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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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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.

Lead Poisoning – Toys from China Recalled

 More products recalled from China – Big Bird, Elmo, latest products cited.

NPR.org, August 2, 2007 · Toys based on Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Elmo have joined Thomas the Tank Engine in a U.S. recall of “Made in China” products Thursday as Beijing pledged to work with Washington to improve product safety. 

Lead paint on popular brand of Toys

More than 1.5 million toy trains under the brand of Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway Toys were found to have been manufactured with paint containing high amounts of lead, enough for them to be recalled.

This is the latest in contaminated products manufactured in China.

Is it now time for consumers to begin using safe as a lead criterion over price when purchasing products? Is it now time for consumers to really become savvy enough to question the content of the products before they commit to buying them, especially when young immune systems might be compromised?

Learn the signs of lead poisoning  click here.

Read more of the latest recall here

Drinking Water Sampling Stations

Local communities/school children  can get involved in sampling drinking water too

How many of us have seen a Drinking Water Sampling Station on the sidewalks in Manhattan?  How many stopped to figure out what it was all about?

Over 800 Drinking Water Sampling Stations, at a cost of $11 million,  have been installed  citywide over 10 years ago, with the aim of providing a uniform and sanitary sampling environment that will improve the efficiency of water sampling efforts, and thereby help protect public health.

DEP collects more than 1,300 water samples per month from 488 locations. Water samples are analyzed for bacteria, chlorine levels, pH, inorganic and organic pollutants, turbidity, odor, and many other water quality indicators.

Locations for the stations were chosen based on the need to gather representative samples of the water quality in all distribution areas. Consequently, factors such as population density, water pressure zones, proximity to water mains, and accessibility were considered.

The stations rise about 4 1/2 feet above the ground and are made of heavy cast iron. Inside, a 3/4 inch copper tube feeds water from a nearby water main into the station. Each station is equipped with a spigot from which water samples are taken.

THEY ARE VERY NOTICEABLE, YET GO LARGELY UNNOTICED.

Given that citizens hardly participate in efforts to improve drinking water quality, I wonder if this would be a good participatory project for citizens and EPA/DEP to work on.

Unfortunately, it is not clear whether communities participated in the decision to locate the sampling stations, and as such, I do not know how many sampling stations are installed near public schools. 

A project with potential for communities and providers collaborating would be highly beneficial for the municipality.  If school children could have been included to work together as a practicum with  EPA/DEP technicians in understanding more about water quality and health, their efforts might have led to greater participation of communities in  caring about their drinking water, knowing what is in the water, and working together with EPA/DEP to find ways to improve water quality in our taps.

Communities would thus have  had first-hand information about the quality of the water in their taps, information with which to make informed decisions on filtering or not filtering out the contaminants in the water, some of which seem to be imbedded.  They would know firsthand the type and significance of these contaminants and their potential for harm to the public. They would know why the contaminants are in the water, and why they should be in drinking water.

Their interest in water quality would also lead them to the source of our water supply – the watersheds – and increase their involvement in their protection.  So far, it is not clear whether  communities other than New York have water sampling stations.  But, the watershed partners would also include those actually sampling the water downstream and provide a wonderful understanding of the relationship between source and point of supply.

The study of the Natural Resources Defence Council (NDRC) “What’s on Tap” (see http://snipurl.com/1iuhs)  the Government — whether city, state or federal — should be doing all it can to ensure that citizens get clean, safe drinking water every time they turn on a faucet or stop at a public water fountain. And an informed, involved citizenry is the key to the process; it’s our hope that What’s on Tap? will encourage all Americans to look into the quality of their city’s water supply, and to demand that our elected officials do what’s necessary to provide safe tap water.

School children would begin to understand the unnecessary expenditure of their parents on bottled water, as. through their intimate involvement with drinking water quality issues, it would become clear to them  that what is in the bottle might be just as, or even more harmful than the tap water, as they could also take samples of the bottled water they have with them in schools and compare with the tap water in their location.

The information would help them decide whether to filter their own water instead of drinking tap or bottled water, and the benefits and disadvantages of doing so.

And so on.

In other words, the Drinking Water Sampling Stations could provide a good basis for citizen participation in monitoring water quality and understanding issues surrounding water quality and water filtration  (see http://snipurl.com/1hho4)

 

Source:  http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/sampling.html

Note:

The Information Collection Rule (ICR) was an 18-month program instituted by the EPA to collect information and assess health problems related to waterborne disease-causing organisms and disinfection byproducts (DBPs). Water samples were collected from municipalities with populations of greater than 100,000 that employ surface water, e.g., rivers, for their drinking water source. These samples were analyzed for select chemicals, parasites, and viruses. The program started in July 1997 and ran through December 1998. EPA plans to use the data generated from these samples to determine whether to revise or promulgate new regulations for controlling DBPs or pathogenic organisms in drinking water. Read more

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Blacks/African Americans and cancer – updated

Update: Gene variant that could double risk of cancer in black men identified. While discovery could lead to new treatment, it could also affect other populations.

