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Unraveling Health Risk and Speciation of Arsenic from Groundwater in Rural Areas of Punjab, Pakistan

Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Faisalabad 38040, Pakistan
Southern Cross GeoScience, Southern Cross University, Lismore 2480, NSW, Australia
Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation (CERAR), Mawson Lakes Campus, University of South Australia, SA 5095, Australia
Global Centre for Environmental Remediation (GCER), Faculty of Science and Information Technology, The University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia
Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), P.O. Box 486, Salisbury South, SA 5106, Australia
Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Vehari 61100, Pakistan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12(10), 12371-12390;
Received: 19 August 2015 / Revised: 19 September 2015 / Accepted: 25 September 2015 / Published: 5 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arsenic in Drinking Water: Current Perspectives and Future Directions)
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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, SO42−, 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. View Full-Text
Keywords: arsenic; groundwater; speciation; health risk; cancer; contamination; toxicity arsenic; groundwater; speciation; health risk; cancer; contamination; toxicity

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Shakoor, M.B.; Niazi, N.K.; Bibi, I.; Rahman, M.M.; Naidu, R.; Dong, Z.; Shahid, M.; Arshad, M. Unraveling Health Risk and Speciation of Arsenic from Groundwater in Rural Areas of Punjab, Pakistan. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 12371-12390.

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