Health Risk Assessment of Groundwater Contamination Case Study: Gaza Strip

Luay I. Qrenawi, Reem Abu Shomar

Abstract


Gaza Governorates are suffering from shortage problems and poor quality of groundwater that is being pumped from 281 municipal wells. According to the latest data available at the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), the water consumption can be distributed on municipal consumption 96.428 MCM and agricultural sector consumption 95.3 MCM. The annual recharge is less than the pumping rate with more than 90 MCM; resulting in declining water level, sea water intrusion and hence high chloride concentrations. Nitrate levels are increasing due to the improper systems of wastewater disposal, excess use of fertilizers and landfill leachate. The nitrate level exceeds the WHO limit in more than 90.6 % of Gaza Governorates municipal wells for the year 2018 (223 wells from a total of 245 wells. Due to the health impacts of nitrate, health risk assessment was conducted based upon the available quality data of 245 municipal wells. The risk assessment method adopted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency was utilized in this study. Three categories of receptors were assessed; infants, children and adults. The study revealed that the health risk values for adults is acceptable in 22 wells only while it is unacceptable in the other 223 wells. For children and small infants, the situation was riskier and the study outlined that none of the municipal wells in Gaza Governorates was suitable for drinking purposes for these two categories of people. The study recommended that actions should be taken to minimize the risk associated with drinking groundwater, looking for alternative water resources is to be seriously considered, community participation should be encouraged, people should know that their source of water is unsuitable and further studies that consider the impact of nitrate in groundwater on the public health in Gaza Strip should be performed.

Keywords


Gaza Governorates, nitrate, municipal wells, health risk assessment, groundwater, public health

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