Development and Validation of the Cumulative Environmental Exposure Index for Arsenic: A Novel Environmental Public Health Indicator

EPA Grant Number: R834794
Title: Development and Validation of the Cumulative Environmental Exposure Index for Arsenic: A Novel Environmental Public Health Indicator
Investigators: O'Bryant, Sid E. , Gong, Gordon , Mulligan, Kevin R. , Zhang, Yan
Institution: Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: March 1, 2011 through February 28, 2013 (Extended to February 28, 2014)
Project Amount: $482,900
RFA: Exploring Linkages Between Health Outcomes and Environmental Hazards, Exposures, and Interventions for Public Health Tracking and Risk Management (2009) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Human Health , Health


Arsenic (As) is a ubiquitous environmental toxin that causes a wide range of diseases. To date, however, there is no methodology for calculating the impact of cumulative As exposure on health outcomes in the US. The current project will develop and validate the Cumulative Environmental Exposure Index (CEEI) for As (CEEI-As) as a novel environmental public health indicator (EPHI).


We hypothesize that the CEEI-As will be a significant predictor of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes and cognitive impairment. Given that prior work has demonstrated that Hispanics are more likely to live in areas with higher groundwater As levels, we also hypothesize that CEEI-As levels will be higher among Mexican Americans than non-Hispanic whites.


By incorporating geographic information systems (GIS) technology with publicly available groundwater data, we will map individual residences (current and past) onto previously collected groundwater As levels in those locations. We will then calculate a CEEI that sums the As levels per water source times years utilizing that source, which equals μg/L-years. The effects of CEEI-As levels will be compared to that of current drinking water source As levels on disease status. 600 individuals aged 40 and over (50% Mexican American, 60% female) will be re-contacted and evaluated from Project FRONTIER, an ongoing community-based participatory research study designed to examine the epidemiology of health issues facing rural-dwelling adults and elders. Interviews regarding water consumption history and water samples will be collected by re-contact from this existing cohort and data will be incorporated into the Project FRONTIER database.

Expected Results:

We will generate a novel EPHI, the CEEI-As, validate the utility of this index as a predictor of disease status, and determine whether As exposure, as measured by the CEEI-As, is a contributor to the known health disparities between Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites. This information will provide the basis for policies aimed at reducing drinking water As levels.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 23 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 16 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

exposure, metals, toxics, human health, public policy, dose-response, population, age, aging, elderly, epidemiology, environmental justice, environmental chemistry, medicine, modeling, analytical, measurement methods, southwest,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011 Progress Report
  • 2012 Progress Report
  • Final Report