The presence of above standard levels of commonly tested contaminants in communities on Long Island, New York: the impact of income on untreated water quality

  • Amy Catalano Teaching, Learning and Technology Department, Hofstra University, 251 Hagedorn Hall, Hempstead, New York
  • Michael Marino Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Studies, Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York, USA
Keywords: Contaminants, Minorities, Socioeconomic status, Untreated water, Water quality


Water quality is a pressing issue in many communities. Long Island (LI), New York, rests on a system of aquifers created by prehistoric glacial activity. These aquifer systems are the only source of drinking water for LI. Water quality issues are pervasive in the region due to nitrate pollution, caused by antiquated septic systems in much of the Island, as well as the prevalence of environmental clean-up sites. Using the Watertraq database, we searched for levels of select compounds that were present in wells above acceptable levels on LI. We then collected demographic data from the U.S. Census, including income, ethnicities, poverty levels, number of children, senior citizens and renters for towns in parts of two counties on LI to determine whether there was a relationship between the presence of above standard levels of compounds and income. Using an Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression we found a statistically significant negative impact (at the p < 0.01 level) of income on the presence of contaminants in untreated water. In other words, the lower the income of the region, the greater the chance that above standard levels of volatile organic compounds were present.

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