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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.


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

Wellness and Breast Cancer

From Muriella’s Corner, the online newsletter on health and nutrition, we will share information and healing methodologies relevant to cancer wellness.
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Diethylene glycol | A Detective Story

On the trail of diethylene glycol 

It’s happening. Again…

The masked killer/terrorist – diethlyene glycol – masquerading as glycerin.
The “Federal Detective Agency” (the FDA) is on the trail of the mystery of diethylene glycol, a product great for anti-freeze but not for human consumption. 
1997 – Haiti
The trail was hot about 10 years ago, in 1997 when it was discovered that tainted glycerin from China used in medicinal children’s products and taking the lives of 88 Haitian children.

The mission of the detective work was to learning how diethylene glycol, a syrupy poison used in some antifreeze, ended up in Haitian fever medicine, because an official thought that this information  might “prevent this tragedy from happening again”.
So far – no traces of records, closed factories, dead end, with no one fessing up nor accepting responsibility.
Diethylene glycol is almost always fatal when consumed by humans, typically leading to acute renal failure. The CDCs National Centre for Environmental Health reported that any formulations intended for oral consumption which may contain or are suspected of containing diethylene glycol should be immediately withdrawn from any possibility of human consumption and reserved for future analysis.
According to laboratory analysis performed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, diethlyene glycol, an ingredient of automobile, i.e. anti-freeze, was found in two samples of liquid acetaminophen called “Afébril” and “Valodon” manufactured locally in Haiti. There is no known antidote.
One of the main reasons for FDA’s alarm bells to chime at that time was not necessarily because of the deaths of children Haiti, but, given the proximity of Haiti to the US, the FDA feared that such an event could occur in the US.
Fast forward to 2006 – Panama

About 100 people died in Panama as a result of antifreeze diethylene glycol in consumable products.  China itself suffered about 10 deaths when consumers used diethlyene glycol tainted products.
At least five other mass poisonings were documented  involving the killer/terrorist chemical in the past two decades — in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Argentina and twice in India.

In 2007,  toothpaste manufactured in China and containing diethylene glycol was found in the United States and seven other countries, prompting tens of thousands of tubes to be recalled.

The chemical was also found in a batch of Chinese-made toothpaste exports in Nicaragua about two weeks ago, after which the FDA warned consumers to avoid toothpaste exported from China.
Recent information sustained this fear as toothpaste made in China was put on the FDA’s list of products recalled. And wait, there’s more…

Brands are being hijacked.  For example, Colgate-labelled toothpaste made in South Africa is sold in five-ounce (100ml) tubes in discount stores in the US.
 Officials from Colgate clarified that they do not make or sell toothpaste in that size tube nor do they import toothpaste into the US from South Africa.
While the government, companies and other agencies are doing their detective work, what can we do?

Consumers can first of all educate themselves about chemicals in consumer products and seek alternatives – for an alternative to toothpaste click here

Questionable products have been dumped, are being dumped, and will continue to be dumped overseas in record numbers and volume.  Consumers abroad are at increased risk of consuming tainted, outdated products. Local watchdog groups need to be developed to alert the public to this phenomenon, which might be central to any debate on  poverty.

Read up on labels, ingredients, be very aware of products manufactured anywhere.  There seems to be no safe haven for the consumer as regards product integrity.

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