Evaluation of non-carcinogenic risks due to fluoride and nitrate contaminations in a groundwater of an urban part (Coimbatore region) of south India

  • D. KarunanidhiEmail author
  • P. Aravinthasamy
  • Priyadarsi D. Roy
  • R. M. Praveenkumar
  • K. Prasanth
  • S. Selvapraveen
  • A. Thowbeekrahman
  • T. Subramani
  • K. Srinivasamoorthy


Groundwater quality investigations were carried out in one of the urban parts of south India for fluoride and nitrate contaminations, with special focus on human health risk assessment for the rapidly growing and increasingly industrialized Coimbatore City. Twenty-five groundwater samples were collected and analyzed for physico-chemical parameters (EC, pH, TDS, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, Cl, SO42−, HCO3, PO43−, NO3, and F) and the piper diagram characterized 60% of them as Ca-Mg-Cl type. Analysis of fluoride (0.1 to 2.4 mg/l) shows that 32% of the groundwater samples contain F over the permissible limit, affecting a region of 122.10 km2. Nitrate (0.1 to 148 mg/l) is over the permissible limit in 44% of the groundwater samples spread over an area of 429.43 km2. The total hazard indices (THI) of non-carcinogenic risk for children (0.21 to 4.83), women (0.14 to 3.35), and men (0.12 to 2.90) shows some of the THI values are above the permissible limit of the US Environmental Protection Agency. The THI-based non-carcinogenic risks are 60%, 52%, and 48% for children, women, and men. This investigation suggests higher health risk for children and also recommends that proper management plan should be adopted to improve the drinking water quality in this region in order to avoid major health issues in the near future.


Fluoride Nitrate Urban groundwater Non-carcinogenic risk Total hazard index South India 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Abdesselam, S., Halitim, A., Jan, A., Trolard, F., & Bourrié, G. (2012). Anthropogenic contamination of groundwater with nitrate in arid region: case study of southern Hodna (Algeria). Environmental Earth Sciences, 70(5), 2129–2141. Scholar
  2. Adimalla, N. (2019). Controlling factors and mechanism of groundwater quality variation in semiarid region of South India: an approach of water quality index (WQI) and health risk assessment (HRA). Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 1–28.
  3. Adimalla, N., & Li, P. (2018). Occurrence, health risks, and geochemical mechanisms of fluoride and nitrate in groundwater of the rockdominant semi-arid region, Telangana State, India. Human Ecological Risk Assessment International Journal.
  4. Adimalla, N., Li, P., & Qian, H. (2018). Evaluation of groundwater contamination for fluoride and nitrate in semi-arid region of Nirmal Province, South India: a special emphasis on human health risk assessment (HHRA). Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal, 1–18. Scholar
  5. Ahada, C. P. S., & Suthar, S. (2017). Assessment of human health risk associated with high groundwater fluoride intake in southern districts of Punjab, India. Exposure and Health.
  6. Ako, A. A., Eyong, G. E. T., Shimada, J., Koike, K., Hosono, T., Ichiyanagi, K., & Roger, N. N. (2014). Nitrate contamination of groundwater in two areas of the Cameroon volcanic line (Banana Plain and Mount Cameroon area). Applied Water Science, 4(2), 99–113. Scholar
  7. Ali, S. A., & Ali, U. (2018). Hydrochemical characteristics and spatial analysis of groundwater quality in parts of Bundelkhand massif, India. Applied Water Science, 8(1), 1–15. Scholar
  8. Anand, B., Karunanidhi, D., Subramani, T., Srinivasamoorthy, K., & Raneesh, K. Y. (2017). Prioritization of subwatersheds based on quantitative morphometric analysis in lower Bhavani Basin, Tamil Nadu, India using DEM and GIS techniques. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 24(10), 1–18. Scholar
  9. Anandakumar, S., Subramani, T., & Elango, L. (2008). Spatial variation and seasonal behaviour of rainfall pattern in lower Bhavani river basin, Tamil Nadu, India. The Ecoscan, 2(1), 17–24.Google Scholar
  10. Aravinthasamy, P., Karunanidhi, D., Subramani, T., Srinivasamoorthy, K., & Anand, B. (2019). Geochemical evaluation of fluoride contamination in groundwater from Shanmuganadhi River basin, South India: implication on human health. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 1–27.
