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Public Perception of Drinking Water Quality and Health Risks in the District Vehari, Pakistan

Samina Khalid, Behzad Murtaza, Irum Shaheen, Muhammad Imran and Muhammad Shahid

Abstracts

Good quality water is important for health, energy and development but still not available to millions of people throughout the world. Anthropogenic activities are responsible to cause contamination of drinking water, which lead to severe health anomalies. The present study was conducted to determine demographic information of the respondents, knowledge about drinking water quality, sources of water treatment and sanitation and waterborne diseases. Questionnaire survey was conducted in different sites to collect information about the disease prevalence related to usage of contaminated water among the residents of District Vehari. Demographic information of the survey area showed that 54.2 % respondents were females, 56.9 % were un-married, and 59.7 % respondents were living in joint family setup, however, literacy rate of the respondents was not encouraging. Most of the peoples (61.1 %) strongly believed that drinking water quality affects their health. The highest number of population (75 %) used electric pumps and the lowest respondents (7 %) used sources of drinking water. Majority of the respondents (77.8 %) reported that their family members suffered from water borne diseases such as gastro, cholera, abdominal discomfort, while 22.2 % did not report any kind of disease. Data about treatment of diseases showed that majority of the population (73 %) got the disease treatment, while 26.4 % did not get any treatment. It was concluded that most of the peoples were not satisfied with their drinking water quality and reported more disease development.

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Full text

Introduction

1Access to safe drinking water is vital for human health, food security and socio-economic development (Niazi et al., 2017 ; Shahid et al., 2017 ; Sanneh, 2018 ; Shakoor et al., 2018). Currently, WHO and UNICEF reported that 1.1 billion peoples in the world lack access to better water supplies and 2.6 billion peoples lack sufficient sanitation conditions (Unicef, 2004). The global health issues related to these conditions are confounding, with an estimated 4–6×103 children dying each day from diseases linked with poor hygiene, inadequate sanitation, and lack of clean and safe drinking water (Supply et Council, 2002). Ensuring reliable access to safe and clean water is currently one of the greatest global challenges especially in Asia (Shahid et al., 2017 ; Niazi et al., 2018 ; Tabassum et al., 2018) where an estimated 675 million peoples are without safe drinking water sources (Unicef et al., 2004). In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 36 % of the population has access to basic sanitation (Unicef, 2004).

2In Pakistan, most of the population lacks access to safe drinking water due to the presence of different kinds of pollutants (Shakoor et al., 2015 ; Shakoor et al., 2016 ; Khalid et al., 2017). However, about 38.5 million peoples were lacking access to safe drinking water sources during 2004-05 which may rise to 52.8 million peoples by 2015 in Pakistan (Khan et Javed, 2007). It is estimated that 30 % of diseases and 40 % of deaths occur due to polluted water. Waterborne diseases are mainly due to contamination of drinking water sources with municipal sewage and industrial waste water (Hashmi et al., 2009). In addition to anthropogenic sources of pollution, natural sources equally contribute to increased level of chemical contamination of the environment and human health (Anwar et al., 2010). Therefore, nowadays health risk assessment due to environmental contamination by pollutants has also gained a considerable attention worldwide (Mombo et al., 2015 ; Rafiq et al., 2017 ; Shahid et al., 2017 ; Shamshad et al., 2018).

3According to an estimate, 99.8 % of human deaths occurring in developing countries are directly or indirectly related to the use of polluted water. Among them, 90 % deaths are the children below five years of age (WHO, 2005 ; Unicef, 2008). Microbes present in drinking water include viruses, bacteria and protozoan causing 2.5 million deaths each year (Kosek et al., 2003). Certain reports have shown that diarrhea, a waterborne disease is the basic cause of the mortality among infants and children in Pakistan, while every fifth citizen is the victim of diseases caused by contaminated water (Khalil, 2013).

