Cadmium Health Risk Assessment and Anthropogenic Sources of Pollution in Mount-Lebanon Springs

  • Dana A. Halwani
  • Mey Jurdi
  • Fatima K. Abu Salem
  • Miran A. Jaffa
  • Nabil Amacha
  • Rima R. Habib
  • Hassan R. DhainiEmail author
Original Paper


Cadmium (Cd) is a highly toxic heavy metal with low permissible limits. This study aims at conducting a health risk assessment for Cd and examining potential sources of pollution in springs of the Mount-Lebanon Governorate, a semi-urbanized area in Lebanon. A total of 31 spring samples were collected during the wet and dry seasons and tested for water quality. Graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry was used to quantify Cd levels in water. Risk assessment was performed by means of a survey on water consumption and usage, and followed the USEPA Hazard Quotient (HQ) model. Correlations with different human activities were examined using different linear regression models and spatial analysis tools. Results highlight springs within El Metn and Keserwan Districts as posing a non-carcinogenic health risk in (1) Ain Saadeh both in adults (HQwet = 1.94) and iron-deficient children (HQwet = 1.29), and (2) Faraya both in healthy (HQwet = 1.33; HQdry = 1.19) and iron-deficient children (HQwet = 2.67; HQdry = 2.37), as well as in iron-deficient adults (HQwet = 1.57; HQdry = 1.39). In addition, Cd levels increased significantly with proximity to upstream open dumps (Pearson’s r = − 0.511; p = 0.003), agricultural land surface area, increased upstream industrial activity, mainly jewelry and fine stones industries in both bivariate (r = 0.33; p = 0.001) and multivariate analyses (r = 0.41; p = 0.002), plastic industries (Pearson’s r = 0.36; p = 0.05), and furniture manufacturing (Pearson’s r = 0.38; p = 0.038). Our findings constitute the first report assessing Cd health risk and identifying sources of pollution in Mount-Lebanon, and make a strong basis for a risk management strategy.


Cadmium Health risk assessment Water pollution Heavy metals Lebanon 



The authors would like to thank Mr. Ricardo Khoury at ELARD Group for providing data on aquifer flow directions, and Dr. Ali Koumaiha at the Lebanese University for his help in acquiring data on industrial activities in Mount-Lebanon. Special thanks to the Associate Research Unit on Potable Water Quality and Management (Lebanese National Council for Scientific Research, AUB, LAU, and LU) for funding this research project.


  1. Affum AO, Osae SD, Nyarko BJ, Afful S, Fianko JR, Akiti TT, Adomako D, Acquaah SO, Dorleku M, Antoh E, Barnes F, Affum EA (2015) Total coliforms, arsenic and cadmium exposure through drinking water in the Western Region of Ghana: application of multivariate statistical technique to groundwater quality. Environ Monit Assess 187:1. Google Scholar
  2. Alomary A (2013) Determination of trace metals in drinking water in Irbid City-Northern Jordan. Environ Monit Assess 185:1969–1975. Google Scholar
  3. APHA (American Public Health Association), AWWA (American Water Works Association), WEF (Water Environment Federation) (2012) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 22nd edn. American Public Health Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  4. Arain SS, Kazi TG, Afridi HI, Brahman KD, Naeemullah Khan S, Panhwar AH, Kamboh MA, Memon JR (2015) Erratum to: preconcentration and determination of lead and cadmium levels in blood samples of adolescent workers consuming smokeless tobacco products in Pakistan. Environ Monit Assess 187:538. Google Scholar
  5. ATSDR (2005) Public health assessment guidance manual. Atlanta, GeorgiaGoogle Scholar
  6. ATSDR (2012) Toxicological profile for Cadmium. Accessed 28 May 2018
  7. Bhagure GR, Mirgane SR (2011) Heavy metal concentrations in groundwaters and soils of Thane Region of Maharashtra, India. Environ Monit Assess 173:643–652. Google Scholar
