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Malawi Journal of Science and Technology

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Borehole Water Pollution and its Implication on health on the Rural Communities of Malawi

J B Chimphamba, O L Phiri

Abstract


This study analyzed borehole water quality data collected by the Water Section of the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development since 1980s. This study was done in order to verify the rightness of the public view that borehole water is synonymous to potable water. The study analyzed water quality data of 5,324 boreholes occurring throughout Malawi. The objective of the study was to determine the extent to which borehole water salts such as: fluorides, nitrates, iron and chlorides are occurring above the concentrations recommended as safe limit of drinking water by the World Health Organization (WHO). The study observes that of the 27,913 boreholes in Malawi, only 5,324 boreholes had been tested for water quality representing about 19.1% of the total boreholes. Of these 1,676 boreholes had chemical concentration above those recommended by WHO for safe limit of drinking water, representing 31.5% of the water quality tested boreholes. The study observed that: 567 boreholes had iron, 142 boreholes had fluorides, 81 boreholes had chlorides and 19 had nitrates above those recommended by WHO for safe limits for drinking water respectively. The implication of these findings is that a large number of rural communities in Malawi are continuously ingesting borehole water that has adverse levels of chemical toxicity. The detrimental impacts on human health of such toxicity may require many years of exposure before their impacts are recognized and by that time many rural communities would already have adversely been affected.

Keywords: Borehole water; chemical toxicity; rural communities; ingestion




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