Assessment of groundwater contamination in an industrial city, Sialkot, Pakistan

  • R Ullah
  • RN Malik
  • A Qadir


Contamination of groundwater due to heavy metals is one of the most important concerns that have received attention at regional, local and global levels because of their toxicological importance in ecosystems and impact on public health. The present study was designed to assess the quality of groundwater in relation to heavy metal pollution and its implication on human health. The groundwater quality of Sialkot, an industrial city of Pakistan, was evaluated using water samples collected from 25 localities during October-November 2005. Twenty-two physiochemical parameters including pH, Electric Conductivity (EC), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Salinity, Temperature, Turbidity, Sulfate (SO4) Chloride (Cl), Total Hardness, Iodide, Fluoride, Ferric (Fe+3), Nitrate (NO3), Manganese (Mn), Total Chlorine, Alkalinity, Zinc (Zn), Lead (Pb), Iron (Fe), Copper (Cu), Nickel (Ni) and Chromium (Cr) were recorded. The results were compared with standard guidelines of World Health Organization (WHO) and Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) for groundwater quality. Cluster Analysis (CA) grouped all sites into four zones based on spatial similarities and dissimilarities of physiochemical properties. Zone 1 was highly ontaminated with high level of turbidity; EC, TDS, SO4, Cl, total hardiness, Zn, Pb and Fe concentrations were above the permissible levels of WHO and PSQCA. Cr+6 was detected in nineteen sampling sites and its concentration ranged between 0.01 - 0.30 mg/L. Factor Analysis (FA) and Discriminant Analysis (DA) revealed significant variables including pH, EC, TDS, SO4, NO3, Cl, Total Hardness, Iodide, Total Chlorine, Fluoride, alkalinity, Pb, Fe and Mn which are responsible for variations in groundwater quality and affect water chemistry. The results revealed that the groundwater of the study area cannot be considered of good quality as it is highly turbid (57% of total sites) with high level of Zn, Fe and Pb, which were above WHO and PSQCA permissible limits. The spatial distribution maps of water quality parameters were produced using Geographic Information System (GIS). The distribution maps served as important information to understand ecological status of the groundwater systems and for the identification of groundwater quality parameters withconcentration above the allowable limits of WHO and to fin d out potential areas where water treatment plants/technologies can be targeted in Sialkot.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1996-0786
print ISSN: 1996-0786