Occurrence and probabilistic health risk assessment (PRA) of dissolved metals in surface water sources in Southern Peru

Alexander Ccanccapa-Cartagena, Betty Paredes, Corina Vera, Francisco D. Chavez-Gonzales, Elizabeth J. Olson, Lisa R. Welp, Nadezhda N. Zyaykina, Timothy R. Filley, David M. Warsinger, Chad T. Jafvert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Often, metal and metalloid ions are present in water at concentrations that seriously affect human health; understanding their occurrence is critical, especially in regions such as Peru, where natural volcanic activity and anthropogenic activity have made them more prevalent in local waterbodies. In this study, river, lake, aquifer, and irrigation water samples, collected from the Chili-Quilca, Camana-Majes, Colca-Chivay-Siguas, Ocoña, Urubamba-Vilcanota, and Titicaca river basins in Southern Peru, were analyzed for transition metals, other metals, metalloids, and other inorganic water constituents. Special emphasis was placed on metals and metalloids regulated by Peruvian Water Quality Standards and those categorized as of “primary interest” by the U.S. EPA, herein collectively referred to as “elements of concern”. Of the elements of concern, boron (2,170 µg L−1) and arsenic (2,060 µg L−1), were found at the highest concentrations in river water in the southern basins. Phosphorus (2,000 µg L−1) and boron (2,056 µg L−1) were found at the highest concentrations in irrigation water. The most frequently found elements of concern (in more than 60% of the samples) in all types of surface water samples were Al, As, B, Ba, Cu, Li, Mn, Sr, P, V and Zn. The most polluted waters, based on regulated metals concentrations and on their HQing quotient, followed the order: groundwater > river water > lake water. The potential sources of transition metal contamination were deduced by applying the multivariant statistical technique, principal component analysis (PCA), to the extensive sample dataset that included 35 variables and a total of 7,686 data of metal, metalloids, and other constituent concentrations, as well as physicochemical parameters. A Spanish translation of this paper is available in the online Supplementary Material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100102
JournalEnvironmental Advances
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge this paper to be an outcome of a project which is part of the Arequipa Nexus Institute for Food, Energy, Water, and the Environment, with funding provided by the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin. We also want to thank several people for help in sample collection: Lahiri Chitturi, Katherine M Brodersen, Sophia L Gripp, David Gustafson, and Marisa E Grubb.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Andes
  • Irrigation
  • Metalloids
  • sampling
  • Southern Peru river basins
  • Surface water
  • Transition metals


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