4In Pakistan, ever-increasing population has led to greater consumption of water for household, industrial and agricultural purposes. According to many studies, water quality in Pakistan is being degraded because of the disposal of large amount of untreated industrial and municipal waste water in rivers/streams, and excessive use of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides (Bhutta et al., 2005). In Pakistan, issue of water contamination is increasing at alarming rate. Polluted water is becoming the major concern regarding the health related issues to the public in the country (Kahlown et Aslam, 2005 ; Bhutta et al., 2008 ; Shahid et al., 2015). In Pakistan, quality of drinking water is getting worse and water quality of very few cities has been analyzed yet. There is no or limited information about drinking water quality of District Vehari. So, it is the dire need of the time to access people awareness among local community regarding water contamination of drinking water. Different monitoring agencies should pay proper attention to the microbial contamination of drinking water and development of well-equipped laboratories for the analysis of drinking water (WHO, 2005). Therefore, this study was planned to determine public awareness among local community to water contamination and water borne diseases.

Materials and Methods

5Field work was carried out in the month of August and September 2015 and consisted of questionnaire survey. District Vehari is located between 29°36ʹ- 30°22ʹ N and 71°44ʹ-72°53ʹ E. The total area of the district is 4,364 km2. It has three Tehsil/TMAs. Vehari, Burewala and Mailsi.

Questionnaire survey

6Three tehsil of Vehari District were selected for the study. The data about the water borne diseases were collected from District Head Quarters Hospital (DHQ) and other health centers of the District Vehari. The areas with high disease ratio were selected for the sampling. A survey was conducted to evaluate the quality of drinking water and its relevant health issues. Seventy-two questionnaires were circulated in the study areas. Questionnaire included the questions about the demographic information of the respondents, knowledge about drinking water quality, sources of water treatment and sanitation, and waterborne diseases.

Results

Demographic information

7Demographic information of the survey area showed that 54.2 % respondents were females (Table 1). Literacy rate of the respondents was not encouraging such as the respondents with primary, matric, FA and BA education were 55.6 %, 12.5 %, 41.7 %, and 11.1 %, respectively, while 41.7 % of respondents were M.A or above education. Most of the respondents (56.9 %) were un-married and 59.7 % respondents were living in joint family setup. Employment rate was good i.e. 83.3 % and 87.5 % peoples were living in their owned houses.

Table 1. Percentage/frequency of the respondents according to the demographic information.

Demographic parameters

Respondents

Frequency

Percentage

Gender

Male

Female

Total

33

39

72

45.8

54.2

100

Education

Illiterate

Primary

Matric

F.A

B.A

M.A and above

Total

4

4

9

30

8

17

72

5.6

5.6

12.5

41.7

11.1

41.7

100

Marital status

Single

Married

Total

41

31

72

56.9

43.1

100

Family Type

Joint

Nuclear

Total

43

29

72

59.7

40.3

Employment status

Employed

Unemployed

Total

60

12

72

83.3

16.7

100

Monthly income (PKR)

Less than 10,00

11,000-50,00

More than 5,000

Unemployed

Total

17

39

9

7

72

23.6

54.2

12.5

9.7

100

Residential status

Owned house

Rented

Total

63

9

72

87.5

12.5

100

Awareness about water quality

8Respondents were asked to rate drinking water quality of their area and its impact on human health according to provided options (Table 2).

Table 2. Knowledge of respondents ( %) about drinking water quality in the study area.

Parameters

Strongly agree

Agree

Uncertain

Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Health effects of drinking water

59.7

30.6

2.8

2.8

4.1

Drinking water quality

5.6

22.2

9.7

48.6

13.9

Taste of drinking water

6.9

36.1

4.2

43.1

9.7

Smell of drinking water

8.3

52.8

9.7

20.8

8.4

Color of drinking water

9.7

52.8

4.2

25

8.3

Provision of drinking water

51.4

44.4

1.4

1.4

1.4

Washing hands and water bone diseases

16.7

63.9

8.3

9.7

1.4

9Simple frequency analysis showed the respondents knowledge about drinking water quality giving to five point like-type of scale of information ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”. Most of the respondents (61.1 %) strongly believed that drinking water quality affects their health, while 5.6 % respondents did not agree. When asked about the drinking water quality, it was found that 6.9 % respondents strongly agreed that drinking water quality of their area is good. On the other hand, 22.2 % respondents agreed, 9.7 % were uncertain, and majority disagreed about the good water quality. Similarly, 8.3 % of the people strongly agreed that the taste of drinking water is good, while 33.3 % agreed, 5.6 % were uncertain, 43.1 % disagreed and 9.7 % of respondents strongly disagreed.

