, Volume 183, Issue 1-4, pp 77-94
Date: 19 Feb 2011

Groundwater contamination and its effect on health in Turkey

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Abstract

The sources of groundwater pollution in Turkey are identified, and pathways of contaminants to groundwater are first described. Then, the effects of groundwater quality on health in Turkey are evaluated. In general, sources of groundwater contamination fall into two main categories: natural and anthropogenic sources. Important sources of natural groundwater pollution in Turkey include geological formations, seawater intrusion, and geothermal fluid(s). The major sources of anthropogenic groundwater contamination are agricultural activities, mining waste, industrial waste, on-site septic tank systems, and pollution from imperfect well constructions. The analysis results revealed that natural contamination due to salt and gypsum are mostly found in Central and Mediterranean regions and arsenic in Aegean region. Geothermal fluids which contain fluoride poses a danger for skeleton, dental, and bone problems, especially in the areas of Denizli, Isparta, and Aydın. Discharges from surface water bodies contaminate groundwater by infiltration. Evidence of such contamination is found in Upper Kızılırmak basin, Gediz basin, and Büyük Melen river basin and some drinking water reservoirs in İstanbul. Additionally, seawater intrusion causes groundwater quality problems in coastal regions, especially in the Aegean coast. Industrial wastes are also polluting surface and groundwater in industrialized regions of Turkey. Deterioration of water quality as a result of fertilizers and pesticides is another major problem especially in the regions of Mediterranean, Aegean, Central Anatolia, and Marmara. Abandoned mercury mines in the western regions of Turkey, especially in Çanakkale, İzmir, Muğla, Kütahya, and Balıkesir, cause serious groundwater quality problems.