Potential risk and source distribution of groundwater contamination by mercury in district Swabi, Pakistan: Application of multivariate study

Abstract

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.

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Modified from Chaudhry (1982)

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Acknowledgements

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.

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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

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Keywords

  • Mercury in groundwater
  • Pollution load index
  • Source apportionment
  • Health risk assessment
  • District Swabi