Chronic arsenic (As) exposure continues to be a public health problem of major concern worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people. A long-term groundwater quality survey has revealed that 20% of the groundwater in southern Taiwan’s Pingtung Plain is clearly contaminated with a measured As concentration in excess of the maximum level of 10 µg/L recommended by the World Health Organization. The situation is further complicated by the fact that more than half of the inhabitants in this area continue to use groundwater for drinking. Efforts to assess the health risk associated with the ingestion of As from the contaminated drinking water are required in order to determine the priorities for health risk management. The conventional approach to conducting a human health risk assessment may be insufficient for this purpose, so this study adopts a geostatistical Kriging method to perform a spatial analysis of the health risk associated with ingesting As through drinking groundwater in the Pingtung Plain. The health risk is assessed based on the hazard quotient (HQ) and target cancer risk (TR) established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The results show that most areas where the HQ exceeds 1 are in the southwestern part of the study area. In addition, the high-population density townships of Daliao, Linyuan, Donggang, Linbian, Jiadong, and Fangliao presently have exceedingly high TR values that are two orders of magnitude higher than the acceptable standard. Thus, the use of groundwater for drinking in these townships should be strictly avoided. A map that delineates areas with high TR values and high population densities is provided. The findings broaden the scope of the spatial analysis of human health risk and provide a basis for improving the decision-making process.
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