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Investigating the drinking and surface water quality and associated health risks in a semi-arid multi-industrial metropolis (Faisalabad), Pakistan


Urban areas under the influence of multi-industrial activities with arid and semi-arid environments witness the significant increase in environmental pollution especially in the water sector. The present study evaluated the water quality and associated health risk assessment through heavy metal pollution. Drinking (n = 48) and surface (n = 37) water samples were collected from semi-arid multi-industrial metropolis, Faisalabad, Pakistan. Physio-chemical and biological parameters and different metals (Al, As, Ba, Cd, Cr, Cu, Fe, Pb, Ni and Zn) were investigated using standard procedures and multivariate water quality assessments. Many physio-chemical and biological parameters and metals especially arsenic were exceeding the permissible limit of Punjab environmental quality standards and the World Health Organization. The results from water quality index showed that < 56% samples have poor, < 8% have very poor and < 6% have unsuitable water quality for drinking purposes. Water quality for the Gugera Branch Canal was found suitable with medium sodium (alkalinity) and salinity hazards, while it was found poor with magnesium absorption ratio. Hazard quotient (HQ) values for arsenic were found at the threshold level (HQ > 1) and carcinogenicity was found in case of arsenic and chromium (1 × 10−4) in adults and children. Semi-arid weather combined with different anthropogenic activities and unusual water features provoked metal contamination. Results of the present study can deliver basic information for effective management of water in the most populous and industrial areas.

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The Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) is greatly acknowledged for providing the CAS-Young Scientist Award (2018FYB0002). We also greatly appreciate the efforts of Dr Habib Ullah, Dr Muhammad Ubaid Ali and Dr Qumber Abbas for the improvement of the manuscript.


This study was financially supported by the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (WK2080000103) and the China Postdoctoral Science foundation (2018M632552).

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Mahfooz, Y., Yasar, A., Sohail, M.T. et al. Investigating the drinking and surface water quality and associated health risks in a semi-arid multi-industrial metropolis (Faisalabad), Pakistan. Environ Sci Pollut Res 26, 20853–20865 (2019).

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  • Health risks
  • Water management
  • Water quality index
  • Urban environment
  • Multi-industrial activities