Water quality and the fate of aquatic life in Torsa river, North Bengal, India: an analytical study

Krishnajyoti Goswami, Ipsita Mazumdar, Debashis Das


Objective: Rivers that play an important role in sustenance of aquatic lifeline are getting polluted by rapid urbanisation and industrialization, impacting the state of health in fishes. Heavy metal, like lead (Pb) contamination from industrial effluent and pesticides may have distressing effects on the ecological balance. Though water has some self-purification capacity, the toxic load is simply too high for it. Torsa river in North Bengal is an International river flowing through China, Bhutan, India and Bangladesh. It is very important to check the health of it’s aquatic life, from the perspective of knowledge about biodiversity, because this river traverses a vast territory through different countries, and is home to various types of Boroli fish consumed by locals.

Methods: Water samples collected from 6 different sites, in acid washed sterile polythene bottles, in the early morning hours, were tested en-site for pH, turbidity and electrical conductivity by respective instruments. Pb was measured in both water and Boroli fish found in Torsa river through Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry in flame photometer; water sample in triplicate and fish sample in duplicate through 4 step microwave dry digestion process using nitric acid.

Results: The concentration of Pb in Torsa river water samples at different sites was found to be significantly high than the highest desirable limits. Temperature, electrical conductivity & turbidity of the water was found to be significantly high as well, along with decreased pH. The concentration of Pb absorbed by liver and kidney of Boroli fish was found to be very high, though that in the flesh was found to be below detection limits.

Conclusions: The state of health of water and fish found in Torsa are in need of improvement before it can be totally safe for human consumption and usage. The very high heavy metal load is not only harmful for humans, but also poses a serious threat to the ecological balance of the aquatic life.


Lead, pH, Turbidity, Elcetrical conductivity, Atomic absorption spectrophotometry

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