Shallow Groundwater Poses Pollution Problem for Africa

Regions along the Gulf of Guinea are at highest risk of groundwater pollution on the continent, according to a map drawn by researchers at the Université Catholique de Louvain's Earth and Life Institute in Belgium. Much of Central Africa and some coastal lands in northwest Africa are also vulnerable, the map shows.

Adding soil data, including information about the underlying rock, may help to show the possible effects of fractured crystalline rock on water pollution, according to MacDonald and Karen Villholth, a groundwater researcher at the International Water Management Institute, based in South Africa.

Cracks in these rocks, which underlie about a third of African land, allow a greater amount of water to sink into underground reserves. This means that some areas in East and West Africa may be even more vulnerable to groundwater pollution than the map suggests, Villholth says.

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