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In rural health development practice, engineers and scientists must recognize the complex interactions that influence individuals' contact with disease-causing pathogens and understand how household habits may impact the adoption and long-term sustainability of new technology. The goal of this study was to measure the effect of various environmental health factors and household demographics on the operation and maintenance of the Biosand filter (Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology, Calgary, Alberta, Canada) and diarrhea health burden in the region. In July and August 2010, randomized household surveys (n = 286) were completed in rural Guatemala detailing water access, sanitation availability, hygiene practice, socio-economic status, education level, filter operation and maintenance, and diarrhea health burden of the home. A hypothesized structural equation model was developed based on a review of published research and tested using the surveyed data. Model-derived parameter estimates indicated that: (a) proper personal hygiene practices significantly promote proper filter operation and maintenance; and (b) higher household education level, proper filter operation and maintenance, and improved water supply significantly reduce diarrhea health burden. Additionally, a high level of unexplained variance in diarrhea indicated the filter, though protective of health, is not the only factor influencing diarrhea.


Daniel William Divelbiss, Dominic Louis Boccelli, Paul Allan Succop, Daniel Barton Oerther. Environmental health and household demographics impacting biosand filter maintenance and diarrhea in Guatemala: an application of structural equation modeling. Environmental science & technology. 2013 Feb 5;47(3):1638-45

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PMID: 23153353

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