Lead, Zinc, Copper, and Cadmium Content of Water from South Australian Rainwater Tanks

Emmanuel Chubaka, Harriet Whiley, John Edwards, Kirstin Ross

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46 Citations (Scopus)
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Rainwater is consumed for drinking water in many parts of Australia, either preferentially over municipal water or in regional or remote areas, because rainwater is the primary source of water. Previous rainwater studies in other areas in Australia have shown the levels of some metals to be above the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG). This study assessed the level of metals in rainwater harvested in the Adelaide region. Water samples were collected from 53 tanks from three different sampling corridors. A total of 365 water samples were analysed for lead, zinc, copper, and cadmium using atomic absorption spectrophotometry. In 47 out of the 53 tanks, lead was above the ADWG of 0.01 ppm in at least one sample (with 180/365 samples above 0.01 ppm). Zinc was above the ADWG (3.0 ppm) in 53/365 samples, copper was above the ADWG (2.0 ppm) in eight samples out of 365 samples, and cadmium was above the ADWG (0.002 ppm) in 19 samples out of 365 samples. These data are consistent with other studies of rainwater quality in Australia. Comparisons of levels of metals and volume of rainfall in the sampling and preceding month, roof material, and tank material, the presence of a first-flush device, sampling corridor, and sample pH showed that the roof material was related to higher levels of metals. There was a significant relationship between sampling corridors and the levels of lead and zinc. Nine of the tanks surveyed had filters installed. There was a small, but statistically significant, decrease in the levels of metals that passed through a filter prior to collection but, in those samples, filters did not remove metals to below guideline concentrations. An estimate of exposure, and a brief discussion of health risks as a result of exposure to metals, is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1551
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).


  • Cadmium
  • Copper
  • Lead
  • Metals
  • Potable water
  • Public health
  • Rainwater
  • Zinc


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