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Water 2017, 9(4), 234; doi:10.3390/w9040234

Human Exposure Risk Assessment Due to Heavy Metals in Groundwater by Pollution Index and Multivariate Statistical Methods: A Case Study from South Africa

1
Department of Hydrology, University of Zululand, Kwa Dlangezwa 3886, South Africa
2
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117576, Singapore
3
Department of Geology, Anna University, Chennai 600025, India
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Athanasios Loukas
Received: 13 December 2016 / Revised: 25 February 2017 / Accepted: 19 March 2017 / Published: 11 April 2017
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Abstract

Heavy metals in surface and groundwater were analysed and their sources were identified using multivariate statistical tools for two towns in South Africa. Human exposure risk through the drinking water pathway was also assessed. Electrical conductivity values showed that groundwater is desirable to permissible for drinking except for six locations. Concentration of aluminium, lead and nickel were above the permissible limit for drinking at all locations. Boron, cadmium, iron and manganese exceeded the limit at few locations. Heavy metal pollution index based on ten heavy metals indicated that 85% of the area had good quality water, but 15% was unsuitable. Human exposure dose through the drinking water pathway indicated no risk due to boron, nickel and zinc, moderate risk due to cadmium and lithium and high risk due to silver, copper, manganese and lead. Hazard quotients were high in all sampling locations for humans of all age groups, indicating that groundwater is unsuitable for drinking purposes. Highly polluted areas were located near the coast, close to industrial operations and at a landfill site representing human-induced pollution. Factor analysis identified the four major pollution sources as: (1) industries; (2) mining and related activities; (3) mixed sources- geogenic and anthropogenic and (4) fertilizer application. View Full-Text
Keywords: human exposure risk; drinking water pathway; heavy metals; Mhlathuze Catchment; Empangeni; Richards Bay; South Africa human exposure risk; drinking water pathway; heavy metals; Mhlathuze Catchment; Empangeni; Richards Bay; South Africa
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Elumalai, V.; Brindha, K.; Lakshmanan, E. Human Exposure Risk Assessment Due to Heavy Metals in Groundwater by Pollution Index and Multivariate Statistical Methods: A Case Study from South Africa. Water 2017, 9, 234.

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