Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019ID088B

Characterizing water-based recreationists’ perceptions of toxic metal contaminants

Institute: Idaho
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-05-30 End Date: 2020-05-29
Total Federal Funds: $14,684 Total Non-Federal Funds: $29,418

Principal Investigators: Dr. Chloe Wardropper

Abstract: This project is part of a larger research program to develop more effective methods of engaging, educating and communicating with water resource stakeholders about the risks of lead contamination. We seek to increase understanding of health beliefs, behavioral intentions, and health outcomes with respect to persistent, low visibility environmental lead contamination within the lakes and rivers of Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene Basin. The Center for Disease Control has concluded that there is no safe level of lead exposure for humans, yet eliminating exposure to lead contamination has yet to be achieved; lead exposure accounts for over 12 percent of the global burden of developmental intellectual disabilities. While the connection between lead exposure and health outcomes is increasingly well understood, questions remain about how peoples’ risk perceptions influence their intent to engage in preventive health behaviors such as avoiding contaminated beaches and maintaining proper hygiene, especially following water- based recreational activities. The objective of the proposed work is to study risk perceptions related to lead contamination for water-based recreationists. We propose to conduct surveys of 450 water-based recreationists at entry points to the waterways of the Coeur d’Alene Basin. Survey responses will be analyzed using the Health Belief Model, which is commonly used to analyze risk perceptions and behavioral intentions on health issues. Data collected through this project will inform outreach and education efforts by our community partner, the Panhandle Health District. This project will involve a graduate student and undergraduate student in hands- on water-focused environmental health research.