Impact Assessment of a Potentially Polluted Tannery Brownfield on the Environment in Hyderabad, India

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Impact Assessment of a Potentially Polluted Tannery Brownfield on the Environment in Hyderabad, India

Funding: United Nations University

Project term: 2012 to 2012

 

Nowadays, changes in urban land use induced by human activities proceed extraordinarily fast, especially in mega-cities of developing countries. Dynamic processes and high urbanization rates can lead to uncontrolled expansion or development of urban areas and can cause severe environmental or social problems. For example, uncoordinated development induced by social and economic aspects can result in the formation of unused areas within the city space. Especially, deindustrialization and shift of industrial activities lead to the development of brownfield sites, which can feature severe environmental pollution. Due to the fact that the demand for land in mega-cities is enormous, unused areas are often occupied for interim use (e.g. residential utilization) directly after discontinuation of the previous utilization and before accomplishment of rehabilitation measures. The remaining pollutants within the subsurface can have severe impacts on the environmental quality. Moreover, the closeness and direct exposure of the dwellers to present contaminations can result in serious risks for the human health. Additional environmental problems and health disorders can also arise from pollution induced by the interim activities themselves.

One of the most serious sources for industrial pollution in India is the leather sector. Leather is a major export good of India. Therefore, the Indian tanning industry belongs to one of the most important industrial sectors of this country. However, improper depositions of hazardous tanning wastes from the chrome tanning process can lead to severe contamination of urban land and groundwater bodies resulting in the development of brownfields. Negative health effects induced by long-term exposure to chromium have been observed in residents living close to tannery brownfield sites.

Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the environmental impacts of tannery waste residues from former tanning facilities, as well as the associated health effects on urban dwellers living close to potentially polluted sites. The chosen study area was a ward located in Hyderabad (India) called Bholakpur. In former times, several tanneries were located within this ward.