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Special Issue "Understanding and Responding to Aquifer Vulnerability and Associated Health Risks"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 January 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Timothy J. Downs
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610, USA
Interests: social and technical health-system innovation (community-centered); participatory local/regional sustainable development and capacity building; environmental & social justice; risk and vulnerability assessment; impacts of rapid urbanization; watershed stewardship; climate change resilience of cities and regions; Latin American Region and rapidly industrializing countries

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Half of the world’s population depends on groundwater for its drinking water.  Yet, aquifers and groundwater resources are particularly vulnerable to being compromised, in terms of both pollution that puts water quality and public health at risk and over-exploitation and loss of recharge capacity that threaten sustainability.  Why is this?  While answers are place- and population-specific, some common attributes are: Aquifers are ‘invisible’ water resources that are generally poorly understood, monitored and appreciated by society, compared to reservoirs and surface water bodies in ‘plain sight’; Regulations to protect groundwater quality and conserve aquifer viability are poorly developed and implemented; Exploited aquifer systems are complex socio-ecological systems that are hard to model and understand scientifically and technically, especially in terms of multiple risks and stressors, including rapid urbanization, contamination by both natural and anthropogenic risk agents, and climate change.

The precarity of groundwater warrants special attention from researchers, engineers and policy makers—as well as from communities, farmers and other businesses that depend on them for health, well-being, livelihood and economic sustainability. For towns, cities and regions, groundwater may constitute their ‘lifeblood’, directly and indirectly impacting them in powerful ways at multiple spatial and temporal scales that defy simple characterization and that call for integrated stewardship. Groundwater is a primary dynamic component of hydro-biogeochemical systems, affecting ecosystems and the species that inhabit them—including humans.

How do we better understand the vulnerability of aquifers and associated health risks? How do we better protect and conserve these most valuable, grossly under-appreciated natural resources and ecological assets? What kinds of knowledge, insights and practical experiences can we share?

Dr. Timothy J. Downs
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • aquifer
  • natural and anthropogenic contaminants
  • vulnerability
  • sustainability
  • health science
  • regulation

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Regional Aquifer Vulnerability and Pollution Sensitivity Analysis of Drastic Application to Dahomey Basin of Nigeria
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2609; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17072609 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 987
Shallow groundwater vulnerability mapping of the southwestern Nigeria sedimentary basin was assessed in this study with the aim of developing a regional-based vulnerability map for the area based on assessing the intrinsic ability of the aquifer overlying beds to filter and degrade migrating [...] Read more.
Shallow groundwater vulnerability mapping of the southwestern Nigeria sedimentary basin was assessed in this study with the aim of developing a regional-based vulnerability map for the area based on assessing the intrinsic ability of the aquifer overlying beds to filter and degrade migrating pollutant. The mapping includes using the established seven parameter-based DRASTIC vulnerability methodology. Furthermore, the developed vulnerability map was subjected to sensitivity analysis as a validation approach. This approach includes single-parameter sensitivity, map removal sensitivity, and DRASTIC parameter correlation analysis. Of the Dahomey Basin, 21% was classified as high-vulnerability and at risk of pollution, 61% as moderate vulnerability, and 18% as low vulnerability. Low vulnerability areas of the basin are characterised by thick vadose zones, low precipitation, compacted soils, high slopes, and high depth to groundwater. High-vulnerability areas which are prone to pollution are regions closer to the coast with flat slopes and frequent precipitation. Sensitivity of the vulnerability map show the greatest impact with the removal of topography, soil media, and depth to groundwater and least impact with the removal of the vadose zone. Due to the subjectivity of the DRASTIC method, the most important single parameter affecting the rating system of the Dahomey Basin DRASTIC map is the impact of the vadose zone, followed by the net recharge and hydraulic conductivity. The DRASTIC vulnerability map can be useful in planning and siting activities that generate pollutants (e.g., landfill, soak away, automobile workshops, and petrochemical industries) which pollute the environment, groundwater, and eventually impact the environmental health of the Dahomey Basin’s inhabitants. Full article
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