  11. Aravinthasamy, P., Karunanidhi, D., Subramani, T., Anand, B., Roy, P. D., & Srinivasamoorthy, K. (2019a). Fluoride contamination in groundwater of the Shanmuganadhi River basin (South India) and its association with other chemical constituents using geographical information system and multivariate statistics. Geochemistry.
  12. Ayoob, S., & Gupta, A. K. (2006). Fluoride in drinking water: a review on the status and stress effects. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 36, 433–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Babanezhad, E., Qaderi, F., & SalehiZiri, M. (2018). Spatial modeling of groundwater quality based on using Schoeller diagram in GIS base: a case study of Khorramabad, Iran. Environmental Earth Sciences, 77(9), 1–12. Scholar
  14. Bao, Z., Hu, Q., Qi, W., Tang, Y., Wang, W., Wan, P., & Yang, X. J. (2017). Nitrate reduction in water by aluminum alloys particles. Journal of Environmental Management, 196, 666–673. Scholar
  15. Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). (2014). Ground water year book 2012–13 Rajasthan state.Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources, Regional Office Data Centre Western Region Rajasthan.Google Scholar
  16. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). (2007). Status of groundwater quality in India, part-I, (
  17. Chae, G., Yun, S., Mayer, B., Kim, K., Kim, S., Kwon, J., & Koh, Y. (2007). Fluorine geochemistry in bedrock groundwater of South Korea. Science of the Total Environment, 385(1–3), 272–283. Scholar
  18. Craig, L., Stillings, L. L., Decker, D. L., & Thomas, J. M. (2015). Comparing activated alumina with indigenous laterite and bauxite as potential sorbents for removing fluoride from drinking water in Ghana. Applied Geochemistry, 56, 50e66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Duraisamy, S., Govindhaswamy, V., Duraisamy, K., Krishinaraj, S., Balasubramanian, A., & Thirumalaisamy, S. (2018). Hydrogeochemical characterization and evaluation of groundwater quality in Kangayamtaluk, Tirupur district, Tamil Nadu, India, using GIS techniques. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 41, 851–873. Scholar
  20. Edmunds, W. M., & Smedley, P. L. (2005). Fluoride in natural waters. In O. Selinus (Ed.), Essentials of medical geology (pp. 301–329). London: Elsevier Academic Press.Google Scholar
  21. 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
  22. Gleeson, T., Wada, Y., Bierkens, M. F. P., & van Beek, L. P. H. (2012). Water balance of global aquifers revealed by groundwater footprint. Nature, 488(7410), 197–200. Scholar
  23. GSI. (1995).Geological and mineral map of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. Published by the Director General Geological Survey of India on 1: 500,000 scale.Google Scholar
  24. Guissouma, W., Hakami, O., Al-Rajab, A. J., & Tarhouni, J. (2017). Risk assessment of fluoride exposure in drinking water of Tunisia. Chemosphere, 177, 102–108. Scholar
  25. 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, Northwest China. Exposure and Health. Scholar
  26. He, X., Wu, J., & He, S. (2018). Hydrochemical characteristics and quality evaluation of groundwater in terms of health risks in Luohe aquifer in Wuqi County of the Chinese loess plateau, Northwest China. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal, 1–20. Scholar
  27. Hema, S., Subramani, T., & Elango, L. (2010). GIS study on vulnerability assessment of water quality in a part of Cauvery River. International Journal of Environmental Sciences, 1(1), 1–17.Google Scholar
  28. Karunanidhi, D., Vennila, G., Suresh, M., & Subramanian, S. K. (2013). Evaluation of the groundwater quality feasibility zones for irrigational purposes through GIS in OmalurTaluk, Salem District, South India. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 20(10), 7320–7333. Scholar
  29. Karunanidhi, D., Aravinthasamy, P., Subramani, T., Jianhua, W., & Srinivasamoorthy, K. (2019a). Potential health risk assessment for fluoride and nitrate contamination in hard rock aquifers of Shanmuganadhi River basin, South India. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: An International Journal. Scholar
  30. Karunanidhi, D., Aravinthasamy, P., Subramani, T., Roy, P. D., & Srinivasamoorthy, K. (2019b). Risk of fluoride-rich groundwater on human health: remediation through managed aquifer recharge in a hard rock terrain, South India. Natural Resources Research.
