Nearly 400,000 Californians May Lack Access to Safe Drinking Water, Study Finds

An estimated 370,000 Californians rely on drinking water that may contain high levels of the chemical contaminants arsenic, nitrate or hexavalent chromium, and contaminated drinking water disproportionately impacts communities of color in the state, finds a new analysis led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Because this study is limited to three common contaminants, the results likely underestimate the actual number of Californians impacted by unsafe drinking water from other chemicals,” said Dr. Lara Cushing, the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Jonathan and Karin Fielding Presidential Chair in Health Equity and an assistant professor of environmental health sciences. “The at-risk populations are found across the state, but are concentrated, not surprisingly, in poor, mostly rural areas in the San Joaquin Valley that rely heavily on privately-owned wells for domestic water.” Read more about JPB Fellow Lara Cushing’s research.