Spatial analysis of the risk to human health from exposure to arsenic contaminated groundwater: A kriging approach

Ching Ping Liang, Jui Sheng Chen, Yi Chi Chien, Ching Fang Chen

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32 Scopus citations


A long-term groundwater quality survey in northeastern Taiwan's Lanyang Plain has revealed obvious contamination of the groundwater in some areas, with measured As concentrations in excess of the acceptable level of 10 μg/L. Efforts for assessing the health risk associated with the intake of As through the drinking of contaminated groundwater are a necessary part of the important work of health risk management. However, the standard approach to assessing risks to human health does not adequately account for spatial heterogeneity in the measured As concentrations. Thus, this study applies two different kriging approaches to carry out a spatial analysis of the health risk associated with ingesting As through the drinking of groundwater in the Lanyang Plain. It is found that the indicator kriging (IK) approach, with occurrence probability threshold values of 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6 yields correct classification percentages of 75%, 68% and 61%, respectively, of unacceptable HQ zones. An HQ map prepared with the ordinary kriging (OK) approach shows a correct classification of unacceptable HQ zones of 80%. Considering that the OK approach does not require subjective selection of an occurrence probability threshold value as is the case with the IK approach and can yield a higher percentage of correct classification for unacceptable HQ zones, it is recommended as a more direct and reliable method for spatial analysis of human health risk due to arsenic exposure through the drinking of groundwater. The results show that the geographical distribution of unacceptable HQ zones is concentrated in the eastern part of the study area, which includes the high-population density townships. In other words, 34% of the people had access to groundwater where the HQ was >1. The results of this type of spatial health risk assessment can provide a basis for improving the decision-making process for health risk management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1057
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2018


  • Arsenic
  • Hazard quotient
  • Health risk
  • Indicator kriging
  • Ordinary kriging
  • Spatial analysis


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