I wanted to share with you a paper that Terran recently wrote for his Chemistry class, on the Yamuna River. 

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For a bit of history on the river itself, I invite you to read/watch the following ::

Article on the "River of Death" from the Jakarta Globe.

Vanguard piece, reporting from Adam Yamaguchi

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Mr. R.
Terran H.

What do you get when you combine water with heavy amounts of Cr, Ni, Pb, Zn and Fe?

The Yamuna. 

The contents of this river cause all sorts of health problems, diseases and issues, yet nothing seems to be happening with its solution to fix it.

The Yamuna has a very high BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) which means that even the most basic of plant life cannot survive in its waters, or on its shoreline.  The main metals and chemicals found in the Yamuna can lead to skin rashes, ulcers, lung cancer, asthmatic bronchitis (Cr), decreased body weight, heart/liver damage, skin irritation (Ni), anema, brain and nervous system damage, severe kidney failue and behavioral problems in children (Pb), and cause a serious threat to cattle and plant species (Zn).

The pollutants in the river come from a variety of sources, both from the industrial sector and private residences :

methane gas, industrial waste, sewage / fecal matter, raw trash, offering waste, soil erosion, oil,radioactive waste, acid rain, waste heat (rise of water temperature in river because the water used to cool power stations is discharged into the river), fertilizers and pesticides (most of which aren’t cleared/allowed by the USDA)

An official with direct knowledge of the Yamuna and it’s contents described it as a “Sewage Drain.”  The water remains and stands stagnant 9 months out of the year.  3,296 MLD (million litres per day) of sewage is pumped into the river via 19 drains.

As bad as the situation is in the Yamuna, it’s not the only polluted river in India.  It is one of the worst polluted rivers in the world.  80% of India’s city waste goes directly into rivers that are too polluted for even safe levels for taking baths.  

 80% of the river’s pollution is the result of raw sewage and waste.

The Delhi Jal Board spent $500 million to build interceptor sewers that were supposed to channel the waste to sewage treatment plants.  Officials claimed the Yamuna would experience a 90% improvement in water quality by the time the Commonwealth Games took place.

I think that prediction failed miserably.

Pollution levels more than doubled from 1993 to 2005. And they still rise.  The problem is that most of the sewage treatment plants aren’t used to their capacity (or used at all).

Even if the plants were used as they were meant to be, they would only treat 55% of the city’s residents.  

The remaining people live in unserviced neighborhoods where the sewage goes straight into the river.

India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh has mandated that scientists and engineers redesign the flush toilet.  But is that enough?

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