Research Projects to Study Water Quality Effects on Public Health

University of Michigan to co-sponsor studies focusing on gold mining in Ghana and stomach cancer in Peru

The University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute and the Center for Global Health are co-sponsoring two research projects addressing water quality impacts on public health, one in Ghana and the other in Peru.

Each of the projects, which are called integrated assessments, will receive $350,000 over the next three years.

The first research project, "Water sustainability, infrastructural inequity, and health in small-scale gold mining communities in Ghana," will identify alternatives in resource-limited settings in the country that allow gold mining to occur in a manner that is safe for environmental and human health without decreasing economic prosperity.

The integrated assessment team will work with stakeholders to develop solutions for water-related problems associated with small-scale gold mining that are inexpensive, sustainable, low-tech, health-promoting and socially acceptable.

The research team includes Niladri Basu, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health; Elisha Renne, professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies and the Department of Anthropology; Tom Robbins, professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health; and Mark Wilson, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health.

The second project is titled "Gastric cancer and Helicobacter pylori infection in Lima, Peru: The role of water contamination." Studies suggest that drinking water in Lima may be contaminated by H. pylori bacteria, a causative agent of gastric carcinoma. The goal of this integrated assessment is to establish strong scientific evidence supporting the direct link between drinking water contamination by H. pylori and human gastric infection, and to evaluate effective ways to provide clean and safe drinking water to combat these infections in developing countries.

The U-M research team includes Chuanwu Xi, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the School of Public Health; Manuel Valdivieso, clinical professor of internal medicine at the Medical School; and Lu Wang, assistant professor of biostatistics at the School of Public Health.

These two international research projects build on existing work by U-M faculty to provide innovative options for development, global health equity and sustainability. The two new projects also take advantage of the integrated assessment research methodology, which has two phases. Researchers begin with a dialog among scientists and policymakers to establish a key policy question around which the assessment is to be developed. After this is established, researchers then gather and assess natural science and social science information to evaluate options for policymakers to answer that question.

University of Michigan

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