It was reported in US News Health Day that almost twice as many black men develop prostate cancer as white men, researchers report. This study confirms that common genetic variants are linked to increased risk for prostate cancer. One of these variants, on the 8q24 gene, confers a particularly significant risk to black men.

For more information on male health, the prostate, prostate cancer go to Muriella’s Corner online newsletter

November 2007

Congresswoman McDonald dies of Cancer

source:http://caribjournal.com

rep-millender-mcdonalds-death-reported-in-california.jpgCalifornia Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald has died at her home in Carson, California. She was 68.

A democrat for seven terms, McDonald asked for a four to six week leave of absence from the House to deal with her illness, after being diagnosed with cancer. The type of cancer Millender-McDonald was battling has not been disclosed.

President and Mrs. Bush issued condolences via the White House website:
“Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald of California. She was a dedicated public servant who tirelessly and honorably served her country for many years. We hold Rep. Millender-McDonald’s family, friends, staff, and constituents in our thoughts and prayers.”

Millender-McDonald was the first African-American woman to chair the House Administration Committee.

She is survived by her husband James McDonald, Jr., five adult children and several grandchildren.

She is the second member of Congress to die of cancer this year. The first was Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), who died in February after battling cancer and lung disease.

Blacks and cancer

Research shows that Blacks from the diaspora and African Americans have the highest death and shortest survival rate among ethnic groups diagnosed with cancer, i.e., they have the highest mortality of any racial/ethnic group for all cancers combined while African American men have the highest overall cancer rates.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon – time of diagnosis (usually late stage diagnosis); lack of access to adequate health care; less knowledge (or even denial) about cancer symptoms; and lack of awareness or limited access to cancer screening services.

Other important reasons for late diagnosis and early deaths are the pervasive myths that surround a diagnosis of cancer within this diverse community. Many blacks immigrate with their health belief systems intact and are at times very loathe to change.

These beliefs can be that cancer is always fatal and therefore once contracted there is no need for treatment, to the idea that cancer is a punishment or retribution for someone’s bad behavior. The machismo factor among some male members of this community might be among the reasons for high tolerance/high threshold for pain. For them, engagning in preventive health behavior might not be macho, hence they delay going to the doctor until it is too late.

Language plays an important part in the understanding of the diagnostic process. In addition, the shortage of black medical personal specializing in the different “ologies” of the disease also introduce a communication and relational barrier to the doctor-patient relationship. Many might agree that poverty is directly linked to poor health care, however, it could be stressed that having more black doctors would help end a legacy of suspicion in the black community.

For example, people have knowledge about a study that intentionally left black men untreated for syphilis (the Tuskegee study where 400 black men were left untreated so that the disease could be studied for 40 years, even though penicillin was used as a cure during the time); and the rumor that a famous blues singer (Bessie Smith) bled to death from an accident because she was turned away from a white hospital have contributed to that legacy.

The non-participation or reduced participation of these communities in the screening process might also play a large role in the high incidence/prevalence of cancer among them. Emotions might affect frequency of visits to health care services, as anxiety of the results produces more fear than the possibility of having the dreaded disease.

And to top it off, lack of health insurance. Many people in these communities do not want to know that they have anything wrong with them, as their fear is not only about knowing but also about what would they be able to do with the knowledge that they have cancer, how would they access treatment modalities. Their focus might be on disease care (wait until…) and not on health care, which might just correlate with the overall focus of the health system. Prevention is not seen as necessary for maintaining good health, but treating a disease is.

Thus, at times there is complete denial among many Blacks and African Americans as they are afraid to know. Moreover, the daily battle to survive in a country that can be insensitive to the needs of immigrants, the poor, the sick, and distressed is so overwhelming that many Blacks and African Americans ignore the warning signs. Until it is too late.

There is a preponderance of Black/African American men in jails – we might not agree with how they happen to land in jail, but we might have some understanding as to why they are incarcerated.

There is a preponderance of Black/African American men dying of cancer – we know and agree on the why – however, what can we do about it?

More light needs to be thrown on this subject.

Medical schools need to orient more Blacks/African Americans to specialize more in the “ologies” like histology, radiology, oncology, urology, immunology, etc…, since we do have quite a few black sociologists, psychologists…

Political pundits need to take this on as an issue in their campaigns.

The Black/African American community needs to develop a combined strategy for addressing this issue of targeted health care and examine what each of us can do at the individual level to support ourselves, our families, each other.

We support the celebrities who courageously come forward to speak about their diagnoses, and we mourn those celebrities who died of this disease.

