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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Water and sanitation a basic human right

SOURCE - AP File Photo
image – AP File Photo

The United Nations General Assembly has declared that each person on the planet has a right to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities. World leaders in 2000 called for the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation to be cut in half by 2015 (see the Millennium Development Goals)

This relates to the almost one billion people without access to safe and clean drinking water while more than 2 billion have no sanitary means of disposing human waste. The consequence of this lack of access shows up in the high numbers of children, more than one million, who die each from water and sanitation-related diseases.

Bolivia was the country sponsoring the resolution with 122 countries voting “aye” and 41 countries deciding not to vote, to abstain, such as the United States and many Western nations though Belgium, Italy, Germany, Spain and Norway supported it. The United States remains, however, “deeply committed to finding solutions to our water challenges,” but the resolution “describes a right to water and sanitation in a way that is not reflective of existing international law.” READ MORE HERE

The resolution states that “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.”

READ MORE

QUESTION TO BE PONDERED – COULD THIS ENGENDER THE NEXT WAR? OR WILL THIS LEAD US TO WORLD PEACE?

Water

To our readers

Ensuring environmental sustainability is a goal – Goal 7 – of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Muriella’s Corner is committed to support its implementation, in partnership with all who intend to help more than one billion people release their creative energies, to help free them from the shackles of a life of continuing and overwhelming poverty.

Some of you might have noticed that water has been a recurring topic* on Muriella’s Corner and blogs. This seeming bias is due to almost three decades of work in the United Nations in the area of environment, water and sanitation.

REMEMBER TO STAND UP FOR THE ELIMINATION OF POVERTY ON

17 OCTOBER 2007

Muriella’s Corner

*These are earlier issues on water
To filter or not…
End of an era…error?
Environment and you
Water, water, ice
Tips for Travelers to the Tropics

Most of my work took me to developing countries over short and long periods, working with communities, governments and not-for-profit agencies in the drilling of wells, installation of handpumps, building of latrines.

The theme of water vibrates around the globe. In most developing countries, water quantity and water quality are main hurdles for the people. In others, water quality is the main challenge.

I have seen, first hand, the pain and suffering diseases cause to families who ingest and bathe in water populated by parasites – diseases like dracunculiasis (guinea worm), schisostomiasis,bilharziasis, and all the -isises- you can think of.

People’s lives are very affected, too ill to work, not enough time to go to school as fetching water is one of the main duties, especially of girls, and so on.

But they are forced to drink what is available, even though the source is questionable.

They have no CHOICE.

On the other hand, in the developed countries, there is no lack of water. In the quest to make the water potable, many chemicals are added. One of the most insidious is chlorine.

But, since exotic diseases are not present in the water supply, people are hardly concerned about the chemicals and as such continue to drink,shower and bathe in chlorinated water (swimming pools reek of chlorine).

Some are buying bottled water, but here again, hardly any attention is given to health issues – e.g. the water source from which the water is bottled is questionable; the plastic containers are questionable, pollution issues, the financial costs of buying a bottle of water – not enough to drink per day; no attention given to the water used for showering, bathing, cooking, etc., etc.

What is to be done?

The most important thing, we believe, is for people to know that they have a choice. Information propelled them to be users of bottled water, to choose to drink bottled water instead of tap water. But if their grasp of what propelled them is understood overall, they would also be concerned about the water used for showering, bathing, cooking.

We have prepared a comprehensive newsletter on Water with the following headings:

The Water Cure
Different types of water
Bottled Water – clear choices
Brands of Bottled Water; Filtration systems
Chlorine and cancer?
Chlorine and Asthma?
Testimony on drinking water
Discussion H2O

Given the amount of information this entails, we have decided to send it to you in short sips, so that you can click through and read the article you prefer. We recommend however that you read all of them as they will be of use to you as you make your choices.

We have also developed podcasts on water and can make them available upon request.

