Water Management – Institutional Reforms, Conservation Efforts, etc.

Froth formation in Yamuna


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Froth Formation

Mains level: Not Much

The visuals of devotees taking a dip in the froth-filled waters of the Yamuna River sent chills down the spine of the residents of Delhi.

What is Froth Formation?

  • This is a phenomenon that takes place on many lakes and streams.
  • Foam bubbles are produced when organic matter decomposes.
  • These foam-producing molecules have one end that repels water and another that attracts water and they work to reduce the surface tension on the surface of the water.
  • These foam bubbles are lighter than water, so they float on the surface as a thin film that gradually accumulates.

What causes the froth?

  • The presence of phosphates and surfactants in untreated sewage from Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is a major reason behind frothing.
  • While these two components comprise of 1 per cent, the remaining 99 percent is air and water.

What are the sources of pollution that cause foam formation?

  • Untreated sewage may contain soap-detergent particles.
  • The other sources are industrial effluents, organic matter from decomposing vegetation, and the presence of filamentous bacteria.
  • The pollution from the sugar and paper industries in Uttar Pradesh also causes pollution in the Yamuna.

What are its health hazards?

  • Short-term exposure can lead to skin irritation and allergies.
  • If ingested, these chemicals may cause gastrointestinal problems and diseases like typhoid.
  • Long-term exposure to heavy metals in industrial pollutants can cause neurological issues and hormonal imbalances.


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