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Nitrate Exposure to Mexican American Women of Childbearing Age From Bottled Water and Maquinas de Aqua

Sharkey, Joseph1,2,3; Brender, Jean1; Horel, Scott1

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000392171.87006.eb
Abstracts: ISEE 22nd Annual Conference, Seoul, Korea, 28 August–1 September 2010: Environmental Health Effects on Susceptible Populations

1School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX; 2Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, College Station, TX; and 3Comidas Saludables y Gente Sana en el Sur de Tejas, College Station, TX.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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Interview data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study identified 42% of Texas participants drinking bottled water exclusively at the beginning of pregnancy. Little information is available on the nitrate content of bottled water. Substantial numbers of low-income Mexican American women along the Texas/Mexico border reside in marginalized areas called colonias. Common concerns related to these areas are persistent poverty, lack of infrastructure, neighborhood deprivation, and uncertain water sources. In addition to bottled water purchased in grocery stores, the border population also buys water from maquinas de aqua (water machine or water kiosks), which may be subject to little or no regulation of water quality. The objective of this study was to collect samples of bottled water and water from maquinas de aqua in order to determine nitrate level.

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Using 3- to 5-mile buffers around addresses, neighborhoods along the 800-mile Texas-Mexico from Brownsville to El Paso, where the National Birth Defects Prevention Study participants resided, were identified. Trained promotora and researcher surveyed all traditional, convenience, and nontraditional food stores for bottled water; maquinas de aqua were identified; and 100 samples of bottled and water mill water were collected. Water samples were transported to the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) for testing. UHL will utilize EPA Method 300.0, Inorganic Anions by Ion Chromatography, Rev 2.1 in Methods for the Determination of Inorganic Substances in Environmental Samples (EPA/600/R-93/100).

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A total of 195 food stores (supercenters, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, and dollar stores) and 113 maquinas de aqua were identified. Samples were collected from more than 75 locations. Nitrate levels varied by geographic locale and type of water.

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Considering the growth of water machines and greater reliance by marginalized communities on water from other than tap, it is no longer appropriate to use nitrate content of tap water as singular proxy for nitrate exposure from water.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.