Arsenic in Drinking Water; Punjab, Pakistan

Shakoor MB, Niazi NK, Bibi I, Rahman MM, Naidu R, Dong Z, Shahid M, Arshad M. Unraveling Health Risk and Speciation of Arsenic from Groundwater in Rural Areas of Punjab, Pakistan. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2015 Oct 5;12(10):12371-90. doi: 10.3390/ijerph121012371.

This study determined the total and speciated arsenic (As) concentrations and other health-related water quality parameters for unraveling the health risk of As from drinking water to humans. Groundwater samples (n = 62) were collected from three previously unexplored rural areas (Chichawatni, Vehari, Rahim Yar Khan) of Punjab in Pakistan. The mean and median As concentrations in groundwater were 37.9 and 12.7 µg·L(-1) (range = 1.5-201 µg·L(-1)). Fifty three percent groundwater samples showed higher As value than WHO safe limit of 10 µg·L(-1). Speciation of As in groundwater samples (n = 13) showed the presence of inorganic As only; arsenite (As(III)) constituted 13%-67% of total As and arsenate (As(V)) ranged from 33% to 100%. For As health risk assessment, the hazard quotient and cancer risk values were 11-18 and 46-600 times higher than the recommended values of US-EPA (i.e., 1.00 and 10(-6), respectively). In addition to As, various water quality parameters (e.g., electrical conductivity, Na, Ca, Cl(-), NO₃(-), SO₄(2-), Fe, Mn, Pb) also enhanced the health risk. The results show that consumption of As-contaminated groundwater poses an emerging health threat to the communities in the study area, and hence needs urgent remedial and management measures.

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