Assessing Strontium and Vulnerability to Strontium in Private Drinking Water Systems in Virginia


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A total of 1.7 million Virginians rely on private drinking water (PDW) systems and 1.3 million of those people do not know their water quality. Because most Virginians who use PDW do not know the quality of that water and since strontium poses a public health risk, this study investigates sources of strontium in PDW in Virginia and identifies the areas and populations most vulnerable. Physical factors such as rock type, rock age, and fertilizer use have been linked to elevated strontium concentrations in drinking water. Social factors such as poverty, poor diet, and adolescence also increase social vulnerability to health impacts of strontium. Using water quality data from the Virginia Household Water Quality Program (VAHWQP) and statistical and spatial analyses, physical vulnerability was found to be highest in the Ridge and Valley province of Virginia where agricultural land use and geologic formations with high strontium concentrations (e.g., limestone, dolomite, sandstone, shale) are the dominant aquifer rocks. In terms of social vulnerability, households with high levels of strontium are more likely than the average VAHWQP participant to live in a food desert. This study provides information to help 1.7 million residents of Virginia, as well as populations in neighboring states, understand their risk of exposure to strontium in PDW.



drinking water quality, private drinking water, strontium, Virginia, wells


Scott, V.; Juran, L.; Ling, E.J.; Benham, B.; Spiller, A. Assessing Strontium and Vulnerability to Strontium in Private Drinking Water Systems in Virginia. Water 2020, 12, 1053.