High Prevalence of Chemical and Microbiological Drinking Water Contaminants in Households with Infants Enrolled in a Birth Cohort-Piura, Peru, 2016

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2022 Aug 15;107(4):881-892. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.22-0098. Print 2022 Oct 12.


Chemical and microbiological drinking water contaminants pose risks to child health but are not often evaluated concurrently. At two consecutive visits to 96 households in Piura, Peru, we collected drinking water samples, administered health and exposure questionnaires, and collected infant stool samples. Standard methods were used to quantify heavy metals/metalloids, pesticides, and Escherichia coli concentrations in water samples. Stool samples were assayed for bacterial, viral, and parasitic enteropathogens. The primary drinking water source was indoor piped water for 70 of 96 households (73%); 36 households (38%) stored drinking water from the primary source in containers in the home. We found high prevalence of chemical and microbiological contaminants in household drinking water samples: arsenic was detected in 50% of 96 samples, ≥ 1 pesticide was detected in 65% of 92 samples, and E. coli was detected in 37% of 319 samples. Drinking water samples that had been stored in containers had higher odds of E. coli detection (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 4.50; 95% CI: 2.04-9.95) and pesticide detection (OR: 6.55; 95% CI: 2.05-21.0) compared with samples collected directly from a tap. Most infants (68%) had ≥ 1 enteropathogen detected in their stool. Higher odds of enteropathogen infection at the second visit were observed among infants from households where pesticides were detected in drinking water at the first visit (aOR: 2.93; 95% CI: 1.13-7.61). Results show concurrent risks of exposure to microbiological and chemical contaminants in drinking water in a low-income setting, despite high access to piped drinking water.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Arsenic*
  • Birth Cohort
  • Child
  • Drinking Water* / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Metals, Heavy*
  • Peru / epidemiology
  • Pesticides*
  • Prevalence
  • Water Supply


  • Drinking Water
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Pesticides
  • Arsenic