Groundwater and health

Boy drinking from a tap © thakur

Research into groundwater and health in the BGS is focused on a number of themes, such as the impact of urbanisation on groundwater quality in the developing world, and a range of water quality issues, such as heavy metal concentrations and pathogens.

We work on groundwater and health in the UK and internationally with a wide range of partners including government departments and international aid agencies.

Groundwater and health themes

  • the impact of agriculture
  • effects of industrial activity
  • the impacts of urbanisation in developing world

Specific health risks

Bottled water from the British Isles

We published a survey of the inorganic chemistry of bottled water from the British Isles.

WaterAid factsheets

BGS collaborated with WaterAid to characterise the inorganic quality of groundwater in the countries in which WaterAid works.

  • Groundwater quality factsheets by country: Information sheets aiming to identify inorganic constituents of risk to health that may be present in groundwater in Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, East Timor, Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Northern India, Pakistan, Southern India, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
  • Water quality factsheets by element: These element sheets aim to explain the nature of the health risk for each constituent, the origin and occurrence in groundwater, the means of testing and available methods of mitigation. Elements covered are arsenic, fluoride, iodine, manganese and nitrate.
  • Impact of agriculture, industry and urbanisation factsheets: The three sheets in this series (agriculture, industry and urbanisation) complement previous information sheets on specific groundwater quality parameters and for target WaterAid countries, and should be read in conjunction with these.


Contact Dr Pauline Smedley for further information.