Muriella’s Corner believes that the discussion and dialogue need to be driven by the causes of cancer among the Black and African American communities. The discussion and dialogue need to be driven by those who make up the statistics, the ordinary man and woman courageously confronting or negating the disease. How are they coping? How can they be helped? What about health insurance? health education?

Muriella’s Corner would like to hear from you. Email us at customerservice@clik-n-shoppe.com

Childhood Lead poisoning – what’s for lunch?

 Lead poisoning and lunch boxes 

 An estimated 19,000 children under age six in Ohio have unsafe levels of lead in their blood, according to a new analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that identifies high-risk counties and neighborhoods across the state. The study is based on lead poisoning risk criteria from the federal Centers for Disease Control and
Ohio state health officials…Read More

Beware of Lead in Children’s Lunch BoxesThe Center for Environmental Health (CEH) in Oakland, California filed a lawsuit on August 31, 2005 against manufacturers and retailers of soft vinyl lunch boxes that can potentially expose children to dangerous levels of lead. The amount of lead found in soft vinyl lunch boxes is not enough to cause acute lead poisoning, but is enough to contribute to health problems now and in the future, the most common of which are:

  • Headaches
  • Hyperactivity
  • Stomachaches
  • Poor appetite
  • Hearing problems
  • Stunted growth
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Digestive disorders
  • Reproductive problems

According to the CEH’s report, the majority of lunch boxes tested did not contain lead. Of the 17 boxes that tested positive for lead, the one that contained the most lead was an Angela Anaconda box made by Targus International, which tested at 56,400 parts per million (ppm) of lead, more than 90 times the 600 ppm legal limit for lead in paint in children’s products. The rest of the boxes that tested positive had between two and twenty-five times the legal limit for lead in paint in children’s products.

One of the reasons why the CEH’s investigation is of significant concern is that the highest lead levels were found in the lining of lunch boxes, where it can easily come into contact with food, and where kids are likely to touch before handling their food.

It’s important to note that only soft plastic lunch boxes were tested for this report. The CEH did not test any hard plastic or metal lunch boxes.

If your child uses a soft plastic lunch box and you want to be sure that it doesn’t contain harmful levels of lead, the only way of knowing for sure is by testing it with a simple lead testing kit. In the U.S., you can find inexpensive kits at leadcheck.com or by calling 1-800-884-6073 for PACE’s Lead Alert kit. In Canada and other countries, your best bet is to call a local hardware store and ask if they have a simple lead testing kit, one that can be used to check for contamination on walls and other everyday materials that children can come into contact with.

Of course, the safest approach would be to do away with soft plastic lunch boxes and stick with reuseable cloth bags or brown paper bags.Below are some of the lunch boxes that tested high for lead in laboratory tests. CEH recommends against buying any lunch boxes made with vinyl. (See Article 3)CEH’s factsheet on lunchboxes includes a list of brand names that have been found to contain lead. CEH’s lead poisoning brochure gives general information on preventing lead poisoning. (You will need Acrobat Reader to open these files.)

 Water for kids lunch boxes

 The tendency if for busy parents to put bottled water in their kids’ lunch boxes.  And many lunch boxes have a slot for the bottled water.  But if you would like your kids to drink water that is not too questionable (see https://muriella.wordpress.com/2007/04/20/make-your-own-bottled-water-and-save-the-planet/), empower them with their own water bottles with filters that they can fill and use whenever they want to.  They would not have to fill their bottles with tap water when their bottled water is finished.  The water bottle and filter can be used again and again.  View Product Information

Check these lunch boxes below:

“Lead Free” labels

Below is a sampling of “lead-free” labels commonly found on vinyl lunchboxes this season (2006).  CEH can not affirm that these labels are accurate, and recommend parents test their own lunchboxes with a lead swabbing kit to ensure their child’s lunchbox is safe.

 


 
 
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Alternatives to Vinyl

 

Below are a list of manufacturers that offer vinyl-free lunchboxes. This list is not necessarily all-inclusive.

 

Reusablebags.com offers several vinyl-free lunchboxes:

Organic and regular cotton bags

“Lunchbugs” cloth lunch bags

CoolTotes insulated bags

EarthPak bags made from recycled soda bottles

SIGG Kids Bags

Lunch Pak by Fleurville

Laptop Lunch Kit

byo lunchbag® by BuiltNY

 

World of Good offers a hand woven reed lunchbox and is committed to fair trade.

 

Mimi the Sardine offers vinyl-free water-proof lunchbags online and in Whole Foods stores in the Northwest and Southwest.

Progressive Kid offers EarthPak bags for sale on their website and are committed to social responsibility and environmental awareness.

Source: www.EWG.org; www.cdc.gov

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