Making a Map of Public Health Hazards

by Robert C. Williams, P.E., (M.ASCE), Dir. of the Div. of Health Assessment and Consultation; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA,
Morris L. Maslia, P.E., (M.ASCE), Res. Hydrogeologist; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta, GA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 9, Pg. 64-65

Document Type: Feature article


Accurately deducing the long-term exposure of community members to health hazards has always been a challenge for engineers. In 1993, the town of Somers, Conn., discovered a residential drinking water well contained 545 ppb of tetrachloroethylene. The contaminant had migrated from a nearby prison laundry facility. Shortly after the discovery, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was called on to perform a public health assessment of the region's drinking water wells. Since little empirical information relating to the contamination was available, the agency's engineers set up simplified analytical and numerical models to calculate the contaminant flow and transport in one and two dimensions. The models allowed for an extremely rigorous and refined method by which to estimate census-block level contamination for exposure assessment.

Subject Headings: Public health and safety | Wells (water) | Pollution | Numerical models | Health hazards | Drinking water | Contaminant transport

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