Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 28, pp 28619–28627 | Cite as

Selenium and drinking water quality indicators in Mongolia

  • Nadezhda GolubkinaEmail author
  • Erdene Erdenetsogt
  • Inna Tarmaeva
  • Odontsetseg Brown
  • Sambuu Tsegmed
Research Article


Mongolia is characterized by restricted sources of drinking water and intensive water pollution due to high rates of urbanization, mining industry development, enormous amount of livestock, and ever-growing attempts in domestic production of cereals and vegetables. Among others, Se is the least studied element in Mongolian water resources. Based on fluorimetric method of analysis, the first results on Se levels in drinking water of five aimags, Ulaanbaatar, and Erdenet were obtained. Uneven distribution of Se in Mongolia was manifested, the highest Se concentrations being typical for the southern resources (up to 18,600 μg/L) and the lowest, for the Northern ones (up to 0.022 μg/L). ICP-MS data of Al, As, B, Ca, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, I, K, Li, Mg, Mn, Na, Ni, P, Pb, Si, Sn, Sr, V, and Zn contents indicate poly-microelementosis existence in the South of Mongolia (Dorno-Gobi aimag) where ground water is characterized by elevated levels of As and extremely high levels of Se, Li, Na, F, Cl, B, and nitrates ions, exceeding maximum permissible levels by 1.86; 4.3; 3.1; 3.1; 2.7; 3.4; and 1.8 times respectively. Toxic concentrations of Se in groundwater of Dorno-Gobi aimag contradict with the published low human serum Se and low content of the element in horseflesh that suggests the possible effect of the above pollutants on Se bioavailability. Revealed phenomenon and mosaic distribution of heavy metals in areas with high and low Se content in water resources indicate the need of direct search for Se and other pollutant transfer in food chain in various ecological loading conditions, creation of a map of Se distribution in water resources of other Mongolian regions, and large-scale evaluation of the human poly-elemental status.


Mongolia Drinking water Selenium Pollution Ecological risks Poly-microelementoses 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Federal Scientific Center of Vegetable ProductionOdintsovo DistrictRussia
  2. 2.Public Health Development and Innovation InstituteUlaanbaatarMongolia
  3. 3.Irkutsk State Medical UniversityIrkutskRussia

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