Residents of the Pingtung Plain, Taiwan, use groundwater for drinking. However, monitoring results showed that a considerable portion of groundwater has an As concentration higher than the safe drinking water regulation of 10 μg/L. Considering residents of the Pingtung Plain continue to use groundwater for drinking, this study attempted to evaluate the exposure and health risk from drinking groundwater. The health risk from drinking groundwater was evaluated based on the hazard quotient (HQ) and target risk (TR) established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The results showed that the 95th percentile of HQ exceeded 1 and TR was above the safe value of threshold value of 10−6. To illustrate significant variability of the drinking water consumption rate and body weight of each individual, health risk assessments were also performed using a spectrum of daily water intake rate and body weight to reasonably and conservatively assess the exposure and health risk for the specific subgroups of population of the Pingtung Plain. The assessment results showed that 0.01–7.50 % of the population’s HQ levels are higher than 1 and as much as 77.7–93.3 % of the population being in high cancer risk category and having a TR value >10−6. The TR estimation results implied that groundwater use for drinking purpose places people at risk of As exposure. The government must make great efforts to provide safe drinking water for residents of the Pingtung Plain.
- Hazard quotient
- Health risk
- Provisional tolerable weekly intake
- Target risk