Arsenic in private drinking water supplies: population exposure assessment validated by biomonitoring.

Rebecca Close, Dan Middleton, David Polya, Ovnair Sepai, Karen Exley, Helen Crabbe, Michael Watts, Pauline Smedley, Louise Ander, Mike Studden, Giovanni Leonardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Safety of private drinking water supplies (PWS) is of concern globally. In the UK approximately 1 million people have a PWS. The South West of England has a particular natural and anthropogenic burden of inorganic arsenic (iAs) related to historical activities such as mining. iAs exposure via ingestion has a recognised risk of several cancers and other chronic diseases. Aim To estimate population exposure to iAs from PWS in South West England.

Methods: To survey a sample of residents with PWS and develop an exposure model comprising: 1. Analyses of iAs concentration in their current drinking water sources ; 2. Information on water intake at current and past residences, and identify other iAs exposure routes by individual face-to-face questionnaires; 3. Analyses of urine, hair and nails. Results In 2011 we sampled 250 households with PWS in Cornwall and analysed for 65 inorganic analytes, which found 6% of tap water samples had an iAs concentration >10 ?g/L. A survey of an additional 250 households will be conducted in March 2013. Questionnaire information on all sources of exposure to iAs will be used to develop a population exposure model. All residents with a drinking water iAs concentration above 5 ?g/L will be targeted for collection of urine, hair and nails, as well as a random sample of all other residents. Household level information on iAs concentration in PWS will be linked to individual level information from biological samples and exposure questionnaire. Hence, population exposure to iAs as well as overall body burden will be estimated.

Conclusions: An initial iAs exposure estimate was produced demonstrating likely exposure of a proportion of population. Next, results from biological samples and an exposure questionnaire will be used to produce a validated population exposure estimate. This information will help planning and implementation of prevention strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4626
Number of pages1
JournalISEE Conference Abstracts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


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