Michael Harris is a PhD student in the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources within the School of Earth Sciences. He is pursuing a combined interest in water and sanitation in developing countries and environmental protection and conservation. Michael hopes to identify ways in which ecosystem health and variability in environmental quality indicators are affected by water and sanitation infrastructure choices in low-income countries.
Michael focused on environmental fluid mechanics and water resource management during his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil in Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. During this time, he worked for MACTEC Engineering and Consulting on water projects and Yellowstone National Park on water conservation and hydroelectric power.
After receiving his M.S. degree, Michael transitioned into working on a water and sanitation research project for Stanford University in Tanzania focusing on child health. Since then, he has worked on other water, sanitation, and hygiene studies in Kenya and Bangladesh. In addition to direct public health focus of these projects though, the environmental impacts of poor water management and poor waste management seemed quite apparent although perhaps not well-understood. Increasing the knowledge of these impacts at a local scale will hopefully help the process of development.
Michael's work is supported by the William C. and Jeanne M. Landreth Fellowship in E-IPER and an EPA STAR Fellowship.
Current Research and Scholarly Interests
Michael hopes to identify how ecosystem services and environmental health indicators are affected by sanitation infrastructure in development scenarios as a way to push the focus beyond that of household-level sanitation.
Community-Level Sanitation Coverage More Strongly Associated with Child Growth and Household Drinking Water Quality than Access to a Private Toilet in Rural Mali.
Environmental science & technology
Sanitation access can provide positive externalities; for example, safe disposal of feces by one household prevents disease transmission to households nearby. However, little empirical evidence exists to characterize the potential health benefits from sanitation externalities. This study investigated the effect of community sanitation coverage versus individual household sanitation access on child health and drinking water quality. Using a census of 121 villages in rural Mali, we analyzed the association of community latrine coverage (defined by a 200 m radius surrounding a household) and individual household latrine ownership with child growth and household stored water quality. Child height-for-age had a significant and positive linear relationship with community latrine coverage, while child weight-for-age and household water quality had nonlinear relationships that leveled off above 60% coverage (p < 0.01; generalized additive models). Child growth and water quality were not associated with individual household latrine ownership. The relationship between community latrine coverage and child height was strongest among households without a latrine; for these households, each 10% increase in latrine coverage was associated with a 0.031 (p-value = 0.040) increase in height-for-age z-score. In this study, the level of sanitation access of surrounding households was more important than private latrine access for protecting water quality and child health.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.est.7b00178
View details for PubMedID 28514143
Ruminants Contribute Fecal Contamination to the Urban Household Environment in Dhaka, Bangladesh
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
2016; 50 (9): 4642-4649
In Dhaka, Bangladesh, the sensitivity and specificity of three human, three ruminant, and one avian source-associated QPCR microbial source tracking assays were evaluated using fecal samples collected on site. Ruminant-associated assays performed well, whereas the avian and human assays exhibited unacceptable cross-reactions with feces from other hosts. Subsequently, child hand rinses (n = 44) and floor sponge samples (n = 44) from low-income-households in Dhaka were assayed for fecal indicator bacteria (enterococci, Bacteroidales, and Escherichia coli) and a ruminant-associated bacterial target (BacR). Mean enterococci concentrations were of 100 most probable number (MPN)/2 hands and 1000 MPN/225 cm(2) floor. Mean concentrations of Bacteroidales were 10(6) copies/2 hands and 10(5) copies/225 cm(2) floor. E. coli were detected in a quarter of hand rinse and floor samples. BacR was detected in 18% of hand rinse and 27% of floor samples. Results suggest that effective household fecal management should account not only for human sources of contamination but also for animal sources. The poor performance of the human-associated assays in the study area calls into the question the feasibility of developing a human-associated marker in urban slum environments, where domestic animals are exposed to human feces that have been disposed in pits and open drains.
View details for DOI 10.1021/acs.est.5b06282
View details for Web of Science ID 000375521400007
View details for PubMedID 27045990