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December 2010, Volume 1, No.

International Journal of Chemical and Environmental Engineering

Assessment of Groundwater Quality with Focus on

Arsenic Contents and Consequences. Case Study of
Tando Allahyar District in Sindh Province
S. A. Majidano1*, G. M. Arain1, D. R. Bajaj2, P. Iqbal2 and M. Y. Khuhawar1
. Institute of Advanced Research Studies in Chemical Sciences, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, Pakistan.
. Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS), Jamshoro, Pakistan.
*Corresponding Author Phone No. +9222-9213213 Fax No. +9222-9213213

175 Groundwater samples collected across the district Tando Allahyar (TA) Sindh, Pakistan were analyzed for electrical conductivity
(EC), total dissolved salts (TDS), pH, cadmium (Cd), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn) and arsenic (As) levels. The
arsenic presence varied from undetectable to 300 ppb, averaging overall 123 ppb. Sampling site S9 contained highest arsenic
concentration in the sampling area with a mean of 170 ppb. An apparent correlation between public health of the area and arsenic
levels in water seems to exist. Streaks of pigmentation were also observed randomly in some individuals. The concentrations of heavy
metals (Cd, Ni, Cu, Fe and Mn) varied in the ranges: 1-17, 12-95, 72-87, 14-1354 and 2-645ppb respectively. Only 9 of the total
samples taken adhered to water quality parameters set by WHO and Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority for drinking water.

Key words: Arsenic levels in groundwater, Sindh, Pakistan.

