Groundwater arsenic in Chimaltenango, Guatemala

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In the Municipality of Chimaltenango, Guatemala, we sampled groundwater for total inorganic arsenic. In total, 42 samples were collected from 27 (43.5%) of the 62 wells in the municipality, with sites chosen to achieve spatial representation throughout the municipality. Samples were collected from household faucets used for drinking water, and sent to the USA for analysis. The only site found to have a concentration above the 10 μg/L World Health Organization provisional guideline for arsenic in drinking water was Cerro Alto, where the average concentration was 47.5 μg/L. A health risk assessment based on the arsenic levels found in Cerro Alto showed an increase in noncarcinogenic and carcinogenic risks for residents as a result of consuming groundwater as their primary drinking water source. Using data from the US Geological Survey and our global positioning system data of the sample locations, we found Cerro Alto to be the only site sampled within the tertiary volcanic rock layer, a known source of naturally occurring arsenic. Recommendations were made to reduce the levels of arsenic found in the community's drinking water so that the health risks can be managed.

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