  31. Li, P. Y., & Qian, H. (2011). Human health risk assessment for chemical pollutants in drinking water source in Shizuishan City, Northwest China. Iran Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering, 8, 41–48.Google Scholar
  32. 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. Exposure and Health, 8(3), 361–379. Scholar
  33. Li, P., He, S., He, X., & Tian, R. (2017). Seasonal hydrochemical characterization and groundwater quality delineation based on matter element extension analysis in a paper wastewater irrigation area, Northwest China. Exposure and Health, 10, 241–258. Scholar
  34. Lu, Y., Sun, Z. R., Wu, L. N., et al. (2000). Effect of high fluoride water on intelligence in children. Fluoride, 33(2), 74–78.Google Scholar
  35. Magudeswaran, P. N., & Ramachandran, T. (2005). Ground water quality in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu Noyal River. Journal of Environmental Pollution and Control., 8(6), 40–44.Google Scholar
  36. Maliyekkal, S. M., Sharma, A. K., & Philip, L. (2006). Manganese-oxide-coated alumina: a promising sorbent for defluoridation of water. Water Research, 40(19), 3497–3506. Scholar
  37. Narsimha, A., & Rajitha, S. (2018). Spatial distribution and seasonal variation in fluoride enrichment in groundwater and its associated human health risk assessment in Telangana State, South India. Human Ecological Risk Assessment International Journal, 24, 2119–2132. Scholar
  38. Ozsvath, D. L. (2008). Fluoride and environmental health: a review. Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology, 8(1), 59–79. Scholar
  39. Priya, K. L., Nalini, J., & Prince, A. G. (2011). Groundwater quality in the Singanallur sub-basin of Coimbatore city. Journal of Industrial Pollution Control, 27(1), 15–18.Google Scholar
  40. Rai, S. N. (2003). Groundwater pollution in India- an overview. In Groundwater pollution (pp. 419–436). Mumbai: Allied Publ. Pvt. Ltd..Google Scholar
  41. Raj, D., & Shaji, E. (2017). Fluoride contamination in groundwater resources of Alleppey, Southern India. Geoscience Frontiers, 8(1), 117–124. Scholar
  42. Rajkumar, N., Subramani, T., & Elango, L. (2012). Impact of leachate on groundwater pollution due to non-engineered municipal solid waste landfill sites of erode city, Tamil Nadu, India. Iranian Journal of Environmental Health Science & Engineering, 9(1/35), 1–12. Scholar
  43. Sakram, G., Kuntamalla, S., Machender, G., Dhakate, R., & Narsimha, A. (2018). Multivariate statistical approach for the assessment of fluoride and nitrate concentration in groundwater from Zaheerabad area, Telangana State, India. Sustainable Water Resources Management.
  44. Selvakumar, S., Chandrasekar, N., & Kumar, G. (2017). Hydrogeochemical characteristics and groundwater contamination in the rapid urban development areas of Coimbatore, India. Water Resources and Industry, 17, 26–33. Scholar
  45. Shukla, S., & Saxena, A. (2018). Global status of nitrate contamination in groundwater: its occurrence, health impacts, and mitigation measures. Handbook of Environmental Materials Management, 869–888. Scholar
  46. Singh, U. K., & Kumar, B. (2017). Pathways of heavy metals contamination and associated human health risk in Ajay River basin, India. Chemosphere, 174, 183–199. Scholar
  47. SubbaRao, N. (2003). Groundwater quality: focus on fluoride concentration in rural parts of Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 48(5), 835–847. Scholar
  48. SubbaRao, N. (2011). High-fluoride groundwater. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 176, 637–645.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. SubbaRao, N. (2017). Controlling factors of fluoride in groundwater in a part of South India. Arabian Journal of Geosciences, 10(23), 1–15. Scholar
  50. SubbaRao, N., Surya Rao, P., Venktram Reddy, G., Nagamani, M., Vidyasagar, G., & Satyanarayana, N. L. V. V. (2012). Chemical characteristics of groundwater and assessment of groundwater quality in Varaha River basin, Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184, 5189–5214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. SubbaRao, N., Subrahmanyam, A., & BabuRao, G. (2013). Fluoride-bearing groundwater in Gummanampadu sub-basin, Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Environmental Earth Sciences, 70(2), 575–586. Scholar
