Share this article on:

Evaluation of Available Data Sources to Prioritize Parishes for Arsenic Monitoring and Outreach Related to Private Well Drinking Water

Katner, Adrienne DEnv, MS; Lackovic, Michelle MPH; Streva, Kate MS; Paul, Vanessa MPH; Trachtman, William “Clay MS”

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: March/April 2015 - Volume 21 - Issue - p S93–S101
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000177
Science and Data

Objective: The objective of this assessment was to identify and evaluate data sets for use in the surveillance of arsenic hazards and private well drinking water use in Louisiana.

Design: Features, strengths, and limitations of the data sets are described, and prioritization criteria are applied to identify areas in need of further monitoring or outreach.

Setting: Recent efforts have been made by the Environmental Public Health Tracking Network to evaluate the quality of private well water data for the purpose of supporting state and national surveillance activities. Like most states, Louisiana does not collect or mandate reporting of private well water quality data. Therefore, responding to public concerns about private well water quality requires an identification and evaluation of existing data.

Main Outcome Measures: Data evaluated include measures of arsenic in groundwater and soil, private well water use, and biomonitoring results.

Results: The Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Information System and the US Geological Survey's Water Use data set were the most informative, nationally available data sets for conducting private well water arsenic surveillance. Three priority parishes were identified on the basis of a selection criteria, although all parishes require more private well sampling data.

Conclusion: While the data reviewed enabled preliminary identification of parishes in need of monitoring and outreach, data limitations (particularly, a lack of statewide well water quality data) prevent a comprehensive evaluation of well water arsenic hazards and private well water use. A large number of unregistered wells further impede risk determination. Reliance on existing data sources is necessary, but development of metadata documentation is essential to prevent data misinterpretation. Increased outreach and policies to promote or mandate private well testing and reporting are needed to enable a comprehensive private well water tracking system.

This study provides evaluation of available data sources to prioritize parishes for arsenic monitoring and outreach related to private well drinking water use in Louisiana.

Environmental and Occupational Health Program, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans (Dr Katner); Occupational Health and Injury Surveillance Program (Ms Lackovic) and Unregulated Drinking Water Initiative (Mr Trachtman), Office of Public Health, Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, New Orleans and Baton Rouge; and Environmental Public Health Tracking, Office of Public Health, Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology, Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Baton Rouge and New Orleans (Mss Streva and Paul).

Correspondence: Adrienne Katner, MS, DEnv, Environmental and Occupational Health Program, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 2020 Gravier St, 3rd Floor, New Orleans, LA 70112 (akatn1@lsuhsc.edu).

This work was partially funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grants 5U38EH000621-03, 2U38 EH000621-06, and 1U53EH001107-01 and the CDC-National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant 5U60OH00-8470. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC or Department of Health and Human Services.

The authors acknowledge the following individuals for their collaboration and assistance: Dianne Dugas, Kathleen Aubin, and Shannon Soileau of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH), Section of Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology; Dr Raoult Ratard, state epidemiologist, LDHH; Dr Luann White, professor and director of the Tulane Center for Applied Environmental Public Health; and John French, Kate Gilmore, and Johan Forsman of the LDHH Safe Drinking Water Program.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (http://www.JPHMP.com).

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.