Environmental Earth Sciences

, Volume 73, Issue 12, pp 7995–8008 | Cite as

Iodine status of soils, grain crops, and irrigation waters in Pakistan

  • Munir H. Zia
  • Michael J. WattsEmail author
  • Amanda Gardner
  • Simon R. Chenery
Original Article


A study was carried out across 86 locations of the country to investigate iodine supply potential of soils, grains and underground waters for onward design of an environmental intervention in Pakistan. Wheat crops were the principal crop in this study since it supplies 75 % of calorific energy in an average Pakistani diet. TMAH-extractable iodine in soils provided a geometric mean of 0.66 µg g−1, far lower than the worldwide mean of 3.0 µg g−1 for soil iodine. Bioavailable (water-extractable) iodine concentration had a geometric mean of 2.4 % (of TMAH-extractable iodine). Median iodine concentrations in tube well sourced waters were 7.3 µg L−1. Median wheat grain-iodine concentrations were 0.01 µg g−1. In most of the grain samples, TMAH-extractable iodine was below detection limit of 0.01 µg g−1. The highest wheat grain iodine was measured on a soil having highest TMAH-extractable iodine. An iodine intake of 25.4 µg a day has been estimated based on median wheat grain iodine measured and groundwater consumption compared to world health organisation (WHO) recommendations of iodine intake of 150 µg a day. This nominal intake of iodine is alarming since 60 % of Pakistani households do not consume iodised salt.


Iodine deficiency disorders Micronutrient Wheat flour Drinking water Iodised salt Human health 



The authors are grateful to Daniel R.S. Middleton of the University of Manchester and British Geological Survey, UK for his technical contribution in preparation of GIS maps for this research work.

Conflict of interest

All the authors declare that there is no conflict of interest for this research work.

Supplementary material

12665_2014_3952_MOESM1_ESM.doc (108 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 107 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Munir H. Zia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael J. Watts
    • 2
    Email author
  • Amanda Gardner
    • 2
  • Simon R. Chenery
    • 2
  1. 1.Research and Development SectionFauji Fertilizer Company LimitedRawalpindiPakistan
  2. 2.Inorganic Geochemistry, Centre for Environmental GeochemistryBritish Geological SurveyNottinghamUK

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