208871 Safe drinking water access limited by decaying infrastructure in rural Alabama

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:06 AM

Jessica J. Cook , Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
This presentation describes a systematic study of household drinking water quality and health in rural Hale County, Alabama, one of the poorest places in the United States, characterized by endemic poverty, high unemployment, and lack of access to basic infrastructure and services. We propose that decaying infrastructure in rural areas of the county may result in serious degradation of water quality as delivered by public and private water systems, which may be related to increased levels of risk of waterborne disease in this majority African-American population. This study is a quasi-randomized, prospective cohort study among 300 households. Households were asked to complete one survey on water use, basic demographics and access to infrastructure, and overall health. Longitudinal data on health outcomes and household drinking water quality were collected over a period of 8 months. To date, the data indicates that 9.434% of all public county water system samples and 27.273 % of all private water system samples show total coliform (TC) levels exceeding the limit set by the EPA (<1 total coliform per 100 ml sample). The mean level of contamination existing in these public and private water system samples is 6 TC/100 ml and 27 TC/100 ml, respectively. Initial results suggest that access to safe drinking water in the study area is limited and related to inadequate infrastructure in rural areas. Evidence for increased risk of waterborne disease is discussed.

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate that access to safe drinking water in Hale County, Alabama, is limited and related to inadequate infrastructure in rural areas. Analyze evidence for increased risk of waterborne disease as a result of unsafe drinking water.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a current PhD student at the University of Alabama in the Department of Biological Sciences. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2008, and I feel that I am quialified to present this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.