Occurrence and health risk assessment of selected metals in drinking water from two typical remote areas in China


The potential contaminations of 16 trace elements (Cr, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Cd, Sb, Ba, Pb, Co, Be, V, Ti, Tl, Al) in drinking water collected in two remote areas in China were analyzed. The average levels of the trace elements were lower than the allowable concentrations set by national agencies, except for several elements (As, Sb, Mn, and Be) in individual samples. A health risk assessment model was conducted and carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks were evaluated separately. The results indicated that the total carcinogenic risks were higher than the maximum allowed risk level set by most organizations (1 × 10−6). Residents in both study areas were at risk of carcinogenic effects from exposure to Cr, which accounted for 80–90 % of the total carcinogenic risks. The non-carcinogenic risks (Cu, Zn, Ni) were lower than the maximum allowance levels. Among the four population groups, infants incurred the highest health risks and required special attention. Correlation analysis revealed significant positive associations among most trace elements, indicating the likelihood of a common source. The results of probabilistic health risk assessment of Cr based on Monte-Carlo simulation revealed that the uncertainty of system parameters does not affect the decision making of pollution prevention and control. Sensitivity analysis revealed that ingestion rate of water and concentration of Cr showed relatively high sensitivity to the health risks.

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This research is financially supported by the China National Instrumentation Program (grant no. 2011YQ14015009).

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Xuelin Liu or Bo Gao.

Additional information

Menghan Geng and Hongjuan Qi contributed equally to this work.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Geng, M., Qi, H., Liu, X. et al. Occurrence and health risk assessment of selected metals in drinking water from two typical remote areas in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 8462–8469 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-015-6021-2

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  • Metals
  • Health risk assessment
  • Remote areas
  • China
  • Monte-Carlo simulation
  • Sensitivity analysis