We will continue the focus on drinking water (quality and quantity), given the focus on this issues as Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals

-Reducing poverty and achieving sustained development must be done in conjunction with a healthy planet. The Millennium Goals recognize that environmental sustainability is part of global economic and social well-being. Unfortunately exploitation of natural resources such as forests, land, water, and fisheries-often by the powerful few-have caused alarming changes in our natural world in recent decades, often harming the most vulnerable people in the world who depend on natural resources for their livelihood.

Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals sets out by the year 2015 to:

  • Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.
  • Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water.
  • Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020. (Source: millenniumcampaign.org)

For full articles and links go to this webpage

Thank you

Muriella’s Corner

STAND UP! For eliminating poverty…

Grassroots organization in Bangladesh BRAC and the hip hop community through the Hip Hop Youth Summit Council commit to ending poverty by Standing Up...

International Day of Elimination of Poverty – A Stand Up Day! from 5 pm on 16 October to 5 pm on 17 October…

go to http://www.millenniumcampaign.org and get involved

Click here for interview between A. Husain of the United Nations Development Programme and Mr F. Abed of BRAC, Bangladesh

And click here for interview with Mr Fisher, Founder of HipHop Youth Summit Council on activities by the Hip Hop community for Stand Up.

Stand up for the elimination and eradication of poverty from the planet!

Your action of standing up, of standing for the elimination and eradication of poverty will add you as a supporter of this worldwide call for the billions on the planet to stand up for each other, stand for the eradication and elimination of poverty, that is, to blast the scourge of abject poverty off the face of the planet, and to subscribe to helping communities as they work towards the achievement of the millennium development goals (MDGs)

Watch the Video Here

Stand Up and Speak Out for the 1.1 billion people who live on less than $1 a day
Stand Up and Speak Out to make world leaders listen
Stand Up and be counted
Stand Up and be heard
Stand Up and Speak Out for the Millennium Development Goals

Stand up! Stand for! Be Counted!

Here are images of the MDGs as they are now – We can fill in the blanks with the images of what we want to see:

Get images of all eight goals here


Formaldehyde in children’s clothing

Poison in children’s clothing is emerging as the latest health risk from China.

New Zealand TV3′s Target programme will this week detail how scientists found formaldehyde in woollen and cotton clothes at levels 500 times higher than is safe.

It questions why there are no New Zealand safety standards for clothes.

National Poisons Centre spokesman Dr John Fountain told the Sunday Star-Times the testing had highlighted an area where little was known in New Zealand about the effects tainted clothing would have on people.

However, international research supported by the World Health Organisation shows exposure to formaldehyde in concentrations of 20 parts per million (ppm) can cause eye, skin and nasal irritations, respiratory problems, asthma and cancer.

The European Union limits formaldehyde residues in children’s clothes to a maximum of 30ppm. The chemical is used to give a permanent press effect to clothes.

Consumers are advised to wash and air all clothes before they are worn for the first time. MORE ON THIS ARTICLE HERE

Formaldehyde in Clothing
By Dr Sharyn Martin March 2005

Have you found a problem with buying clothing? Here’s just one reason why shopping for clothes may not be a pleasant experience. A medical article “Diagnosis and treatment of Dermatitis due to Formaldehyde Resins in Clothing. *Carlson R.M., Smith M.C. & Nedorast S.T. Dermatitis 2005; 15(4): 169-175” has some interesting information that is also useful for those with chemical, (especially formaldehyde), sensitivity.

Textile formaldehyde resins have been used on fabrics since the mid 1920’s by the textiles industry to make wrinkle and stain resistant garments (eg permanent press clothing; stain-resistant). These resins can release significant amounts of formaldehyde. Not a good situation for those with chemical sensitivity.

Types of materials/fabrics most likely to have been treated with formaldehyde resins are:

  • Rayon
  • Blended cotton
  • Corduroy
  • Wrinkle-resistant 100% cotton
  • Shrink-proof wool
  • Any synthetic blended polymer (Eg rayon, polyester-cotton)
  • Heavy stiff fabrics
  • Materials/fabrics treated with textile formaldehyde resins are also used for upholstery, craft work and manchester.

Most people these days certainly do take a degree of satisfaction from purchasing new clothing, however, everyone should be aware that new clothes, towels or even sheets might contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde – the chemical used in biology labs for preserving dead animals and body parts.

