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Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

Sea Water Quality Criteria

  • Collection, transportation, acclimation and maintenance of marine organisms for toxicity bioassay experiments.
  • Toxicity bioassay experiments on marine organisms for metals(Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, Hg, As, Cr, Ni, Se), organics (monocrotophos, chlorpyrifos) and hydrocarbons (Anthracene and Benzo-a-pyrene)
  • Derivation of toxicity values: Median lethal Concentration (LC50), Lowest Observed Effect Concentration (LOEC), No Observed Effect Concentration (NOEC) and Chronic values (CV).
  • Measurements of the metals and pesticide of the experimental samples using the analytical instruments like Gas Chromatography (GC) fitted with FPD and FID Detectors, Atomic Absorption spectrophotometer.
  • Histology: Histological observations in the tissue sections of the matine organisms after exposure to the sublethal concentrations of the selected metal/pesticide/hydrocarbons
  • Biochemistry: Biochemical enzyme activities by using Multimode Reader and Native PAGE (Polyacrylamide Gel Electrophoresis).
  • Derivation of Sea Water Quality Criteria based on the Acute and Chronic toxicity values of marine organisms.

Ecological Risk Assessment

  • Monitoring of metals, PAHs, TPH in water and sediment samples of Ennore, Uppanar, and Vellar Estuaries
  • Monitoring of water quality parameters and nutrients from the samples of Ennore, Uppanar, and Vellar Estuaries
  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the benthos from the sediment samples of selected estuarine transects.
  • Comprehensive sediment quality assessment through integrated approach by using sediment toxicity bioassay, measurement of contaminants and benthic biodiversity assessment.
  • Collection and optimization of monoculture of diatoms, copepods, Polychaete larvae and barnacles from mixed culture for toxicity bioassays.
  • Microcosm experiments on marine diatoms, copepods, and larvae of polychaete and barnacles for toxicity sediment extracts collected from Ennore, Uppanar, and Vellar Estuaries.
  • Derivation of environmental quality indices for the assessment of extent of damage due to metal/TPH/PAH pollutants.
  • Field based in situ mesocosm experiments on selected marine organisms at Ennore estuary for the risk assessment of metals of concern.

Activities and components of MEERA programme in developing the standards and threshold limits towards the control and mitigation of coastal pollution


Marine Outfall Monitoring (MOM)

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is amending the Environmental (Protection) Rules, 1986 based on the detailed reports submitted by National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR). A draft amendment gazette notification was published by MoEF&CC on 17th February 2020 amending the Environmental (Protection) Rules, 1986. Wherein water quality standards for marine outfall in respect of Primary Water Quality Criteria (PWQC) for class SW-III [Industrial cooling, Recreation (non-contact) and Aesthetics] and class SW-V [Navigation and Controlled Waste Disposal] waters are being amended with the inclusion of seven metals viz., cadmium, copper, mercury, zinc, lead, arsenic, chromium and pesticide, monocrotophos.

Map showing the locations of marine outfall monitoring, risk assessment studies and water quality standards

Map showing the locations of marine outfall monitoring, risk assessment studies and water quality standards

The Expert Committee of MoEF&CC felt that, identification of areas of compliance/non-compliance on implementation of the amended standards is important. In this regard, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) requested National Centre for Coastal Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Chennai for monitoring of marine outfalls along the coastal waters of India to update the status of compliance/non-compliance in respect of existing primary water quality standards (PWQS) for SW-III and SW-III class waters. Considering this, a time bound marine outfall monitoring activity is implemented by National Centre for Coastal Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Chennai in collaboration with the CPCB involving the coastal state SPCBs and PCCs of UTs. Two marine outfall locations from each coastal state and UTs were identified from the consultation meeting with the nodal officers of SPCBs and PCCs. A total 19 marine outfall locations are monitored, sampling was carried at the identified locations involving the concerned SPCB nodal officers.

