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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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bottled water vs tap water invasion of the plastics

Make your own bottled water – get a filter and save the planet from the invasion of the plastics!

We have been following this trend – read make your own bottled water and save the planet  and bottled vs tap water

Why are people continuing to spend billions of dollars on bottled water? Why are people mindlessly engaging in pollution of the planet, billions of plastic bottles each year?

Again the headlines scream –

Bottled water: A river of money

Clean water comes out of the tap for next to nothing, yet Americans spend more on bottled water than on movie tickets or iPods — a stunning $15 billion last year. Here’s a look at a booming industry’s economics and psychology.

We Americans pitch 38 billion water bottles a year into landfills — in excess of $1 billion worth of plastic. And 24% of the bottled water we buy is tap water repackaged by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo.

Read more here

For documentary on breast cancer click here

Is cancer spreading or is it better reporting?

Cancer spreading or better reporting?

Not many decades ago, it seemed that cancer was a disease prevalent mostly in developed countries, sometimes called a disease of opulence.

 The World Health Organization reports that in 2005, out of 58 million deaths worldwide, 7.6 million deaths were due to cancer. 

Is this because of the introduction of new technologies to improve the monitoring and reporting of disease, or is it that more and more people are succumbing to the disease?

More than 70% of all cancer deaths occur in low and middle income countries, where limited or no resources are available for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Cancer deaths are projected to rise, with about 9 million people dying from cancer in 2015, and 11.4 million dying in 2030.

What is the impact of cancer in your country? 

Read more here
       

For information on how you can become involved in our documentary on breast cancer click this link

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

Revisiting the Food Pyramid with 5 Principles

Harvard Medical School Chair of Nutrition, Dr Willett,  shares 5 principles allowing us to eat, drink and be healthy, and in so doing, turn the USDA’s Food Pyramid on its head.

The USDA’s Food Guide Pyramid is “built on shaky scientific ground” , says Lisa Ellis , and distorted by the department’s mission to promote agriculture.

For example, potatoes, white bread and most pastas are bad, some fats are good, calcium isn’t as important as you think, and the U.S. government’s supposedly authoritative food pyramid is just plain wrong.

Instead, Harvard offers Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating  – a guide that author Walter Willett, M.D., Dr. P.H., says should help people navigate through the confusing tangle of diet advice because it is based on decades of accumulated research, not just one or two studies.

In summary, it recommends sharply restricting red meat, potatoes and refined grain products such as white bread; limiting dairy products to one or two servings a day; replacing unhealthy saturated fat with healthier unsaturated vegetable oils; and emphasizing whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

My edit would be that we should buy and use to the extent possible organic foods to really benefit from his principles. Among the produce that’s in season for summer: Beets, Blackberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Eggplant, Fennel, Melons, Onions (red and yellow), Peaches, Peppers, Plums, Radicchio, Rhubarb, Squash, and Sweet Corn…

Get the full information about the principles here : suggestions for eating right and feeling better

Principle 1. Eat lots of green, leafy vegetables. Everyone knows that it’s good to eat fruits and vegetables. Produce is low in calories and provides disease-fighting antioxidants as well as fiber, which helps relieve constipation and curb cholesterol levels. Antioxidant deficiencies have been linked to heart disease, cancer, eye disease and age-related memory loss.

Principle 2. “Good” fats don’t have to be boring. Your intake of saturated fat (found primarily in whole-fat dairy products and red meat) should be limited to one serving a day for whole-fat dairy and three four-ounce servings a week for red meat. Trans fats (found in baked goods, packaged snacks, crackers, margarine and many fast foods) are best eliminated.

Principle 3. Don’t get rid of all carbohydrates. Americans get half their daily calories, on average, from refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white potatoes and white rice… ready-to-eat cereals… and baked goods. Whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, millet and whole-wheat pasta, are better choices. They’ll give you long-lasting energy and lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Principle 4. Try underused protein sources. Most people get significant amounts of protein from red meat and whole-fat dairy products. However, these foods are also rich sources of saturated fat and cholesterol.

 Principle 5. Don’t forget a multivitamin. The Nurses’ Health Study shows that after 10 or more years, the colon cancer risk was cut by more than half for women who took a daily multivitamin.

Read full article here 

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. 

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Source: Wikipedia, EWG, Science News

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