Processes Controlling Groundwater Quality and Impacts on Human Health in the Main Ethiopian Rift




  • Duke Global Health Institute


  • Nicholas Institute of the Environment

Start Date:

End Date:

  • Completed

Processes Controlling Groundwater Quality and Impacts on Human Health in the Main Ethiopian Rift

The Main Ethiopian Rift is an example of a large population regularly exposed to naturally occurring contaminants, such as arsenic and fluoride in drinking water. Researchers are investigating the mechanisms in which these toxic elements are mobilized into groundwater and the relationships between aquifer geology, water quality, and health of the local population. Understanding these processes is crucial to evaluate the human health risks and ecosystem effects of inorganic contaminants and for the development of rational and cost effective remediation strategies for contaminated groundwater. This project is also helping to target safe groundwater drilling areas and identify aquifer layers that provide good quality groundwater, and will provide reliable information to policy makers for addressing the issues and improving water resources management.

Conducted fieldwork in the main Ethiopian Rift Valley with extensive water samples and human nails collection. Water samples were processed at labs at Duke and data is being evaluated. Based on data collection, a large scale National Institutes of Health proposal was submitted. Publication of several papers: Rango, T., Kravchenko, J., Atlaw, B., McCornick, P.G., Jeuland, M., Merola, M. Vengosh, A., (2012). Groundwater quality and its health impact: an assessment of dental fluorosis in rural inhabitants of the Main Ethiopian Rift. Environment International, 43, 37-47. Godebo, T.R., Vengosh, A. Dawyer, G., Bianchini, G. (2013) Mobilization of arsenic and other naturally occurring contaminants in groundwater of the Main Ethiopian Rift aquifers. Water Research, 47, 5801—5818. Merola, R.B., Kravchenko, J., Rango, T., Vengosh, A. (2013) Arsenic exposure of rural populations from the Rift Valley of Ethiopia as monitored by keratin in toenails. Journal Of Exposure Science And Environmental Epidemiology (in press; doi: 10.1038/jes.2013.77).

Water quality and remediation practice in the Rift Valley of Ethiopia