Hypoxia and Acidification in the Ocean (HAO)

NCCR is implementing a research programme address the impact of Hypoxia and Acidification in the Ocean. Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of increased human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere. Acidification happening in parallel with other climate-related stressors, including ocean warming and deoxygenation. Calcium carbonate minerals are the building blocks for the skeletons and shells of many marine organisms. In areas where most life now congregates in the ocean, the seawater is supersaturated with respect to calcium carbonate minerals. This means there are abundant building blocks for calcifying organisms to build their skeletons and shells. However, continued ocean acidification is causing many parts of the ocean to become under saturated with these minerals, which is likely to affect the ability of some organisms to produce and maintain their shells. Eutrophication and other direct and indirect mechanisms can exacerbate the effects of acidification and hypoxia in coastal ecosystems, which serve as important habitats for many ecologically and economically important species of algae, fish, and shellfish (Gobler and Baumann, 2016; Baumann et al., 2015; Hofmann et al., 2010). Coastal ecosystems and their resident biota are therefore at a heightened risk to the effects of acidification and hypoxia, as these conditions are expected to increase in prevalence and magnitude throughout the next century because of continued CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentration projected to be upwards of 1000 ppm.


  • Document the extent of adverse impacts from hypoxia and ocean acidification on sensitive marine ecosystems.
  • Past, present and future implications of ocean acidification on sensitive marine organisms.


Blue Belt: Building resilient coastal communities

The program involves outreach by NCCR in a unified manner projecting all possible solutions to challenges faced by coastal populace on a day-to-day basis. It does away with the traditional silo-based approach of tackling with single issues for a broader community outreach. Essentially the purpose is to employ adaptation & mitigation strategies for dealing with various public priorities and resultantly build resilient coastal communities.

Key Result Areas (KRAs)

  • Use social surveys to identify local biodiversity and cement community practices that are sustainable.
  • Embed the concept of sustainability in the coastal tourism industry.
  • ‘Blue Belt’ territories should provide a balance between poverty reduction and environmentally ruinous growth by resorting to stakeholder participation.
  • The impact of over-tourism is visible today throughout the world. We have to strive to be honest about visitor numbers at tourist hotspots and encourage travellers to explore lesser-visited destinations.
  • Eco-tourism entails travelling in a way that preserves the natural environment, adheres to cultural customs and supports local communities.
  • The three pillars of sustainable travel - environment, society and economy - are at the heart of what eco-lodges do, whether they are creating new excursions, providing pre-holiday info to their clients or finding ways to make it easier for visitors to tread with a lighter footprint.
  • NCCR held talks on 5th July with Puducherry Govt for this outreach and its success can be replicated in other coastal areas.


    • Developed seawater quality criteria for SW-III (Industrial cooling, Recreation – non-contact and Aesthetics – dissolved manganese) and SW-V (Navigation and Controlled Waste Disposal) for 7 heavy metals (Cu, Hg, Cd, Pb, Zn, As, Cr) and pesticide (Monochrotophos).
    • Draft gazette notification has been issued by MoEF&CC based on the reports submitted by NCCR.

    Prescribing numerical Sea Water Quality Criteria (SWQC) for priority toxic chemicals in the form of Standards as ‘Safe limits’ for protection, survival, and perpetuation of marine life for the benefit of all.


    Implementation of MEERA- Programme is to ensure a regulatory action for control and abatement of toxic and hazardous chemicals into the coastal and marine environment for best use classes of seawater.

    Ecological risk assessment is an scientific strategy for developing environmentally reliable quality standards for the sustainable management of coastal and marine environment .

    Comprehensive risk assessment is to identify environmental risk from trace and emerging toxic chemicals for deriving environmental quality indices and standards through an integrated approach.

