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Standards for arsenic in drinking water: Implications for policy in Mexico

Abstract

Global concern about arsenic in drinking water and its link to numerous diseases make translation of evidence-based research into national policy a priority. Delays in establishing a maximum contaminant level (MCL) to preserve health have increased the burden of disease and caused substantial and avoidable loss of life. The current Mexican MCL for arsenic in drinking water is 25 μg/l (2.5 times higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation from 1993). Mexico’s struggles to set its arsenic MCL offer a compelling example of shortcomings in environmental health policy. We explore factors that might facilitate policy change in Mexico: scientific evidence, risk communication and public access to information, economic and technological resources, and politics. To raise awareness of the health, societal, and economic implications of arsenic contamination of drinking water in Mexico, we suggest action steps for attaining environmental policy change and better protect population health.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported in part by Grant, MD 001452, from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the US National Institutes of Health to the Mount Sinai International Exchange Program, Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, Dr. Luz Claudio, Principal Investigator.

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Correspondence to Mariano E. Cebrián.

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Fisher, A.T., López-Carrillo, L., Gamboa-Loira, B. et al. Standards for arsenic in drinking water: Implications for policy in Mexico. J Public Health Pol 38, 395–406 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41271-017-0087-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41271-017-0087-7

Keywords

  • arsenic
  • governance
  • drinking water
  • regulation
  • public health policy
  • Mexico