More than 5.6 million Americans are potentially exposed to nitrate in drinking water at levels that could cause health problems, according to a new study.
More than 5.6 million Americans are potentially exposed to nitrate in drinking water at levels that could cause health problems, according to a new study. In this first analysis of its kind, researchers found that water systems with higher nitrate levels also tend to serve communities with higher proportions of Hispanic residents. The findings add to growing concern about the quality of drinking water in the United States and the disproportionate impact of contamination on vulnerable populations.
“Since the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, there’s been a real push to document other types of disparities in drinking water quality in the U.S. and understand the factors that drive them,” says Dr. Laurel Schaider, the study’s lead author and an environmental chemist at Silent Spring Institute. “Because at the end of the day, everyone should have access to clean and safe drinking water regardless of your race or where you live.”
Nitrate is a drinking water contaminant that can originate from multiple sources including fertilizers, sewage treatment systems, and animal manure. Using information obtained from state agencies and online databases, Schaider and her colleagues at Silent Spring Institute and Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiled nitrate data for 39,466 public water systems serving more than 70 percent of the U.S. population. For each water system, the team noted the number of people served by the system and the source of drinking water, whether from groundwater or surface water.
Read more at Silent Spring Institute
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