Parents’ Perceptions of Water Safety and Quality
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- Merkel, L., Bicking, C. & Sekhar, D. J Community Health (2012) 37: 195. doi:10.1007/s10900-011-9436-9
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Every day parents make choices about the source of water their families consume. There are many contributing factors which could affect decisions about water consumption including taste, smell, color, safety, cost, and convenience. However, few studies have investigated what parents with young children think about water quality and safety in the US and how this affects the choices they are making. This study aimed to describe the perceptions of parents with regard to water quality and safety and to compare bottled water and tap water use, as well as to examine motivation for water choices. We conducted an online questionnaire to survey parents living in Pennsylvania about water quality and safety, and preference for bottled versus tap water. Parents were recruited through child care centers, and 143 surveys were returned. The survey results showed high overall scores for perception of tap water quality and safety, and a preference for tap water over bottled water. We found that parents were concerned for the environmental impact that buying bottled water may have but were also concerned about potential contamination of tap water by natural gas drilling processes and nuclear power plants. These findings regarding parental concerns are critical to inform pediatric health care providers, water sellers, and suppliers in order that they may provide parents with the necessary information to make educated choices for their families.