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2nd International Conference on Rain Water Cistern Systems
St Thomas, Virgin Islands - June, 1984

Section E: Quality Considerations

Paper E.6

Use Of Rainwater For Drinking Purposes: Its Health Implications

L.C. Neri, C.K. Li, E.J. Schiller


The effects on health from drinking water have long been of concern to sanitary engineers, epidemiologists and public health researchers. Initially the problem was biological contamination; in the last two decades attention has shifted to toxic chemicals and, more recently, to the contribution of essential elements from drinking water.

These concerns led to several studies on the relationship between drinking water and health, however only few have focused on the effect of the removal of essential substances occurring naturally in drinking waters, as in desalinized or demineralized waters, a situation close to that facing the use of rainwater.

Adverse health effects can arise in three ways: 1) from deficiency of elements in rainwater, particularly in areas where mineral intake from diet may be deficient, 2) from leaching into rainwater of toxic substances present in materials used for storage distribution,, and 3) from contamination by atmospheric pollutants.

After reviewing the literature, the authors discuss the present state of knowledge on the subject. It is concluded that epidemiological and health monitoring studies are needed to improve our knowledge of the effects from prolonged use of rainwater and to suggest ways of prevention through engineering innovations and nutritional supplementation.

PDF of full document (24pp, 380kb)

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