Nationwide geospatial analysis of county racial and ethnic composition and public drinking water arsenic and uranium

Irene Martinez-Morata, Benjamin C. Bostick, Otakuye Conroy-Ben, Dustin T. Duncan, Miranda R. Jones, Maya Spaur, Kevin P. Patterson, Seth J. Prins, Ana Navas-Acien, Anne E. Nigra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There is no safe level of exposure to inorganic arsenic or uranium, yet recent studies identified sociodemographic and regional inequalities in concentrations of these frequently detected contaminants in public water systems across the US. We analyze the county-level association between racial/ethnic composition and public water arsenic and uranium concentrations from 2000–2011 using geospatial models. We find that higher proportions of Hispanic/Latino and American Indian/Alaskan Native residents are associated with significantly higher arsenic and uranium concentrations. These associations differ in magnitude and direction across regions; higher proportions of non-Hispanic Black residents are associated with higher arsenic and uranium in regions where concentrations of these contaminants are high. The findings from this nationwide geospatial analysis identifying racial/ethnic inequalities in arsenic and uranium concentrations in public drinking water across the US can advance environmental justice initiatives by informing regulatory action and financial and technical support to protect communities of color.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7461
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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