Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)

Basic sanitation facilities, clean water supplies, and hygienic behaviors are foundations of public health. Hundreds of millions still lack basic access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), which is responsible for diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections, soil-transmitted helminth infections, trachoma, schistosomiasis, and poor growth and nutrition. Diarrheal diseases are one of the leading causes of under-five mortality in the world. Water and sanitation insecurity disproportionately impacts the urban and rural poor, as well as women and girls.

Emory is a global leader in the field of WASH. Faculty in the Department of Environmental Health have substantial expertise in environmental reservoirs and transmission pathways of water- and soil-borne pathogens, and evaluation of interventions to improve WASH conditions. The Rollins School of Public Health is home to the Center for Global Safe WASH (CGSW), founded in 2004 through the support and generosity of Dr. Eugene J. and Rose Gangarosa. Emory is also a founding member of the Atlanta Consortium for Safe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, a group of academic (Emory, Georgia Institute of Technology), non-profit (CARE USA, Carter Center), and government (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) partners with a significant history of collaboration on major projects and WASH research.

Students at Rollins have many opportunities to pursue WASH-related research and practicum projects outside the classroom by working with faculty and partner organizations to implement, maintain, and evaluated WASH-related programs in both domestic and international contexts. Emory is the only School of Public Health to offer a Certificate in WASH studies, a rigorous, self-guided certificate program that aims to increase the competitiveness of RSPH students for WASH-related careers.

Examples of current faculty research on WASH:

  • Measuring the Impact of WASH in Schools (WinS) in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
  • Assessing the health impact of water filters and improved cook stoves on diarrhea in Western Province, Rwanda

  • Evaluation of Salmonella in Produce Irrigation Source Water in Southern Georgia
  • Examining the climate drivers of diarrheal diseases in Ecuador and China

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Faculty and Research Interests

Tom Clasen, PhD, JD, Professor and Rose Salamone Gangarosa Chair, Sanitation and Safe Water Evaluation, global health, health outcomes, infectious disease, safe water, sanitation

Matt Freeman, PhD, Assistant Professor
Uptake and adoption, sustainability, and health impacts of water, sanitation, hygiene behaviors and technologies

Matthew Gribble, PhD, Assistant Professor
Research Interests: oceans and human health; drinking water; environmental epidemiology; epigenetics and gene-environment interactions; indigenous health

Karen Levy, PhD, Assistant Professor
Safe water, infectious disease, microbial ecology, produce safety, global health, antibiotic resistance, climate change

Paige Tolbert, PhD, O. Wayne Rollins Professor and Chair
Pulmonary, cardiac and reproductive health effects of ambient air pollution exposure, carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, pesticides, water pollution

Robert Breiman, MD (Global Health)

Juan Leon, PhD (Global Health)

Christine Moe, PhD (Global Health)

Joe Brown, PhD (Georgia Tech, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Vincent Hill, PhD (CDC)

Flemming Konradsen, PhD (University of Copenhagen

Justin Remais, PhD (University of California, Berkeley)

Jonathan Yoder, MPH (CDC)

Graduate Certification in Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: http://www.sph.emory.edu/wash/

EH 546/GH 580 Environmental Microbiology: Control of Food and Waterborne Diseases Spring
EH 548 Research Methods for Studies of Water & Health Spring
EH 549 Critical Analysis of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Research Fall
EH 582/GH 582 Global Climate Change: Health Impacts & Response Fall
EH 571 Global Environmental Health Policy: Power, Science and Justice Spring
EH 590R Design, Delivery, and Assessment of WASH in School Programs Spring
EHS 750 Environmental Determinants of Infectious Diseases Spring
GH 516 Global Perspectives in Parasitic Diseases Fall
GH 529 Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries Fall
CE 4110 Water Quality Engineering*
GH 560 Monitoring and Evaluation of Global Health Programs Fall
CEE 4803* Environmental Technology in the Developing World Spring

