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Ecotoxicological Evaluation of Municipal Sludge


Richa Srivastava, Anamika Tewari, Lalit K.S. Chauhan, Dinesh Kumar and Shrawan K. Gupta

Municipal wastes originating from urban and industrial areas have become a major source of soil, ground and surface water pollution. These undesirable agents in our environment significantly interact with our flora and fauna. The aim of this study was to test samples of municipal sludge (MS) for their ecotoxicological potential by using sensitive bioassays involving a plant, Vicia faba, and the earthworm, Eisenia foetida. A 10% leachate of MS was prepared for the experiments, and V. faba seedlings were exposed to three leachate concentrations (2.5%, 5% and 10%) for 5 days. The findings revealed chromosome aberrations during the metaphase as well as the anaphase of cell division, and inhibition of the mitotic index, which reflects that MS originating from domestic and other human activities may be genotoxic to the living organisms of the ecosystem. Abnormalities in chlorophyll content, plant growth, root length, shoot length and root/shoot length ratio in V. faba clearly indicated the toxicity of the sludge. Behavioural and reproduction studies with E. foetida also provided evidence for the toxic nature of the MS.