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Water 2018, 10(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10010023

Integrated Assessment of Shallow-Aquifer Vulnerability to Multiple Contaminants and Drinking-Water Exposure Pathways in Holliston, Massachusetts

1
Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02118, USA
2
Department of International Development, Community, and Environment, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610, USA
3
Holliston Community Members, Holliston, MA 01746, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 November 2017 / Revised: 21 December 2017 / Accepted: 22 December 2017 / Published: 29 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heavy Metals and Potentially Toxic Elements (PTEs) in Water)
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Abstract

Half of U.S. drinking water comes from aquifers, and very shallow ones (<20 feet to water table) are especially vulnerable to anthropogenic contamination. We present the case of Holliston, a Boston, Massachusetts suburb that draws its drinking water from very shallow aquifers, and where metals and solvents have been reported in groundwater. Community concerns focus on water discolored by naturally occurring manganese (Mn), despite reports stating regulatory aesthetic compliance. Epidemiologic studies suggest Mn is a potentially toxic element (PTE) for children exposed by the drinking-water pathway at levels near the regulatory aesthetic level. We designed an integrated, community-based project: five sites were profiled for contaminant releases; service areas for wells were modeled; and the capture zone for one vulnerable well was estimated. Manganese, mercury, and trichloroethylene are among 20 contaminants of interest. Findings show that past and/or current exposures to multiple contaminants in drinking water are plausible, satisfying the criteria for complete exposure pathways. This case questions the adequacy of aquifer protection and monitoring regulations, and highlights the need for integrated assessment of multiple contaminants, associated exposures and health risks. It posits that community-researcher partnerships are essential for understanding and solving complex problems. View Full-Text
Keywords: drinking water; shallow aquifers; exposure pathways; manganese (Mn); community based participatory research (CBPR) drinking water; shallow aquifers; exposure pathways; manganese (Mn); community based participatory research (CBPR)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Claus Henn, B.; Ogneva-Himmelberger, Y.; Denehy, A.; Randall, M.; Cordon, N.; Basu, B.; Caccavale, B.; Covino, S.; Hanumantha, R.; Longo, K.; Maiorano, A.; Pillsbury, S.; Rigutto, G.; Shields, K.; Sarkis, M.; Downs, T.J. Integrated Assessment of Shallow-Aquifer Vulnerability to Multiple Contaminants and Drinking-Water Exposure Pathways in Holliston, Massachusetts. Water 2018, 10, 23.

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