journal “Groundwater for Sustainable Development,” a Q1 journal with an impressive Impact Factor of 5.9. The paper offers a comprehensive overview of the sources, distribution, mobility constraints, and potential health impacts of microplastics in groundwater, contributing valuable insights to the scientific community.The research team’s dedication to advancing environmental science and addressing crucial issues such as microplastic pollution underscores SRM University AP’s commitment to impactful research and innovation.
Microplastics (MPs) are the tiny particles of plastic of > 5 mm in diameter that have already been detected in various environmental matrices like soil, sediment, and surface water, and recently in groundwater also. The occurrence of MPs in groundwater depends up on the transportation through recharge and may controlled by source and local hydrogeology, and partly on the process of surface water-groundwater interaction (SW-GW). Groundwater recharge from agricultural stagnant water, losing streams near dumping sites and agricultural fields, effluents from wastewater treatment plants, septic system failure, etc., are the potential sources of MPs in groundwater. The factors like sea level rise and tidal pumping are among the major factors that may control the migration of MPs in coastal aquifers, along with the physical and chemical properties of the aquifer media. These MPs have another ecological concern as they can adsorb persistent organic pollutants as well as heavy metals and transfer them to animal tissues through the food chain. No such study has been done on the existence, profusion, or environmental factors that contribute to MP pollution in the groundwater in relation to the present climate change scenario. Understanding the extent of MP contamination in groundwater systems is necessary for developing effective management strategies and minimizing their impact on the environment and human health. This study focuses on the source along with the controlling factors of the migration of MPs towards groundwater, including the effect of climate change.
Dey, U.,Raj, D., Mondal, M., Roy, P., Mukherjee, A., Mondal, N.K. and Das, K. (2023). Microplastics in groundwater: An overview of source, distribution, mobility constraints and potential health impacts during the Anthropocene. Groundwater for Sustainable Development. 23: 101036
Practical implementation and social implications of the research
Microplastic pollution is among the recent emerging pollutants which is still understudied. n. Studies are being conducted mainly focusing the MP contamination in surface water, marine environment and soil, and very limited studies are available to address the source of MPs in groundwater. Even there is lack of standard methods for the effective detection, both qualitatively and quantitatively, of MPs. However, no such study has been done on the existence, profusion, or environmental factors that contribute to MP pollution in the groundwater in relation to the present climate change scenario. As groundwater is a major source of drinking water worldwide, it is of immense importance to enquire more about the source, transport pathways, controlling factors and human health effects of MPs for the safeguard of this valuable resource. Understanding the extent of MP contamination in groundwater systems is necessary for developing effective management strategies and minimizing their impact on the environment and human health. Our study was conducted to mainly focus on the source along with the controlling factors of the migration of MPs towards groundwater including the effect of climate change. The findings of our study would provide valuable insights into the characteristics of MPs in the environment and suggest efforts to mitigate their impact on ecosystems as well as on human health.
The collaborators in this present study are:
- Prof. Abhijit Mukherjee, Department of Geology and Geophysics & School of Environmental Science and Engineering, IIT Kharagpur, West Bengal
- Prof. Naba Kumar Mondal, Department of Environmental Science, The University of Burdwan, West Bengal
Future research plans
Microplastic is one of the recent emerging pollutants which is still understudied. The research has just started to detect MPs in different environmental media as well as to establish effective removal technologies. Our future plans with MP research are as follows:
- To measure the MPs concentration in different coastal areas in India, as the oceans are the major sink for any pollutants, to obtain baseline information about the contamination load
- To detect how much amount of MPs are coming through the major rivers by linking the land use and land cover pattern so that the major sources can be detected
- Detection of MPs in the freshwater aquifer to adopt effective management strategies to safeguard the groundwater
- Development of effective and environment-friendly MP removal technologies