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Human Body Organ Systems Contaminants Framework

This project aims to assess how regulated drinking water contaminants within community water systems (CWSs) in the US impact different Human Body Organ Systems (HBOS). This research has three primary potential contributions to health research associated with drinking water quality. First, we apply a novel approach to drinking water and health outcomes. Prior research has focused on drinking water contaminant violations and human health as either acute illness or cancer. This study defines a violation as a contaminant exceeding the regulatory maximum contaminant level (MCL) threshold. We utilize a water toxicity accumulation in organs approach in relation to drinking water violations, which has not been studied. We assign regulated drinking water contaminants (N=88) reported in the US drinking water supply to potentially affected human body organ systems (HBOS). Second, research on drinking water and health outcomes is dominated by a single contaminant effect, driven by regulatory guidelines. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR) adverse health effects are based on a single contaminant in the drinking water supply. The single contaminant scenario does not reflect the reality that multiple contaminants may be present in the drinking water supply. Therefore, this study will provide insight into human health effects by examining co-contaminants (i.e., more than one contaminant) and applying this approach to HBOS outcomes. Third, we will compare the USEPA toxicology health effects to other toxicological sources to examine differences in HBOS potential health effects associated with drinking water. These additional resources are Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) toxicological profiles, USEPA Toxicological Fact Sheets, Goldfrank’s Toxicologic Emergencies profiles, and CDC Toxicological Fact Sheets. An epistemological exercise of this scope has not been conducted.

Research Assistants: Christopher Bozorgmehr (Lead), Minoli Fernando, Kaitlin Spiridellis, & Emily Murray (University of Missouri)

Faculty Advisors: Dr. Preetam Cholli, Dr. Camellia R. Koleyni, & Dr. Yolanda J. McDonald

Student Alumni: Katherine Allison & Rachel McKane