Medical hydrogeology of Asian deltas: status of groundwater toxicants and nutrients, and implications for human health

Mohammad Hoque, Adrian Butler

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Abstract

Drinking water, a fluid primarily for human hydration, is also a source of mineral nutrients. Groundwater, a drinking water source for more than 70% of inhabitants living in Asian deltas, has received much attention because of its naturally occurring arsenic, but the linkage of arsenic toxicity with other water constituents has not been studied. In addition, although nutrients are generally provided by food, in under developed rural settings, where people subsist on low nutrient diets, drinking-water-nutrients may supply quantities vital to human health thereby preventing diseases. Here, we show, using augmented datasets from three Asian deltas (Bengal, Mekong, and Red River), that the chemical content of groundwater is such that in some areas individuals obtain up to 50% or more of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of some nutrients (e.g., calcium, magnesium, iron) from just two litres of drinking water. We also show some indications of a spatial association of groundwater nutrients and health outcome using demographic health data from Bangladesh. We therefore suggest that an understanding of the association of non-communicable disease and poor nutrition cannot be developed, particularly in areas with high levels of dissolved solids in water sources, without considering the contribution of drinking water to nutrient and mineral supply.
Original languageEnglish
Article number81
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes

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