1. Introduction quality and the arsenic, cadmium, nickel, copper, iron and
It is now fairly well established that Arsenic manganese contamination of groundwater of Tando
happens to be the major contaminants in groundwater [1] Allahyar (TA) district and its apparent effects on human
and a number of countries face arsenic contamination and health.
related health hazards [2-9] including its reported 2. Materials and Methods
carcinogenicity [9] The Arabian Sea is about 200 Km in its south-west.
The main source of arsenic exposure is through The source of groundwater for human consumption, in the
arsenic contaminated drinking water, food cooked in that area is a shallow aquifer created and recharged partially
water and milk of the animals reared on arsenic by the scarce rainfall and mostly by permeation of water
contaminated water. The long time use of arsenic from the unlined canal from mainstream River Indus that
contaminated water may cause cancer [9, 10]. There are runs in the periphery of sampling area. In the absence of
no any known beneficial health effects from exposure to treated piped water the residents resort to groundwater for
arsenic. drinking as well as supplementing canal water for
The sources of arsenic in groundwater are irrigation.
geochemical [1]. The arsenic is present in earth's crust 2.1 Sampling Area
and sediment as the component of so many minerals, like, The samples were collected from different towns
ores containing sulfide along with copper, nickel, lead and villages of the district Tando Allahyar of Sindh
and cobalt. Weathering of rocks converts arsenic sulfides province. The district is located at longitudes 68051'16E to
to arsenic trioxide which enters the arsenic cycle on 68022'03E and latitudes 25017'33N to 25037’43N. The
dissolution in groundwater [11, 12]. There are some point map of the district along with sampling sites is given in
sources of arsenic contamination like pesticides, fossil Figure 1.
fuel combustion, treated wood and smelting and mining 2.2 Sample Collection
wastes [13]. 175 groundwater samples were collected from
Arain et al [14] earlier reported the arsenic contents across 22 sampling sites of district Tando Allahyar Fig 1.
of groundwater of the districts Khairpur Mirs and Matiari; The water samples collected were hand pumps 96,
in Sindh province and Nickson et al monitored the arsenic electrical pumping motors 74, tube wells 04 and open
contamination of groundwater of some districts of Punjab wells 01 at the depth of about 120, 150, 300 and 200 feet
province of Pakistan [15]. The present work reports the respectively. The fresh water samples were collected after
draining the pipe lines. The samples were collected in 1 s and peak area 60 s and quartz cell temperature 9500C.
L Teflon bottle rinsed with distilled water and sample. The absorbance was measured at 193.7 nm.
Longitudes/latitudes were noted with GPS Magellan The analyte (sample 10ml + 1 ml HCl (37%);
Explorist 100, No. 0706, San Dimas CA 91773 USA, a alkaline borohydride (NaOH 10g + NaBH4 30g / L) was
product of Thales Navigation China, at the sampling sites placed in a sample cell and the resulting Arsenic swept
and the Contour diagram was made with Golden with argon (18L/hr). The analysis cycle continued with
Software, Inc., Surfer, version on the computer pre wash time 20 s, pump time 7 s, reaction time 50 s and
(Fig. 2). rewash time 30 s. The average response for three replicate
measurements was quantized (5-30 ppb).
2.3.4 Cd, Ni, Cu, Fe and Mn
Sample 100 ml containing 1 ml conc. HNO3 was
concentrated to 10 ml by heating at 90-950C on water
bath. The heavy metals Cd, Ni, Cu, Fe and Mn were
analyzed by VARIAN Spectr AA-20 atomic absorption
spectrophotometer with air acetylene flame at the
conditions recommended by the manufacturer. The
analysis was carried out in triplicate (n = 3) with
integration time 3 sec and delay time 3 sec.
3. Results and Discussion
3.1 Location
The district Tando Allahyar with 22 (S1 to S22)
sampling sites and a number of samples taken from each
Figure.1 Map of district Tando Allahyar showing 22 samling
point is shown in Fig. 1. The district is located at
locations of heterogenous soil composition and (no of samples taken longitudes 68051'16E to 68022'03E and latitudes from
from each location). 25017'33N to 25037’43N and the contour map of the
1.Tandho Allahyar Town (27), 2.Bukera Sharif Town (2), 3.Dhingano sample points and their Arsenic levels is drawn in Fig. 2.
Bozdar (2), 4. Kamaro Sharif (2), 5.Geo Kakepota (1), 6.Shaikh Moosa
(1), 7.Dito Kalro (1), 8.Sultan Khuwaja (1), 9.Allah Bux Arbab (27), 3.2 pH
10.Khair M.Jarwar (10), 11.Misree Jarwar (17), 12.Saleh Halepoto (22), The pH of the water samples of the study area lay
13.Fazal M.Talpur (10), 14.Piaro Lund (23), 15.Wahyal Thebo (1), between 6.63 and 8.15. pH at 16 sites was slightly acidic
16.Juman Lund (1), 17.Mal K.Thebo (1), 18.Tando Soomro (9), (6.63-6.99); at one site neutral (7.00) and at rest of the
19.Chamber Town (14), 20.KK Daidano (1), 21.GH Kapri (1), 22.MK
Khaskheli (1). sites slightly basic (7.03-8.15).
3.3 Electrical Conductivity (EC) and Total Dissolved
Salts (TDS)
2.3 Sample Analysis The electrical conductivity (EC) and total dissolved
2.3.1 pH salts (TDS) of the water samples of the study area
pH was measured and adjusted to pH 2, with fluctuated in the range of 533-19450 µS/cm and 341-
ORION 420 A (Orion Research Inc. Boston USA) in the 12448 ppm respectively. Maximum value of EC and TDS
laboratory. (19450 µS/cm and 12448 ppm respectively) was detected
2.3.2 EC and TDS in sample collected at S9 and the minimum value
The EC and TDS were in situ measured with observed in the sample taken at S13. The enormous
conductivity meter ORION 115 (Orion Research Inc. difference in EC and TDS at different sampling locations
Boston USA) model. may be due to the difference
2.3.3 Arsenic
Arsenic was determined by Merck Arsenic Kit
(0.01-0.5mg/L) (Merck K Ga A, 64271 Darmstadt,
Germany) in the laboratory within 48 hours of sampling.
The urine samples of eight volunteers (4 controlled and 4
random) were also tested for arsenic presence at the
sampling location.
As cross check the arsenic concentration of 26 water
samples was also measured on VARIAN Spectr AA-20
atomic absorption spectrophotometer connected with
Analytik Jena 1190121 hydride generator and quartz cell
6 cm. The signal was processed by Win AAS version 3.0
software interfaced with the instrument. The analysis was
carried out at integration mode having auto zero time 3.0
Figuire. 2. Contour map of Arsenic contents of Tando Allahyar.