There are several reasons that manufacturers use formaldehyde. It is believed that some of the chemicals help keep the fabric stain free, wrinkle free and disinfected. But more importantly, it should be made clear that formaldehyde is considered a carcinogen, a cancer causing agent.

Toothpaste recall in USA culprit diethylene glycol

Toothpaste made in China

 CNN News this morning – June 28 2007 – has announced the recall of millions of tubes of toothpaste with ingredient diethylene glycol (a sort of anti-freeze).

Muriella’s Corner has been on the trail of diethlyene glycol and the toothpaste fiasco for a while now.

At the root of all this is the fact that consumers must be cognizant of what goes into their mouths and the mouths of their children for cleaning and brushing teeth.

Given the flurry and widespread concern at one time regarding fluoride in toothpaste, and now diethlyene glycol, brushing with soap seems a healthy alternative.

More about chemicals and breastmilk

 PBDEs in breastmilk - Washington State just approved legislation banning chemical

Household products ranging from kids’ pajamas to computers release these brominated flame retardants; in house and yard dust, as well as specimens collected from sewage sludge, streams, and even in people’s bodies PBDEs can be found.

For 3 decades, manufacturers have been putting these chemicals into a wide variety of products to reduce the risk that these goods will catch fire.

PBDE, or polybrominated diphenyl ether, is a neurotoxic flame-retardant. Before 2005, the type of foam used  in upholstered furniture, mattresses, and carpet padding might have contained  PBDEs.

These chemicals have been shown to impair attention, learning, memory, and behavior at low levels in laboratory studies. Studies worldwide have found them to be building up rapidly in people, animals, and the environment, and levels in the United States and Canada are by far the highest compared to levels in other countries.

For example, since 1998, almost ten years ago, there have been concerns raised about the safety of PBDEs after Swedish scientists noticed substances related to the chemical were accumulating in human breast milk.
Most U.S. chemists trace their initial concern about these compounds to this report when the researchers stunned the audience with data showing that PBDEs were present in samples of women’s breast milk stored over the past quarter century and that the more recent the sample, the higher the concentration of the chemicals.

Almost 10 years later, EWG’s nationwide study found high levels of PBDEs in the breast milk of every American mother tested. PBDEs are still used in electronics like computers and televisions, which may be an ongoing source of exposure for people.

But breast feeding is important for many health reasons. Health professionals advise that women always breast feed when they can.

Simple steps to reduce your exposures to PBDEs include using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter, and avoiding direct contact with the foam in older furniture and mattresses.

Reconsider purchasing flame retardant pajamas and become more aware of fire hazards in the home and assume responsibility on how to reduce/eliminate them.

 There are some regulatory proposals being considered across the country that would get PBDEs out of the few remaining types of products in which they are used, including TVs and computers.

Some type of  PBDEs have been banned in Sweden that are related to PentaBDE accumulating in breast milk and other tissues. The European Union has carried out a comprehensive risk assessment of three categories of PBDE – Penta-, Octa- and DecaBDE, and banned the first two.

 Washington lawmakers just recently approved a ban on PBDEs under  House Bill 1024 which focuses on  DecaDBE, the most widely used variety. It will be banned from use in mattresses beginning 2008. The state departments of Ecology and Health will be researching an alternative chemical that must be “safer and technically feasible” for use in TVs, computers and residential upholstered furniture.  This piece of legislation makes Washington  the first state in the USA addressing the issue of safety of  PBDEs.  It awaits the Governor’s signature to become law. 

 http://muriellascorner.com/

Source: Wikipedia, EWG, Science News

related article 

The Dalai Lama speaks and the World Listens

The Dalai Lama speaks
Just recently, in Perth, Australia, the Dalai Lama reminded us of our interdependence – humans and the environment. Humans depend on the earth for survival; and the earth depends on humans for survival.
To bridge the poverty divide, the Dalai Lama implores us that we need to be conscious of how we take care of Mother Earth for environmentally sustainable and conscious activities are imperative for the survival, both of humans and of the planet.

Muriella’s Corner online

Source: bordermail.com

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