Environmental justice and drinking water quality: are there socioeconomic disparities in nitrate levels in U.S. drinking water?
Low-income and minority communities often face disproportionately high pollutant exposures. The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, has sparked concern about broader socioeconomic disparities in exposures to drinking water contaminants. Nitrate is commonly found in drinking water, especially in agricultural regions, and epidemiological evidence suggests an elevated risk of cancer and birth defects at levels below U.S. EPA's drinking water standard (10mg/L NO3-N). However, there have been no nationwide assessments of socioeconomic disparities in exposures to nitrate or other contaminants in U.S. drinking water. The goals of this study are to identify determinants of nitrate concentrations in U.S. community water systems (CWSs) and to evaluate disparities related to wealth or race/ethnicity (Introduction).