Next Article in Journal
Study on the Fire Damage Characteristics of the New Qidaoliang Highway Tunnel: Field Investigation with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Back Analysis
Next Article in Special Issue
Morbid Obesity in Disasters: Bringing the “Conspicuously Invisible” into Focus
Previous Article in Journal
Analysis of Japanese Articles about Suicides Involving Charcoal Burning or Hydrogen Sulfide Gas
Previous Article in Special Issue
The Effects of the Passage of Time from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake on the Public’s Anxiety about a Variety of Hazards
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(10), 1012; doi:10.3390/ijerph13101012

Health Hazards Associated with Consumption of Roof-Collected Rainwater in Urban Areas in Emergency Situations

Joint Centre for Disaster Research, Massey University/GNS Science, P.O. Box 756, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
College of Health, Massey University, P.O. Box 756, Wellington 6140, New Zealand
GNS Science, 1 Fairway Drive, Avalon, Lower Hutt 5010, New Zealand
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Miklas Scholz
Received: 1 September 2016 / Revised: 29 September 2016 / Accepted: 30 September 2016 / Published: 15 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Evolving Relationship between Science and Disaster Risk Reduction)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [7433 KB, uploaded 15 October 2016]   |  


The greater Wellington region, New Zealand, is highly vulnerable to large earthquakes because it is cut by active faults. Bulk water supply pipelines cross the Wellington Fault at several different locations, and there is considerable concern about severe disruption of the provision of reticulated water supplies to households and businesses in the aftermath of a large earthquake. A number of policy initiatives have been launched encouraging householders to install rainwater tanks to increase post-disaster resilience. However, little attention has been paid to potential health hazards associated with consumption of these supplies. To assess health hazards for householders in emergency situations, six 200-litre emergency water tanks were installed at properties across the Wellington region, with five tanks being allowed to fill with roof-collected rainwater and one tank being filled with municipal tapwater as a control. Such tanks are predominantly set aside for water storage and, once filled, feature limited drawdown and recharge. Sampling from these tanks was carried out fortnightly for one year, and samples were analysed for E. coli, pH, conductivity, a range of major and trace elements, and organic compounds, enabling an assessment of the evolution of water chemistry in water storage tanks over time. Key findings were that the overall rate of E. coli detections in the rain-fed tanks was 17.7%, which is low in relation to other studies. We propose that low incidences of may be due to biocidal effects of high zinc concentrations in tanks, originating from unpainted galvanised steel roof cladding. Lead concentrations were high compared to other studies, with 69% of rain-fed tank samples exceeding the World Health Organisation’s health-based guideline of 0.01 mg/L. Further work is required to determine risks of short-term consumption of this water in emergency situations. View Full-Text
Keywords: emergency rainwater tanks; earthquake; Wellington; health hazards; drinking-water quality; E. coli; lead; zinc emergency rainwater tanks; earthquake; Wellington; health hazards; drinking-water quality; E. coli; lead; zinc

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

Scifeed alert for new publications

Never miss any articles matching your research from any publisher
  • Get alerts for new papers matching your research
  • Find out the new papers from selected authors
  • Updated daily for 49'000+ journals and 6000+ publishers
  • Define your Scifeed now

SciFeed Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Stewart, C.; Kim, N.D.; Johnston, D.M.; Nayyerloo, M. Health Hazards Associated with Consumption of Roof-Collected Rainwater in Urban Areas in Emergency Situations. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 1012.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top