This study identified mercury (Hg) concentration in groundwater of District Swabi, Pakistan. The objective of the study was to find geochemistry, health risk and source distribution pattern. Therefore, groundwater (n = 38) were collected from three hydrological environments, viz. shallower (10–20) m, middle depth (25–45) m and deeper depth (50–90) m aquifers. The water samples were tested for Hg, and results showed in the form of lowest concentration (0.16 µg/L) and highest concentration (2.0 µg/L) were recorded in deeper and shallower aquifers. Thus, shallower aquifer has been more contaminated than deeper aquifer. Most groundwater samples (68.4%) exceeded the guidelines of Hg (1.0 µg/L) recommended by WHO. The results of Hg exceeded WHO recommended level of 1.0 µg/L. Similarly, the PLI and GRQ also showed moderate pollution of Hg in the groundwater samples. The study showed that the inhabitants of the area may be exposed to several health problems. The GRQ technique revealed that the drinking groundwater sources with relatively high concentration of Hg are extremely unfit for drinking purposes.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Adeniji, A. (2004). Bioremediation of arsenic, chromium, lead, and mercury. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency.
APHA. (2005). WEF, 2005. Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater (21th. Ed. New York: APHA, AWWA, WPCR, 1).
ATSDR. (2012). Toxicological profile for manganese. Atlanta: Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Azizullah, A., Khattak, M. N. K., Richter, P., & Häder, D.-P. (2011). Water pollution in Pakistan and its impact on public health—a review. Environment International, 37, 479–497.
Chaudhry, M. G. (1982). Green Revolution and redistribution of rural incomes: Pakistan’s experience. The Pakistan Development Review, 21, 173–205.
Dao, Q., Krishnaswamy, P., Kazanegra, R., Harrison, A., Amirnovin, R., Lenert, L., et al. (2001). Utility of B-type natriuretic peptide in the diagnosis of congestive heart failure in an urgent-care setting. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 37, 379–385.
Dragović, S., Mihailović, N., & Gajić, B. (2008). Heavy metals in soils: Distribution, relationship with soil characteristics and radionuclides and multivariate assessment of contamination sources. Chemosphere, 72, 491–495.
Duruibe, J., Ogwuegbu, M., & Egwurugwu, J. (2007). Heavy metal pollution and human biotoxic effects. International Journal of Physical Sciences, 2, 112–118.
Ellison, A. M. (2004). Bayesian inference in ecology. Ecology Letters, 7, 509–520.
GOP. (2017). Population census organization statistic division government of Pakistan Islamabad.
Gray, J. E., Crock, J. G., & Fey, D. L. (2002). Environmental geochemistry of abandoned mercury mines in West-Central Nevada, USA. Applied Geochemistry, 17, 1069–1079.
Hough, R. L., Breward, N., Young, S. D., Crout, N. M., Tye, A. M., Moir, A. M., et al. (2004). Assessing potential risk of heavy metal exposure from consumption of home-produced vegetables by urban populations. Environmental Health Perspectives, 112, 215.
Jehan, S., Khattak, S. A., Muhammad, S., Ahmad, R., Farooq, M., Khan, S., et al. (2018). Ecological and health risk assessment of heavy metals in the Hattar industrial estate, Pakistan. Toxin Reviews, 39, 68–77.
Johnson, M., Handyside, A., & Braude, P. (1977). Control mechanisms in early mammalian development. Development in Mammals, 2, 67–97.
Jordana, S., & Batista, E. (2004). Natural groundwater quality and health. Geologica Acta: An International Earth Science Journal, 2, 175–188.
Khan, S., Rauf, R., Muhammad, S., Qasim, M., & Din, I. (2016). Arsenic and heavy metals health risk assessment through drinking water consumption in the Peshawar District, Pakistan. Human and Ecological risk Assessment: An International Journal, 22, 581–596.
Kim, K., & Jeong, G. Y. (2005). Factors influencing natural occurrence of fluoride-rich groundwaters: A case study in the southeastern part of the Korean Peninsula. Chemosphere, 58, 1399–1408.
Liu, W.-H., Zhao, J.-Z., Ouyang, Z.-Y., Söderlund, L., & Liu, G.-H. (2005). Impacts of sewage irrigation on heavy metal distribution and contamination in Beijing, China. Environment International, 31, 805–812.
Martin, S., & Griswold, W. (2009). Human health effects of heavy metals. Environmental Science and Technology Briefs for Citizens, 15, 1–6.
Martinis, E. M., Bertón, P., Olsina, R. A., Altamirano, J. C., & Wuilloud, R. G. (2009). Trace mercury determination in drinking and natural water samples by room temperature ionic liquid based-preconcentration and flow injection-cold vapor atomic absorption spectrometry. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 167, 475–481.
McKenna, J., Jr. (2003). An enhanced cluster analysis program with bootstrap significance testing for ecological community analysis. Environmental Modelling and Software, 18, 205–220.
