Assessing groundwater quality and its association with child undernutrition in India

Biswas, S., Chattopadhyay, A., Shaw, S., & Hoffmann, R. (2024). Assessing groundwater quality and its association with child undernutrition in India. Science of the Total Environment e173732. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2024.173732. (In Press)

[thumbnail of 1-s2.0-S0048969724038798-main.pdf] Text
1-s2.0-S0048969724038798-main.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 10 June 2026.
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (6MB)


Background and objectives: Groundwater contamination poses a significant health challenge in India, particularly impacting children. Despite its importance, limited research has explored the nexus between groundwater quality and child nutrition outcomes. This study addresses this gap, examining the association between groundwater quality and child undernutrition, offering pertinent insights for policymakers.

Data and methods: The study uses data from the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and the Central Groundwater Board (CGWB) to analyze the association between groundwater quality and child nutritional status. The groundwater quality data were collected by nationwide monitoring stations programmed by CGWB, and the child undernutrition data were obtained from the NFHS-5, 2019-21. The analysis included descriptive and logistic regression model. The study also considers various demographic and socio-economic factors as potential moderators of the relationship between groundwater quality and child undernutrition.

Findings: Significant variation in groundwater quality was observed across India, with numerous regions displaying poor performance. Approximately 26.53 % of geographical areas were deemed unfit for consuming groundwater. Environmental factors such as high temperatures, low precipitation, and arid, alluvial, laterite-type soils are linked to poorer groundwater quality. Unfit-for-consumption groundwater quality increased the odds of undernutrition, revealing a 35 %, 38 %, and 11 % higher likelihood of stunting, underweight, and wasting in children, with higher pH, Mg, SO4, NO3-, TDS, and As levels associated with increased odds of stunting, underweight, and wasting. Higher temperatures (>25 °C), lower elevations (<300 m), and proximity to cultivated or industrial areas all contribute to heightened risks of child undernutrition. Children consuming groundwater, lacking access to improved toilets, or living in rural areas are more likely to be undernourished, while females, higher-income households, and those consuming dairy, vegetables, and fruits daily exhibit lower odds of undernutrition.

Policy implications: Policy implications highlight the urgent need for investment in piped water supply systems. Additionally, focused efforts are required to monitor and improve groundwater quality in regions with poor water quality. Policies should emphasize safe sanitation practices and enhance public awareness about the critical role of safe drinking water in improving child health.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Child health; Environmental health; Groundwater quality; Stunting; Underweight; Wasting
Research Programs: Population and Just Societies (POPJUS)
Population and Just Societies (POPJUS) > Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing (SHAW)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2024 12:16
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2024 12:16

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item