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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

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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.

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