Written by Vivienne Steele and Carlee WrightOn December 5th, our lab went to Play with Clay to make hand-crafted mugs! With guidance from staff we learned to roll and cut shapes from fresh clay, and everyone decorated their mugs with fun stamps, lace, and stencils. After painting and glazing, they were fired in the kiln and ready for use! This event was rewarding and relaxing after everyone's busy semesters - a chance to create unique pottery pieces in wonderful company.
Congratulations to Carlee Wright for publishing her second article from her MSc thesis! Click here to read the full article... Citation: Wright, C.J., Sargeant, J.M., Edge, V.L., Ford, J.D., Farahbakhsh, K., Shiwak, I., Flowers, C., Gordon, A.C., RICG, IHACC Research Team (Berrang-Ford, L., Carcamo, C., Llanos, A., Lwasa, S., Namanya, D.B.), and Harper, S.L. (2018). How are perceptions associated with water consumption in Canadian Inuit? A cross-sectional survey in Rigolet, Labrador. Science of The Total Environment, 618(15): 369–378.
Concerns regarding the safety and aesthetic qualities of one's municipal drinking water supply are important factors influencing drinking water perceptions and consumption patterns (i.e. sources used and daily volume of consumption). In northern Canada, Inuit communities face challenges with drinking water quality, and many Inuit have reported concerns regarding the safety of their drinking water. The objectives of this research were to describe perceptions of municipal tap water, examine use of water sources and changes following the installation of a potable water dispensing unit (PWDU) in 2014, and identify factors associated with water consumption in the Inuit community of Rigolet. This study used data from three cross-sectional census surveys conducted between 2012 and 2014. Principal component analysis (PCA) was used to aggregate data from multiple variables related to perceptions of water, and logistic regressions were used to identify variables associated with water consumption patterns. Three quarters of residents reported using the PWDU after its installation, with concomitant declines reported in consumption of bottled, tap, and brook water. Negative perceptions of tap water were associated with lower odds of consuming tap water (ORPCAcomponent1 = 0.73, 95% CI 0.56–0.94; ORPCAcomponent2 = 0.67, 95% CI 0.49–0.93); women had higher odds of drinking purchased water compared to men (OR = 1.90, 95% CI 1.11–3.26). The median amount of water consumed per day was 1 L. Using brook water (OR = 2.60, 95% CI 1.22–5.56) and living in a household where no one had full-time employment (OR = 2.94, 95% CI 1.35–6.39) were associated with consuming > 2 L of water per day. Results of this study may inform drinking water interventions, risk assessments, and public health messaging in Rigolet and other Indigenous communities.
Congratulations to Carlee Wright on her first first-author publication! Carlee worked with the Rigolet Inuit Community Government to examine potential associations between stored drinking water and acute gastrointestinal illness in Labrador Inuit. Citation: Wright, C.J., Sargeant, J.M., Edge, V.L., Ford, J.D., Farahbakhsh, K., Shiwak, I., Flowers, C., IHACC Research Team, and Harper, S.L. (2017). Water quality and health in northern Canada: stored drinking water and acute gastrointestinal illness in Labrador Inuit. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, DOI: 10.1007/s11356-017-9695-9. Click here to access the article.
