Exposure and Health

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 311–329 | Cite as

Evaluation of Shallow Groundwater Contamination and Associated Human Health Risk in an Alluvial Plain Impacted by Agricultural and Industrial Activities, Mid-west China

  • Jianhua WuEmail author
  • Zhanchao Sun
Original Paper


Intensive human activities have caused contamination to groundwater quality which consequently affects human health. In this study, an evaluation of groundwater quality was carried out for better understanding of the status of groundwater contamination and potential risks to local residents in an alluvial plain (China) where agricultural and industrial activities are intensive. Comprehensive water quality index was used for drinking water-quality assessment and sodium adsorption ratio, Na%, and residual sodium carbonate were applied for irrigation water-quality assessment. The human health risks caused by intake of the contaminated groundwater through the oral and dermal pathways were also assessed. The assessment results reveal that most of the water samples are generally suitable for irrigation purpose, but over 60 % of them are not fit for drinking, and the total hardness, NO3 , NO2 , TDS, SO4 2−, and F are the main contaminants affecting its suitability for drinking purpose. Residents in the study area are at high health risk, and NO3 originating mainly from industrial and agricultural pollution is the greatest contributory cause of the health risks. Furthermore, children in this area are at higher health risk than adults, and oral ingestion is the dominate exposure pathway of health risk. Therefore, urgent and efficient measures must be taken to combat groundwater pollution and reduce health risk in the area.


Groundwater quality Water-quality assessment Human health risk Human activity Groundwater pollution 



This work was supported by the Doctoral Postgraduate Technical Project of Chang’an University (2014G5290001), the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Central Colleges (310829151072), the Special Fund for Scientific Research on Public Interest of the Ministry of Water Resources (201301084), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (41172212). The authors are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editors who helped us in improving the quality of the paper.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringChang’an UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effects in Arid Region of the Ministry of EducationChang’an UniversityXi’anChina

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