Articles | Volume 7, issue 2
Solid Earth, 7, 703–711, 2016
Solid Earth, 7, 703–711, 2016

Research article 29 Apr 2016

Research article | 29 Apr 2016

Effect of polluted water on soil and plant contamination by heavy metals in El-Mahla El-Kobra, Egypt

Esawy Kasem Mahmoud1 and Adel Mohamed Ghoneim2,3 Esawy Kasem Mahmoud and Adel Mohamed Ghoneim
  • 1Soil and Water Sciences Department, Faculty of Agriculture at Tanta, Tanta University, Tanta, Egypt
  • 2Soil Science Department, College of Food and Agricultural Sciences, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2460, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia
  • 3Agricultural Research Center, Field Crops Research Institute, Rice Research and Training Center, Sakha, Kafr El-Sheikh, 33717, Egypt

Abstract. The discharge of untreated waste water in Zefta drain and drain no. 5 is becoming a problem for many farmers in the El-Mahla El-Kobra area, Egypt. The discharged water contains high levels of contaminants considered hazardous to the ecosystem. Some plants, soil, water, and sediment samples were collected from the El-Mahla El-Kobra area to evaluate the contamination by heavy metals. The results showed that the heavy metals, pH, sodium adsorption ratio (SAR), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) in the water of Zefta drain and drain no. 5 exceeded permissible limits for irrigation. In rice and maize shoots grown in soils irrigated by contaminated water from Zefta drain and drain no. 5, the bioaccumulation factors for Cd, Pb, Zn, Cu, and Mn were higher than 1.0. The heavy metals content of irrigated soils from Zefta drain and drain no. 5 exceeded the upper limit of background heavy metals. In this study, the mean contaminant factor values of the drain no. 5 sediments revealed that Zn, Mn, Cu, Cd, Pb, and Ni > 6, indicating very high contamination. The bioaccumulation coefficient values of Cynodon dactylon, Phragmites australis, and Typha domingensis aquatic plants growing in Zefta drain are high. These species can be considered as hyperaccumulators for the decontamination of contaminated water.

Short summary
Delta drains receive high concentrations of organic and inorganic pollutants from industrial, domestic as well as diffuse agricultural waste water. High priority should be given to Zefta and drain no.5 sites which receive high loads of pollutants. This was confirmed by the lower water quality and polluted soils, especially by heavy metals in the El-Mahla El-Kobra area.