10In case of smell of drinking water, 9.7 % of the respondents strongly agreed that smell of the drinking water is good while 52.8 % of the respondents agreed, 9.7 % were uncertain, 19.4 % disagreed and 8.3 % strongly disagreed. A small number of peoples (12.5 %) strongly agreed that color of the drinking water is good. However, 50 % agreed, 5.6 % were uncertain and majority disagreed that the color of water is good. Majority of the population (93 %) thought that provision of safe drinking water was the responsibility of Govt.

Sources of water

11When respondents were asked about the source of drinking water, it was found that 75 % of population used electric pumps for water consumption (Table 3).

Table 3. Distribution of respondents according to the source of drinking water.

Sources

Frequency

Percent

Drinking water

Electric pump

54

75.0

TMA

4

5.6

Filtered water

9

12.5

Any other

5

7.0

Total

72

100.0

TMA water

Under ground water

48

66.7

Dam

2

2.8

Lake

2

2.8

Don’t know

20

27.8

Total

72

100.0

12While, 5.6 %, 12.5 % and 7 % respondents used TMA water, filter water and other sources of drinking water, respectively. In case of TMA water, majority of respondents i.e. 66.7 % reported that the TMA water comes from underground. However, 2.8 % reported from each lake and dam, and 27.8 % peoples were unaware of the source of TMA water.

Water supply, sanitation and storage

13When asked about submission of complaint, 15.3 % respondents submitted complaint to Environment Department of District Vehari regarding their drinking water quality, while 84.7 % did not make any complaint about drinking water quality (Table 4).

Table 4. Distribution of respondents according to treatment of water and sanitation conditions.

Parameters

Yes

No

Frequency

Percentage

Frequency

Percentage

Complaint made by respondents related to drinking water quality

11

15.3

61

84.7

Treatment of drinking water by respondents at their homes

24

33.3

48

66.7

Cleaning of water storage tank

68

94.4

4

5.6

Washing of drinking water container

66

91.7

6

8.3

Test of drinking water

33

45.8

39

54.2

Presence or absence of any solid waste disposal site near the respondent’s homes

41

56.9

31

43.1

Occurrence of diseases in the study area

56

77.8

16

22.2

Disease treatment

47

73.6

25

26.4

Habit of washing hands before meal

67

93.1

5

6.9

Satisfaction of respondents about the drinking water source

18

25

54

75

14A small number of peoples (33.3 %) treated drinking water at home while 66.7 % did not treat their drinking water. Data about cleaning of water storage tank depict that 94.4 % peoples cleaned their water storage tank while a small number of respondents (5.6 %) did not follow this practice. In case of washing of drinking water container, it was found that 91.7 % peoples washed their drinking water container, while 8.3 % did not follow such practice (Table 4). It was also found that 45.8 % respondents got their drinking water tested while 54 % did not get their drinking water tested.

15When respondents were asked about the solid waste disposal site, 56.9 % of respondents reported solid waste disposal site near their home, while 43.1 % did not report any site near their home. Majority of the respondents (77.8 %) reported that their family members are suffering from water borne diseases, while 22.2 % did not report any kind of disease (Table 4). Data about treatment of diseases showed that majority of the population (73 %) got the disease treatment, while 26.4 % did not get any treatment. It was found that 93.1 % of the population washed their hands before meal, while 6.9 % did not wash their hands before meal. Moreover, very less number of people (25 %) were satisfied with their drinking water source, while majority (75 %) was not satisfied with their source of drinking water (Table 4).

16When asked about the response of the complaint about drinking water in Figure 1a, 1.4 % respondents reported that they have got quick response, 1.4 % got the delayed response, and 12.5 % did not get any response, while 84.7 % have not made any complaint about the quality of drinking water.

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of respondents based on the (a) complaint response (b) cleanliness of water storage tanks (c) material of the storage container and (d) cleanliness of water storage containers.

Figure 1. Percentage distribution of respondents based on the (a) complaint response (b) cleanliness of water storage tanks (c) material of the storage container and (d) cleanliness of water storage containers.

17When asked about the view of respondents that washing hands reduced waterborne diseases, 26.4 % population strongly agreed that washing hands reduces waterborne diseases, and 55.6 % agreed. However, 6.9 % were uncertain, 9.7 % disagreed and 1.4 % strongly disagreed that washing hands reduced waterborne diseases (Table 5).

