Revista Española de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1135-5727
ARAGONES SANZ, Nuria et al. Arsenic levels in drinking water supplies from underground sources in the Autonomous Community of Madrid. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica [online]. 2001, vol.75, n.5, pp.421-432. ISSN 1135-5727. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1135-57272001000500003.
Background: In 1998, arsenic concentrations of more than 50mg/l were detected in some drinking water supplies from underground sources in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, which is the maximum permissible concentration for drinking water in Spain. These two facts have meant the getting under way of a specific plan for monitoring arsenic in the drinking water in the Autonomous Community of Madrid. Methods: The results of the first two sampling processes conducted in the arsenic level monitoring plan set out are presented. In the initial phase, water samples from 353 water supplies comprised within the census of the Public Health Administration of the Autonomous Community of Madrid were analyzed. A water supply risk classification was made based on these initial results. In a second phase, six months later, the analyses were repeated on those 35 water supplies which were considered to possibly pose a risk to public health. Results: Seventy-four percent (74%) of the water supplies studied in the initial phase were revealed to have an arsenic concentration of less than 10mg/l, 22.6% containing levels of 10mg/l-50mg/l, and 3.7% over 50mg/l. Most of the water supplies showing arsenic levels of more than 10mg/l are located in the same geographical area. In the second sampling process (six months later), the 35 water supplies classified as posing a risk were included. Twenty-six (26) of these supplies were revealed to have the same arsenic level ((10-50mg/l), and nine changed category, six of which had less than 10mg/l and three more than 50mg/l. Conclusions: In the Autonomous Community of Madrid, less than 2% of the population drinks water coming from supplies which are from underground sources. The regular water quality monitoring conducted by the Public Health Administration has led to detecting the presence of more than 50mg/l of arsenic in sixteen drinking water supplies from underground sources, which is the maximum permissible level under the laws currently in force in Spain. Measures have been taken to prevent water from being used from these water supplies. Around 20% of the water supplies studies must take measures in the near future to lower the arsenic concentration to below 10mg/l when the water directive which is currently in the process of being written into Spanish law enters into effect.
Keywords : Arsenic; Water Pollutans; Environmental monitoring.