Percepciones Sobre Las Aguas De La Cuenca Hidrográfica Del Valle De Lluta Y La Situación De Arsénico

Home Institution

University of Puget Sound

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment


This study examines the opinions and perceptions of water quality -- specifically the presence of high levels of arsenic –of the inhabitants ofthe river valley Lluta, located in the XV region of Arica and Parinacota, Chile. For objectives, it seeks to characterize the local population, determine the use and relation of to their water resources, and analyze opinions present about the contamination. This region of Chile is the ancestral territory of the Aymara people, who have inhabited this region for at least 800 years. For them, water is more than a natural resource; it is the basis for their culture, religion, traditions, and organization of the world. For this reason, the ongoing issues of water rights and quality in Chile carry an extra level of importance. As recently as 2014, levels of arsenic were discovered in tap water in the village of Poconchile with over 5 times the current limit enforced by the Chilean government. Levels in well water and the nearby river have been observed even higher. As of yet there is no consensus over the current situation with respect to this contamination. To collect information for this descriptive study, 26 people residing in two different locations in the Lluta river valley (11 in the town of Poconchile and 16 in the village of Putre) were surveyed and presented with 13 mixed answer questions (both closed and open-ended answers). In addition, interviews were conducted with workers and directors of rural water purification systems (APRs), famers, community leaders and healthcare workers. All surveys and interview conducted in this study adhered to a code of ethics to protect the anonymity of all participants. The grand majority of participants belonged to the Aymara people, with a particularly strong presence in the village of Putre. Overall the results suggest a lack of information about the presence of arsenic and its effects in health. Additionally, 4 the results suggest that the Aymara perspective and organization of the world is at odds the notion that traditional sources of water pose health risks. To mitigate these risks, care must be taken by public health services to communicate what is actually meant by the said contamination.


Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy | Water Resource Management

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