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Distribution, genesis, and pollution risk of ammonium nitrogen in groundwater in an arid loess plain, northwestern China

Zuo, Rui, Chen, Xiaojuan, Li, Xianbo, Shan, Dan, Yang, Jie, Wang, Jinsheng, Teng, Yanguo
Environmental earth sciences 2017 v.76 no.17 pp. 629
Monte Carlo method, ammonium nitrogen, aquifers, groundwater, humans, industrial wastes, livestock, loess, models, pH, pollutants, public water supply, redox potential, risk, risk assessment, uncertainty, China, Yellow River
Nitrogenous pollutants from intense human activities have become serious environmental and health problems worldwide, particularly in groundwater source areas used for public water supply. To investigate the genesis and pollution risks associated with elevated concentrations of ammonium nitrogen in a groundwater source area, investigations were undertaken in the Jinji groundwater source area, located in an arid loess plain in northwestern China where 16 groundwater samples were collected from an aquifer used for water supply. The investigation indicated that high concentrations of ammonium nitrogen originated mainly from: infiltration of water from the Yellow River; livestock; and the discharge of industrial wastes. Measured parameters including pH, the permanganate index and the oxidation reduction potential could be used as important indicators of the genesis of ammonium nitrogen. A modified DRTCLN model was applied to the observed distribution of ammonium nitrogen to assess pollution risk of regional groundwater. The model was optimized by rebuilding the index system, and the analytic hierarchy process was used to calculate the rating scale of each index. A Monte Carlo simulation was performed to analyze the uncertainty of results of the risk assessment. The result showed that the risk value is relatively low in most areas of the groundwater source area. Only an industrial area in the southwestern part of the groundwater source area was classified as high risk; it should be the key factor of pollution control.