Natural groundwater quality and health

Salvador Jordana, Eduardo Batista Piera


Natural groundwater composition and quality is of concern because it is used worldwide as a freshwater supply. Discarding artificial pollution, epidemiological studies have shown that many communities suffer important diseases linked to the groundwater ingested since several tens of years ago. As the available resources of freshwater decrease due to pollution and overexploitation, and the need of water increases, more efforts have to be devoted to guarantee water quality. Of course preventing pollution is the main task but studying and controlling the natural groundwater quality is also very important, mainly in developing countries. To study the relationship between natural groundwater composition and health implies working in many scientific disciplines such as hydrology, geology, geochemistry and toxicology. During its cycle, water acquires its natural composition depending on the hydrogeological scenario, which, in turn, depends on the climate, topography and rock properties (hydraulic properties, chemical composition). Nearly all natural waters contain traces of most chemical elements but often at extremely low concentrations. Major species invariably make up over 99% of the solute content. Major compounds as well as trace elements can be essential, toxic, potentially toxic and potentially beneficial. Special attention has to be paid to chemical elements present in many natural waters whose insufficient or excess intake produces critical illness and whose intake is mainly through the ingestion of water. A first approach to groundwater quality can be made using element concentrations in water but many efforts have to be devoted to perform epidemiological and risk assessment studies based on intake doses of chemical species.


Groundwater quality; Health; Natural composition; Essential elements; Toxic elements.

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