Sustained Applications of Pesticides and Fertilizers in Sugarcane, Cotton and Wheat Cultivated Areas Causes Ground Water Arsenic Contamination - District Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan
Due to over all water scarcity situation, more reliance is made on local groundwater sources for drinking and other human needs /purposes. Most of the boreholes or shallow wells are confined to upper aquifers which are exposed to contamination from all sorts of wastewaters and run-off from agricultural field etc. Water quality monitoring from these ground water sources remained irregular, as main focus was on surface water quality monitoring . Information on seasonal water quality changes in surface and ground water was generally lacking. Natural factors facilitating introduction of arsenic into water are related to geomorphology, tectonic activities and chemical components of water bearing formations (Tong, 2002; Htay, 2004, Fengthong, 2004). Keeping in view the prevalence of arsenic in district Rahim Yar khan , a confirmatory arsenic testing was carried out and it was revealed that out of 45 samples, tested for arsenic contamination, 57.78 % were having more than 100 ppb arsenic contamination and 35.56 % were having arsenic contamination more than 50 ppb, which were higher than the WHO limits. During 2006, UNICEF installed some kind of arsenic removal technologies in the area, which were not sustainable due to lack of technical know and resources essentially needed during post project periods . At the same time no endeavors were made to ascertain the causes of arsenic prevalence for having sustainable alternative arsenic free water sources. The areas was rich for agricultural activities, with sustained use of pesticides and fertilizers . A well planned soil investigation process was carried out upto the depth of 387 feet to find out the existence of arseno-pyrites, the major cause of arsenic contamination. All the soil samples were analyzed in the laboratory by using XRD & XRF equipment. The soil investigation analysis, clearly indicated the absence of arseno-pyrites which could have been responsible for ground water arsenic contamination in the area. This very fact indicates that arsenic contamination was due to leaching of pesticides and chemicals , as cotton, being a major cash crop of Pakistan, consumes more than 70 % pesticides being used in the country and at least a dozen spray sessions are made during a single harvesting season September to November. Therefore keeping in view the above findings, a deep bore hole was installed up to the depth of 387 feet and arsenic contamination at 240 feet depth, was 5-10 ppb, which is within the permissible limits. The deep bore hole was monitored for complete one year and arsenic contamination was found to be within the limits. Thus, deep bore holes are one of the safe alternative drinking water sources, provided soil strata in arsenic hit areas is investigated prior to installing any arsenic removal technologies.
Islam ul Haque,
Sustained Applications of Pesticides and Fertilizers in Sugarcane, Cotton and Wheat Cultivated Areas Causes Ground Water Arsenic Contamination - District Rahim Yar Khan, Pakistan, International Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Analysis. Special Issue: Ground Water Arsenic Contamination and Action Plan for Mitigation.
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