  8. Bortey-Sam N, Nakayama SMM, Ikenaka Y, Akoto O, Baidoo E, Mizukawa H, Ishizuka M (2015) Health risk assessment of heavy metals and metalloid in drinking water from communities near gold mines in Tarkwa, Ghana. Environ Monit Assess 187:397. Google Scholar
  9. Cabral M, Toure A, Garcon G, Diop C, Bouhsina S, Dewaele D, Cazier F, Courcot D, Tall-Dia A, Shirali P, Diouf A, Fall M, Verdin A (2015) Effects of environmental cadmium and lead exposure on adults neighboring a discharge: evidences of adverse health effects. Environ Pollut 206:247–255. Google Scholar
  10. CAS (2009) Population and Housing in Lebanon. Central Administration of Statistics. Accessed 19 June 2018
  11. Chakarvorty M, Dwivedi AK, Shukla AD, Kumar S, Niyogi A, Usmani M, Pati JK (2015) Geochemistry and magnetic measurements of suspended sediment in urban sewage water vis-a-vis quantification of heavy metal pollution in Ganga and Yamuna Rivers, India. Environ Monit Assess 187:604. Google Scholar
  12. Cherri Z, Arcos Gonzalez P, Castro Delgado R (2016) The Lebanese-Syrian crisis: impact of influx of Syrian refugees to an already weak state. Risk Manag Healthc Policy 9:165–172. Google Scholar
  13. Choudhury D, Gupta S (2017) Impact of waste dump on surface water quality and aquatic insect diversity of Deepor Beel (Ramsar site), Assam, North-east India. Environ Monit Assess 189:540. Google Scholar
  14. DAR-IAURIF (Dar-al-Handasah and the Institut d’Amenagement et d’Urbanisme de la Region Ile-de-France) (2005) National Physical Master Plan of The Lebanese Territory. Accessed 15 June 2018
  15. Ebrahimi A, Amin MM, Hashemi H, Foladifard R, Vahiddastjerdi M (2010) A survey of groundwater chemical quality in Sajad Zarinshahr. Health Syst Res 6:918–926Google Scholar
  16. He S, Wu J (2018) Hydrogeochemical characteristics, groundwater quality, and health risks from hexavalent chromium and nitrate in groundwater of huanhe formation in Wuqi County. Expo Health, Northwest China. Google Scholar
  17. Hilal N, Fadlallah R, Jamal D, El-Jardali F (2015) K2P Evidence Summary: Approaching the Waste Crisis in Lebanon: Consequences and Insights into Solutions Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center. Accessed 01 Dec 2018
  18. IARC (2018) Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Accessed 29 July 2018
  19. Ikem A, Egiebor NO, Nyavor K (2003) Trace elements in water, fish and sediment from Tuskegee Lake, Southeastern USA. Water Air Soil Pollut 149:51–75Google Scholar
  20. IRIS (Integrated Risk Information System) (2008) Cadmium Compounds A. Accessed 20 July 2018
  21. Ishizaki M, Suwazono Y, Kido T, Nishijo M, Honda R, Kobayashi E, Nogawa K, Nakagawa H (2015) Estimation of biological half-life of urinary cadmium in inhabitants after cessation of environmental cadmium pollution using a mixed linear model. Food Addit Contam A 32:1273–1276. Google Scholar
  22. Islam SM, Uddin KM, Tareq, Shammi M, Kamal KA, Sugano T, Kurasaki M, Saito T, Tanaka S, Kuramitz H (2015) Alteration of Water Pollution Level with the Seasonal Changes in Mean Daily Discharge in Three Main Rivers around Dhaka City, Bangladesh. Environments. Google Scholar
  23. Jarup L, Berglund M, Elinder CG, Nordberg G, Vahter M (1998) Health effects of cadmium exposure–a review of the literature and a risk estimate. Scand J Work Environ Health 24(Suppl 1):1–51Google Scholar
  24. Ju-Kun S, Yuan DB, Rao HF, Chen TF, Luan BS, Xu XM, Jiang FN, Zhong WD, Zhu JG (2016) Association between Cd exposure and risk of prostate cancer: a PRISMA-compliant systematic review and meta-analysis. Med (Baltimore) 95:e2708. Google Scholar
  25. Kassir LN, Lartiges B, Ouaini N (2012) Effects of fertilizer industry emissions on local soil contamination: a case study of a phosphate plant on the east Mediterranean coast. Environ Technol 33:873–885. Google Scholar
