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EWC Seminar 10/13 : Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson
October 13 @ 12:50 pm - 1:40 pm
Our EWC seminar on this Friday, Oct 13, will feature Dr. Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, who is an associate professor in the Gillings School of Public Health at UNC. She will discuss “Racial Disparities in Access to Municipal Water Service: Water Quality, Health Impacts, and Costs.” An abstract and bio are included below. Please join us in Mann 304 from 12:50-1:40pm.
Abstract: Over the last 100 years, installation of community water systems substantially decreased US waterborne diseases. However, throughout the South, some communities were excluded from these systems as a result of racial segregation, and some of the resulting disparities persist. The magnitude of exclusion risks, water quality in affected areas, health implications, and costs of connecting to nearby municipal water utilities are not well understood. This presentation will summarize four years of research to characterize the locations of affected communities, their drinking water quality, potential health risks, and costs of and barriers to extending municipal water service in Wake County, NC’s second-largest county by population and location of the state capital. The research has included analysis of tax parcel and census data, water quality testing, population intervention modeling using hospital emergency department data, development of preliminary engineering plans for extending municipal water pipes, and open-ended interviews. Overall, our analysis has documented significant and persistent exclusion from municipal water service with associated negative health consequences. Odds of exclusion from municipal water service increase by 4% for every 10% increase in a census block’s African American population proportion. Water testing in 57 affected homes found 49% tested positive for total coliform bacteria. Additional testing found lead above the health-based action level (15 ppb) in first-draw samples from 8 of 29 homes. Our population intervention model estimated that 21% (95% CI 14-31%) of 110 annual emergency department visits for acute gastrointestinal illness among approximately 3,800 affected county residents are attributable to exclusion from municipal water service. Cost is a major barrier to extending water service, with per-household costs of approximately $20,000 and disagreements over who should bear those costs. Overall, our research suggests the need for interventions to improve water quality and protect health in these communities.
Bio: Dr. Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson is Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering within the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. For 2017–2018, she also is serving as a University Scholar (a competitively awarded appointment) at RTI International.