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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

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.

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Correspondence to Evgeniya Soldatova.

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Soldatova, E., Sun, Z., Maier, S. et al. Shallow groundwater quality and associated non-cancer health risk in agricultural areas (Poyang Lake basin, China). Environ Geochem Health 40, 2223–2242 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10653-018-0094-z

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Keywords

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