  26. Khatri N, Tyagi S (2015) Influences of natural and anthropogenic factors on surface and groundwater quality in rural and urban areas. Front Life Sci 8:23–39. Google Scholar
  27. Khemis IB, Besbes Aridh N, Hamza N, M’Hetli M, Sadok S (2017) Heavy metals and minerals contents in pikeperch (Sander lucioperca), carp (Cyprinus carpio) and flathead grey mullet (Mugil cephalus) from Sidi Salem Reservoir (Tunisia): health risk assessment related to fish consumption. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 24:19494–19507. Google Scholar
  28. Khlifi R, Olmedo P, Gil F, Feki-Tounsi M, Hammami B, Rebai A, Hamza-Chaffai A (2014) Biomonitoring of cadmium, chromium, nickel and arsenic in general population living near mining and active industrial areas in Southern Tunisia. Environ Monit Assess 186:761–779. Google Scholar
  29. Li P, Qian H, Howard K, Wu J (2014a) Heavy metal contamination of Yellow River alluvial sediments, northwest China. Environ Earth Sci. Google Scholar
  30. Li P, Wu J, Qian H, Lyu X, Liu H (2014b) Origin and assessment of groundwater pollution and associated health risk: a case study in an industrial park, northwest China. Environ Geochem Health 36:693–712. Google Scholar
  31. Li P, Li X, Meng X, Li M, Zhang Y (2016) Appraising groundwater quality and health risks from contamination in a semiarid region of northwest China. Expo Health 8:361–379. Google Scholar
  32. Li P, Tian R, Xue C, Wu J (2017) Progress, opportunities, and key fields for groundwater quality research under the impacts of human activities in China with a special focus on western China. Environ Sci Pollut Res. Google Scholar
  33. Li P, He X, Li Y, Xiang G (2018) Occurrence and health implication of fluoride in groundwater of loess aquifer in the Chinese Loess Plateau: a case study of Tongchuan. Expo Health. Google Scholar
  34. Mezynska M, Brzoska MM (2018) Environmental exposure to cadmium-a risk for health of the general population in industrialized countries and preventive strategies. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 25:3211–3232. Google Scholar
  35. MOPH (Lebanese Ministry of Public Health) (2014) Statistical bulletin 2014. Accessed 20 June 2018
  36. Morris BL, Lawrence ARL, Chilton PJC, Adams B, Calow RC, Klinck BA (2003) Groundwater and its susceptibility to degradation: a global assessment of the problem and options for management. Early warning and assessment report series, RS. 03-3. UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme)Google Scholar
  37. Morrow H (2010) Cadmium and Cadmium Alloys. In: Suslick KS (ed) Kirk-Othmer encyclopedia of chemical technology. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Nawrot TS, Martens DS, Hara A, Plusquin M, Vangronsveld J, Roels HA, Staessen JA (2015) Association of total cancer and lung cancer with environmental exposure to cadmium: the meta-analytical evidence. Cancer Causes Control 26:1281–1288. Google Scholar
  39. Nishijo M, Nakagawa H, Suwazono Y, Nogawa K, Kido T (2017) Causes of death in patients with Itai-itai disease suffering from severe chronic cadmium poisoning: a nested case-control analysis of a follow-up study in Japan. BMJ Open 7:e015694. Google Scholar
  40. OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2014) Beirut and Mount-Lebanon Governorate Profile. Accessed 19 June 2018
  41. Peng C, Cai Y, Wang T, Xiao R, Chen W (2016) Regional probabilistic risk assessment of heavy metals in different environmental media and land uses: an urbanization-affected drinking water supply area. Sci Rep 6:37084. Google Scholar
  42. Salti N, Chaaban J, Nakkash R, Alaouie H (2015) The effect of taxation on tobacco consumption and public revenues in Lebanon. Tobacco Control 24:77–81. Google Scholar
