Date of Conferral





Public Health


Aimee Ferraro


Twenty million people in the United States have some form of thyroid disease. In 2014, there were 62,980 new cases of thyroid cancer and 1,890 deaths. Water source is a known risk factor for thyroid disease. Pollutants that are known to alter thyroid function can find their way into water sources. The effect of various water sources on thyroid- related mortality has not been determined in the state of Georgia. The purpose of this correlational study was to investigate whether invasive thyroid disease mortality differs between urban participants who drank municipal water and rural participants who drank untreated water in Southwest Georgia. Using the ecologic systems theory, secondary data from the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Services were analyzed for 179 cases of invasive thyroid disease mortality and corresponding water source. According to the Wilcoxon-Rank sum test, there was no statistically significant difference in invasive thyroid disease mortality between individuals who consumed municipal water and individuals who consumed untreated well water. However, a disproportionate number of cases came from Dougherty County, particularly within rural areas and among women. The positive social change implication of this study was to discover an area of disparity for thyroid disease mortality in the state of Georgia. Larger studies need to be conducted to determine if there is a correlation between water consumption and thyroid disease and to explore the geographical, environmental, and demographic factors associated with cases in Dougherty County.