Geoinformatics & Geostatistics: An OverviewISSN: 2327-4581

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Short Communication, Geoinfor Geostat An Overview Vol: 4 Issue: 1

Vanadium in Drinking Water Supply of Volcano Mt. Etna (Sicily - Italy)

Copat C1, Fiore M1, Giovanni A1, Castorina G2, Di Martino A2, Grasso A1, Fallico R1, Sciacca S1 and

Ferrante M1*

1Laboratory of Environmental Health and Food (LIAA), Department “GF Ingrassia” Hygiene and Public Health, University of Catania, Via Santa Sofia 87, 95123 Catania, Italy
2School of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, Department “GF Ingrassia” Hygiene and Public Health, University of Catania
Corresponding author : Margherita Ferrante
Laboratory of Environmental Health and Food (LIAA). Department “GF Ingrassia” Hygiene and Public Health, University of Catania, Via Santa Sofia 87, 95123 Catania, Italy
Tel: +39 095 378 2095; Fax: +39 095 3782178
E- mail:
Received: January 05, 2016 Accepted: March 01, 2016 Published: March 08, 2016
Citation: Chiara C, Maria F, Giovanni A, Gabriele C, Angela D (2016) Vanadium in Drinking Water Supply of Volcano Mt. Etna (Sicily - Italy). Geoinfor Geostat: An Overview 4:1. doi:10.4172/2327-4581.1000138


Vanadium in Drinking Water Supply of Volcano Mt. Etna (Sicily - Italy)

The Italian Legislative Decree no. 31 of 2001, which implements the Directive 98/83/EC, defines standard for the “quality of water intended for human consumption”. It is applicable to all water intended for drinking, food preparation and beverages, both in domestic and in food industry. The parameters and maximum values are typically based on guidelines set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and on the opinion of the scientific committee of the European Commission. In Italy, more restrictive values and additional parameters are set by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) (Italian Health Ministry’s research body).

Keywords: Vanadium; European commission; Geographical location; Volcanic soil


Vanadium; European commission; Geographical location; Volcanic soil


The introduction of Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption, has posed problems of noncompliance for some of the most common contaminants in natural Italian groundwater, such as vanadium (V). The Ministerial Decree (DM) of December 22, 2011 considering the current scientific knowledge and the findings of studies carried out by ISS has set the parameter value of 140 mg/L as the limit of the total presence of vanadium in water intended for human consumption without adverse effects for human health [1-5]. Vanadium is a ubiquitous metal found naturally in all environmental matrices: air, soil, plants, and water. Its concentration measured in these is largely influenced by the geographical location: i.e. ambient air from urban locations is characterized by greater atmospheric levels of vanadium than rural sites and it is, furthermore, dependent on time of season [6]. Groundwater from volcanic areas is characterized by high concentrations of V, from 0.05 to 2.47 mg/L [3,7-11]. The main source of these items has identified in the interaction between rainwater and rocks belonging to the hydrogeological system of the volcanoes. Here, the water aquifers, interacting with the volcanic soil characterized by high CO2 pressure in gaseous form, are particularly acidic and this facilitates the leaching of elements and compounds from the volcanic rock [12-14].
Several studies have demonstrated the natural origin of vanadium in the Mt Etna groundwater supplies, especially in the lower areas of the south and southwest slopes [15]. Here the major aquifer provides drinking water to more than 750,000 people and irrigation water for extensive farmed areas, and the local population could be therefore at risk of excessive V exposure. Since 1990, monitoring data in the area of Mt. Etna revealed that concentration of vanadium is rather variable: from values below the limit of quantification to values of 135 μg/L in Ciapparazzo source (south-west side). The average concentrations calculated pointed out the existence of significant differences between Mt. Etna’ slopes, with higher values at south-south/west faces, with concentrations respectively of 31.3 μg/L and 25.7 μg/L, and values below the method detection limit in the northern side [16].
Arena [15] identified the levels of total vanadium (V) and pentavalent (V5+) in the groundwater supplies of Mt. Etna and estimated the daily intake of vanadium (EDI) for adults and children through the water intended for human consumption. They show that the total vanadium means from all sources analyzed range from 15.6 to 182 μg/L, while levels of pentavalent vanadium ranges from 62.8% to 98.9% of the total vanadium, with significantly higher concentration in the western slope. This amount of V associated with drinking water and consequently the EDI of V5+ was significantly higher than the literature, ranging from 0.09 to 0.34 μg/kg/day in adults [6].
At some municipalities, where water is delivered from the Ciapparazzo source (Camporotondo, Mascalucia, Ragalna and San Pietro Clarenza) the annual average concentration of total vanadium exceeds the law limit set by DM 22 December 2011, and in the same sites the daily intake estimated in children for pentavalent vanadium exceeds the reference does (RfDo) calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which suggested a maximum oral intake of 9×10-3 mg/kg/day body weight (bw) based on the observation of decreased hair cysteine levels in rat studies [17].
Actually, the effects of high-level human exposure of V5+ and total V are poorly known in human [18-21]. Accordingly, national or international bodies or institutions such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the World Health Organization (WHO) have actually not set thresholds values.
In animal models, health effects of low doses of total vanadium on carbohydrate metabolism, including glucose transport, glycolysis, and glucose oxidation and glucose synthesis were studied by Siddiqui [22]. Researchers have found that vanadium causes facilitation in glucose uptake, facilitates the metabolism of lipids and amino acids, increases thyroid function, and insulin sensitivity of the cells. The work of Leopardi (2005), reports that the shape of the pentavalent vanadium is the most stable and toxic. In vitro pentavalent vanadium has shown to have, at low doses, a genotoxic effect caused by DNA damage and abnormal chromosome segregation, which in vivo has only high-dose exposure.
Fallico [23] studied the correlation between drinking exposure to total vanadium and chronic systemic effects in resident population of Mt. Etna. They found higher levels of vanadium in biological fluids of residents in the areas with higher content of vanadium in environmental, but have excluding adverse effects associated with such exposure on cardiac arrhythmias, kidney stones and diabetes.
Even if correlation between some chronic systemic effects and oral exposure to vanadium have been yet excluded, further studied are needed for all other systemic effects and genotoxic effects highlighted in animal models. Due to the high concentration of vanadium registered in this last 20 years in the area of Mt. Etna, and high chronic exposure of local population, it represents a useful base for case-control studies.


On behalf of anti-carcinogenic and anticancer effects of vanadium in various forms demonstrated using in vitro and in vivo experiments by some Authors [24-27] we have analyzed data of cancer registry of Catania-Messina-Siracusa-Enna [28] for the studied area. Tumor incidence data show that in the last decade in the area supplied with water at high vanadium content the incidence of cancer is lower than in the area supplied with water at low or absent vanadium content and lower than the metropolitan area of Catania and the Italian pool for years of reference too.


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