Our Work

Arsenic and Salinity Distribution in Groundwater from the Mekong Delta: Implications for sustainability of water utilization in southern Vietnam

Project Overview

On March 2012 we conducted the first fieldwork that included water and human nails sampling in the Mekong Delta. We are in the process of data evaluation. Preliminary data show high levels of arsenic (up to 1000 ppb) and salinity in shallow groundwater that pose health risks for human consumption. We are using geochemical and isotopic tracers to delineate the contaminants sources and the sustainability of groundwater in the Mekong Delta.

The project will provide an in-depth analysis of the sources of water contamination in groundwater from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Future developments in generating hydropower and dam constructions in the upper sections of the Mekong River basin are expected to reduce the downstream flows of the Mekong River. The ability of groundwater to sustain the expected water deficit is one of the major challenges of Vietnam and other countries in the region.

The outcome of the project will have important implication for future negotiations on the distribution of the Mekong River and the minimum water flows that should be maintained in the river.


Department & School

Earth and Ocean Sciences
Nicholas School of the Environment


  • Duke Global Health Institute

Project Collaborators

  • University of Science, Vietnam National University

Project Status


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