Table 5. Distribution of respondents on the basis of their views and drinking water treatment methods to reduce waterborne diseases.

Respondents

Frequency

Percentage

Views

Strongly agree

19

26.4

Agree

40

55.6

Uncertain

5

6.9

Disagree

7

9.7

Strongly disagree

1

1.4

Total

72

100.0

Water treatment methods

Boiled

11

15.3

Filtration

9

12.5

Any other

4

5.6

Do not treat water

48

66.7

Total

72

100.0

18When asked about the method of water treatment at home, it was found that 15.3 % respondents boiled drinking water, 12.5 % filtered drinking water and 5.6 % of respondents used other methods of water treatment, while 66.7 % did not treat their drinking water (Table 5).

19When asked about the frequency of cleaning water storage tank, 23.6 % peoples cleaned the water storage tank monthly, 11.1 % cleaned it after 3 months, 43.1 % cleaned it after 6 months, while 22.2 % cleaned it annually and 5.6 % did not clean water storage tank (Fig 1b). When asked about the material of water storage tank, majority of population (72.2 %) used plastic tanks while a small number of them are using concreted tanks for water storage (Table 6).

Table 6. Distribution of respondents on the type of storage tank, distance of disposal site, material, water pipeline and source of contamination of water.

Parameters

Frequency

Percent

Material of water storage tank

Plastic

52

72.2

Concrete

20

27.8

Total

72

100.0

Distance of disposal site

1 km

29

40.3

2 km

5

6.9

3 km

3

4.2

> 3 km

4

5.6

No disposal site

31

43.1

Total

72

100.0

Material of water pipeline

Plastic

42

58.3

Copper

2

2.8

Metal

18

25.0

Any other

10

13.9

Total

72

100.0

Sources of contamination

Sewage

27

37.5

Industrial effluents

4

5.6

Stagnant water pools

41

56.9

Total

72

100.0

20When asked about the material of water storage container 72.2 % of respondents were using plastic bottles for temporary storage of water, 18.1 % using plastic cooler, 2.8 % using steel container while very few i.e. 6.9 % were using pitcher for the temporary storage of water (Figure 1c). When asked about the frequency of washing drinking water container, 16.7 % reported that they wash drinking water container twice a day, 66.7 %wash it daily, 12.8 % wash it after two weeks, 5.6 % wash their drinking water container weekly while 8.3 % do not wash it at all (Fig 1d).

Water quality and health

21When asked about the satisfaction of respondents about their drinking water quality, 12.5 % reported that water is fit, 6.9 % reported that water quality is satisfactory, 26.4 % reported water unfit and 54.2 % did not get water tested (Figure 2a).

Figure 2. Percentage distribution of respondents based on the (a) response of drinking water test (b) type of water borne diseases (c) treatment facility and (d) site of disposal of waste water of their homes.

Figure 2. Percentage distribution of respondents based on the (a) response of drinking water test (b) type of water borne diseases (c) treatment facility and (d) site of disposal of waste water of their homes.

22When asked about the distance of disposal sites, it was reported by the respondents that 40.3 % disposal sites were 1 km away from their homes, 6.9 % were 2 km away, and 4.2 % were 3 km away, while 5.6 % sites were more than 3 km away from their homes. When asked about the material of water pipeline, 58.3 % of the respondents used plastic pipeline, 2.8 % used pipeline made up of copper, 25 % used metals pipeline, while 13.9 % used other kind of pipelines for the water supply (Table 6). Respondents were asked about waterborne diseases, it was found that 4.2 % people suffered from typhoid, 12.5 % gastro, 9.7 % cholera, 40.3 % abdominal discomfort and 11.1 % other diseases, whereas about 22 % people did not experience any kind of water borne diseases (Fig. 2b).

23Respondents were asked to indicate the site from where they got the treatment, 6.9 % reported that they got the treatment from Govt. hospital, 47.2 % got treatment from private clinic, while 2.8 % got treatment from medical store, while huge number of peoples (43 %) of surveying area did not get any type of medication facility (Figure 2c).

24When respondents were asked to indicate the site where they disposed of wastewater, 84.7 % respondents reported that they disposed of wastewater into drains, while 5.6 % disposed of in streets, 6.9 % disposed of in open field and 2.8 % disposed of wastewater in nearby water pools (Figure 2d).

