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Science News | Poor Water Quality Has Negative Impact on Socially Vulnerable Communities: Study

Washington DC [US], September 9 (ANI): A recent analysis of the links between poor drinking water quality and social vulnerability in the United States, published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters, reveals that these violations disproportionately damage the most vulnerable people.

Around 70% of the affected population was classified as having the highest socioeconomic vulnerability, and other social characteristics other than wealth were linked to various drinking water quality violations.

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The study was led by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, who used updated definitions of socioeconomic vulnerability and disadvantaged neighbourhoods, as well as new water quality data that represent actual water distribution rather than administrative boundaries.

When compared to projections produced by the federal government’s current environmental justice assessment tools, the improved model identifies more than three times as many affected individuals.

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While the majority of Americans have access to safe drinking water, one in every ten of them was exposed to a health-related water quality violation between 2018 and 2020. The provision of high-quality water in the United States is becoming increasingly difficult due to an old and underfunded drinking water infrastructure.

Disinfectants and water treatment byproducts are the main contributors to health-based violations in community water systems, followed by naturally occurring contaminants (such as arsenic and radionuclides) and contaminants that are the result of human activity, like nitrates.

Previous research has been constrained in determining which communities and groups are most impacted by water violations due to data sets that are based on state and administrative boundaries that conceal the fact that water distribution occurs across international borders and by federal environmental justice assessment tools that have primarily focused on household income as an indicator of social vulnerability while potentially omitting important, data-available aspects of vulnerability.

Instead, data from community water systems across the nation were examined in this study in connection to the USVI, a better indicator of social vulnerability created using a tool from the Centres for Disease Control and informed by more recent research and data analytics.

According to proposed federal funds, each state must give disadvantaged communities (DACs) more than 49 per cent of the funding for drinking water infrastructure. However, as states have a lot of latitude in defining DACs, there are significant differences in definitions across the US. As mSVI catches three times more of the impacted population than household income alone, this study implies that a larger definition of DACs, beyond household income, should be taken into consideration.

Bridget Scanlon, Senior Research Scientist for The Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas, said, “Our detailed analysis of the linkages of drinking water quality violations to social vulnerability can help inform guidance for effectively distributing infrastructure funding and designing interventions to ensure more equitable drinking water quality nationally.” (ANI)

(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from Syndicated News feed, LatestLY Staff may not have modified or edited the content body)

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