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Keywords

Rural Studies, Sociology, Geography

Abstract

This paper develops and tests an environmental health ecological framework between the quality of infrastructure, utilities and resident’s practices to health problems reported in three Nueces County, Texas colonias. Populated by predominantly low-income, minority families, these peri-urban settlements are characterized by substandard housing, lacking traditional sewage systems, potable drinking water and pluvial drainage. It was hypothesized that those without indoor toilets, pluvial drainage and regular garbage collection would be more likely to report health problems. The study found that keeping trash for over a week was statistically related to gastrointestinal illness and eye infections. Having indoor toilets in conjunction with substandard septic tanks was statistically related to gastrointestinal illness, respiratory problems and skin infections. The lack of pluvial drainage was statistically significantly, while not related to a particular disease. The argument is made that flooding problems may have contributed to the sanitation problems. Specifically, drainage problems affect the septic tanks and cause backflow to the indoor toilets. Although a small sample, the findings show that people who live in colonias are at risk for disease because structural measures to improve sanitation are not available.

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