This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Spatial-Temporal Analysis of Heavy Metal Water Pollution and the Impact on Public Health in China




Li, Huixuan

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Geology and Geography


Water is the source of life. China’s water pollution has become a burning research field because of the severely polluted conditions. 60 percent of the country's rivers were not potable according to the State Environmental Protection Administration of China. This study will advance the knowledge of heavy metal water pollution in China from a spatial-temporal perspective. Specifically, this study addressed the following: (1) spatial patterns of heavy metal water pollution levels were analyzed using data collected within prefecture-level cities from 2004 to 2011 using GIS techniques. (2) Spatial statistical methods were used to examine the underlying socioeconomic and physical factors behind water pollution including human activities (transportation, urbanization, industrialization, globalization, agriculture, mining), and environmental characteristic (hydrology and vegetation coverage). (3) Impacts of heavy metal water pollution on public health were analyzed using kernel estimation and multiple regression analysis. The results show that highest pollution levels are most concentrated in central and east areas of China. Transportation, urbanization, economic development, agriculture, mining activities, as well as greenery coverage are all significantly related to heavy metal water pollution. As expected, the analytical results of seven cancer diseases were consistent with the distribution of heavy metals. Five clusters of cancer incidences were detected in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang, and Wuhan. In addition, the analytical findings will provide valuable information for policy-makers to initiate and adjust protocols and strategies for protecting water sources and controlling water pollution; thus improving the quality of living environments.