Origin and distribution of nitrate in water well of settlement areas in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

  • Fathmawati FathmawatiEmail author
  • Jajah Fachiroh
  • Adi Heru Sutomo
  • Doni Prakasa Eka Putra


Pollution of nitrate in water wells in Yogyakarta City was reported to increase for two decades. This study aimed to describe nitrate contamination in the water wells of colorectal cancer (CRC) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients, previously described elsewhere. Nitrate and chloride content of 150 water samples from the wells of patients with CRC and IBD who were residing in Yogyakarta, Sleman, or Bantul districts were examined. Description of nitrate contamination was presented in the form of box plot charts and map. Kruskal-Wallis analysis was used to measure the difference of nitrate concentration in three areas of study. Comparisons of nitrate and chloride concentrations were used to determine the source of nitrate contamination in water well. Fisher’s exact test was used to describe the relationship of well distance with the septic tank to nitrate concentration in water well. The wells in Yogyakarta City had the highest median nitrate content compared to Sleman and Bantul (P = 0.001) with the median of 56.6, 13.1, and 7.7 for Yogyakarta, Sleman, and Bantul, respectively, and most tested samples exceed WHO safe drinking water standards. The spread of nitrate contamination has occurred in areas adjacent to Yogyakarta City compared to the previous report. The ratio of nitrate to chloride (1–8:1) suggested that the source of nitrate contamination in water wells in the study area came from feces due to inadequate on-site sanitation. The mapping showed nitrate contamination in water wells in Yogyakarta City, Sleman, and Bantul districts had spread according to urban development.


