Mapping human health risks from exposure to trace metal contamination of drinking water sources in Pakistan

The consumption of contaminated drinking water is one of the major causes of mortality and many severe diseases in developing countries. The principal drinking water sources in Pakistan, i.e. ground and surface water, are subject to geogenic and anthropogenic trace metal contamination. However, water quality monitoring activities have been limited to a few administrative areas and a nationwide human health risk assessment from trace metal exposure is lacking. Using geographically weighted regression (GWR) and eight relevant spatial predictors, the authors calculated nationwide human health risk maps by predicting the concentration of 10 trace metals in the drinking water sources of Pakistan and comparing them to guideline values. GWR incorporated local variations of trace metal concentrations into prediction models and hence mitigated effects of large distances between sampled districts due to data scarcity. Predicted concentrations mostly exhibited high accuracy and low uncertainty, and were in good agreement with observed concentrations. Concentrations for Central Pakistan were predicted with higher accuracy than for the North and South. A maximum 150-200-fold exceedance of guideline values was observed for predicted cadmium concentrations in ground water and arsenic concentrations in surface water. In more than 53% (4 and 100% for the lower and upper boundaries of 95% confidence interval (CI)) of the total area of Pakistan, the drinking water was predicted to be at risk of contamination from arsenic, chromium, iron, nickel and lead. The area with elevated risks is inhabited by more than 74 million (8 and 172 million for the lower and upper boundaries of 95% CI) people. Although these predictions require further validation by field monitoring, the results can inform disease mitigation and water resources management regarding potential hot spots.

Authors: Bhowmik AK, Alamdar A, Katsoyiannis I, Shen H, Ali N, Ali SM, Bokhari H, Schäfer RB, Eqani SA. ;Full Source: Science of the Total Environment. 2015 Aug 24;538:306-316. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.08.069.[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][Epub ahead of print] ;[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]