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Exposure and risk estimates for Arizona drinking water
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As part of the National Human Exposure Assessment Survey, a multistage sampling was used to estimate and compare exposures and risks associated with drinking water for two groups - the population of Arizona and that of border communities. There had been some concern that the border communities' exposures would be higher than those of other parts of the state because of their proximity to Mexico, where environmental quality may not be as high a priority as it is in the United States. The two study populations were further categorized by gender, age, ethnicity, education, income, and building structure type and year of construction. For these subgroups, the study estimated and compared risks for arsenic, 1,3-butadiene, chloroform, chromium, 1,2-dichloroethane, dichloromethane, lead, nickel, and toluene. For almost all of the sample subjects, residue concentrations were below the drinking water guideline values of both Arizona and the US Environmental Protection Agency. Of the metals studied, arsenic was the only one with a population carcinogenic risk above the acceptable level of 1.0E-6. Contrary to expressed concerns, average daily exposures and associated risks were estimated to be smaller in the border communities than in the Arizona population. For utilities, one finding deserving further study was that risks from tap water were estimated to be greater than risks from nontap water. Further research may be warranted to uncover the causes for these elevated risks.