While the quantity of water used in the home is thought to be an important determinant of health, much of the evidence relies on using water access as a proxy for quantity. This review examines the health effects of household water quantity using studies that directly measured water quantity. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and article reference lists. Eligible studies included experimental and observational studies that measured a difference in water quantity and quantified an association between water quantity and health outcomes. 21 studies, divided into six of the many possible water-quantity associated outcomes, met the eligibility criteria. Due to heterogeneity in designs, settings, methods, and outcomes, a meta-analysis was inappropriate. Overall results showed a positive association between water quantity and health outcomes, but the effect depended on how the water was used. Increased water usage for personal hygiene was generally associated with improved trachoma outcomes, while increased water consumption was generally associated with reduced gastrointestinal infection and diarrheal disease and improved growth outcomes. In high-income countries, increased water consumption was associated with higher rates of renal cell carcinoma and bladder cancer but not associated with type II diabetes, cardiac-related mortality, or all-cause mortality.
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