Sources of contamination

25When respondents were asked to tell their view about the basic source of contamination in their area (Table 6), 37.5 % peoples reported that the basic source of contamination in their areas is sewage, while 5.6 % were of the view that industrial effluents and 56.9 % reported that stagnant water pool as the basic source of contamination.

Discussion

Demographic characteristics

26Demographic information of the respondents is very important in any social study. It helps in proper understanding of the socio-physiological condition of the population. In this study, 94.4 % of the respondents were educated (Table 1), while according to another study conducted in Gujrat, the literacy rate was not encouraging as 38.7 % of the respondents were literate (Tanwir et al., 2003). Regarding their family status, majority (59.7 %) of the people were living in joint family setup. Similarly in another study conducted in various districts of Punjab, 58 % of the respondents were living in joint family setup (Kausar et al., 2011).

Water supply, sanitation and storage

27Most of the respondents (75 %) reported that they were using electric pumps as a source of water while very less (5.6 %) were using TMA water supplies. It is contrary to the study in Gujarat where 90 % respondents reported TMA water as major source of drinking water (Tanwir et al., 2003). It is indicated from Fig.2d that 84.7 % of the respondents dispose of the wastewater of their homes into drains. Similar kinds of results were reported by Azizullah et al. (2011) where 84 % of the population in study area disposed of waste water in drains.

Water quality and health

28Very less number of respondents (29.1 %) indicated that the water quality of their area was good. Majority (66.7 %) of the respondents used drinking water without any treatment, while 33.3 % treated drinking water by boiling or filtering as they were more concerned about their health. Similar results were reported by Kausar et al. (2011) in their survey where 45 % of the peoples were using boiled water. In study area, 77.8 % of the respondents reported about water borne diseases in their families such as typhoid, cholera, gastro, abdominal discomfort etc. Similarly, 90 % of all the residents suffered from different waterborne diseases in Gujrat (Tanwir et al., 2003). Majority of respondents were not satisfied with their drinking water source. Similarly, large number of residents in Faisalabad were not satisfied with their source of drinking water (Akhtar et al., 2005).

Sources of contamination

29Majority of the respondents (94.4 %) were of the view that sewage water and stagnant water pools were major source of contamination in their areas, while rest of the respondents thought that industrial effluents were the cause of water contamination. Similar sources of contamination of water were reported by Singh et Mosley (2003).

Conclusion and perspectives

30This study has reflected the fact that water contamination is posing serious threats to the human health. Moreover, survey results also provided the evidence of microbial contamination as the respondents reported the water borne diseases. It is depicted from the survey data that the people were not concerned about the quality of drinking water and related health issues. It was also observed that majority of the respondents have neither made any complaint about drinking water nor they got their water tested. This might be due to the lack of awareness, time and resources. Moreover, it was concluded from this study that waterborne diseases were even found in those areas, where no microbial contamination was detected, so in future a detailed study should be carried out about this aspect.

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List of illustrations

Title Figure 1. Percentage distribution of respondents based on the (a) complaint response (b) cleanliness of water storage tanks (c) material of the storage container and (d) cleanliness of water storage containers.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/vertigo/docannexe/image/21171/img-1.png
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Title Figure 2. Percentage distribution of respondents based on the (a) response of drinking water test (b) type of water borne diseases (c) treatment facility and (d) site of disposal of waste water of their homes.
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References

Electronic reference

Samina Khalid, Behzad Murtaza, Irum Shaheen, Muhammad Imran and Muhammad Shahid, « Public Perception of Drinking Water Quality and Health Risks in the District Vehari, Pakistan », VertigO - la revue électronique en sciences de l'environnement [Online], Hors-série 31 | septembre 2018, Online since 05 September 2018, connection on 31 March 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/vertigo/21171 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/vertigo.21171

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About the authors

Samina Khalid

Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Vehari, Punjab, Pakistan

Behzad Murtaza

Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Vehari, Punjab, Pakistan

Irum Shaheen

Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Vehari, Punjab, Pakistan

Muhammad Imran

Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Vehari, Punjab, Pakistan

Muhammad Shahid

Department of Environmental Sciences, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Vehari, Punjab, Pakistan, courriel : muhammadshahid@ciitvehari.edu.pk

By this author

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Les contenus de VertigO sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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