Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 2223–2242 | Cite as

Shallow groundwater quality and associated non-cancer health risk in agricultural areas (Poyang Lake basin, China)

  • Evgeniya Soldatova
  • Zhanxue Sun
  • Sofya Maier
  • Valeriia Drebot
  • Bai Gao
Original Paper


Owing to their accessibility, shallow groundwater is an essential source of drinking water in rural areas while usually being used without control by authorities. At the same time, this type of water resource is one of the most vulnerable to pollution, especially in regions with extensive agricultural activity. These factors increase the probability of adverse health effects in the population as a result of the consumption of shallow groundwater. In the present research, shallow groundwater quality in the agricultural areas of Poyang Lake basin was assessed according to world and national standards for drinking water quality. To evaluate non-cancer health risk from drinking groundwater, the hazard quotient from exposure to individual chemicals and hazard index from exposure to multiple chemicals were applied. It was found that, in shallow groundwater, the concentrations of 11 components (NO3, NH4+, Fe, Mn, As, Al, rare NO2, Se, Hg, Tl and Pb) exceed the limits referenced in the standards for drinking water. According to the health risk assessment, only five components (NO3, Fe, As, rare NO2 and Mn) likely provoke non-cancer effects. The attempt to evaluate the spatial distribution of human health risk from exposure to multiple chemicals shows that the most vulnerable area is associated with territory characterised by low altitude where reducing or near-neutral conditions are formed (lower reaches of Xiushui and Ganjiang Rivers). The largest health risk is associated with the immune system and adverse dermal effects.


Water pollution Non-cancer effects Health risk assessment Agrolandscapes Drinking water Southeastern China 



The research of health risk from exposure to N-compounds and factors of its distribution is funded from Russian Science Foundation (RSF), Project No 17-77-10017. Chemical analysis and chemical composition data processing were carried out at Tomsk Polytechnic University within the framework of Tomsk Polytechnic University Competitiveness Enhancement Program Grant. Authors would like to thank colleagues from East China University of Technology and Tomsk Polytechnic University who took part in fieldwork and conducted chemical analysis.


