UPGro Science: Testing of shallow groundwater in urban areas confirmed widespread contamination and health risks, and some contaminants not previously detected or tested for. New sensor methods developed [S8]

In urban areas, groundwater quality measured in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia was found to be generally poor, particularly in shallow unconfined aquifers. Viral DNA work shows that viruses, some of which are pathogenic and carcinogenic for humans, are persistent in aquifers and present irrespective of geology, depth, population etc. Emerging contaminants, e.g. viruses, require further investigation to fully understand their impacts on the environment and human health.

Screening tools, e.g. the TLF (Typtophan-like Fluorescence) method and fuel-cell based biosensor developed by UPGro researchers, can be used to provide rapid field-based assessments of faecal contamination in groundwater.

References and further information
  1. Lapworth, et al. (2018) BGS-UKRI briefing note: tryptophan-like fluorescence (TLF) as a rapid in-situ screening tool for assessing faecal contamination risk in groundwater.
  2. Lapworth, D.J.; Stuart, M.E.; Pedley, S.; Nkhuwa, D.C.W.; Tijani, M.N.. 2017 A review of urban groundwater use and water quality challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa. 
  3. Foster S et al (2018).; Urban groundwater use in Tropical Africa – a key factor in enhancing water security?. Water Policy
  4. Price,, et al  (2018) A participatory methodology for future scenario analysis of sub-national water and sanitation access: case study of Kisumu, Kenya, Water International,
  5. Nowickia et al. (2019) Tryptophan-like fluorescence as a measure of microbial contamination risk in groundwater, Science of The Total Environment,
  6. Lutterodt, et al . (2018) Microbial Groundwater Quality Status of Hand-Dug Wells and Boreholes in the Dodowa Area of Ghana. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health
  7. Sorensen et al (2018), Real-time detection of faecally contaminated drinking water with tryptophan-like fluorescence: defining threshold values, Science of The Total Environment,
  8. Velasquez-Orta et al (2017) Microbial fuel cells for inexpensive continuous in-situ monitoring of groundwater quality. Water Research .
  9. Lapworth,et al (2017)“Urban groundwater quality in sub-Saharan Africa: current status and implications for water security and public health” Hydrogeol J
  10. Okotto, et al (2015) “Socio-economic aspects of domestic groundwater consumption, vending and use in Kisumu, Kenya”. Applied Geography,
  11. Okotto-Okotto, et al. (2015) A longitudinal study of long-term change in contamination hazards and shallow well quality in two neighbourhoods of Kisumu, Kenya. Int. J. of Env. Research and Public Health
  12. Sorensen et al (2015) “In-situ tryptophan-like fluorescence: A real-time indicator of faecal contamination in drinking water supplies” Water Research
  13. Sorensen et al (2015) “Emerging contaminants in urban groundwater sources in Africa” Water Research
  14. Twinomucunguzi et al (2020) Reducing Groundwater Contamination from On-Site Sanitation in Peri-Urban Sub-Saharan Africa: Reviewing Transition Management Attributes towards Implementation of Water Safety Plans, Sustainability
  15. Foppen et al (2020) Groundwater flow system analysis in the regolith of Dodowa on the Accra Plains, Ghana, Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies


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