Synergy Session: Exploring business models for water quality monitoring labs for private wells in NL

With Dr. Atanu Sarkar, Kalen Thompson and Arifur Rahman

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Suncor Energy Fluvarium, Nagles Place, St. John's

About this Session

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador regularly tests public drinking water supplies to ensure acceptable levels of any microbiological, physical or chemical contaminants. There are over 40,000 wells in Newfoundland and Labrador servicing approximately one-fifth of the total population. However, these wells fall outside the mandate of these testing regimes, and monitoring is the sole responsibility of the individual owner. Most of these wells are located in remote rural areas, and there is no affordable laboratory facility in the province for water quality testing of these wells. Furthermore, the Aboriginal communities encounter serious water quality problems. However, little is known about complex socio-economic and cultural dynamics of water insecurities in Aboriginal communities. This Synergy Session will examine the vulnerability of the Aboriginal communities in Black Tickle (Labrador) and explore potential business models to establish a lab to serve communities in a sustainable manner.

Dr. Atanu Sarkar is a public health physician teaching at the Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University. He is training in medicine in India and did his all major public health degrees from India. Dr. Sarkar worked with UN for several years in India and also worked in Africa. He studied Environment at Queen's University before coming to Memorial University. He has been involved in water related research for nearly two decades. At MUN, he has been involved several research projects on water in NL.

Kalen Thomson is currently completing his master’s in Applied Health Services Research at Memorial University and today’s presentation represents a large portion of his thesis work. Kalen is also a full-time medical student at MUN where he leads active extra-curricular groups on rural medicine, emergency medicine, the arts in medicine and refugee health. An active researcher, Kalen is also involved in research in each of these areas. Having grown up in small town Dipper Harbour, New Brunswick, Kalen feels a particularly strong bond to health issues in rural communities.

Arifur Rahman is currently doing Masters’ in Public Health at Memorial University. This presentation comes from the research in which he was involved as a research assistant. Arifur is an International Medical Graduate from Bangladesh where he worked as a family physician and a researcher on arsenic contents of drinking water and its health hazards. He played a leadership role in a blood donation organization and an anti-smoking campaign in Bangladesh. Arifur has done a systematic review on extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis with Dr. Sarkar, and the manuscript is ready to submit. He is interested in working on public health issues in underprivileged communities.

Additional Resources:

"Water insecurity in Canadian Indigenous communities: some inconvenient truths" by A. Sarkar, M. Hanrahan, A. Hudson


The Harris Centre

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000