Safe drinking water remains out of reach for many Californians

An estimated 370,000 Californians rely on drinking water that may contain high levels of arsenic, nitrate or hexavalent chromium, and contaminated drinking water disproportionately impact communities of color in the state, finds a new analysis led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Because this study is limited to three common contaminants, results likely underestimate the actual number of Californians impacted by unsafe drinking water from other compounds for which data are not as widely available, the researchers say.

Since 2012, access to safe, clean and affordable drinking water has been recognized as a human right in the state of California. Community water systems are required by federal regulations to undergo regular testing for contaminants that are harmful to human health. However, many California community water systems do not meet regulatory standards. In addition, many largely rural households receive their tap water from private domestic wells that remain largely unregulated.

This study, published in the current edition of the American Journal of Public Health, is the first to quantify the average concentrations of multiple chemical contaminants in both community water systems and domestic well areas statewide and is the first […]

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