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Archive for the ‘environment pollution’ 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?

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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

Lead poisoning in children

Childhood lead poisoning

One of the most natural things a young child does is to place objects in its mouth. Touching and tasting is how infants learn. However, the combination of a developing brain, young body and this tendency to put things in their mouths is what puts young children at risk of lead poisoning. Not just directly from touching objects like toys that could be covered with lead based paint, but because the lead is present in tiny dust particles that get onto toys, in the soil, and on other interesting objects in the child’s every day environment.

Lead is dangerous for young children at lower levels than it is for adults because it affects the developing brain and their bodies absorb it more easily, especially in the gut. Lead poisoning in young children can lead to lower IQ, learning disabilities and behavioural problems. MORE ON LEAD AND CHILDREN HERE

With all the brouhaha about the recall of the millions of toys and related products with lead manufactured in China, most of the emphasis was on children outside of China.

However, studies show and are revealing more and more that chinese children have an ongoing and daily relationship with lead.

From Beijing: Parents around the world may have been shocked this week when 1.5mn Chinese-made Fisher-Price toys were recalled because of excessive lead content, but for mums and dads in China lead poisoning is just a fact of life.

A childhood development specialist at Peking University’s Health Science Centre said that the worry is not about big toy makers but about small factories. It is a matter of money and choice. Some Chinese parents cannot afford better, so they buy the cheapest on the stall.
Apparently toys are not the biggest threat. China has phased out leaded petrol, but house paint, old pipes and buildings and belching factories are still big sources of lead.
A study of Chinese cities in 2004 found that 10.5% of children had lead levels in their blood of at least 100 microgrammes per litre — a level considered unhealthy by the World Health Organisation. MORE ON CHINA AND LEAD HERE

SEOUL : Officials at U.S. military hospitals across the Pacific said parents who are concerned about recent toy recalls can have their children tested for lead exposure.

Many base medical officials contacted Friday said infants are regularly screened for lead exposure during routine checkups.

On U.S. bases in South Korea, parents are provided with “The Well Baby Handbook,” which provides an overview of the screening process and a seven-question questionnaire that parents and medical personnel fill out during an infant’s six-month checkup and during yearly physicals between ages 2 and 6. MORE ON US BASES AND LEAD POISONING HERE

United States: Children can be exposed to lead from lead-based paint in older buildings, or from contaminated soil near highways where vehicles once used leaded gasoline. Lead levels in children have dropped since lead was banned from both paint and fuel, but they remain significant. In 1990 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) established as a national goal reducing lead blood levels to no greater than 25 micrograms per deciliter (the equivalent of 250 parts per billion) by 2000 and no greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter (100 parts per billion) for 2010. The department’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently estimates that 300,000 American children, aged one to five years, have lead blood levels greater than the 2010 objective. Research reports also provide evidence of adverse effects at an even lower lead blood level than that of the 2010 target among children younger than 72 months.

CDC Lead Poisoning Prevention in Newly Arrived Refugee Children: Tool Kit
The CDC Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in conjunction with the Office of Refugee Resettlement developed the Lead Poisoning Prevention in Newly Arrived Refugee Children tool kit in response to the increasing number of refugee children entering in the United States…MORE ON THIS HERE

Some vinyl baby bibs made in China and sold at Toys “R” Us stores contain lead levels well above federal safety limits for lead in paint, a California environmental group said Wednesday.

A bib with “Winnie the Pooh” characters and store-brand bibs sold under the Koala Baby and Especially for Baby labels all tested positive for lead in concentrations three to four times what the Environmental Protection Agency allows in paint, according to the Center for Environmental Health in Oakland.

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.

Chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products

 More breaking news – FDA recall of millions of tubes of toothpaste with diethlylene glycol and made in China, today 28 June 2007 

28 June 2007

Breaking News – The FDA is considering pulling several brands of toothpaste made in China because they contain a chemical that could be dangerous to health 

 MERCURY IN MASCARA!? 

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group list the products and ingredients you should avoid , and mascara is among them. 

Know what is in your cosmetics  

Because of loopholes in federal law, companies can put virtually any ingredient into personal care products; moreover, pre-market safety tests are not required for any of them.
 

WATCH OUT for terms like organic, natural and hypoallergenic. Read the fine print and check the ingredients.

LAY OFF the fluoridated toothpaste. Little kids eat toothpaste, and fluoride consumption has been linked to bone cancer in boys. There’s a reason for the poison control warning on fluoridated toothpaste, so wait until they’re at least six before giving it to them. BRUSH WITH SOAP instead
 
HOW ABOUT added fragrances – can cause allergic reactions, and products that claim to be “fragrance free” often contain masking fragrances that give off a neutral odor. Check the label to be sure.

LIGHTEN UP on dark hair dyes. Many contain coal tar ingredients that have been linked to cancer.

REMOVE the nail polish, especially if you’re pregnant. It’s a product that routinely contains ingredients linked to birth defects and other problems. If you do use it, always paint nails in a well-ventilated area.

Click here for more information and to check to see what is in your product.

 There is another side to this information.  The American Council on Science and Health  ranked this among the top 10 unfounded scares of 2004.  It is now 2007 and the information still persists that chemicals are in cosmetics at levels which can be injurious to health. Read more here

Source:  Environmental Working Group; American Council on Science and Health, Muriella’s Corner online newsletter

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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