in the geology of the groundwater of the sampling area. groundwater of these countries is rated as highly
The EC and TDS of only 22 (13% of the total samples) contaminated. Thus 26% samples within 50ppb may also
were within and all the remaining samples were above the be considered within permissible limits.
limits set by WHO (TDS 500 ppm). Based on the salinity The site S1 and its periphery was highly
index by Rabinove et al [16], the groundwater was non contaminated with arsenic, the arsenic contents of the
saline at 113 samples, slightly saline at 58 samples, groundwater samples of this part of the district fell
moderately saline at 02 locations and highly saline at 02 between below the limit of detection
samples (Table 1). Table.2 Arsenic concentration of water samples collected from sub-
district units (talukas) of district Tando Allahyar.
Table.1 Classification of water samples on the basis of total Name of Taluka Tando Jhando Chamber Total
dissolved salts. Allahyar Maree
Classification of Total dissolved salts No of samples No of Samples 122 36 17 175
groundwater (ppm) collected
Samples with As 32 22 13 67
Non saline < 1000 113 conc. below (LOQ)
Samples arsenic 89 14 4 107
Slightly saline 1000-3000 58 contaminated
Samples with As 55 23 14 92
Moderately saline 3000-10000 2 conc. within WHO
Very saline > 10000 2 limits (0-10ppb)
Samples with As 66 13 3 82
3.4 Arsenic conc. Above 10ppb
Samples with As 56 4 0 60
The arsenic contents of only 9 samples of these 22 conc. 100ppb or
samples were within 10ppb and one sample indicated above
25ppb. The samples with acceptable EC and TDS showed Samples with As 33 3 1 37
conc. 200ppb or
elevated levels of arsenic (except 9 samples) and those above
with low concentration of arsenic indicated higher values LOQ= limit of quantitation
of EC and TDS than the WHO recommendations. Thus (BDL) and 300ppb. Arsenic in 56 (46%) water
164 samples (94 %) were found unsuitable for drinking samples were 100ppb or above and that of 33 (27%) were
purpose. 200ppb or above. It is obvious that 46% population of the
Arsenic in water samples ranged between below the area drink water having arsenic up to 100ppb or above;
detection limit (BDL) and 300ppb; maximum arsenic causing a number of health hazards [2, 9].
(300ppb) was detected in 6 samples (Fig. 3). Continuous use of arsenic contaminated water over
A negative correlation of arsenic concentration with prolonged periods may cause cancer [9, 10]. Since arsenic
the EC and TDS of the water samples was recorded (r = - poisoning of human body takes place over prolonged
0.2687). Out of 175 groundwater samples analyzed, period, symptoms of arsenicosis [3] (a term now used for
arsenic concentrations of 67 (39%) samples were found arsenic related health disorders), are not well pronounced;
below the limit of quantitation (LOQ) and 107 (61%) an attempt was therefore made to correlate semi-empirical
samples were found arsenic contaminated parameters like pigmentation of human skin, retention of
arsenic by human body and its excretion through urine,
were monitored. Table 3 lists data on arsenic through
urine of eight subjects (4 controlled and 4 random) of site
S9. The selection criterion of person for study was based
on (i) their long term residence at areas having maximum
arsenic presence, (ii) having pigmentation effects and (iii)
constrained to use more of underground water than
surface or piped water. The data summarized in table 2
assumes a person to consume 3L/day of underground
water 250ppb of arsenic, his urine (1.5L/day) indicates
the presence of Arsenic averages between 100-250ppb,
this difference in volume between the water intake and
Figure.3 Arsenic concentration of water samples collected from
excretion leaves about 50% of arsenic in his blood stream
district Tando Allahyar
susceptible to accumulation in various organs. Controlled
(Table 2). The arsenic in 25 samples (14%) was volunteers were examined by a panel of dermatologists of
within the limits of WHO (10ppb) and that of 45 (26%)
Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences
samples was within 50ppb. The permissible limit for
(LUMHS) Jamshoro, Sindh, Palkistan. 15 of whom were
arsenic contamination in drinking water by India and
diagnosed for arsenicosis.
Bangladesh has been fixed to 50ppb because the

