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Examining the Relationships Between Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Drinking Water Quality: Identifying Inequities in Palm Beach County, Florida

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Date Issued:
2019
Abstract/Description:
Water treatment facilities across the United States are known for providing high-quality drinking water to their residents. However, differences in treatment methods, aging infrastructure, and outdated household plumbing may affect the quality of drinking water by the time it reaches the consumer’s tap. Palm Beach County, Florida, is an area with large socioeconomic contrasts where some families live in dilapidated structures and others reside in luxurious, gated communities. This research highlights the variation of household water quality by determining metal concentrations in tap water samples in communities of different socioeconomic status. In addition, interviews were conducted with personnel from five different Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) in the study area to understand the relationship between customers and their water utility. Results indicate that effective communication strategies are needed to boost public trust and fill critical information gaps about the water treatment process. Ninety-six tap water samples were collected from households throughout eastern Palm Beach County and analyzed for different metals using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry. Surveys were also administered at the same households where tap water samples were collected. Residents were asked about their perceptions of tap water and social and economic questions regarding their household characteristics. A Socioeconomic Status (SES) index was created using Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to understand how perceptions of tap water quality and concentrations of metals in household tap water vary based on SES. Results provide evidence that those living in the lowest-ranking SES neighborhoods are the least satisfied with their tap water quality and consume less tap water than those living in higher SES neighborhoods. Water quality results highlighted large variations in concentrations of aluminum (Al) and thus, analyses focused specifically on how Al concentrations varied according to SES. Results from Ordinary Least Squares regression show that as socioeconomic status decreases, the concentration of Al in tap water increases. Six samples exceed the State of Florida’s Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for Al, and five of those samples were found in the lowest-ranking SES neighborhoods (SES 1 and 2). The results of this research provide evidence that inequities in household water quality exist across eastern Palm Beach County, Florida.
Title: Examining the Relationships Between Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Drinking Water Quality: Identifying Inequities in Palm Beach County, Florida.
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Name(s): Weisner, Meagan L., author
Root, Tara L., Thesis advisor
Florida Atlantic University, Degree grantor
Charles E. Schmidt College of Science
Department of Geosciences
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Electronic Thesis Or Dissertation
Date Created: 2019
Date Issued: 2019
Publisher: Florida Atlantic University
Place of Publication: Boca Raton, Fla.
Physical Form: application/pdf
Extent: 123 p.
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Water treatment facilities across the United States are known for providing high-quality drinking water to their residents. However, differences in treatment methods, aging infrastructure, and outdated household plumbing may affect the quality of drinking water by the time it reaches the consumer’s tap. Palm Beach County, Florida, is an area with large socioeconomic contrasts where some families live in dilapidated structures and others reside in luxurious, gated communities. This research highlights the variation of household water quality by determining metal concentrations in tap water samples in communities of different socioeconomic status. In addition, interviews were conducted with personnel from five different Water Treatment Plants (WTPs) in the study area to understand the relationship between customers and their water utility. Results indicate that effective communication strategies are needed to boost public trust and fill critical information gaps about the water treatment process. Ninety-six tap water samples were collected from households throughout eastern Palm Beach County and analyzed for different metals using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry. Surveys were also administered at the same households where tap water samples were collected. Residents were asked about their perceptions of tap water and social and economic questions regarding their household characteristics. A Socioeconomic Status (SES) index was created using Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to understand how perceptions of tap water quality and concentrations of metals in household tap water vary based on SES. Results provide evidence that those living in the lowest-ranking SES neighborhoods are the least satisfied with their tap water quality and consume less tap water than those living in higher SES neighborhoods. Water quality results highlighted large variations in concentrations of aluminum (Al) and thus, analyses focused specifically on how Al concentrations varied according to SES. Results from Ordinary Least Squares regression show that as socioeconomic status decreases, the concentration of Al in tap water increases. Six samples exceed the State of Florida’s Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for Al, and five of those samples were found in the lowest-ranking SES neighborhoods (SES 1 and 2). The results of this research provide evidence that inequities in household water quality exist across eastern Palm Beach County, Florida.
Identifier: FA00013278 (IID)
Degree granted: Dissertation (Ph.D.)--Florida Atlantic University, 2019.
Collection: FAU Electronic Theses and Dissertations Collection
Note(s): Includes bibliography.
Subject(s): Drinking water--Quality--Florida
Palm Beach County (Fla.)
Socioeconomic status
Inequality
Held by: Florida Atlantic University Libraries
Sublocation: Digital Library
Persistent Link to This Record: http://purl.flvc.org/fau/fd/FA00013278
Use and Reproduction: Copyright © is held by the author with permission granted to Florida Atlantic University to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Use and Reproduction: http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/
Host Institution: FAU
Is Part of Series: Florida Atlantic University Digital Library Collections.