Erika J Mitchell

Norwich University, Northfield, VT, United States

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Publications (7)29.75 Total impact

  • Seth H Frisbie, Erika J Mitchell, Bibudhendra Sarkar
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    ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization (WHO) released the fourth edition of Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality in July, 2011. In this edition, the drinking-water guideline for uranium (U) was increased to 30 μg L(-1) despite the conclusion that "deriving a guideline value for uranium in drinking-water is complex, because the data [from exposures to humans] do not provide a clear no-effect concentration" and "Although some minor biochemical changes associated with kidney function have been reported to be correlated with uranium exposure at concentrations below 30 μg L(-1), these findings are not consistent between studies" (WHO, Uranium in Drinking-water, Background document for development of WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality, available: , accessed 13 October 2011). This paper reviews the WHO drinking-water guideline for U, from its introduction as a 2 μg L(-1) health-based guideline in 1998 through its increase to a 30 μg L(-1) health-based guideline in 2011. The current 30 μg L(-1) WHO health-based drinking-water guideline was calculated using a "no-effect group" with "no evidence of renal damage [in humans] from 10 renal toxicity indicators". However, this nominal "no-effect group" was associated with increased diastolic blood pressure, systolic blood pressure, and glucose excretion in urine. In addition, the current 30 μg L(-1) guideline may not protect children, people with predispositions to hypertension or osteoporosis, pre-existing chronic kidney disease, and anyone with a long exposure. The toxic effects of U in drinking water on laboratory animals and humans justify a re-evaluation by the WHO of its decision to increase its U drinking-water guideline.
    Environmental science. Processes & impacts. 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Around 150 million people are at risk from arsenic-contaminated groundwater in India and Bangladesh. Multiple metal analysis in Bangladesh has found other toxic elements above the World Health Organization (WHO) health-based drinking water guidelines which significantly increases the number of people at risk due to drinking groundwater. In this study, drinking water samples from the Bongaon area (North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, India) were analyzed for multiple metal contamination in order to evaluate groundwater quality on the neighbourhood scale. Each sample was analyzed for arsenic (As), boron (B), barium (Ba), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and uranium (U). Arsenic was found above the WHO health-based drinking water guideline in 50% of these tubewells. Mn and B were found at significant concentrations in 19% and 6% of these tubewells, respectively. The maps of As, Mn, and B concentrations suggest that approximately 75% of this area has no safe tubewells. The concentrations of As, Mn, B, and many other toxic elements are independent of each other. The concentrations of Pb and U were not found above WHO health-based drinking water guidelines but they were statistically related to each other (p-value = 0.001). An analysis of selected isotopes in the Uranium, Actinium, and Thorium Radioactive Decay Series revealed the presence of thorium (Th) in 31% of these tubewells. This discovery of Th, which does not have a WHO health-based drinking water guideline, is a potential public health challenge. In sum, the widespread presence and independent distribution of other metals besides As must be taken into consideration for drinking water remediation strategies involving well switching or home-scale water treatment.
    Metallomics 04/2012; 4(7):653-9. · 4.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization (WHO) released the fourth edition of Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality in July 2011. In this edition, the 400-µg/L drinking-water guideline for manganese (Mn) was discontinued with the assertion that because "this health-based value is well above concentrations of manganese normally found in drinking water, it is not considered necessary to derive a formal guideline value." In this commentary, we review the WHO guideline for Mn in drinking water--from its introduction in 1958 through its discontinuation in 2011. For the primary references, we used the WHO publications that documented the Mn guidelines. We used peer-reviewed journal articles, government reports, published conference proceedings, and theses to identify countries with drinking water or potential drinking-water supplies exceeding 400 µg/L Mn and peer-reviewed journal articles to summarize the health effects of Mn. Drinking water or potential drinking-water supplies with Mn concentrations > 400 µg/L are found in a substantial number of countries worldwide. The drinking water of many tens of millions of people has Mn concentrations > 400 µg/L. Recent research on the health effects of Mn suggests that the earlier WHO guideline of 400 µg/L may have been too high to adequately protect public health. The toxic effects and geographic distribution of Mn in drinking-water supplies justify a reevaluation by the WHO of its decision to discontinue its drinking-water guideline for Mn.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 02/2012; 120(6):775-8. · 7.26 Impact Factor