Mohsin, M., Safdar, S., Asghar, F., & Jamal, F. (2013). Assessment of drinking water quality and its impact on residents health in Bahawalpur city. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 3, 114–128.
Muhammad, N., Nafees, M., Hussain, R., Khan, M. H., Jehan, S., & Ullah, U. (2018). Pollution and energy reduction strategy in soft drink industries. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25, 28153–28159.
Nagarajan, R., Rajmohan, N., Mahendran, U., & Senthamilkumar, S. (2010). Evaluation of groundwater quality and its suitability for drinking and agricultural use in Thanjavur city, Tamil Nadu, India. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 171, 289–308.
Nriagu, J. O., & Pacyna, J. M. (1988). Quantitative assessment of worldwide contamination of air, water and soils by trace metals. Nature, 333, 134–139.
Odukoya, A., & Abimbola, A. (2010). Contamination assessment of surface and groundwater within and around two dumpsites. International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 7, 367–376.
Otto, M. (1998). Multivariate methods. In R. Kellner, J. M. Mermet, M. Otto, & H. M. Widmer (Eds.), Analytical chemistry. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH.
Pirrone, N., Cinnirella, S., Feng, X., Finkelman, R. B., Friedli, H. R., Leaner, J., et al. (2009). Global mercury emissions to the atmosphere from natural and anthropogenic sources. In N. Pirrone & R. Mason (Eds.), Mercury fate and transport in the global atmosphere. Boston, MA: Springer.
Rafiq, M., & Jan, M. Q. (1988). Petrography of Ambela granitic complex, NW Pakistan. Geological Bulletin University of Peshawar, 21, 27–48.
Rajeswari, T., & Sailaja, N. (2014). Impact of heavy metals on environmental pollution. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 42, 175–181.
Rashid, A., Guan, D.-X., Farooqi, A., Khan, S., Zahir, S., Jehan, S., et al. (2018). Fluoride prevalence in groundwater around a fluorite mining area in the flood plain of the River Swat, Pakistan. Science of the Total Environment, 635, 203–215.
Rashid, A., Khan, S., Ayub, M., Sardar, T., Jehan, S., Zahir, S., et al. (2019a). Mapping human health risk from exposure to potential toxic metal contamination in groundwater of Lower Dir, Pakistan: Application of multivariate and geographical information system. Chemosphere, 225, 785–795.
Rashid, A., Khattak, S. A., Ali, L., Zaib, M., Jehan, S., Ayub, M., et al. (2019b). Geochemical profile and source identification of surface and groundwater pollution of District Chitral, Northern Pakistan. Microchemical Journal, 145, 1058–1065.
Shah, M. T., & Danishwar, S. (2003). Potential fluoride contamination in the drinking water of Naranji area, northwest frontier province, Pakistan. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 25, 475–481.
Simeonov, V., Einax, J., Stanimirova, I., & Kraft, J. (2002). Environmetric modeling and interpretation of river water monitoring data. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 374, 898–905.
Singh, K. P., Malik, A., & Sinha, S. (2005). Water quality assessment and apportionment of pollution sources of Gomti river (India) using multivariate statistical techniques—A case study. Analytica Chimica Acta, 538, 355–374.
Sultan, K., Shazili, N. A., & Peiffer, S. (2011). Distribution of Pb, As, Cd, Sn and Hg in soil, sediment and surface water of the tropical river watershed, Terengganu (Malaysia). Journal of Hydro-Environment Research, 5, 169–176.
USEPA. (2000). Arsenic occurrence in public drinking water supplies. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency.
WHO. (2011). Guidelines for drinking-water quality. WHO Chronicle, 38, 104–108.
Yang, X., & Li, L. (2011). miRDeeper-P: A computational tool for analyzing the microRNA transcriptome in plants. Bioinformatics, 27, 2614–2615.
Yang, Q.-W., Xu, Y., Liu, S.-J., He, J.-F., & Long, F.-Y. (2011). Concentration and potential health risk of heavy metals in market vegetables in Chongqing, China. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 74, 1664–1669.
Zhou, Y., Aamir, M., Liu, K., Yang, F., & Liu, W. (2018). Status of mercury accumulation in agricultural soil across China: Spatial distribution, temporal trend, influencing factor and risk assessment. Environmental Pollution, 240, 116–124.
This research work was financially supported by the Director of NCE in Geology, University of Peshawar, Pakistan, also by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 41521001 and 41877204), the 111 Program (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs and the Ministry of Education of China, B18049), and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation 2018M642944.
Conflict of interest
The authors confirm that there is no conflict of interest to disclose.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Khattak, S.A., Rashid, A., Tariq, M. et al. Potential risk and source distribution of groundwater contamination by mercury in district Swabi, Pakistan: Application of multivariate study. Environ Dev Sustain 23, 2279–2297 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-020-00674-5
- Mercury in groundwater
- Pollution load index
- Source apportionment
- Health risk assessment
- District Swabi