    • Savurirajan, M., Barath Kumar, S., P. Karthikeyan, Marigoudar, S.R., Sharma, K.V., Murthy, M.R (2022). Assessment of ecological quality status using macrobenthic faunal diversity as tools in anthropogenically disturbed Ennore estuary, Tamil Nadu, India. Regional Studies in Marine Science. In Press.
    • Vijayaraghavan, G., Neethu, K.V., Aneesh, B.P., Suresh, A., Saranya, K.S., Bijoy Nandan, S. and Sharma, K.V (2022). Evaluation of toxicological impacts of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) microplastics on fish, Etroplus suratensis (Bloch, 1790), Cochin estuary, India. Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences, pp.1-10.
    • Raja, P., Karthikeyan, P., Marigoudar, S.R., Sharma, K.V. and Murthy, M.V.R (2022). Spatial distribution of total petroleum hydrocarbons in surface sediments of Palk Bay, Tamil Nadu, India. Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology4, pp.20-28.
    • Karthikeyan, P., Kannika, M.K., Marigoudar, S.R. and Sharma, K.V (2021). Rare occurrence and culture of heterotrichous ciliate, Folliculinopsis productaJournal of the Marine Biological Association of India63(2), p.76.
    • Karthikeyan, P., Raja, P., Kannika, M.K., Marigoudar, S.R. and Sharma, K.V  (2021). Fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis assay on copepod Tisbe furcata as a new rapid bioassay to assess marine sediment quality. Journal of Earth System Science130(3), pp.1-13. 
    • Neethu, K.V., Saranya, K.S., Krishna, N.G.A., Praved, P.H., Aneesh, B.P., Nandan, S.B. and Marigoudar, S.R (2021). Toxicity of copper on marine diatoms, Chaetoceros calcitrans and Nitzchia closterium from Cochin estuary, India. Ecotoxicology, pp.1-11. 
    • Karthikeyan, P., Marigoudar, S.R., Mohan, D., Sharma, K.V. and Murthy, M.R (2021). Prescribing sea water quality criteria for arsenic, cadmium and lead through species sensitivity distribution. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 208, p.111612. 
    • Don Xavier, N.D., Nandan, S.B., Jayachandran, P.R., Neethu, K.V., Mohan, D. and Marigoudar, S.R (2021). Eliciting heavy metal contamination on selected native organisms from Cochin estuary using contemporary biomarker approach. Journal of Earth System Science130(3), pp.1-13. 
    • Neethu, K.V., Saranya, K.S., Krishna, N.G.A., Praved, P.H., Aneesh, B.P., Nandan, S.B. and Marigoudar, S.R (2021). Toxicity of copper on marine diatoms, Chaetoceros calcitrans and Nitzchia closterium from Cochin estuary, India. Ecotoxicology30(5), pp.783-793.
    • Neethu, K.V., Nandan, S.B., Xavier, N.D.D., Jayachandran, P.R., Anu, P.R., Midhun, A.M., Mohan, D. and Marigoudar, S.R (2021). A multibiomarker approach to assess lead toxicity on the black clam, Villorita cyprinoides (Gray, 1825), from Cochin estuarine system (CES), southwest coast, India. Environmental Science and Pollution Research28(2), pp.1775-1788.
    • Sharma K.V, Barath Kumar S, Marigoudar S.R. (2021). A review of mesocosm experiments on heavy metals in marine environment and related issues of emerging concerns. Environmental Science and Pollution Research,28(2), 1-13.
    • Kunguma Kannika Maharajan, Panneerselvam Karthikeyan, Shambanagouda Rudragouda Marigoudar, K Venkatarama Sharma, Kasthuri Revathi (2020). Optimization of Culture Conditions for Growth of Marine Phytoplankton. Journal of Tropical Life Science.10(1), 79 – 87.
    • Karthikeyan, P., Marigoudar, S.R., Nagarjuna, A. and K.V.Sharma (2019). Toxicity assessment of cobalt and selenium on marine diatoms and copepods. Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, 1, pp.36-42.
    • Nagarjuna, A., Karthikeyan, P., Marigoudar, S.R. and K.V.Sharma (2019). Effect of sublethal gradient concentrations of nickel on postlarvae of Penaeus monodon, Perna viridis and Terapon jarbua: Enzyme activities and histopathological changes. Chemosphere, 237, p.124428.
    • Selvaraj, P., Murugesan, P., Punniyamoorthy, R., Parthasarathy, P. and Marigoudar, S.R., (2019). Assessment of the ecological health of Vellar and Ennore estuarine ecosystems using health indices. Indian Journal of Geo Marine Sciences, 48(10), pp.1580-1592.
    • Marigoudar, S. R., A. Nagarjuna, P. Karthikeyan, D. Mohan, and K. V. Sharma (2018). Comparative toxicity of chlorpyrifos: Sublethal effects on enzyme activities and histopathology of Mugil cephalus and Chanos chanos. Chemosphere, 211, p.89-101.
    • Marigoudar, S. R., A. Nagarjuna, P. Karthikeyan, D. Mohan, and K. V. Sharma (2018). Comparative toxicity of chlorpyrifos: Sublethal effects on enzyme activities and histopathology of Mugil cephalus and Chanos chanos. Chemosphere 211, 89-101.
    • Marigoudar, S.R., Mohan, D., Nagarjuna, A. and Karthikeyan, P  (2018). Biomarker and histopathological responses of Lates calcarifer on exposure to sub lethal concentrations of chlorpyrifos. Ecotoxicology and environmental safety, 148, pp.327-335
    • Nagarjuna, A., Karthikeyan, P., Mohan, D. and Marigoudar, S.R. (2018). Effect of selenium on Penaeus monodon and Perna viridis: Enzyme activities and histopathological responses. Chemosphere.
    • Panneerselvam, K., Marigoudar, S.R. and Dhandapani, M (2018). Toxicity of Nickel on the Selected Species of Marine Diatoms and Copepods. Bulletin of environmental contamination and toxicology, 100(3), pp.331-337.

