Rianna Murray, PhD Candidate, UMD School of Public Health
The next step of this research, which will frame Ms. Murray’s PhD dissertation, will recruit a cohort of high-frequency recreationalists to participate in a longitudinal study to assess the relationship between river recreation and GI illness. In previous studies conducted in the Great Lakes region, recreational water impacted by sewage was found to be associated with GI illness. Given then regular discharge of sewage into the Anacostia from the combined sewer overflow system in the District, it is possible that Anacostia recreationalists also face this health risk. The study cohort will be required to complete an initial survey regarding their recreational behavior and perception of water quality, and for several weeks, nasal and dermal swabs will be taken immediately following each recreational event. Participants will also be required to complete health surveys 8-10 days after recreation to record the incidence of any GI illness symptoms. Water samples will also be collected on the same day of recreation, and these samples along with the participant swabs will be analyzed for microbial contamination in order to establish a firm link between water quality, water exposure, and health outcomes.
The research grant awarded by PSE in the 2015-16 cycle will allow Ms. Murray to continue the research described above, and conduct the proposed cohort study to investigate the association between recreation on the Anacostia River and risks to human health. This research may have utility for current efforts to address contamination of the Anacostia including the Urban Waters Partnership and the Anacostia Watershed Partnership as the movement is strengthened to transform the Anacostia from its current state as the “forgotten river”.