Cyanotoxins Exposure and Attributable Health Effects among Residents of Tharaka-Nithi County, Kenya
Wakhungu, Dickson Wekesa
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Access to safe domestic water remains a challenge in many rural community and water scarce areas. One key challenge is cyanotoxins in surface water that has been known to cause serious health effects among people using these sources. The main objective of the study was to determine health effects attributable to cyanotoxin exposure among residents of Tharaka-Nithi County. The study employed Analytical cross-sectional study design in which quantitative data was collected. Interview schedules were main subject ways of data collection from the household heads while water samples for cyanotoxins and physicochemical characteristics were subjected to laboratory analysis. Simple random sampling was used to select 6 water sources. Treated pipe water and residents using it were the control point. The number of households sampled was proportionate to the number of the households in the particular area which were subjected to systematic random sampling technique during data collection. Household heads or any other dependable adult present in the household at the time of interview and were willing to participate were illegible for participation. Those excluded in the study are those who met the inclusion criteria but were absent during the sampling or unwilling to participate. A household to start with was randomly picked and the calculated interval followed in a chosen direction until the required number of households was reached. Data was analyzed using SPSS version 21 and presented using tables and bar graphs. Majority (54.40%) of the respondents were of age 46 and above years. Majority (54.93%) of respondents had primary level of education. Majority (48.53%) of respondents earn less than KShs 10000 per month. Majority (36.59%) of the respondents with more than one disease symptoms related to cyanotoxins use water with high level of cyanotoxins (3.6μg/L). Two sources of water were found to have significant level of cyanotoxin (3.6μg/L and 2.3μg/L) above WHO recommended value (1μg/L). The physicochemical characteristics were found to be high in sources with detected cyanotoxins: -Total nitrogen (7.01mg/l); total phosphorous (2.16 mg/l); pH (9.8); turbidity (21.2 NTU) and temperature (27.6oC). Chi-square test showed that the level of income had significant influence on the selection of the water source while the age and level of education had no significant influence on selection of water source. Pearson correlation found that cyanotoxin levels in the water source influenced the disease symptoms related to cyanotoxins and physicochemical characteristics influenced the cyanotoxin levels in water source. The findings of this study exposed the situation on the ground on health effects related to cyanotoxins and cyanotoxins levels in water sources and hence a wake-up call to the Public Health Officer and other Sub-County authorities on safety of the water sources. It also alerts the residents on the level of cyanotoxins in water they use and effects of using such water sources.