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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Southeast Watershed Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #175254

Title: Lead and cadmium in Nile River water and finished drinking water in Greater Cairo, Egypt

item Potter, Thomas

Submitted to: Environment International
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/30/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Mohamed, M.A., Potter, T.L., Osman, M.A., Levin, R. 1998. Lead and cadmium in Nile River water and finished drinking water in Greater Cairo, Egypt. Environment International. 24:767-772.

Interpretive Summary: The Nile River is the principal source of drinking water for the 13 million inhabitants of Greater Cairo. During its transit through Egypt, the river receives large volumes of nonpoint and point source wastewater discharges. This presents a threat to the quality of the river water. In turn, it threatens Egypt's public and environmental health. Several studies conducted in the late 1980's and early 1990's showed that the situation was serious. One reported that the concentration of two highly toxic metals, lead and cadmium, in the river water was 14 to 24 times greater than internationally recognized drinking water stnadards. This prompted a concerted national effort to reduce pollutant loads to the river. Our studies indicated that they have been effective. River and drinking water samples were collected in Greater Cairo in 1994 and tested for toxic metals. The levels detected were far less than had been previously reported. The study also showed the water treatment plants reduced the levels of these toxic metals. In all samples tested, the water met or exceeded USEPA standards.

Technical Abstract: Lead and cadmium were measured in raw Nile River water and in finished drinking water at four treatment plants in Greater Cairo, Egypt. Samples were collected monthly during the period September 1993 to October 1994. The river water mean concentrations were 29.6 +-8.74 ug/L for lead and 4.15+- 0.88 ug/L for cadmium. These levels were 14 to 24 times less than levels reported in a study published in 1995. In the drinking water, the means were below internationally recognized drinking water standards. Comparison of the raw and finished drinking water data showed that the water treatment facilities reduced concentrations of lead by 33% and cadmium by 53%.