Distribution and Geochemical Controls of Arsenic and Uranium in Groundwater-Derived Drinking Water in Bihar, India

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Arun Kumar
  • Prabhat Shankar
  • Aman Gaurav
  • Ashok Ghosh


Chronic exposure to groundwater containing elevated concentrations of geogenic contaminants such as arsenic (As) and uranium (U) can lead to detrimental health impacts. In this study, we have undertaken a groundwater survey of representative sites across all districts of the State of Bihar, in the Middle Gangetic Plain of north-eastern India. The aim is to characterize the inorganic major and trace element aqueous geochemistry in groundwater sources widely used for drinking in Bihar, with a particular focus on the spatial distribution and associated geochemical controls on groundwater As and U. Concentrations of As and U are highly heterogeneous across Bihar, exceeding (provisional) guideline values in ~16% and 7% of samples (n = 273), respectively. The strongly inverse correlation between As and U is consistent with the contrasting redox controls on As and U mobility. High As is associated with Fe, Mn, lower Eh and is depth-dependent; in contrast, high U is associated with HCO 3 -, NO 3 - and higher Eh. The improved understanding of the distribution and geochemical controls on As and U in Bihar has important implications on remediation priorities and selection, and may contribute to informing further monitoring and/or representative characterization efforts in Bihar and elsewhere in India.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article number2500
Pages (from-to)2500
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Early online date6 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2020