BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) said they developed a portable kit to detect toxic chromium in drinking water and tap water, lakes, rivers as well as ground water at a cost of Rs 16 per sample.
Existing kits for onsite detection of Hexavalent Chromium are currently imported and the cost of analysis is beyond Rs100 per sample, said BARC.
Chromium in the environment primarily exists as Trivalent Chromium Cr(III) and Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI). Hexavalent Chromium Cr (VI) is toxic and the World Health Organization has classified it as carcinogenic and can cause stomach ulcers and cancers and severe damage to kidneys and liver.
Detection of Cr(VI) at low levels of 10-50 microgram per litre is not only technically challenging but also expensive and time consuming since it involves collection of water samples from affected areas, transport to laboratory, storage and finally analysis the defense research organization added.
The procedure involves adding a specified amount of specific reagents to the water sample and identifying the developed colour.
The colour develops within 5 minutes and the distinction can be made with naked eye. For ease of comparison a colour chart is provided with the kit.
Chromium is widely used in various industries like leather, steel, chrome plating, paint manufacturing, wood preservation etc. Untreated effluents from these industries cause widespread contamination of water as been reported in several parts of the country.
The popular Hollywood movie Erin Brockovich was based on the theme of Chromium poisoning.