Water and Health Infrastructure, Resilience, and Learning (WHIRL)

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Date: February 11, 2020
Time: 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: Faculty/Administration #2339 | Map
656 W. Kirby
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Lecture

The Humanities Center is proud to present as part of its Brown Bag Series, a talk by Richard Smith, Social Work, Associate Professor; Shawn P. McElmurry, Engineering, Associate Professor; Sydney O’Shay-Wallace, Communication, Ph.D Candidate,



Water and Health Infrastructure, Resilience, and Learning (WHIRL): Boil Water Advisories as Risk Communication

Drinking water and public health depend on each other. In many places it is difficult to avoid and fix big problems related to water quality when they happen. The NSF-funded WHIRL project will assess threats to safe water quality and what happens when people’s access to clean water is disrupted. To do this, we need to better understand the connections between drinking water and public health. We will present an overview of the WHIRL project as well as results from an analysis of boil water advisories (BWA) which we argue are a form of risk communication.

When water systems experience (potential) contamination, risk communication is utilized to advise publics to boil water before consumption and use. This study sought to understand how local news media in the U.S. incorporate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC; 2016) guidelines when reporting on BWAs. A content analysis of n = 1041 local news media articles did not consistently incorporate CDC (2016) guidelines when reporting BWAs. As local news media are primary informational sources for publics, there are serious implications related to news media’s reporting of BWAs, resiliency, and the importance of locallevel partnerships.


These talks are free and open to the public! We also provide free coffee, tea and cake!


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