  52. Subramani, T., Elango, L., & Damodarasamy, S. R. (2005). Groundwater quality and its suitability for drinking and agricultural use in Chithar River basin, Tamil Nadu, India. Environmental Geology, 47, 1099–1110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Subramani, T., Elango, L., & Rajmohan, N. (2010). Groundwater geochemistry and identification of hydrogeochemical processes in a hard rock region, Southern India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 162, 123–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Subramani, T., Babu, S., & Elango, L. (2012). Computation of groundwater resources and recharge in Chithar River basin, South India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185(1), 983–994. Scholar
  55. Subramani, T., Anandakumar, S., Kannan, R., & Elango, L. (2013). Identification of major hydrogeochemical processes in a hard rock terrain by NETPATH modeling. Earth Resources and Environment, 365–370.Google Scholar
  56. Susheela, A. K. (2003). A treatise on fluorosis, revised (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Fluorosis Research and Rural Development Foundation.Google Scholar
  57. Thilagavathi, N., Subramani, T., & Suresh, M. (2015). Land use / land cover change detection analysis in Salem Chalk Hills, South India using remote sensing and GIS. Disaster Advances, 8, 44–52.Google Scholar
  58. US.EPA. (1989). Risk assessment guidance for superfund, volume 1: human health evaluation manual (partA) (EPA/540/1–89/002: interim final). Washington DC: Office of Emergency and Remedial Response.Google Scholar
  59. US.EPA. (2012). Integrated risk information system. Washington, D.C.: United States Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  60. USEPA. (2014). Human health evaluation manual, supplemental guidance: Update of standard default exposure factors-OSWER directive 9200.1-120. PP.6.Google Scholar
  61. Vennila, G., Subramani, T., & Elango, L. (2008). GIS based groundwater quality assessment of Vattamalaikaraibasin, Tamil Nadu, India. Journal of Nature Environment and Pollution Technology, 7(4), 585–592.Google Scholar
  62. Vithanage, M., & Bhattacharya, P. (2015). Fluoride in the environment: sources, distribution and defluoridation. Environmental Chemistry Letters, 13(2), 131–147. Scholar
  63. WHO. (2017). Guidelines for drinking water quality: fourth edition incorporating the first addendum. Geneva: World Health Organization.Google Scholar
  64. Wu, J., Li, P., & Qian, H. (2015). Hydrochemical characterization of drinking groundwater with special reference to fluoride in an arid area of China and the control of aquifer leakage on its concentrations. Environmental Earth Sciences, 73(12), 8575–8588. Scholar
  65. Wu, J., Wang, L., Wang, S., Tian, R., Xue, C., Feng, W., & Li, Y. (2017). Spatiotemporal variation of groundwater quality in an arid area experiencing long-term paper wastewater irrigation, Northwest China. Environmental Earth Sciences, 76(13).
  66. Yadav, K. K., Kumar, S., Pham, Q. B., Gupta, N., Rezania, S., Kamyab, H., Yadav, S., Vymazal, J., Kumar, V., Tri, D. Q., Talaiekhozani, A., Prasad, S., Reece, L. M., Singh, N., Maurya, P. K., & Cho, J. (2019a). Fluoride contamination, health problems and remediation methods in Asian groundwater: a comprehensive review. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 182, 109362. Scholar
  67. Yadav, K. K., Kumar, V., Kumar, S., Rezania, S., & Singh, N. (2019b). Human health risk assessment: study of a population exposed to fluoride through groundwater of Agra city, India. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Scholar
  68. Yang, Q., Li, Z., Ma, H., Wang, L., & Martín, J. D. (2016). Identification of the hydrogeochemical processes and assessment of groundwater quality using classic integrated geochemical methods in the southeastern part of Ordos basin, China. Environmental Pollution, 218, 879–888. Scholar
  69. Yang, S., Yang, Q., Ma, H., Liang, J., Niu, C., & Martin, J. D. (2018). Health risk assessment of phreatic water based on triangular fuzzy theory in Yinchuan plain. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 164, 732–738. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Karunanidhi
    • 1
    Email author
  • P. Aravinthasamy
    • 1
  • Priyadarsi D. Roy
    • 2
  • R. M. Praveenkumar
    • 1
  • K. Prasanth
    • 1
  • S. Selvapraveen
    • 1
  • A. Thowbeekrahman
    • 1
  • T. Subramani
    • 3
  • K. Srinivasamoorthy
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringSri Shakthi Institute of Engineering and Technology (Autonomous),CoimbatoreIndia
  2. 2.Instituto de GeologíaUniversidad Nacional Autónoma de MéxicoCiudad de MéxicoMexico
  3. 3.Department of GeologyAnna University, CEG CampusChennaiIndia
  4. 4.Department of Earth SciencesPondicherry UniversityPondicherryIndia

Personalised recommendations