Drinking Water Consumption Patterns among Private Well Users in Ontario: Implications for Exposure Assessment of Waterborne Infection
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Understanding the water consumption patterns within a specific population informs development of increasingly accurate, spatially specific exposure and/or risk assessment of waterborne infection. The current study examined the consumption patterns of private well users in Ontario while considering potentially influential underlying sociodemographics, household characteristics, and experiential factors. A province-wide online survey was circulated between May and August 2018 (n = 1,162). Overall, 81.5% of respondents reported daily well water consumption (i.e., tap water). Results indicate a mean daily well water consumption rate of 1,132 mL/day (SD = 649 mL/day) among well water consumers. Gender was significantly associated with well water consumption, with higher consumption rates found among female respondents. The experience of acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) symptoms or diagnosis in the past 12 months did not impact the volume of water consumed, suggesting that experiencing previous AGI does not decrease consumption volumes, and therefore exposure over time. Significantly higher rates of well water consumption were found among respondents who reported previous testing or ongoing water treatment. Approximately 45.5% of survey respondents who stated that they do not consume well water selected bottled water as their primary household drinking water supply. Bottled water consumption was also not associated with previous AGI experiences. Findings will inform future quantitative microbial risk assessments associated with private well water use by providing spatially and demographically specific estimates of well water consumption.