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Arsenic contamination of groundwater

About: Arsenic contamination of groundwater is a(n) research topic. Over the lifetime, 3448 publication(s) have been published within this topic receiving 129413 citation(s). The topic is also known as: groundwater arsenic contamination.

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Journal ArticleDOI
Pauline Smedley1, David G. Kinniburgh1Institutions (1)
Abstract: The range of As concentrations found in natural waters is large, ranging from less than 0.5 μg l−1 to more than 5000 μg l−1. Typical concentrations in freshwater are less than 10 μg l−1 and frequently less than 1 μg l−1. Rarely, much higher concentrations are found, particularly in groundwater. In such areas, more than 10% of wells may be ‘affected’ (defined as those exceeding 50 μg l−1) and in the worst cases, this figure may exceed 90%. Well-known high-As groundwater areas have been found in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, China and Hungary, and more recently in West Bengal (India), Bangladesh and Vietnam. The scale of the problem in terms of population exposed to high As concentrations is greatest in the Bengal Basin with more than 40 million people drinking water containing ‘excessive’ As. These large-scale ‘natural’ As groundwater problem areas tend to be found in two types of environment: firstly, inland or closed basins in arid or semi-arid areas, and secondly, strongly reducing aquifers often derived from alluvium. Both environments tend to contain geologically young sediments and to be in flat, low-lying areas where groundwater flow is sluggish. Historically, these are poorly flushed aquifers and any As released from the sediments following burial has been able to accumulate in the groundwater. Arsenic-rich groundwaters are also found in geothermal areas and, on a more localised scale, in areas of mining activity and where oxidation of sulphide minerals has occurred. The As content of the aquifer materials in major problem aquifers does not appear to be exceptionally high, being normally in the range 1–20 mg kg−1. There appear to be two distinct ‘triggers’ that can lead to the release of As on a large scale. The first is the development of high pH (>8.5) conditions in semi-arid or arid environments usually as a result of the combined effects of mineral weathering and high evaporation rates. This pH change leads either to the desorption of adsorbed As (especially As(V) species) and a range of other anion-forming elements (V, B, F, Mo, Se and U) from mineral oxides, especially Fe oxides, or it prevents them from being adsorbed. The second trigger is the development of strongly reducing conditions at near-neutral pH values, leading to the desorption of As from mineral oxides and to the reductive dissolution of Fe and Mn oxides, also leading to As release. Iron (II) and As(III) are relatively abundant in these groundwaters and SO4 concentrations are small (typically 1 mg l−1 or less). Large concentrations of phosphate, bicarbonate, silicate and possibly organic matter can enhance the desorption of As because of competition for adsorption sites. A characteristic feature of high groundwater As areas is the large degree of spatial variability in As concentrations in the groundwaters. This means that it may be difficult, or impossible, to predict reliably the likely concentration of As in a particular well from the results of neighbouring wells and means that there is little alternative but to analyse each well. Arsenic-affected aquifers are restricted to certain environments and appear to be the exception rather than the rule. In most aquifers, the majority of wells are likely to be unaffected, even when, for example, they contain high concentrations of dissolved Fe.

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6,106 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The experience in Bangladesh shows that groundwater sources throughout the world that are used for drinking-water should be tested for arsenic, and the fundamental intervention is the identification and provision of arsenic-free drinking water.

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Abstract: The contamination of groundwater by arsenic in Bangladesh is the largest poisoning of a population in history, with millions of people exposed. This paper describes the history of the discovery of arsenic in drinking-water in Bangladesh and recommends intervention strategies. Tube-wells were installed to provide ‘‘pure water’’ to prevent morbidity and mortality from gastrointestinal disease. The water from the millions of tube-wells that were installed was not tested for arsenic contamination. Studies in other countries where the population has had long-term exposure to arsenic in groundwater indicate that 1 in 10 people who drink water containing 500mg of arsenic per litre may ultimately die from cancers caused by arsenic, including lung, bladder and skin cancers. The rapid allocation of funding and prompt expansion of current interventions to address this contamination should be facilitated. The fundamental intervention is the identification and provision of arsenic-free drinking water. Arsenic is rapidly excreted in urine, and for early or mild cases, no specific treatment is required. Community education and participation are essential to ensure that interventions are successful; these should be coupled with follow-up monitoring to confirm that exposure has ended. Taken together with the discovery of arsenic in groundwater in other countries, the experience in Bangladesh shows that groundwater sources throughout the world that are used for drinking-water should be tested for arsenic.

