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Water Contamination and Human Health Risks in Pakistan: A Review


Water contamination is one of the most significant hazards to human health on the world scale. Drinking water quality in Pakistan is decreasing gradually due to alarming population growth, rapid industrialization, climate change and lack of efficient water quality management. In Pakistan, the majority of the population doesn’t have access to safe and healthy drinking water sources, and people are forced to use unsafe drinking water. This review compiled data from multiple studies published in international and national journals from 2010 to 2022 and reports issued by the governments and non-governmental institutions to highlight Pakistan’s drinking water quality status, and to emphasize major water pollutants, sources of contaminants, and significant health problems. The results revealed that bacteriological contamination such as coliforms (total coliform, fecal coliform, Escherichia coli), toxic elements like arsenic (As), iron (Fe), nickel (Ni), chloride (Cl), fluoride (F), mercury (Hg) and pesticides were found in both surface water and groundwater, and were the major causes of waterborne diseases. The majority of sampled water had bacteriological, physicochemical and toxic metals concentrations exceeding the National Standards for Drinking Water Quality (NSDWQ) and WHO drinking water quality standards. There is an immediate need to adopt water management strategies and protective measures to overcome the shortages and unhygienic conditions of the drinking water supply in Pakistan.

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Data Availability

Data for this review were compiled from various studies published in National and International Journals, and reports issued by the government and non-government institutions from 2010 to 2022.


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The authors thank the constructive comments from the editors and anonymous reviewers. The quality of the manuscript is greatly improved after revisions based on their comments.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 42072286 and 41761144059), the Qinchuangyuan “Scientist + Engineer” Team Development Program of the Shaanxi Provincial Department of Science and Technology (Grant No. 2022KXJ-005), the Fok Ying Tong Education Foundation (Grant No. 161098), and the National Ten Thousand Talent Program (Grant No. W03070125).

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MF: data collection, data analysis, and original draft preparation. PL: detail review, supervision, data analysis, and revisions. YW, SMKA, AN: reviewing, and editing.

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Correspondence to Peiyue Li.

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Fida, M., Li, P., Wang, Y. et al. Water Contamination and Human Health Risks in Pakistan: A Review. Expo Health 15, 619–639 (2023).

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