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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


GONZALEZ ALONSO, Silvia et al. Water pollution in sources close to oil-producing fields of Bolivia. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2010, vol.28, n.4, pp.235-243. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the concentrations of petrochemical compounds in the drinking water sources of communities located near oil-producing fields in the Bolivian Chaco region. METHODS: Data were collected on total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX), and 22 metals in samples from 42 sources of water for human consumption located less than 30 km from an oil-producing field. Distribution of the concentration and adherence to the standards contained in the Bolivian, European, and United States regulations, as well as the recommendations of the World Health Organization, were analyzed. RESULTS: In 76.19% of the samples, some petrochemical contaminant was found in concentrations higher than permissible in any of the four sets of regulations mentioned. The water samples with the highest contamination levels were from faucets and rivers. The most common contaminants were TPH, PAH, aluminum, arsenic, manganese, and iron. CONCLUSIONS: Communities within a 30 km radius of the oil-producing fields in the Bolivian Chaco region consume water with TPH, PAH, and metal concentrations well above the levels permitted in the Bolivian regulations and international standards, putting the public health of their residents at serious risk.

Keywords : Water pollution; water pollutants; public standposts; potable water; chemical contamination; river pollution; hydrocarbons; petroleum; environmental health; Bolivia.

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