Groundwater Arsenic Contamination and Associated Health Risks in Bihar, India

Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, Montclair State University, 1 Normal Ave, 358N ML, Montclair New Jersey, 07043, USA, Department of Environment and Water Management, A.N. College, Patna, Bihar, India

2 Department of Environment and Water Management, A.N. College, Patna, Bihar, India


The extent of groundwater arsenic (As) contamination and associated health-risks were studied
in the four villages: Chaukia and Terahrasiya (Vaishali); Mamalkha and Masharu (Bhagalpur) in Bihar, India.
Groundwater samples were tested using the standard Silverdiethyledithiocarbamate method at 520nm by
Thermo UV-1 spectrophotometer. The As levels in both the districts exceeded the WHO standard of 10μg/L
for drinking water with a maximum value of 20μg/L in Vaishali and 143μg/L in Bhagalpur. However, the FAO
standard of 100μg/L of As for irrigation water was only exceeded in Bhagalpur. The calculated range of the
hazard index (HI) for Vaishali was 0.9 to 10, and for Bhagalpur was 10.40 to 40.47. Both ranges exceed the
accepted normal toxic HI of 1.00. The cancer risk was derived as 1-5/1000 people to 5-16/10,000 people in
Vaishali, and 7-21/1000 and 5-16/1000 people in Bhagalpur. Prevalence of skin pigmentation was double in
Vaishali in comparison to Bhagalpur. The analysis of principal components showed that only two components
had a fundamental role in defining variance for cancer risk assessment. A more extensive screening of As
contamination of groundwater and a follow-up clinical study are necessary to accurately assess the likelihood
of As-related cancers in these districts.