Water, Metals and Nutrition in Haiti

A collaboration between the Public Health Program at the Brown School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science to study water quality and nutrition dimensions of sustainable development.

Location: Cap Haitien, Haiti

Collaborators: Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis School of Engineering & Applied Science

Description: This study aimed to characterize metal contaminant concentrations and assess temporal and spatial variability in the main drinking water sources of Cap-Haïtien, Haiti. Water sources from five communities were sampled in two seasons, June (2014) and October (2014), and analysed for a suite of metals. A geographic information system was used to examine the spatial distribution of sampling points.

Key Findings:

  • Metal concentrations were below the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) primary drinking water standards.
  • Mean manganese concentrations were comparatively higher in wells (254.5 µg/L), exceeding the USEPA secondary drinking water standard (50 µg/L).
  • Higher mean Mg/Ca and Ba/Ca ratios (range 2.3–3.4) may indicate different interactions between seawater and groundwater throughout the year.
  • Although metal concentrations were within the limits of the USEPA drinking water standards, emerging contaminants, such as manganese, showed concentrations in excess of recommended limits.
  • These metals may interact with background nutritional status with potential implications for growth and development.

Sponsor: International Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (InCEES) at Washington University in St. Louis


Water metal contaminants in a potentially mineral deficient population of Haiti. Rivera-Núñez Z, Pan Z, Dulience B, Becker H, Giammar D, Steensma J, Iannotti L. International Journal of Environmental Health Research. 2018 Aug 4. doi: 10.1080/09603123.2018.1499880 


Evaluating environmental contaminants affecting water quality in Haiti