Title

The evaluation of arsenic contamination potential, speciation and hydrogeochemical behaviour in aquifers of Punjab, Pakistan

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Shakoor, MB, Bibi, I, Niazi, NK, Shahid, M, Nawaz, MF, Farooqi, A, Naidu, R, Rahman, MM, Murtaza, G & Lüttge, A 2018, 'The evaluation of arsenic contamination potential, speciation and hydrogeochemical behaviour in aquifers of Punjab, Pakistan', Chemosphere, vol. 199, pp. 737-746.

Published version available from:

https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.02.002

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

In this study, we tested 123 groundwater wells from five different areas of Punjab, Pakistan for arsenic (As) contamination level and species, as well as delineated hydrogeochemical behaviour of As in aquifers. Results revealed that 75% and 41% of the groundwater wells exceeded the safe As limit of World Health Organisation (WHO, 10 μg L−1) and Pakistan-EPA (50 μg L−1), respectively. Arsenite (As(III)) and arsenate(As(V)) spanned 0–80% and 20–100% of total As (1.2–206 μg L−1), respectively. The mean As content (5.2 μg L−1) of shallow wells at 9–40 m depth did not exceed the WHO safe limit, representing a safe aquifer zone for pumping of groundwater compared to deeper wells at 41–90 m (51 μg L−1) and >90 m (23 μg L−1) depths. Piper-plot elucidated that the aqueous chemistry was dominated with Na-SO4, Na-Ca-SO4, Na-Mg-SO4 type saline water. Principalcomponentanalysis grouped As concentration with well depth, pH, salinity, Fe and CO3, exhibiting that these hydrogeochemical factors could have potential role in controlling As release/sequestration into the aquifers of study area. Geochemical modeling showed positive saturation indices only for iron (Fe) oxide-phases, indicating Fe oxides as the major carriers of As. Overall, this study provides insights to tackle emerging As threat to the communities in Punjab, Pakistan, as well as help develop suitable management/mitigation strategies – based on the baseline knowledge of As levels/species and factors governing As contamination in the study area.

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