• Groundwater pollution;
  • Heavy metal;
  • Industrial wastewater;
  • Soil microbial activity


The present paper evaluates the temporal and spatial impact of heavy metal containing (Cr, Zn, Cu, Ni, Cd and Fe) effluents of brass, electroplating and tannery industries on chemical and microbiological characteristics of affected soil and groundwater. Therefore, samples were drawn from three sites, S1, S2 and S3, with a longitudinally distant from effluent drain of 20, 200 and 700 m, respectively. In general, the metals concentration exceeded the standard limits not only in the discharged effluents but also in the soil and groundwater. The significant reduction of microbial biomass C and N, soil respiration and microbial coefficient with increasing metal content from S3 to S1 was recorded, the effect being more pronounced in summer. However, the Cmic/Nmic ratio decreased whilst the metabolic quotient (equation image) increased with increasing metal concentration in soil. The content of Zn (11.5 mg/L) and Bacillus sp. was at maximum in groundwater of brass and electroplating industry site, whereas that of tannery site contained maximum Cr (2.34 mg/L) and Enterobacter sp. The toxic metals adversely polluted the groundwater which made it to harbours Escherichia coli beyond the prescribed limit. To check the soil and groundwater pollution, eco-friendly measures involving improved effluent treatment technology and site-specific application of treated effluent are recommended.