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Article

Returning Individual Tap Water Testing Results to Research Study Participants after a Wildfire Disaster

1
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA
2
Tracking California, Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
3
Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA
4
Public Health Institute, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(2), 907; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19020907
Received: 8 December 2021 / Revised: 10 January 2022 / Accepted: 11 January 2022 / Published: 14 January 2022
After the devastating wildfire that destroyed most of the town of Paradise, California in 2018, volatile organic compounds were found in water distribution pipes. Approximately 11 months after the fire, we collected tap water samples from 136 homes that were still standing and tested for over 100 chemicals. Each participant received a customized report showing the laboratory findings from their sample. Our goal was to communicate individual water results and chemical information rapidly in a way that was understandable, scientifically accurate, and useful to participants. On the basis of this process, we developed a framework to illustrate considerations and priorities that draw from best practices of previous environmental results return research and crisis communication, while also addressing challenges specific to the disaster context. We also conducted a follow-up survey on participants’ perceptions of the results return process. In general, participants found the results return communications to be understandable, and they felt less worried about their drinking water quality after receiving the information. Over one-third of the participants reported taking some kind of action around their water usage habits after receiving their results. Communication with participants is a critical element of environmental disaster research, and it is important to have a strategy to communicate results that achieves the goals of timeliness, clarity, and scientific accuracy, ultimately empowering people toward actions that can reduce exposure. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental health; results communication; emergency response; disaster research; wildfire; drinking water; California environmental health; results communication; emergency response; disaster research; wildfire; drinking water; California
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MDPI and ACS Style

Von Behren, J.; Wong, M.; Morales, D.; Reynolds, P.; English, P.B.; Solomon, G. Returning Individual Tap Water Testing Results to Research Study Participants after a Wildfire Disaster. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 907. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19020907

AMA Style

Von Behren J, Wong M, Morales D, Reynolds P, English PB, Solomon G. Returning Individual Tap Water Testing Results to Research Study Participants after a Wildfire Disaster. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(2):907. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19020907

Chicago/Turabian Style

Von Behren, Julie, Michelle Wong, Daniela Morales, Peggy Reynolds, Paul B. English, and Gina Solomon. 2022. "Returning Individual Tap Water Testing Results to Research Study Participants after a Wildfire Disaster" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 2: 907. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19020907

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