Practice of wastewater irrigation and its impacts on human health and environment: a state of the art

Pratap, B, Kumar, S, Purchase, Diane ORCID logoORCID:, Bharagava, Ram Naresh ORCID logoORCID: and Dutta, V (2021) Practice of wastewater irrigation and its impacts on human health and environment: a state of the art. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology . ISSN 1735-1472 [Article] (Published online first) (doi:10.1007/s13762-021-03682-8)

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The practice of wastewater irrigation lessens the pressure on the aquatic environment by minimizing the use of freshwater resources. However, this may lead to significant damage to the human health and environments. Recycled wastewater possesses a substantial amount of nutrients that act as fertilizers for crops and facilitate the metabolic action of microorganisms. The major advantages of wastewater irrigation are increased agricultural production, nutrient recycling, reduced stress on freshwater, economical support and provision of livelihoods for farmers. However, several harmful impacts of wastewater irrigation are also prominent due to inappropriate wastewater management and irrigation practices. These include severe hazards to farmer’s health, contamination of agricultural land and crops with toxic metals, chemical compounds, salts and microbial pathogens. In addition, long-term irrigation using wastewater can significantly affect the groundwater through leakage of salty and toxic metal-rich wastewater making it unfit for human consumption. Wastewater irrigation may also alter the physicochemical properties and microbiota of soil, which in turn can disturb land fertility and crop productivity. Several factors need to be considered while using treated or partially treated wastewater for irrigation such as diversity and type of pollutants, available nutrients, pathogenic microorganisms and soil salinity. In this review paper, we assess the impact of wastewater irrigation on humans as well as on the environment based on available case studies globally, outline current use of wastewater for irrigation of agricultural crops such as cereals, vegetables, fodder crops, including agroforestry and discuss suitable management practices of wastewater reuse for irrigation.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Natural Sciences
Item ID: 33961
Notes on copyright: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology. The final authenticated version is available online at:
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Depositing User: Diane Purchase
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2021 08:25
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:42

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