Water Storage Causing Illness in Canada’s North

Unsanitary water storage containers may cause higher than average gastrointestinal illness in Canada’s North, according to new University of Guelph research.

Researcher Carlee Wright and population medicine professor Sherilee Harper took samples from drinking water stored in 104 containers at 76 homes in the Inuit community of Rigolet in Labrador, with a population of about 300.

Most of the water came from one of several treated dispensing units installed by the province in areas with high-risk water systems. Those units use reverse osmosis and ultraviolet light for purification.

More than one in four of the home samples had illness-causing bacteria in their water, the result of improperly cleaned containers and bottles.

Contamination rates increased 13-fold when smaller containers were used to scoop out water for drinking.

Such contamination may help explain higher reported rates of vomiting, diarrhea and other illnesses than in other parts of Canada and in other countries.

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