Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Christine Stauber, PhD, MS

Second Advisor

Lisa Casanova, PhD


Background: With the MDG 7 target deadline approaching to halve the global population lacking access to improved water and sanitation by 2015, many nations find the need to explore alternative water sources. Rainwater may be a viable alternative water source. However, there have been concerns raised in recent decades as to the quality of rainwater harvested for potable use.

Methods: Data from the Demographic and Health Surveys database which included 50,579 household surveys between 2002 and 2007 from the Dominican Republic were examined. STATA 8 was used for data analysis. Descriptive statistics were computed, and logistic regression analysis was used to compare toilet type, water source, and type of place of residence with prevalence of diarrheal disease in children under five.

Results: This study found that rainwater presents less risk for diarrheal disease when compared to all other water sources (excluding bottled water). In 2002, people who consumed all other sources of water (excluding bottled) were 1.28 times more likely to have diarrhea in children under 5 (95% CI 1.05-1.57) compared to those who consumed rainwater. They were 1.33 times more likely to have diarrhea in children under 5 (95% CI 1.08-1.65) in 2007 and 1.31 times more likely in both years combined (95% CI 1.13-1.51).

Discussion: This study concluded that consuming rainwater presents a decreased risk for diarrheal disease compared to all other sources (excluding bottled water). More studies are needed to add more evidence to the existing literature regarding health risks associated with rainwater consumption.