California Department of Public Health logo: three likenesses of people colored blue, green, and orange  
Last Edited: 11/15/2006

Methods for Tracking Exposures to Contaminants in Drinking Water
10/2005 - 07/2006

As a one year supplementary project to the larger California Environmental Health Tracking project, we worked with several states (NM, NJ, WA, WI) that are facing similar, specific technical problems with developing  methods to track population exposures to drinking water contaminants. Rather than each state trying to solve these problems independently, we worked collaboratively on a number of these issues.  Initially, we assessed different potential methods and shared specialized technical resources.


A. Identify existing and potential methods for:

  • linking individuals or small population groups to specific water supplies, and, if possible, hydraulically independent units within a distribution system;
  • characterizing variations in water quality in water supply and distribution systems over time and within a distribution system;
  • linking individuals or small population groups to small, unregulated water systems or private domestic wells; and
  • estimating exposures to contaminants in water from these small systems when direct water quality observations are not available.

B. Assess the feasibility of incorporating the most promising methods into an Environmental Public Health Tracking Network in terms of:

  • cost and effort;
  • hardware, software and IT infrastructure;
  • availability of current and historical data sources;
  • required level of expertise;
  • accuracy (if possible);
  • external factors which affect the ability to use a method or to acquire additional water supply information (e.g. cooperation of outside parties or regulations that limit reporting requirements);
  • characteristics of a situation or system which may make a method more or less appropriate.

C. Open communication lines with water systems to establish relationships, identify collaborative opportunities, and perform outreach/education in Environmental Health Tracking issues surrounding drinking water.

D. Disseminate the results to other states and other stakeholders through technical papers and ‘how-to” documents.

View entire proposal to CDC

View final white paper -- To submit comments, please send an e-mail to Craig Wolff for instructions.