  1. Abu Bakar, A. F., Yusoff, I., Fatt, N. T., & Ashraf, M. A. (2015). Cumulative impacts of dissolved ionic metals on the chemical characteristics of river water affected by alkaline mine drainage from the Kuala Lipis gold mine, Pahang, Malaysia. Chemistry and Ecology, 31(1), 22–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahmed, F., Bibi, M. H., Ishiga, H., Fukushima, T., & Maruoka, T. (2010). Geochemical study of arsenic and other trace elements in groundwater and sediments of the Old Brahmaputra River Plain, Bangladesh. Environmental Earth Science, 60, 1303–1316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Albretsen, J. (2006). The toxicity of iron, an essential element. Veterinary Medicine, 101(2), 82–90.Google Scholar
  4. ATSDR. (2007). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for Arsenic. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service: Atlanta.Google Scholar
  5. ATSDR. (2014). Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Toxicological profile for Nitrate and Nitrite. (Draft for Public Comment). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service.Google Scholar
  6. Chen, J. P. (2012). Decontamination of heavy metals: Processes, mechanisms, and applications. New York: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chen, J. Y., Taniguchi, M., Liu, G. Q., & Miyaoka, K. (2007). Nitrate pollution of groundwater in the Yellow River delta, China. Hydrogeology Journal, 15, 1605–1614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. FAO. (2002). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations World Agriculture: Towards 2015/2030. Summary Report. Rome.Google Scholar
  9. GB 5749-2006. (2006). Standards for drinking water quality. National standard of the People’s Republic of China. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  10. Gräfe, M., & Sparks, D. L. (2006). Solid phase speciation of arsenic. In R. Naidu et al. (Eds.), Managing arsenic in the environment. From soils to human health (pp. 75–92). Collingwood: CSIRO Pub.Google Scholar
  11. Guo, H., Liu, C., Lu, H., Wanty, R. B., Wang, J., & Zhou, Y. (2013). Pathways of coupled arsenic and iron cycling in high arsenic groundwater of the Hetao basin, Inner Mongolia, China: An iron isotope approach. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 112, 130–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hoover, J. H., Sutton, P. C., Anderson, S. J., & Keller, A. C. (2014). Designing and evaluating a groundwater quality Internet GIS. Applied Geography, 53, 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hsueh, Y. M., Wu, W. L., Huang, Y. L., Chiou, H. Y., Tseng, C. H., & Chen, C. J. (1998). Low serum carotene level and increased risk of ischemic heart disease related to long-term arsenic exposure. Atherosclerosis, 141(2), 249–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ihedioha, J. N., Ukoha, P. O., & Ekere, N. R. (2017). Ecological and human health risk assessment of heavy metal contamination in soil of a municipal solid waste dump in Uyo, Nigeria. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 39, 497–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jaishankar, M., Tseten, T., Anbalagan, N., Mathew, B. B., & Beeregowda, K. N. (2014). Toxicity, mechanism and health effects of some heavy metals. Interdisciplinary Toxicology, 7(2), 60–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Li, F., Zhang, J., Jiang, W., Liu, C., Zhang, Z., Zhang, C., et al. (2017). Spatial health risk assessment and hierarchical risk management for mercury in soils from a typical contaminated site. China. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 39(4), 923–934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Li, X., & Zhang, Q. (2011). Estimating the potential evapotranspiration of Poyang Lake basin using remote sense data and Shuttleworth-Wallace model. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 10(Part B), 1575–1582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liang, C.-P., Wang, S.-W., Kao, Y.-H., & Chen, J.-S. (2016). Health risk assessment of groundwater arsenic pollution in southern Taiwan. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 38, 1271–1281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. NatGeo. (2017). MapMaker Interactive. Accessed August 7, 2017.
  20. NBSC. (2014). National Bureau of Statistics of China. Annual data. Accessed August 7, 2017. (in Chinese).
  21. Putilina, V. S., Galitskaya, IV, & Yuganova, T. I. (2011). Arsenic behaviour in soils, rocks and groundwater. Transformation, adsorption/desorption, migration. Novosibirsk: GPNTB SB RAS. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  22. Qiu, J. (2010). China faces up to groundwater crisis. Nature, 466, 308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. R (2004). Human health risk assessment from environmental chemicals. Moscow. (in Russian).Google Scholar
  24. Rasool, A., Farooqi, A., Masood, S., & Hussain, K. (2016). Arsenic in groundwater and its health risk assessment in drinking water of Mailsi, Punjab, Pakistan. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal, 22(1), 187–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ravenscroft, R., Brammer, H., & Richards, K. (2009). Arsenic pollution: A global synthesis. Oxford: Wiley.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rojas Fabro, A. Y., Pacheco Ávila, J. G., Esteller Alberich, M. V., Cabrera Sansores, S. A., & Camargo-Valero, M. A. (2015). Spatial distribution of nitrate health risk associated with groundwater use as drinking water in Merida, Mexico. Applied Geography, 65, 49–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shvartsev, S., Shen, Z., Sun, Z., Wang, G., Soldatova, E., & Guseva, N. (2016). Evolution of the groundwater chemical composition in the Poyang Lake catchment, China. Environmental Earth Sciences, 75(18), 1239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Smedley, P. L., & Kinnniburgh, D. G. (2002). A review of the source behavior and distribution of arsenic in natural waters. Applied Geochemistry, 17(5), 517–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Soldatova, E., Guseva, N., & Bychinsky, V. (2017a). Modelling of redox conditions in the shallow groundwater: A case study of agricultural area in the Poyang Lake basin, China. Procedia Earth and Planetary Science, 17, 197–200. Scholar
