Hydrogeochemical and health risk assessment in and around a Ramsar-designated wetland, the Ganges River Basin, India: Implications for natural and human interactions

Environ Monit Assess. 2022 Jun 7;194(7):483. doi: 10.1007/s10661-022-10154-0.


Wetlands are the most productive and dynamic ecosystems, which have continuously been influenced by social and economic development. As a result, the pollution of wetland surface water and groundwater in adjacent regions has become an emerging global issue that requires constant monitoring and assessment. The current study investigates the natural and anthropogenic processes that influence surface and groundwater chemistry in and around Saman wetland (a Ramsar site) in the Ganges River Basin, India. Various physicochemical parameters are analyzed, and different hydrochemical indices are utilized to evaluate surface and groundwater quality for domestic and irrigation purposes. It is observed that the waters are alkaline in nature and dominated by moderately hard to hard types. An increase in the concentration of nitrate (NO3-) in Saman wetland water is noted, which is possibly due to the leaching of nitrogen ions primarily from fertilizers, pesticides, animal and human waste, and wastewater drained from brick and other factories. The elevated fluoride (F-) content in studied groundwater samples is mainly governed by geogenic processes. Furthermore, surface and groundwater chemistry are mainly controlled by weathering reaction (rock-water interaction), excluding a few wetland surface water samples that are placed outside the boomerang-shaped boundaries of Gibb's diagram, which suggests evaporated dominance. Water Quality Index (WQI) estimation suggests that around 57% of groundwater samples have poor groundwater quality for drinking purposes. Estimation of irrigation water quality indices suggests that surface water of Saman wetland is permissible for irrigation purposes; however, none of the samples have excellent and good class as per sodium (alkali) hazard. Furthermore, health risk assessment showed that NO3- and F- levels in the groundwater pose noncarcinogenic health effects, preferably to children, and thus is unfit for drinking purposes. For long-term water resource management and conservation of the Saman wetland, this study suggests proper awareness, appropriate remedial measures, and regular monitoring of the surface as well as groundwater quality monitoring in the study region.

Keywords: Drinking and irrigation; Hydrochemical indices; Noncarcinogenic; Ramsar wetland; Water quality index; Wetland conservation.

MeSH terms

  • Ecosystem
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fluorides / analysis
  • Groundwater* / chemistry
  • Humans
  • India
  • Risk Assessment
  • Rivers / chemistry
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical* / analysis
  • Water Quality
  • Wetlands


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Fluorides