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1,860 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
R.T. Nickson1, John M. McArthur1, WG Burgess1, Kazi Matin Ahmed2  +2 moreInstitutions (3)
24 Sep 1998-Nature
TL;DR: Sedimentological study of the Ganges alluvial sediments shows that the arsenic derives from the reductive dissolution of arsenic-rich iron oxyhydroxides, which in turn are derived from weathering of base-metal sulphides.

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Abstract: In Bangladesh and West Bengal, alluvial Ganges aquifers used for public water supply are polluted with naturally occurring arsenic, which adversely affects the health of millions of people. Here we show that the arsenic derives from the reductive dissolution of arsenic-rich iron oxyhydroxides, which in turn are derived from weathering of base-metal sulphides. This finding means it should now be possible, by sedimentological study of the Ganges alluvial sediments, to guide the placement of new water wells so they will be free of arsenic.

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1,375 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
D. Kirk Nordstrom1Institutions (1)
21 Jun 2002-Science
Abstract: Numerous aquifers worldwide carry soluble arsenic at concentrations greater than the World Health Organization--and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency--recommended drinking water standard of 10 mg per liter. Sources include both natural (black shales, young sediments with low flushing rates, gold mineralization, and geothermal environments) and anthropogenic (mining activities, livestock feed additives, pesticides, and arsenic trioxide wastes and stockpiles). Increased solubility and mobility of arsenic is promoted by high pH (>8.5), competing oxyanions, and reducing conditions. In this Policy Forum, Nordstrom argues that human health risks from arsenic in ground water can be minimized by incorporating hydrogeochemical knowledge into water management decisions and by more careful monitoring for arsenic in geologically high-risk areas.

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1,346 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Chen-Wuing Liu1, Kao Hung Lin1, Yi-Ming Kuo1Institutions (1)
TL;DR: The over-extraction of groundwater is the major cause of groundwater salinization and arsenic pollution in the coastal area of Yun-Lin, Taiwan and this model explains over 77.8% of the total groundwater quality variation.

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Abstract: Factor analysis is applied to 28 groundwater samples collected from wells in the coastal blackfoot disease area of Yun-Lin, Taiwan. Correlations among 13 hydrochemical parameters are statistically examined. A two-factor model is suggested and explains over 77.8% of the total groundwater quality variation. Factor 1 (seawater salinization) includes concentrations of EC, TDS, Cl(-), SO(4)(2-), Na(+), K(+) and Mg(2+), and Factor 2 (arsenic pollutant) includes concentrations of Alk, TOC and arsenic. Maps are drawn to show the geographical distribution of the factors. These maps delineate high salinity and arsenic concentrations. The geographical distribution of the factor scores at individual wells does not reveal the sources of the constituents, which are instead, deduced from geological and hydrological evidence. The areas of high seawater salinization and arsenic pollution correspond well to the groundwater over-pumping area. Over-pumping of the local groundwater causes land subsidence and gradual salinization by seawater. The over-pumping also introduces excess dissolved oxygen that oxidizes the immobile minerals, releases arsenic by reductive dissolution of arsenic-rich iron oxyhydroxides and increases the arsenic concentration in water. The over-extraction of groundwater is the major cause of groundwater salinization and arsenic pollution in the coastal area of Yun-Lin, Taiwan.

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1,184 citations


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Performance
Metrics
No. of papers in the topic in previous years
YearPapers
20226
2021136
2020147
2019153
2018132
2017180

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Topic's top 5 most impactful authors

Prosun Bhattacharya

36 papers, 2K citations

Allan H. Smith

32 papers, 8.1K citations

Dipankar Chakraborti

32 papers, 4.1K citations

Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman

17 papers, 836 citations

Debashis Chatterjee

16 papers, 1.3K citations