Carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic health risk of arsenic ingestion via drinking water in Langat River Basin, Malaysia

Environ Geochem Health. 2021 Feb;43(2):897-914. doi: 10.1007/s10653-020-00571-w. Epub 2020 May 5.


The prolonged persistence of toxic arsenic (As) in environment is due to its non-biodegradable characteristic. Meanwhile, several studies have reported higher concentrations of As in Langat River. However, it is the first study in Langat River Basin, Malaysia, that As concentrations in drinking water supply chain were determined simultaneously to predict the health risks of As ingestion. Water samples collected in 2015 from the four stages of drinking water supply chain were analysed for As concentration by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Determined As concentrations along with the time series data (2004-2015) were significantly within the maximum limit 0.01 mg/L of drinking water quality standard set by World Health Organization. The predicted As concentration by auto-regression moving average was 3.45E-03 mg/L in 2020 at 95% level based on time series data including climatic control variables. Long-term As ingestion via household filtration water at Langat Basin showed no potential lifetime cancer risk (LCR) 9.7E-06 (t = 6.68; p = 3.37E-08) as well as non-carcinogenic hazard quotient (HQ) 4.8E-02 (t = 6.68; p = 3.37E-08) risk at 95% level. However, the changing landscape, ex-mining ponds and extensive use of pesticides for palm oil plantation at Langat Basin are considered as the major sources of increased As concentration in Langat River. Therefore, a two-layer water filtration system at Langat Basin should be introduced to accelerate the achievement of sustainable development goal of getting safe drinking water supply.

Keywords: Arsenic exposure; Human health; Malaysia; River basin; Water pollution.

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic / analysis*
  • Carcinogens, Environmental / analysis*
  • Dietary Exposure / analysis*
  • Dietary Exposure / standards
  • Drinking Water / analysis*
  • Drinking Water / standards
  • Humans
  • Malaysia
  • Mining
  • Pesticides / adverse effects
  • Risk Assessment
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Carcinogens, Environmental
  • Drinking Water
  • Pesticides
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Arsenic