Project #1563

The Chicago Health, Environmental Exposure, and Recreation Study (CHEERS)

Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Ms. Lola Olabode
Metro Water Reclamation Dist of Greater Chicago
Microbes & Pathogens
Source & Receiving Waters


The Chicago Health, Environmental Exposure, and Recreation Study (CHEERS) research study evaluated the health risks of limited contact water recreation activities (i.e. motor boating, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, and rowing) on the Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS). The CAWS receives treated, but not disinfected wastewater from the water reclamation plants of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC). Over 11,000 participants enrolled in this epidemiological study to determine the rate of illness attributable to CAWS recreation. Results show that with the exception of somewhat more frequent mild eye symptoms, health risks following recreation in the CAWS were comparable to that of other area waters. Study findings may provide a scientific basis for the development of state or federal water quality standards. WERF provided the independent peer-review for this study funded MWRDGC. 415 pgs Note: Non-WERF Subscribers can access the report at

Originally funded as WERF project PATH1PR06.