Arsenic exposure and perception of health risk due to groundwater contamination in Majuli (river island), Assam, India

Ritusmita Goswami, Manish Kumar, Nivedita Biyani, Patrick J. Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Island populations are rarely studied for risk of arsenic (As) poisoning. As poisoning, multimetal contamination and people’s perceptions of health risks were assessed on India’s Majuli Island, the largest inhabited river island in the world. This holistic approach illustrated the association of groundwater contamination status with consequent health risk by measuring levels of inorganic arsenic (iAs) in groundwater, borehole sediment and biological samples (hair, nails and urine). Piper and Gibbs’s plots discerned the underlying hydrogeochemical processes in the aquifer. Demographic data and qualitative factors were evaluated to assess the risks and uncertainties of exposure. The results exhibited significant enrichment of groundwater with As, Mn and Fe along with significant body burden. Maximum Hazard Index values indicated severe non-carcinogenic health impacts as well as a significantly elevated risk of cancer for both adults and children. Most (99%) of the locally affected population did not know about the adverse health impacts of metal contamination, and only 15% understood bodily ailments and health issues. Various aspects of the island environment were used to elucidate the status of contamination and future risk of disease. A projection showed adverse health outcomes rising significantly, especially among the young population of Majuli, due to overexposure to not only As but also Ba, Mn and Fe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-460
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Keywords

  • Arsenic
  • Biological sample
  • Groundwater
  • Hazard indices
  • Health risk
  • Sediment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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