*Courses available at Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Civil Engineering

Head, Jennifer (2015). “Plausibility evaluation of integrated WASH, health, and nutrition programming on childhood growth and maternal and child illness in Oromia, Ethiopia.” Advisor: Matt Freeman

Persons, Maggie (2015). “Assessing the influence of social capital on water point sustainability in Rural Ethiopia.” Advisor: Matt Freeman

Fry, Dionna (2014). “Adoption and use of the arborloo in rural Ethiopia: A cross-sectional study.” Advisor: Matt Freeman

Martinsen, Andrea (2014). “Predictability of rural hand pumps in northern Mozambique.” Advisor: Matt Freeman

Pennington, Whitney (2014). "Establishing a method for microbiological evaluation of fresh produce at risk for salmonella contamination." Advisor: Karen Levy

Dayo, Mayowa (2013). “Baseline analysis of ground water quality around open dumpsites in Lagos, Nigeria: Focus on polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons.” Advisor: Barry Ryan

Rao, Gouthami (2013). "Microscale dynamics of Escherichia coli in rivers of Northern Coastal Ecuador." Advisor: Karen Levy

Ram, Vijay (2012). “A deterministic and probabilistic analyses of the carbon tetrachloride contaminant plume in groundwater at the former union Carbide India Limited Factory in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India.” Advisor: Barry Ryan

Streby, Ashleigh (2012). “Comparison of real-time PCR methods to detect Naegleria fowleri in environmental samples.” Advisor: Karen Levy

Robb, Katharine (2011). “Influences of household storage on E. coli concentration in drinking water in northern, coastal Ecuador.” Advisor: Karen Levy

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Templin, Lindsay (2015). “Factors Impacting Uptake and Utilization of Klorfasil in Thomassique, Haiti, and Recommendations for the Development of a New Program Model.”

Chen, Chi (2013). “Comparing the Implementation of Handwashing between Parents and their Children.”

Carmichael, Sara (2012). “Development of a Commissioning Process and Computer Monitoring System for Emory University Past and Future Cistern Systems.”

Purba, Jhon (2011). “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis of Safe Water System (SWS) Interventions in Developing Countries.”

Center for Global Safe Water (Atlanta, Georgia): Conduct an analysis of data received from the Clean Greens III farm worker hand hygiene intervention project. Determine whether hand washing or SaniTwice hygiene interventions significantly reduced the level of fecal contamination on farm worker hands, and whether this reduction is sustained after hand harvesting three 5-gallon buckets of jalapeño peppers from the field.

Sankat Mochan Foundation (Varanasi, India): Conduct water quality testing on Ganges River using the IDEXX System for Coliform and E. coli. Advocate for environmentally sustainable and culturally appropriate waste water treatment for the city of Varanasi.

Water for People (Blantyre, Malawi): Increase dialogue in the partnership between the Hygiene Village Project and Water for People - Malawi. Enhance Water for People - Malawi's understanding of the sanitation needs, situation, and perceptions in Blantyre. Improve community involvement in Water for People's and its partners' water and sanitation programs in Blantyre, Malawi.

World Health Organization (Manila, Philippines): Administer hand hygiene practice and knowledge surveys to all available clinical and support staff during rural hospital site visits. Complete 20 sanitation facility observational checklists to quantify the quality of the facilities at each of the 20 rural hospitals in rural Mongolia. Offer detailed and constructive recommendations as well as outlining specific modifications that can be made to improve the health outcomes and facilities in rural hospitals in Mongolia.

Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, Waterborne Epidemiologist Fellow: Develop materials for public education on waterborne diseases at the Indiana State Department of Health. Investigate outbreaks and work on a statewide and interagency cooperative surveillance project on harmful algal blooms.

Emory University, Public Health Program Associate: Manage two international research projects on water and sanitation in developing countries. Duties involve field data collection (environmental sampling and surveys), logistics, study design, analysis and reporting.