Flint water quality and PTSD

Date: Nov 01 2016

CONTACT: Mandi Yohn 
919-632-0218 (Oct. 28-Nov. 2)
APHA Press Office on-site (Oct. 29-Nov. 2): 303-228-8520

Perceptions of tap water quality linked to PTSD in Flint, Michigan, residents

Denver — The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, increased the stress levels of community residents, according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo in Denver.

In April 2014, the municipal water source in Flint changed from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to inadequately treated water from the Flint River, resulting in lead contamination. Researchers examined 2015-2016 responses to the Speak to Your Health Community Survey — a component of the health surveillance system in Genesee County, Michigan. The survey included perceptions of household tap water quality following a lack of official response to concerns over water quality in Flint. Respondents also completed a post-traumatic stress disorder — or PTSD — screening tool.

Results showed that perceived tap water quality predicted PTSD symptoms and positive screening for PTSD. Respondents who rated tap quality as “poor” or “fair” reported higher PTSD symptoms than those who rated the water quality as “excellent” or “very good.”

“Through this study, we found that experiences of poorer tap water quality were associated with adverse mental health conditions in the context of a crisis of toxic contamination in the municipal water supply,” said Survey Committee Chair Suzanne Cupal of the Genesee County Health Department. “Sharing these results gives us the opportunity to inform the way support services are organized for community emergencies.”

APHA 2016 is themed “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health” and will focus on moving toward health equity, which means we must value all people equally, promote prevention and zero in on the social determinants of health.

4022.0: Lead (Pb): Actions, analyses, and outcomes
Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016
Researchers: Suzanne Cupal, Genesee County Health Department
Daniel Kruger, University of Michigan
Gergana Kodjebacheva, University of Michigan, Flint
Susan Franzen
Sarah Bailey, Bridges into the Future
Marty Kaufman, University of Michigan, Flint
Information for media: The APHA Press Office will be located in room 604 of the Colorado Convention Center.

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