Abstract: One of the highest self-reported incidence rates of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) in the global peer-reviewed literature occurs in Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. This high incidence of illness could be due, in part, to the consumption of contaminated water, as many northern communities face challenges related to the quality of municipal drinking water. Furthermore, many Inuit store drinking water in containers in the home, which could increase the risk of contamination between source and point-of-use (i.e., water recontamination during storage). To examine this risk, this research characterized drinking water collection and storage practices, identified potential risk factors for water contamination between source and point-of-use, and examined possible associations between drinking water contamination and self-reported AGI in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Canada. The study included a cross-sectional census survey that captured data on types of drinking water used, household practices related to drinking water (e.g., how it was collected and stored), physical characteristics of water storage containers, and self-reported AGI. Additionally, water samples were collected from all identified drinking water containers in homes and analyzed for presence of Escherichia coli and total coliforms. Despite municipally treated tap water being available in all homes, 77.6% of households had alternative sources of drinking water stored in containers, and of these containers, 25.2% tested positive for total coliforms. The use of transfer devices and water dippers (i.e., smaller bowls or measuring cups) for the collection and retrieval of water from containers were both significantly associated with increased odds of total coliform presence in stored water (ORtransfer device = 3.4, 95% CI 1.2–11.7; ORdipper = 13.4, 95% CI 3.8–47.1). Twenty-eight-day period prevalence of self-reported AGI during the month before the survey was 17.2% (95% CI 13.0–22.5), which yielded an annual incidence rate of 2.4 cases per person per year (95% CI 1.8–3.1); no water-related risk factors were significantly associated with AGI. Considering the high prevalence of, and risk factors associated with, indicator bacteria in drinking water stored in containers, potential exposure to waterborne pathogens may be minimized through interventions at the household level.
Photos of Carlee's Research
Carlee graduated with distinction from her BSc in Biological Sciences from the University of Guelph in 2014. She then started her MSc in Epidemiology in the Department of Population Medicine (OVC) and earned a 91% average in her coursework. Outside of her coursework, she was a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the graduate-level Epidemiology I course in 2015, a member of the EcoHealth Community of Interest (2014-present), and an active member of the journal club (2014-present). Carlee conducted community-led research on drinking water quality and safety, led by the community of Rigolet (see thesis abstract below). She presented this research at 3 national and 5 international conferences, including 8 poster and 7 oral presentations, many of which were co-presented with Inez Shiwak (an Inuit research associate from Rigolet). To support her research, Carlee won over $62,000 in scholarships and research grants; her research has taken her to Nunatsiavut, Alaska, Oxford, Montreal, and other locales. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Carlee over the past few years; she is a great thinker, writer, and analyst. Congratulations Carlee!
Carlee's Thesis Abstract:
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. Click here to access Carlee's Thesis.
Research Photos of Carlee
Written by Sherilee Harper The poster session is one of my favourite aspects of the ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meetings, and this year was no exception. Of all the conferences that I have participated in, the ArcticNet poster session is among the best attended and most engaging poster sessions.
Our research group had a number of posters presented at this conference, showcasing work that ranged from climate change impacts on mental health and wellbeing, to community-based climate-health monitoring, to place-attachment and maternal health, to caribou documentaries, to one-health projects.
Members from our research group were awarded 1st and 2nd place in the Graduate Student Poster Competition! Congratulations David and Alexandra for your 1st and 2nd place win (respectively)!
Reflection written by Carlee WrightThis summer I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Rigolet for the first time with Dr. Harper. Having this experience before beginning my Masters was very valuable, as it allowed me to introduce myself to the community and get to know the customs and way of living of the people with whom I will work closely with in the future.
During this trip, I worked alongside members of the Nunatsiavut government to collect preliminary data on secondary water contamination. The results of the surveys and water samples will provide a basis for my upcoming research, and having this hands-on experience has really helped me to understand the reasons behind the research and the issues faced around water in the North.
Aside from research, I had a few opportunities to explore and eat local foods. These were some of the highlights of my trip, as I love to experience new things. Trout, partridge, goose and fresh eggs were among some of the foods prepared for us, and I was excited to try each of them! Food sharing is an important part of Inuit culture, and I felt very fortunate to be offered so many kinds of country food on my first visit.
Throughout my time in Rigolet, the genuine kindness and hospitality of the residents never failed to amaze me. I was not expecting to be so warmly welcomed into people’s homes, and this contributed to a very enjoyable first experience. I can’t wait to visit again to further familiarize myself with the community and experience more of the unique and wonderful culture in this remote settlement.