  43. Silver MK, Lozoff B, Meeker JD (2013) Blood cadmium is elevated in iron deficient US children: a cross-sectional study. Environ Health-Glob. Google Scholar
  44. Song J, Luo H, Yin X, Huang G, Luo S, du Lin R, Yuan DB, Zhang W, Zhu J (2015) Association between cadmium exposure and renal cancer risk: a meta-analysis of observational studies. Sci Rep 5:17976. Google Scholar
  45. Stephen FD (2015) Cadmium. In: Hamilton RD (ed) Hamilton & Hardy’s industrial toxicology. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  46. UNDP, MOE (Lebanese Ministry of Environment) (2017) Updated master plan for the closure and rehabilitation of uncontrolled dumpsites throughout the country of Lebanon, Vol A. Accessed 20 June 2018
  47. UNDP, MOEW (Lebanase Ministry of Energy and Water), ELARD (Earth Link & Advanced Resources Development Group) (2014) Assessment of groundwater resources of Lebanon. Accessed 19 May 2018
  48. UNDP, MOEW (Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water) (2016) National guideline for rainwater harvesting systems. Accessed 23 Nov 2018
  49. USEPA (2009) Industrial waste resource guidelines: sampling and analysis of waters, wastewaters, soils and wastes. Accessed 23 Nov 2018
  50. USEPA (2018a) Clean water act analytical methods. Accessed 23 Nov 2018
  51. USEPA (2018b) National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. Accessed 15 June 2018
  52. WHO (2008) Guidelines for drinking-water quality. Accessed 19 July 2018
  53. WHO (2011) Cadmium in drinking-water. Accessed 27 May 2018
  54. Wilson DC (2018) Potential urban runoff impacts and contaminant distributions in shoreline and reservoir environments of Lake Havasu, southwestern United States. Sci Total Environ 621:95–107. Google Scholar
  55. World Bank (2011) Republic Lebanon Country Environmental Analysis. Accessed 20 June 2018
  56. Wu J, Sun Z (2016) Evaluation of shallow groundwater contamination and associated human health risk in an alluvial plain impacted by agricultural and industrial activities, mid-west China. Expo Health 8:311–329. Google Scholar
  57. Wu T, Li X, Yang T, Sun X, Mielke HW, Cai Y, Ai Y, Zhao Y, Liu D, Zhang X, Li X, Wang L, Yu H (2017) Multi-elements in source water (drinking and surface water) within five cities from the semi-arid and arid region, NW China: occurrence, spatial distribution and risk assessment. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Google Scholar
  58. WWAP (World Water Assessment Programme) (2017) Water pollution is on the rise globally. Accessed 17 Aug 2018
  59. Yan Y, Zhou YQ, Liang CH (2015) Evaluation of phosphate fertilizers for the immobilization of Cd in contaminated soils. PLoS ONE 10:e0124022. Google Scholar
  60. Yu C, Ling Q, Yan S, Li J, Chen Z, Peng Z (2010) Cadmium contamination in various environmental materials in an industrial area, Hangzhou, China. Chem Speciat Bioavailab 22:35–42. Google Scholar
  61. Zang Y, Devleesschauwer B, Bolger PM, Goodman E, Gibb HJ (2018) Global burden of late-stage chronic kidney disease resulting from dietary exposure to cadmium, 2015. Environ Res 169:72–78. Google Scholar
  62. Zhang Y, Wu J, Bin X (2018) Human health risk assessment of groundwater nitrogen pollution in Jinghui canal irrigation area of the loess region, northwest China. Environ Earth Sci 77:273. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health, Faculty of Health SciencesAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  2. 2.Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Arts and SciencesAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  3. 3.Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Faculty of Health SciencesAmerican University of BeirutBeirutLebanon
  4. 4.Department of Biology & Earth Science, Faculty of ScienceLebanese UniversityBeirutLebanon

Personalised recommendations