Arsenic in geoenvironments of Nicaragua: exposure, health effects, mitigation and future needs

Delgado Quezada, Valeria and Altamirano Espinoza, Maximina and Bundschuh, Jochen (2020) Arsenic in geoenvironments of Nicaragua: exposure, health effects, mitigation and future needs. Science of the Total Environment, 710:136527. pp. 1-37. ISSN 0048-9697


Abstract

In contrast to other Latin American countries, where the presence of arsenic (As) in drinking water sources and related adverse human health impacts are well-known, little is internationally known from Nicaragua. However, the As problem is of high relevance as numerous assessments by national research, governmental and non-governmental institutions have proven. To assess for the first time and globally disseminate this predominantly nationally originated information is the aim of this review. In Nicaragua, >1000 water samples have been analyzed for total As from 1991 to 2017. By today, 144 communities distributed within 12 departments and one autonomous region (RACCS) are impacted with As. At least 55,700 people are exposed to drinking water with As (n = 173; range: 10–1320 μg/L, mean: 48.30 μg/L; 21.95%). Arsenic in surface water ranged from 0.99 to 2650 μg/L (n = 124, mean: 65.62 μg/L, 62.9% < 10 μg/L); and in groundwater from 0.10 to 1320 μg/L [n = 624, mean: 20.86 μg/L (70.7% < 10 μg/L)]. The highest As concentration was recorded from a well of the El Zapote community in 1996 (1320 μg/L), alerting national authorities and academic's to research As in water sources and health risks. Since then, 10 μg As/L has been the national regulatory limit for drinking water supplies. Occurrence of high As levels is linked to three geoenvironments: (i) Paleocene-Mesozoic metamorphic rocks (Northern Highlands) where As is present in epithermal veins, (ii) Tertiary volcanic rocks (Central Plateau) where As is related to fossil hydrothermal/volcanic systems, (iii) Quaternary rocks (Nicaragua Depression) where As is caused by active geothermal/volcanic activities. No mitigation measures have been implemented. Incipient water treatment efforts (Kanchan filters activated carbon) have failed because they were not socially accepted. More integrated, cross-sectorial research on genesis, health impacts and problem mitigation is needed. Provision of water treatment units for As removal on a single-household and community scale is needed, calling for the cooperation of national entities with communities in problem detection and solving.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 July 2013 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Civil Engineering and Surveying (1 July 2013 -)
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2020 02:35
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2020 00:34
Uncontrolled Keywords: Nicaragua; Geogenic arsenic; Water resources; Rural water supply; Geothermal reservoir; Human health impactMitigation needs
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050204 Environmental Impact Assessment
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management
05 Environmental Sciences > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050206 Environmental Monitoring
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960908 Mining Land and Water Management
C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response
C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920405 Environmental Health
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.136527
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/38005

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