Toxic effect of heavy metals on aquatic environment
The indiscriminate discharge of industrial effluents, raw sewage wastes and other waste pollute most of the environments and affect survival and physiological activities of target organisms. Metals in particular have a tendency to accumulate and undergo food chain magnification. Heavy metals affect all groups of organisms and ecosystem processes, including microbial activities. The bioaccumulation of trace elements in living organisms and biomagnification in them describes the processes and pathways of these pollutants from one trophic level to another, exhibiting the higher bioaccumulation ability in the organisms concerned. Some of these organisms, like fishes, are consumed by human beings. They could also cause catastrophic diseases like Minamata and Itai-Itai. Remediation approaches such as excavation and land fill, thermal treatment, electroreclamation and soil capping have been proposed depending on the extension, depth and kind of contamination, but all are expensive and environmentally destructive. Hence, reduction of toxic elements in aquatic environment can be progressively monitored by currently accepted and updated methods.
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Keywords: Heavy metals, effluents, Minamata, Itai-itai, Remediation, antacids.