  • Erika Mitchell, Seth Frisbie, Bibudhendra Sarkar
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    ABSTRACT: This paper presents an overview of the global extent of naturally occurring toxic metals in groundwater. Adverse health effects attributed to the toxic metals most commonly found in groundwater are reviewed, as well as chemical, biochemical, and physiological interactions between these metals. Synergistic and antagonistic effects that have been reported between the toxic metals found in groundwater and the dietary trace elements are highlighted, and common behavioural, cultural, and dietary practices that are likely to significantly modify health risks due to use of metal-contaminated groundwater are reviewed. Methods for analytical testing of samples containing multiple metals are discussed, with special attention to analytical interferences between metals and reagents. An overview is presented of approaches to providing safe water when groundwater contains multiple metallic toxins.
    Metallomics 07/2011; 3(9):874-908. · 4.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: More than 60,000,000 Bangladeshis are drinking water with unsafe concentrations of one or more elements. Our aims in this study were to evaluate and improve the drinking water testing and treatment plans for western Bangladesh. We sampled groundwater from four neighborhoods in western Bangladesh to determine the distributions of arsenic, boron, barium, chromium, iron, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, lead, antimony, selenium, uranium, and zinc, and to determine pH. The percentages of tube wells that had concentrations exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) health-based drinking water guidelines were 78% for Mn, 48% for U, 33% for As, 1% for Pb, 1% for Ni, and 1% for Cr. Individual tube wells often had unsafe concentrations of both Mn and As or both Mn and U. They seldom had unsafe concentrations of both As and U. These results suggest that the ongoing program of identifying safe drinking water supplies by testing every tube well for As only will not ensure safe concentrations of Mn, U, Pb, Ni, Cr, and possibly other elements. To maximize efficiency, drinking water testing in Bangladesh should be completed in three steps: 1) all tube wells must be sampled and tested for As; 2) if a sample meets the WHO guideline for As, then it should be retested for Mn and U; 3) if a sample meets the WHO guidelines for As, Mn, and U, then it should be retested for B, Ba, Cr, Mo, Ni, and Pb. All safe tube wells should be considered for use as public drinking water supplies.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 04/2009; 117(3):410-6. · 7.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: All of Bangladesh's approximately 10 million drinking-water tube wells must be periodically tested for arsenic. The magnitude of this task and the limited resources of Bangladesh have led to the use of low-cost, semiquantitative field kits that measure As to a relatively high 50 microg/L national drinking water standard. However, there is an urgent need to supplement and ultimately replace these field kits with an inexpensive laboratory method that can measure As to the more protective 10 microg/L World Health Organization (WHO) health-based drinking water guideline. Unfortunately, Bangladesh has limited access to atomic absorption spectrometers or other expensive instruments that can measure As to the WHO guideline of 10 microg/L. In response to this need, an inexpensive and highly sensitive laboratory method for measuring As has been developed. This new method is the only accurate, precise, and safe way to quantify As < 10 microg/L without expensive or highly specialized laboratory equipment. In this method, As is removed from the sample by reduction to arsine gas, collected in an absorber by oxidation to arsenic acid, colorized by a sequential reaction to arsenomolybdate, and quantified by spectrophotometry. We compared this method with the silver diethyldithiocarbamate [AgSCSN(CH2CH3)2] and graphite furnace atomic absorption spectroscopy (GFAAS) methods for measuring As. Our method is more accurate, precise, and environmentally safe than the AgSCSN(CH2CH3)2 method, and it is more accurate and affordable than GFAAS. Finally, this study suggests that Bangladeshis will readily share drinking water with their neighbors to meet the more protective WHO guideline for As of 10 microg/L.
    Environmental Health Perspectives 10/2005; 113(9):1196-204. · 7.03 Impact Factor
  • Erika J. Mitchell, Seth H. Frisbie
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    ABSTRACT: Describes the development of a class at Zayed University (United Arab Emirates) that used laptop computers to make classroom instruction more student-centered. Discusses the design of self-paced materials and reports results that indicated students preferred a traditional teacher-centered lecture course. Considers implications for distance learning. (LRW)
    Syllabus. 12/2000;