Presently, water contamination issues are of great concern worldwide. Mexico has not escaped this environmental problem, which negatively affects aquifers, water bodies and biodiversity; but most of all, public health. The objective was to determine the level of water contamination in six tributaries of the Conchos River and to relate their levels to human health risks. Bimonthly samples were obtained from each location during 2005 and 2006. Physical-chemical variables (temperature, pH, electrical conductivity (EC), Total solids and total nitrogen) as well as heavy metals (As, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, V, Zn, and Li) were determined. The statistical analysis considered yearly, monthly, and location effects, and their interactions. Temperatures differed only as a function of the sampling month (P < 0.001) and the pH was different for years (P = 0.006), months (P < 0.001) and the interaction years x months (P = 0.018). The EC was different for each location (P < 0.001), total solids did not change and total nitrogen was different for years (P < 0.001), months (P < 0.001) and the interaction years x months (P < 0.001). The As concentration was different for months (P = 0.008) and the highest concentration was detected in February samples with 0.11 mg L−1. The Cr was different for months (P < 0.001) and the interaction years x months (P < 0.001), noting the highest value of 0.25 mg L−1. The Cu, Fe, Mn, Va and Zn were different for years, months, and their interaction. The highest value of Cu was 2.50 mg L−1; for Fe, it was 16.36 mg L−1; for Mn it was 1.66 mg L−1; V was 0.55 mg L−1; and Zn was 0.53 mg L−1. For Ni, there were differences for years (P = 0.030), months (P < 0.001), and locations (P = 0.050), with the highest Ni value being 0.47 mg L−1. The Li level was the same for sampling month (P < 0.001). This information can help prevent potential health risks in the communities established along the river watershed who use this natural resource for swimming and fishing. Some of the contaminant concentrations found varied from year to year, from month to month and from location to location which necessitated a continued monitoring process to determine under which conditions the concentrations of toxic elements surpass existing norms for natural waters.
To read this research article, click: Contamination of the Conchos River in Mexico: Does It Pose a Health Risk to Local Residents?