Water, an essential resource and potential health risk! rural perceptions, awareness and knowledge of health risks

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Most people in developed nations give little regard to the water that comes out of the tap, considering water quality to be a 'third world issue'. This chapter presents findings from three years of research on residents' perceptions of drinking water quality across eastern Australia, including those who manage their own water. The findings and discussions are framed within the health literacy discourse and demonstrate how present water quality reporting practices fail to enable consumers to develop adequate health literacy about their drinking water. The impact of current practices limiting health literacy development is identified as having a greater impact on rural and regional residents than on urban counterparts. This variation is noted as due to differences in risk perceptions facilitated by population size-based testing regimes that do not take into account regionally specific risks. Levels of health literacy are demonstrated through respondents comments in relation to a well publicised issue, fluoride, and an issue the population may have basic knowledge about yet not necessarily associate with drinking water, agriculture. The chapter concludes by advocating information dissemination strategies that appropriately address community concerns and preferred means of knowledge attainment and engagement. This call for an effective strategy is tempered by acknowledging the need to ensure residents are able to identify suitable, trustworthy experts.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRural lifestyles, community well-being and social change
Subtitle of host publicationLessons from country Australia for global citizens
EditorsAngela T Ragusa
Place of PublicationAustralia
PublisherBentham Science Publishers
Number of pages42
ISBN (Electronic)9781608058020
ISBN (Print)9781608058037
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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