More than 35 million people in coastal Bangladesh are vulnerable to increasing freshwater salinization. This will continue to affect more people and to a greater extent as climate change projections are realised in this area. However the evidence for health effects of consuming high salinity potable water is limited. This research examined the association between high salinity potable water and blood pressure in young adults in coastal Bangladesh.Design and Method:
We conducted a cross-sectional study during May-June 2014 in a rural coastal sub-district of Bangladesh. Data on BP and salinity of potable water sources was collected from 251 participants aged 19–25 years. A linear regression method was used to examine the association between water salinity exposure categories and systolic (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) level.Results:
Mean salinity concentration in drinking water was 817 mg/L, which was above the Bangladesh standard for salinity in drinking water. Multivariable linear regression analyses identified that compared to the low water salinity exposure category (< 600 mg/L), those in the high water salinity category (> 600 mg/L), had statistically significantly higher SBP (B 3.35, 95% CI 0.66, 6.05; p = 0.015) and DBP (B 2.85, 95% CI 0.40, 5.30; p = 0.023).Conclusions:
Our research shows that elevated salinity in drinking water is associated with an increase in BP in young coastal populations. Blood pressure is an important biomarker of hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Given the extent of salinization of freshwater in many low-lying countries including in Bangladesh, and the likely exacerbation related to climate change-induced sea level rise, implementation of preventative strategies through dietary interventions along with promotion of low saline drinking water must be a priority in these settings.