Recognizing Waterborne Disease
 and The Health Effects of Water Pollution
Patricia L. Meinhardt, MD, MPH, MA, Author



Certified, American Board of Preventive Medicine
Specialty Certification in Public Health and General Preventive Medicine



Patricia L. Meinhardt, MD, MPH, MA has been diagnosing and treating occupational and environmental illness and injury since 1989. Dr. Meinhardt is an occupational and environmental medicine specialist with advanced training as a physician-epidemiologist. She has significant expertise and experience in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of water-related disease resulting from biological, chemical, and radiologic exposure. She has monitored thousands of patients for the possible health effects associated with exposure to a diverse array of biological and chemical agents in both occupational and environmental settings. Dr. Meinhardt has also provided waterborne disease recognition and medical management training to thousands of medical and public health practitioners in the United States (US) and abroad.  For example, Dr. Meinhardt presented the keynote address at the Global Conference on Microbial Contaminates in Drinking Water sponsored by Singapore Government.  She has provided medical preparedness training addressing water contamination emergencies at the request of the Institute of Water Officers in London, England.  In addition, Dr. Meinhardt has presented water disaster preparedness training and strategic planning at the United Nations in New York City on two separate occasions.

Dr. Meinhardt received board certification from the American Board of Preventive Medicine and the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners. She completed her medical training at the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania followed by an internship in Internal Medicine at the Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. She completed her residency training in Preventive Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She also received a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins with specialty training in occupational and environmental epidemiology. Prior to her medical training, Dr. Meinhardt worked as an environmental scientist participating in both air and water pollution investigations that emphasized the use of primary pollution indicators as diagnostic signs of environmental pollution in the US.

Dr. Meinhardt has provided technical assistance and medical consultation to numerous local, state, and national organizations and agencies in both the private and public sector over the past 20 years regarding the health consequences of water-related disease.  She has chaired and moderated a number of medical conferences addressing the health effects of water pollution resulting from both microbial and chemical contamination.  She has also provided continuing medical education training to medical and public health professionals regarding the recognition, treatment, and prevention of water-related disease with a special emphasis on susceptible populations most at risk for serious morbidity.  Dr. Meinhardt has published several chapters and journal articles on waterborne disease, water pollution, and water emergencies and acts as a peer reviewer for the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and American Journal of Disaster Medicine.   She authored a major chapter on water quality management and waterborne disease from microbial and chemical water pollution that was published in Public Health and Preventive Medicine considered an authoritative reference text in preventive medicine.  Dr. Meinhardt published a review of the public health consequences of waterborne Cryptosporidium in the American Journal of Epidemiology: Epidemiologic Reviews.  In addition, she contributed a white paper to the Journal of Water and Health published by the World Health Organization addressing the need for the medical community to improve their clinical ability to accurately diagnose, treat, and monitor water-related disease in their patients.  Dr. Meinhardt was also asked by the American College of Preventive Medicine to provide a medical review and commentary representing the specialty of preventive medicine for inclusion in the online medical resource, Medscape from WebMD.   Most recently, Dr. Meinhardt was recognized as a leading scholar in the clinical evaluation of the health consequences of water pollution by the editorial board of the Oxford University Press (OUP).  She was invited by the OUP to develop an authoritative research tool for physicians and scientists that summarizes peer-reviewed and scientifically sound medical literature addressing the health effects of exposure to water contaminants. 

Dr. Meinhardt has also participated as an environmental medicine expert in the 2006 Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) Expert Review Panel (Phase II) at the invitation of the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Water.  By invitation, she acted as a subject matter expert on waterborne disease, water pollution, and disaster preparedness for water contamination events for the Responder Knowledge Base sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security and Office of Domestic Preparedness and the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism.  She has received more than $1.5 Million in funding from and worked in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to provide education to healthcare practitioners concerning the recognition, treatment, and prevention of water-related disease resulting from natural disasters, man-made pollution, and intentional contamination of water.  Dr. Meinhardt was awarded a $1.1 Million grant from the EPA to provide waterborne disease recognition, medical management, threat assessment, and risk communication training to 19,500 medical and public health practitioners, emergency response and disaster management professionals, and public infrastructure specialists throughout the US and Canada.  She developed and delivered more than 50 seminars addressing the medical management of water contamination through webinars, videoconferences, satellite broadcasts and live webcasts to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Guam with viewing audiences of up to 10,000 viewers for webcast events.

In addition, Dr. Meinhardt participated in a four-year cancer cluster investigation that addressed an unusual number of cancer cases in a population of 7,000 students attending school in a facility built on an industrial site with the potential for multiple environmental chemical contaminant exposure in New York State.  Dr. Meinhardt acted as the medical advisor for the affected community and provided guidance and direction for subsequent medical surveillance and cancer cluster investigations completed by state health agencies.  Dr. Meinhardt’s role also included providing multiple public risk communication and media presentations as well as participating in 15 public outreach meetings detailing the process and findings of health studies conducted on the affected student population in the community. During the four year period of this investigation, Dr. Meinhardt: 1) reviewed the design, methodology, and conclusions of the cancer cluster investigation and other supplementary health studies; 2) provided recommendations for ongoing medical surveillance activity in the population at risk; 3) prepared written critique/synopses of technical reports and environmental monitoring data; and 4) developed summary reports detailing health study conclusions and health risk assessments appropriate for communication to the general public and affected community.

Dr. Meinhardt has also authored a medical reference guide, Recognizing Waterborne Disease and the Health Effects of Water Pollution: A Physician On-Line Reference Guide, accessible at to provide comprehensive resources for healthcare providers and public health authorities faced with recognizing and managing water-related disease in their communities.  In  a five year period, the medical website received more than 10 million hits for information from over 350,000 visitors located in 105 countries and 9 regions and territories.   More than 425 organizations have highlighted and incorporated this medical website as a waterborne disease and water pollution medical reference guide including the American Medical Association (AMA), the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), and the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM).  With sponsorship from the American College of Preventive Medicine, Dr. Meinhardt developed a 44.5 hour online Continuing Medical Education (CME) offering for review of the content of this medical website.  The CME training module provides AMA accredited continuing medical education to physicians and provides specialized training in the health effects of water-related disease in both the general population and in susceptible populations most at risk for developing negative health outcomes from waterborne exposure to hazardous agents.  More than 2,000 CME credits have been awarded by the AMA to physicians who have completed this CME training authored by Dr. Meinhardt.

Dr. Meinhardt currently provides occupational and environmental medicine consultation and public health subject matter expertise to numerous private sector organizations and public health agencies in the US as the medical director of OEM Consultation.  For example, she participated in a water contaminant and public health review of drinking water for the Water Quality Division of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.   Dr. Meinhardt and her colleagues developed a series of public health strategies that targeted chemical and microbial concerns in distributed water for the Los Angeles drinking water supply.   She has been invited to act as an expert peer reviewer for the EPA Office of Water and to critically evaluate a major summary of the chronic health effects of water-based contaminants including the need for treatment and follow-up medical monitoring.  Dr. Meinhardt has participated in a series of projects involving the development of disaster preparedness training programs, the creation of web-based emergency response resource tools, the review of central policies and response protocols for medical emergencies, and the preparation of summary reports and guidance documents subsequently used for program development and resource allocation for both private and public sector organizations.  As a consultant, Dr. Meinhardt has also developed several large-scale, multi-year medical monitoring programs for environmentally exposed populations at increased risk for disease from exposure to hazardous substances in water.

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Page last modified on April 23, 2014

Patricia L. Meinhardt, MD, MPH, MA, Author

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