Fluoride and nitrate enrichment in coastal aquifers of the Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia: The influencing factors, toxicity, and human health risks

S. I. Abba, Johnbosco C. Egbueri, Mohammed Benaafi*, Jamilu Usman, A. G. Usman, Isam H. Aljundi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Fluoride and nitrate contamination of groundwater is a major environmental issue in the world's arid and semiarid regions. This issue is severe in both developed and developing countries. This study aimed at assessing the concentration levels, contamination mechanisms, toxicity, and human health risks of NO3 and F in the groundwater within the coastal aquifers of the eastern part of Saudi Arabia using a standard integrated approach. Most of the tested physicochemical properties of the groundwater exceeded their standard limits. The water quality index and synthetic pollution index evaluated the suitability of the groundwater and showed that all the samples have poor and unsuitable quality for drinking. The toxicity of F was estimated to be higher than NO3. Also, the health risk assessment revealed higher risks due to F than NO3. Younger populations had higher risks than elderly populations. For both F and NO3, the order of health risk was Infants > Children > Adults. Most of the samples posed medium to high chronic risks due to F and NO3 ingestion. However, negligible health risks were obtained for potential dermal absorption of NO3. Na–Cl and Ca–Mg–Cl water types predominate in the area. Pearson's correlation analysis, principal component analysis, regression models, and graphical plots were used to determine the possible sources of the water contaminants and their enrichment mechanisms. Geogenic and geochemical processes had greater impact he groundwater chemistry than anthropogenic activities. For the first time, these findings provide public knowledge on the overall water quality of the coastal aquifers and could help the inhabitants, water management authorities, and researchers to identify the groundwater sources that are most desirable for consumption and the human populations that are vulnerable to non-carcinogenic health risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139083
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Fluoride health risk
  • Groundwater quality assessment
  • Nitrate health risk
  • Non-carcinogenic health risk
  • Statistical analysis
  • Water quality index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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