Assessing nitrate contamination and its potential health risk to Kinmen residents

  • Liu C
  • Lin C
  • Jang C
 et al. 
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Kinmen is located in the southwest of Mainland China. Groundwater supplies 50% of the domestic water use on the island. Residents of Kinmen drink groundwater over the long term because surface water resources are limited. Nitrate-N pollution is found and distributed primarily in the western part of groundwater aquifer whereas saline groundwater is distributed to the northeastern Kinmen. This work applied the DRASTIC model to construct the vulnerability map of Kinmen groundwater. MT3D was then used to evaluate the contamination potential of nitrate-N. The health risk associated with the ingestion of nitrate-N contaminated groundwater is also assessed. The results from DRASTIC model showed that the upland crop and grass land have high contamination potential, whereas the forest, reservoir and housing land have low contamination potential. The calibrated MT3D model inversely determined the high strength sources (0.09-2.74 kg/m(2)/year) of nitrate contaminant located in the west to the north west area and required 2-5 years travel time to reach the monitoring wells. Simulated results of MT3D also showed that both the continuous and instantaneous contaminant sources of nitrate-N release may cause serious to moderate nitrate contamination in the western Kinmen and jeopardize the domestic use of groundwater. The chronic health hazard quotient (HQ) associated with the potential non-carcinogenic risk of drinking nitrate-N contaminated groundwater showed that the assessed 95th percentile of HQ is 2.74, indicating that exposure to waterborne nitrate poses a potential non-cancer risk to the residents of the island. Corrective measures, including protecting groundwater recharge zones and reducing the number of agricultural and non-agricultural nitrogen sources that enters the aquifer, should be implemented especially in the western part of Kinmen to assure a sustainable use of groundwater resources.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Contamination potential
  • Groundwater quality
  • Health risk assessment
  • Kinmen
  • Nitrate-N

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