Arsenic levels in the groundwater of Korea and the urinary excretion among contaminated area

Jung Duck Park, Seong Jin Choi, Byung Sun Choi, Choong Ryeol Lee, Heon Kim, Yong Dae Kim, Kyung Soo Park, Young Jo Lee, Seojin Kang, Kyung Min Lim, Jin Ho Chung

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12 Scopus citations


Drinking water is a main source of human exposure to arsenic. Hence, the determination of arsenic in groundwater is essential to assess its impact on public health. Here, we report arsenic levels in the groundwater of 722 sites covering all six major provinces of Korea. Water was sampled in two occasions (summer, 722 sites and winter, 636 sites) and the arsenic levels were measured with highly sensitive inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry method (limit of detection, 0.1 μg/l) to encompass the current drinking water standard (<10 μg/l). Seasonal variation was negligible, but the geographical difference was prominent. Total arsenic in groundwater ranged from 0.1 to 48.4 μg/l. A 88.0-89.0% of sites were <2.0 μg/l and the remaining ones generally did not exceed 10 μg/l (6.4-7.0%, 2.0-4.9 μg/l; 2.4-3.0%, 5.0-9.9 μg/l). However, some areas (1.0-9.2%) exhibited >10 μg/l. Notably, urinary arsenic excretion of people around these regions was markedly higher compared with non-contaminated areas (<5 μg/l) (79.7±5.2 μg/g (N=122) vs 68.4±5.4 μg/g (N=65) creatinine, P=0.052). All stratified analysis also revealed higher urinary excretion, where a statistically significant difference was noted for non-smokers (85.9±12.7 vs 54.0±6.3, P=0.030), suggesting that arsenic-contaminated groundwater may contribute to its systemic exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)458-463
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Nature America, Inc.


  • Arsenic
  • Groundwater
  • ICP-MS
  • Monitoring
  • Urinary arsenic excretion


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