Water Quality and Inuit Health: An Examination of Drinking Water Consumption, Perceptions, and Contamination in Rigolet, Canada

Wright, Carlee
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University of Guelph

Canadian Inuit have often reported concerns about the quality of their municipal drinking water. This research took an EcoHealth approach to investigate drinking water perceptions and consumption patterns, as well as drinking water contamination and its potential associations with acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Canada. Three census cross-sectional surveys (n=226-246) captured data on AGI, drinking water use, and water storage (2012-2014). Bacterial contamination of household drinking water was assessed alongside the 2014 survey. Concerns regarding taste, smell, and colour of tap water were associated with lower odds of consuming tap water. The use of transfer devices (e.g. small bowls or measuring cups) was associated with household water contamination. No water-related risk factors for AGI were identified. Results of this study are intended to inform safe water management practices, as well as contextually appropriate drinking water interventions, risk assessments, and public health messaging in the Arctic.

Indigenous, Arctic, drinking water, perceptions, water contamination, acute gastrointestinal illness, ecohealth, epidemiology, water consumption, point-of-use, waterborne illness, enteric illness, Inuit health