    S.No Name Designation Specialization E-mail
    1 Mr. K. Venkatarama Sharma Scientist F & Group Head Microbiology   venkat[at]nccr[dot]gov[dot]in
    2 Dr. S.R.Marigoudar Scientist E Marine biology - Ecotoxicology srmarigoudar[at]nccr[dot]gov[dot]in
    3 Dr. A. Nagarjuna Project Scientist-III Zoology – Histopathology and Biochemistry nagarjuna[at]nccr[dot]gov[dot]in
    4 Dr. P. Karthikeyan Project Scientist-II Marine biology – Plankton biology and toxicology karthi[at]nccr[dot]gov[dot]in
    5 Dr. P. Raja Project Scientist-I Coastal Aquaculture – Ornamental fishes, Plankton ecology raja[at]nccr[dot]gov[dot]in
    6 Dr. Jasmine Singha Project Scientist-I Marine biology – Ecotoxicology and food safety jsingha[at]nccr[dot]gov[dot]in
    7 Ms. Soma Burman MRF - JRF Environmental Science – Ecotoxicology and coastal pollution soma_burman[at]nccr[dot]gov[dot]in


    Sampling activity at Ennore coastal waters

    Offshore water sampling-Crew of CRV Sagar Anveshika

    Deployment of open sea mesocosm experiments

    Mesocosm experiments to study the applicability of SWQ.


    Estuarine mesocosm experiment deployed at Ennore

    Copepod Oithona similis – laborotary culture

    Marine ciliate, Folliculinopsis sps –  cultured

    Marine diatom, Coscinodiscus centralis – jewels of the sea, cultured 


    Ennore-mixing zone near ETS

    Fisherman collecting Polychaete

    Surface sediment samples of Ennore estuary

    Diversity of Cerithidea-Ennore estuary


    Swarming of Crabs-Ennore estuary

    Ennore estuary Barmouth

    Ennore estuary 

    Seagull Bird at Ennore estuary


    Acclimation of Green Mussel

    Green Mussle collection on rocky shore

    Analytical activities for Trace metals

    Electrophoresis Gel Analysis


    Laboratory activities for bio-chemical analysis

    Algal culture experiments

    Growth inhibition bioassay

    Laboratory activity for standard preparation


     Flow through experiment for hydrocarbon

    Laboratory Interaction

    Animal ethical committee meeting

    Customized flow through bioassay system


    Sampling at Adyar estuary

    National Dialogue on Marine Ecotoxicology  and Ecological Risk Assessment (ND-MEERA)

    Brainstorming workshop on ‘Ecological Risk assessment for heavy metals