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Using Citizen Science to Improve Drinking Water Epidemiology Studies in Puerto Rico

In this project, families with 3rd to 5th graders will report incidences of gastrointestinal disease to science teachers to facilitate follow-up stool and saliva tests in impacted school districts. The innovative saliva tests use salivary antibodies as a non-invasive indicator of waterborne infections. The project will prepare instructions on how to report incidences of gastrointestinal illness that will be sent home with students at the start of the school year. The school districts in rural communities taking part in this citizen science project will collect health data when illnesses occur to maximize the effectiveness and improve the results of the epidemiology study. The incidence of illness will then be linked to specific community water systems using SDWA sample results and violations.

Project URL:

Geographic Scope: Puerto Rico

Project Status: Active - not recruiting volunteers

Participation Tasks: Specimen/sample collection,

Start Date: 6/12/2017

Project Contact:

Federal Government Sponsor:

EPA logo

Other Federal Government Sponsor: NA

Fields of Science: Health and medicine

Intended Outcomes: The goal of the project is to showcase the simplicity of an innovative saliva test and improve the way epidemiology studies are designed using citizen science. This project is important because it inspires citizens (non-experts) to actively participate in targeted studies to improve their health and understanding of water treatment. A secondary benefit will be the educational aspect for students. School science teachers will encourage students to participate, promote the scientific method behind this epidemiology study and provide information on waterborne illness, human health and personal hygiene.