Table. 3 EC, TDS, Salinity, pH and arsenic contents of water Table.4 Comparison of arsenic contents of water samples analyzed
samples consumed by the inhabitants and arsenic concentration of by kit method and atomic absorption.
their urine samples
S. As ppb As ppb As ppb As ppb
Gender EC Sal
S. No
S TDS pH As As No with Kit with AAs with Kit with AAs
No and µS/c ppm g/L water ppb ppb 1 50 38 14 5 2.0
Age m water water water urine
2 50 46 15 150 123
3 50 55 16 25 17.4
1 M17 1055 675 0.5 7.48 200 100 4 25 19 17 10 7.8
2 M15 1055 675 0.5 7.48 200 100 5 5 3.5 18 200 212
3 F45 1437 920 0.7 7.35 300 75 6 10 14.4 19 250 243
4 F30 1627 1041 0.8 7.20 300 75 7 250 228 20 100 109
5 F25 1451 929 0.7 7.45 250 75 8 25 21.5 21 0 0.42
6 F15 1422 910 0.7 7.64 250 150 9 5 3.9 22 150 139
7 F40 1011 647 0.5 7.24 250 75 10 150 170 23 250 235
8 F50 1232 788 0.6 7.38 250 100 11 150 163 24 50 34
12 150 137 25 250 190
The arsenic contents of water samples analyzed by 13 5 1.7 26 50 41
kit and atomic absorption spectrophotometer are
compared in (Table 4). No any significant difference was 3.6 Nickel (Ni)
observed between the arsenic contents of water samples Sources of nickel in water include contamination
analyzed by kit and atomic absorption spectrophotometer. from municipal sewage sludge, waste water from sewage
Gender based study showed that females tend to retain treatment plants and groundwater near landfill sites [19].
more Arsenic than males most probably because they The nickel concentration of the water samples of the
utilize the maximum amount of arsenic contaminated study area was found from 12 to 95ppb (Fig. 5). The
water as they spent most of their time within the area as normal threshold for nickel concentration prescribed by
compared to men. WHO is 1300ppb. All the samples were found within the
3.5 Cadmium (Cd) limits. A negative coefficient of correlation was observed
Cd is also toxic metal; it can impair kidney and between Ni and arsenic (r = -0.085). The most common
testicular tissue and may damage red blood cells [17-18] adverse effects of nickel are skin allergies and dermatitis.
and filtering mechanism. Cd is extremely toxic to aquatic The lung is the target organ for nickel toxicity in humans
biota even at low concentrations [18]. The WHO safe [19].
guideline of Cd in drinking water is 10ppb. Only 26 %
water samples of the study area indicated Cd contents
within the limits, while remaining 74 % samples indicated
above the limits. The contents of Cd in the water samples
of the study area ranged between 1ppb and 17ppb (Fig.
4). A smaller correlation was noted between Cd and
arsenic (r = 0.052).

Figure 5. Concentration of Ni in water samples

3.7 Copper (Cu)

172 water samples (out of 175) indicated the
presence of copper. The copper contents varied between
below the limit of detection (BDL) and 87ppb (Fig. 6).
Thirteen samples were found as highly contaminated with
copper concentration of 52-87ppb. The WHO acceptable
limit of Cu is 30ppb. 74 % water samples indicated the
Cu contents within and 26 % samples above the limits.
The over doses of Cu may lead to neurological
Figure 4. Concentration of Cd in water samples complications, hypertension, liver and kidney dysfunction
[20-22]. Cu indicated lower correlation with arsenic (r =

4. Conclusion
Preliminary results on arsenic presence carried out
in a district of Sindh, Pakistan indicate higher levels of
the arsenic (up to 300ppb) than the recommended world
and national standards. The trends in this report support
similar and earlier findings of the present researchers for
other districts of Sindh within a radius of about 200 Km
of the present study area. In India and Bangladesh it is
already well established that certain areas of both the
countries show elevated levels of Arsenic. Now Pakistan
seems to join their ranks. It is pertinent therefore that soil
composition, pesticide and organic fertilizer use be
Figure 6. Concentration of Cu in water samples
closely monitored for toxic metals specifically arsenic.
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