Nitrate Chloride Water well Feces Yogyakarta 



We thank the Ministry of Health, Indonesia which has funded a part of this study as part of the doctoral scholarship program; Wadiya Desa Dora, Retno Yulianti, Yuli Patmasari, Banny Suryani, Bobby Jati Dewo and Heri Adiyanto for helping water sample collection; BBTKL-PP/MCEHE-DC Yogyakarta for analyzing nitrate and chloride in samples; Luthfi A. Wahab for map making; Dr. Ir. Sarto, M.Sc., and Dr. Evi Gravitiani, S.E., M.Si. as co-supervisors; Klinik Bahasa Faculty of Medicine Universitas Gadjah Mada for proofreading this manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. ARGOSS. (2001). Guidelines for assessing the risk to groundwater from on-site sanitation. British Geological Survey Comissioned Report, CR/01/142, 97pp.Google Scholar
  2. Badan Standardisasi Nasional. (2009). [SNI 6989.19:2009 Water and wastewater—Part 19: how to test chloride (Cl) by the argentometric method] SNI 6989.19:2009 Air dan air limbah—Bagian 19: Cara uji klorida (Cl) dengan metode argentometri. Jakarta: Badan Standardisasi Nasional.Google Scholar
  3. Bappeda D.I. Yogyakarta. (2016). [Statistical analysis of development analysis of Yogyakarta] Analisis Informasi Statistik Pembangunan Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta 2016. Yogyakarta: Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Daerah D.I. Yogyakarta.Google Scholar
  4. BGS. (2004). Water quality fact sheet: nitrate, NERC.
  5. Chang, C.-C., Chen, C.-C., Wu, D.-C., & Yang, C.-Y. (2010). Nitrates in drinking water and the risk of death from rectal cancer: does hardness in drinking water matter? Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part A, 73(19), 1337–1347. Scholar
  6. Corniello, A., Ducci, D., & Ruggieri, G. (2007). Areal identification of groundwater nitrate contamination sources in periurban areas. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 7(3), 159–166. Scholar
  7. Daniels, B., & Mesner, N. (2010). Nitrate. Drinking water facts. Retrieved from
  8. De Roos, A. J., Ward, M. H., Lynch, C. F., & Cantor, K. P. (2003). Nitrate in public water supplies and the risk of colon and rectum cancers. Epidemiology, 14(6), 640–649. Scholar
  9. Eby, G. N. (2016). Principles of environmental geochemistry. Long Grove: Waveland Press, Inc..Google Scholar
  10. Espejo-herrera, N., Cantor, K. P., Malats, N., Silverman, D. T., Tardón, A., Garcia-Closas, R., et al. (2015). Nitrate in drinking water and bladder cancer risk in Spain. Environmental Research, 137, 299–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fathmawati, Fachiroh, J., Gravitiani, E., Sarto, & Husodo, A. H. (2017). Nitrate in drinking water and risk of colorectal cancer in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part A, 80(2), 120–128. Scholar
  12. Freeze, R. A., & Cherry, J. A. (1979). Groundwater. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  13. Hendrayana, H., & de Sousa Vicente, V. A. (2013). [Groundwater reserve based on geometry and configuration of aquifer system of Yogyakarta-Sleman groundwater basin] Cadangan airtanah berdasarkan geometri dan konfigurasi sistem akuifer cekungan airtanah Yogyakarta-Sleman. In Prosiding Seminar Nasional Kebumian Ke-6 (pp. 356–370). Teknik Geologi Universitas Gadjah Mada. Retrieved from
  14. Heng, S., Putra, D. P. E., & Wilopo, W. (2010). The impact of sanitation on groundwater nitrate level in Bantul District, Bantul Regency, Yogyakarta Special Province, Indonesia. Journal of South East Asian Applied Geology, 2(2), 129–137.Google Scholar
  15. Kostraba, J. N., Gay, E. C., Rewers, M., & Hamman, R. F. (1992). Nitrate levels in community drinking waters and risk of IDDM: an ecological analysis. Diabetes Care, 15(11), 1505–1508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kuo, H.-W., Wu, T.-N., & Yang, C.-Y. (2007). Nitrates in drinking water and risk of death from rectal cancer in Taiwan. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part A, 70(20), 1717–1722. Scholar
  17. McElroy, J. A., Trentham-Dietz, A., Gangnon, R. E., Hampton, J. M., Bersch, A. J., Kanarek, M. S., & Newcomb, P. A. (2008). Nitrogen-nitrate exposure from drinking water and colorectal cancer risk for rural women in Wisconsin, USA. Journal of Water and Health, 6(3), 399–409. Scholar
  18. Morales-suarez-varela, M. M., Llopis-gonzalez, A., & Tejerizo-perez, M. L. (1995). Impact of nitrates in drinking water on cancer mortality in Valencia, Spain. European Journal of Epidemiology, 11(1), 15–21 Retrieved from Scholar
  19. Morris, B. L., Lawrence, A. R., & Stuart, M. E. (1994). The impact of urbanization on groundwater quality (project summary report).Google Scholar
  20. Morris, B., Lawrence, A., Chilton, P., Adams, B., Calow, R., & Klinck, B. (2003). Groundwater and its susceptibility to degradation: a global assessment of the problem and options for management. Nairobi: UNEP Retrieved from Scholar
  21. Oudone, P. (2014). Groundwater vulnerability mapping assessment in Minggir Subdistrict of Sleman, Yogyakarta Special Province, Indonesia. Universitas Gadjah Mada. Retrieved from
  22. Pemerintah Provinsi DIY. (2005). [Provincial regulation of Yogyakarta Province Number 10 the Year 2005 concerning Amendment to Provincial Regulation of Yogyakarta Province Number 5 the Year 1992 concerning Spatial Plan of Province of Yogyakarta] Peraturan Daerah Provinsi Daerah Istimewa . Yogyakarta. Retrieved from
  23. Prastoro, R. A. (2009). [Level of risk of unconfined aquifer contamination by nitrate compound in Bantul regency] Tingkat risiko pencemaran air tanah bebas oleh senyawa nitrat di Kabupaten Bantul. Universitas Gadjah Mada. Retrieved from
  24. Putra, D. P. E. (2007). The impact of urbanization on groundwater quality; a case study in Yogyakarta City-Indonesia. Mitteilungen zur Ingenieurgeologie und Hydrogeologie, heft 96, Rheinisch-Westfalische Technische Hochschule Aachen.Google Scholar
  25. Putra, D. P. E. (2010). Estimation, reality and trend of groundwater nitrate concentration under unsewered area of Yogyakarta City–Indonesia. Journal of South East Asian Applied Geology, 2(1), 20–27.Google Scholar
  26. Putra, D. P. E. (2011). Evolution of groundwater chemistry on shallow aquifer of Yogyakarta City urban area. Journal of South East Asian Applied Geology, 3(2), 116–124.Google Scholar
  27. Putra, D. P. E., & Indrawan, I. G. B. (2014). Assessment of aquifer susceptibility due to excessive groundwater abstraction; a case study of Yogyakarta-Sleman groundwater basin. ASEAN Engineering Journal Part C, 3(2), 105–116.Google Scholar
  28. Sadeq, M., Moe, C. L., Attarassi, B., Cherkaoui, I., ElAouad, R., & Idrissi, L. (2008). Drinking water nitrate and prevalence of methemoglobinemia among infants and children aged 1-7 years in Moroccan areas. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 211, 546–554. Scholar
  29. Smith, G. D., Wetselaar, R., Fox, J. J., Van De Graaff, R. H. M., Moeljohardjo, D., Sarwono, J., et al. (1999). The origin and distribution of nitrate in groundwater from village wells in Kotagede, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Hydrogeology Journal, 7, 576–589.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sudarmadji. (1991). [Geographical agitation of unconfined aquifer chemistry in Yogyakarta Municipality] Agihan geografi sifat kimiawi airtanah bebas di Kotamadya Yogyakarta. Universitas Gadjah Mada.Google Scholar
  31. Ward, M. H., Mark, S. D., Cantor, K. P., Weisenburger, D. D., Correa-Villaseñor, A., & Zahm, S. H. (1996). Drinking water nitrate and the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Epidemiology, 7(5), 465–471 Retrieved from Scholar
  32. Ward, M. H., Kilfoy, B. A., Weyer, P. J., Anderson, K. E., Folsom, A. R., & Cerhan, J. R. (2010). Nitrate intake and the risk of thyroid cancer and thyroid disease. Epidemiology, 21(3), 389–395. Scholar
  33. Weng, H.-H., TWeng, H.-H., Tsai, S.-S., Wu, T.-N., Sung, F.-C., & Yang, C.-Y. (2011). Nitrates in drinking water and the risk of death from childhood brain tumors in Taiwan. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health. Part A, 74(12), 769–778. Scholar
  34. WHO. (2011). Guidelines for drinking-water quality (4th ed.). Geneva: WHO Press, World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  35. Wiguna, Y. P. A. (2014). [Nitrate contamination in groundwater Gamping District Sleman Regency, Yogyakarta Province] Pencemaran nitrat di air tanah Kecamatan Gamping Kabupaten Sleman, Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta. Universitas Gadjah Mada.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental HealthPoliteknik Kesehatan Kemenkes PontianakPontianakIndonesia
  2. 2.Department of Histology and Cell Biology, Faculty of MedicineUniversitas Gadjah MadaYogyakartaIndonesia
  3. 3.Department of Public HealthFaculty of Medicine Universitas Gadjah MadaYogyakartaIndonesia
  4. 4.Department of Geological Engineering, Faculty of EngineeringUniversitas Gadjah MadaYogyakartaIndonesia

Personalised recommendations