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The Dynamics of British Health Policy.

Water has a profound influence on human health. At a very basic level, a minimum amount of
water is required for consumption on a daily basis for survival and therefore access to some form
of water is essential for life. However, water has much broader influences on health and wellbeing and issues such as the quantity and quality of the water supplied are important in
determining the health of individuals and whole communities.
The first priority must be to provide access for the whole population to some form of improved
water supply. However, access may be restricted by low coverage, poor continuity, insufficient
quantity, poor quality and excessive cost relative to the ability and willingness to pay. Thus, in
terms of drinking-water, all these issues must be addressed if public health is to improve. Water
quality aspects, whilst important, are not the sole determinant of health impacts.
The quality of water does, however, have a great influence on public health; in particular the
microbiological quality of water is important in preventing ill-health. Poor microbiological
quality is likely to lead to outbreaks of infectious water-related diseases and may causes serious
epidemics to occur.
Chemical water quality is generally of lower importance as the impact on health tend to be
chronic long-term effects and time is available to take remedial action. Acute effects may be
encountered where major pollution event has occurred or where levels of certain chemicals are
high from natural sources, such as fluoride, or anthropogenic sources, such as nitrate.