Swee Teh, PhD – Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology

Impact of California Drought on Water Quality and Community Health

Climate change is likely to have a number of consequences for water quality, for example, increased nitrate levels, toxic algal blooms, concentrations of pollutants (pesticides, pharmaceutical and personal care products), and complex mixtures of these chemicals, that affect human health. Drought will affect groundwater/surface water exchange and pollutants may inadvertently enter well-water resulting in changes in drinking water quality. Consequently, water quality should be screened and monitored regularly.

Swee Teh, Director of the UC Davis Aquatic Health Program, received an EHS Center pilot grant to measure chemicals in well and tap water samples from the California Central Valley, an area where large quantities of chemical pesticides and fertilizers are used in agricultural production. Using fish as a model, the researchers are also studying the potential health effects of exposure to the chemicals measured in the water samples, particularly effects on the endocrine system and cancer effects. The team is working closely with citizens groups in the Central Valley to identify locations for sampling.