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How public health in the US is affected by water poverty

Access to clean water and sanitation is a human right recognized by the United Nations.

Although there has been progressing in recent years, contaminated water and waterborne diseases remain major threats to public health — not only in low-income countries but also in wealthier nations such as the United States.

According to the UN:

“Lack of access to safe, sufficient, and affordable water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities has a devastating effect on the health, dignity, and prosperity of billions of people and has significant consequences for the realization of other human rights.”

Trusted Sources of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that there are 1.7 billion diarrhea cases and 446,000 deaths from this disease every year among children under 5 years of age worldwide. The CDC also said that there are about 3 million cases of cholera (a water-borne infection) each year, with 95,000 deaths. Due to poor sanitation, parasitic worms in contaminated soil infect hundreds of millions of people worldwide every year.

About 785 million people, equivalent to one-tenth of the world’s population, still have no access to drinking water facilities.

Many of these people live in rich countries. In fact, a study found that between 2013 and 2017, approximately 1.1 million people in the United States had unsafe water. Almost half of these people live in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. This includes 65,000 people in New York State who cannot use tap water. The research was conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona in Tucson and King’s College London, UK. It appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2020. “How do you wash your hands without running water? In a global sanitation pandemic like COVID-19, the distinction between safe and unsafe water is important. Starting with 65,000 unleaded New Yorkers in New York City., to Live in a mobile home or rental housing, and use a higher percentage of their income for housing expenses.

The authors of the study concluded: “We provide clear evidence that gaps in urban water supply channels are neither random nor accidental, but are caused by unstable housing conditions and systematic social and racial inequality.”

They believe that their numbers almost certainly underestimate the severity of the problem because the U.S. Census Bureau tends to underestimate the number of people in rental housing, the homeless, and people of color. They pointed out that, for example, homeless people often face huge difficulties in obtaining clean water and toilet facilities, and their number is currently growing in American cities. Homelessness and housing poverty Another study confirmed that although water and sanitation facilities are said to be widespread in cities and towns across the United States, official data do not indicate that there are no houses or substandard housing.

When the researchers considered these factors, they found that at least 630,000 people could not use toilets, and another 300,000 people depended on shared sanitation facilities. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta conducted this research. It appeared in the 2020 American Journal of Public Health. The study author wrote that although the proportion of the population without basic health services in the United States is very low, the absolute number is large for “high-income countries with resources to solve this problem.” They pointed out that people living in rented houses may have running water and flushing toilets, but when these facilities are damaged, the landlord may take weeks or months to repair them.

The above two studies concluded that taking measures to ensure affordable and adequate housing is the most effective way to improve water and sanitation conditions in American cities and towns. America’s water crisis In 2019, a major report by two non-profit organizations (U.S. Water Alliance and Dig Deep) proposed an action plan to solve the so-called “U.S. Water Crisis.” The report “Bridging the US Water Gap” estimates that more than 2 million people in the United States do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. However, it reiterated that the United States does not collect comprehensive data on water poverty. For those most affected: low-income communities and communities of color, this makes it particularly difficult to assess the scale of the problem. The report cited evidence that, for example, Native American families are 19 times more likely to have insufficient pipelines than white families.



with information from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-water-poverty-impacts-public-health-in-the-us

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