  30. Soldatova, E., Guseva, N., Sun, Z., Bychinsky, V., Boeckx, P., & Gao, B. (2017b). Source and behavior of nitrogen compounds in the shallow groundwater of the Poyang Lake basin, China. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 202, 59–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Soldatova, E. A., Guseva, N. V., Sun, Z., & Mazurova, I. S. (2015). Size fractionation of trace elements in the surface water and groundwater of the Ganjiang and Xiushui River basin, China. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 27, 012037.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping. (2008). Map of the People’s Republic of China. Edition of Administrative Region.Google Scholar
  33. Sun, Z., Soldatova, E. A., & Guseva, N. V. (2014). Impact of human activity on the groundwater chemical composition of the south part of the Poyang Lake basin. IERI Procedia, 8, 113–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. The Chinese residents of nutrition and chronic disease status report. (2015). The National Health and Family Planing Commission of PRC. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  35. Thomas Brinkhoff: City Population. Accessed August 7, 2017.
  36. US EPA. (1986). United States environmental protection agency. Guidelines for the health risk assessment of chemical mixtures. Washington: US EPA.Google Scholar
  37. US EPA. (1989). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund: Volume I—human health evaluation manual (Part D. Standardized Planning, Reporting, and Review of Superfund Risk Assessments). Washington.Google Scholar
  38. US EPA. (1991). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Risk Assessment Guidance for Superfund: Volume I—Human health evaluation manual (Supplemental guidance “Standard default exposure factors). Washington.Google Scholar
  39. US EPA. (1992). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Guidelines for Exposure Assessment. Washington.Google Scholar
  40. US EPA. (1998). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Guidelines for Exposure Assessment. Washington.Google Scholar
  41. US EPA. (2003). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Framework for Cumulative Risk Assessment. Washington.Google Scholar
  42. US EPA. (2014). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Region 4 Human Health Risk Assessment Supplemental Guidance. Washington.Google Scholar
  43. US EPA. (2015). United States Environmental Protection Agency. Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). Accessed August 7, 2017.
  44. Wang, Q., Riemann, D., Vogt, S., & Glaser, R. (2014). Impacts of land cover changes on climate trends in Jiangxi province China. International Journal of Biometeorology, 58(5), 645–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Wen, D., Zhang, F., Zhang, E., Wang, C., Han, S., & Zheng, Y. (2013). Arsenic, fluoride and iodine in groundwater of China. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 135, 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. WHO. (2011). World Health Organization. In Guideline for drinking water quality (4th ed.). Geneva.Google Scholar
  47. Wu, M. M., Kuo, T. L., Hwang, Y. H., & Chen, C. J. (1989). Dose-response relation between arsenic well water and mortality from cancers and vascular diseases. American Journal of Epidemiology, 130(6), 1123–1132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wu, J., Wang, L., Wang, S., Tian, R., Xue, C., Feng, W., et al. (2017). Spatiotemporal variation of groundwater quality in an arid area experiencing long-term paper wastewater irrigation, northwest China. Environmental Earth Sciences, 76(13), 460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Yan, B., Xing, J., Tan, H., Deng, S., & Tan, Y. (2011). Analysis on water environment capacity of the Poyang Lake. Procedia Environmental Sciences, 10(Part C), 2754–2759.Google Scholar
  50. Ye, X., Zhang, Q., Liu, J., Li, X., & Xu, C.-Y. (2013). Distinguishing the relative impacts of climate change and human activities on variation of streamflow in the Poyang Lake catchment, China. Journal of Hydrology, 494, 83–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yu, C. (2011). China’s water crisis needs more than words. Nature, 470, 307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zhang, C. Y., Zhang, S., Yin, M. Y., Ma, L. N., He, Z., & Ning, Z. (2013). Nitrogen isotope studies of nitrate contamination of the thick vadose zone in the wastewater-irrigated area. Environmental Earth Sciences, 68, 1475–1483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zhang, R., Li, H. X., Wu, X. F., Fan, F. C., Sun, B. Y., Wang, Z. S., et al. (2009). Current situation analysis on China rural drinking water quality. Journal of Environment and Health, 26, 3–5. (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  54. Zhang, X.-N., Guo, Q.-P., Shen, X.-X., Yu, S.-W., & Qiu, G.-Y. (2015). Food Safety Special Issue: Water quality, agriculture and food safety in China: Current situation, trends, interdependencies, management. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 14(11), 2365–2379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhen, L., Li, F., Huang, H., Dilly, O., Liu, J., Wei, Y., et al. (2011). Households’ willingness to reduce pollution threats in the Poyang Lake region, southern China. Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 110, 15–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research Tomsk Polytechnic UniversityTomskRussia
  2. 2.East China University of TechnologyNanchangChina

Personalised recommendations