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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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Make your own bottled water and save the planet

update:

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chlorine and human health

The Medical College Of Wisconsin research team asserts that there is an association between cancer and chlorinated water, based on one of their studies.

After more than 100 years of chlorine being added to drinking water as a standard and cheap way of making water drinkable, the jury are now saying that the long term effects of drinking chlorinated water pose a higher cancer risk than for those drinking non-chlorinated water. – i.e. we drink bleach!(U.S. Council Of Environmental Quality).

Get a filter or be a filter!

Note from The Editor, Muriella’s Corner

A recent visit to a friend prompted me to revisit this article on water. She is suffering from an inflammatory disease and was told to drink lots of water. She buys bottled water at $10.00 a case of 35, and at times drinks 3-4 bottles a day, which means that in 9 days she has to repurchase. In a month, she has already spent about $40.00 on bottled water for drinking. In a year she will have spent $480.00, and could, if the bottles are not recycled, produce 140 plastic bottles a month as garbage, or 1,680 plastic bottles a year.

For families who buy bottled water, consideration should be given to buying a water filter and a shower filter. In addition to the health effects(drink, cook, shower with filtered water) and the economic gain over time, we would not contribute as much to polluting the environment with plastic.

If we stop and think for a moment, we would realise that our being on automatic could affect our health, finances and our environment.

See below for information on water filtration. With regard to the pollution of the environment, our first effort is to become aware ourselves of the amount of plastics we use that contribute to the pollution of the planet (e.g. plastic bags and grocery shopping, bottled water in plastic bottles, plastic hangers … When we become aware, we can decide what, if anything to do about it, and do something.

Given the inconsistences among the bottled water sources, why not control your source and, instead of being a filter, get a filter.

Water quality is, in general, getting worse. You usually cannot rely on clean water directly from the faucets in your home, nor from the bottled sources. To treat often-polluted water, cities and government agencies must use more and more chemicals, which affect the taste, color and odor of the water. There are various home filtration models available on the market.

Here are some suggestions below on those I use and promote. To guard the integrity and purity of the water, filters need to be replaced; frequency depends on the quality of water in your area.

Countertop system (dual system filter cartridge sold separately. (http://snipurl.com/1hho4) The countertop filtration system can also be installed under the counter with purchase of filtration kit.
Shower head (with shower wand purchased separately http://snipurl.com/1hhnt), the skin being the largest organ, absorbs the most water daily.  Read more on filters and KDF Filtration systems

See Muriella’s Corner on Chlorine and Asthma and Chlorine and Cancer and Fluoride and Boy’s health http://onlineitools.com/nl/nl-output.php?nl_id=20007&bus_id=2213&plain=0

as well as Muriella’s Corner on fluoride in drinking water

http://snipurl.com/h2ofluor

And water quality issues/water treatment

Editor, Muriella’s Corner

xxxxx

Buying bottled water is wrong, says Suzuki
Environmentalist launches national tour on green issues
Last Updated: Thursday, February 1, 2007 | 12:46 PM ET
CBC News
Canadians wanting to do something about the environment can start by
drinking tap water, environmentalist David Suzuki says.

“Everywhere I go across Canada, I insist I be given tap water when I get up
to speak,” Suzuki told CBC News on Thursday.

David Suzuki says plastic water bottles generate waste and potential
health hazards because of their chemical composition.
(CBC) “I think in Canada it’s absolutely disgusting that people are so
uncertain about their water that we buy it, paying more for bottled water
than we do for gasoline.”

Suzuki – who was in St. John’s on Thursday to launch a cross-country
speaking tour aimed at engaging people in politics, particularly
environmental issues – said there is no good reason for Canadians to buy
bottled water.

Moreover, he said it’s destructive to import bottled water from producers in
countries such as France.

“It’s nuts to be shipping water all the way across the planet, and us –
because we’re so bloody wealthy – we’re willing to pay for that water
because it comes from France,” he said in an interview.

“I don’t believe for a minute that French water is better than Canadian
water. I think that we’ve got to drink the water that comes out of our taps,
and if we don’t trust it, we ought to be raising hell about that.”

Key environmental issues with bottled water, Suzuki said, are waste and
uncertainty over the long-term health effects created by plastic.

“Not only does bottled water lead to unbelievable pollution – with old
bottles lying all over the place – but plastic has chemicals in it,” he
said.

“Plastics are ubiquitous. I don’t believe that plastics are not involved in
a great deal of the health problems that we face today.”

Last August, delegates to the United Church of Canada’s general council
voted to discourage the purchase of bottled water within its churches. The
motion called on church members to advocate against the “privatization of
water” and to support healthy local supplies of water.
xxxxxxxxx
Bottled water from different sources

When shopping for bottled water, you first need to know the different types. The following are the types of water that conform to the Standards of Identity as set forth by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

Artesian Water/Artesian Well Water — Bottled water from a well that taps a confined aquifer (a water-bearing underground layer of rock or sand) in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.

Drinking Water: Drinking water is another name for bottled water. Accordingly, drinking water is water that is sold for human consumption in sanitary containers and contains no added sweeteners or chemical additives (other than flavors, extracts or essences). It must be calorie-free and sugar-free. Flavors, extracts or essences may be added to drinking water, but they must comprise less than one-percent-by-weight of the final product or the product will be considered a soft drink. Drinking water may be sodium-free or contain very low amounts of sodium.

Mineral Water — Bottled water containing not less than 250 parts per million total dissolved solids may be labeled as mineral water. Mineral water is distinguished from other types of bottled water by its constant level and relative proportions of mineral and trace elements at the point of emergence from the source. No minerals can be added to this product.

Purified Water — Water that has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other suitable processes while meeting the definition of purified water in the United States Pharmacopoeia may be labeled as purified bottled water. [This can mean plain tap water has been purified by one of the above three processes.]

Other suitable product names for bottled water treated by one of the above processes may include “distilled water” if it is produced by distillation, “deionized water” if it is produced by deionization or “reverse osmosis water” if the process used is reverse osmosis. Alternatively, “___ drinking water” can be used with the blank being filled in with one of the terms defined in this paragraph (e.g., “purified drinking water” or “distilled drinking water”).

Sparkling Bottled Water — Water that after treatment, and possible replacement with carbon dioxide, contains the same amount of carbon dioxide that it had as it emerged from the source. Sparkling bottled waters may be labeled as “sparkling drinking water,” “sparkling mineral water,” “sparkling spring water,” etc.

Spring Water — Bottled water derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. Spring water must be collected only at the spring or through a borehole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring. Spring water collected with the use of an external force must be from the same underground stratum as the spring and must have all the physical properties before treatment, and be of the same composition and quality as the water that flows naturally to the surface of the earth.

Well Water — Bottled water from a hole bored, drilled or otherwise constructed in the ground, which taps the water aquifer.

Without taking taste into consideration, the best deals on buying bottled water are found at shopping clubs such as Costco Wholesale. Grocery stores have the next-best deals, while convenience stores are pricey. A bottle at a convenience store commonly costs three to four times more than one purchased in bulk at a shopping club.
The bottled water business has grown phenomenally in recent years.

According to data from Beverage Marketing Corporation, bottled water sales in the United States has increased by almost 50 percent from 1999 to 2004, from 17.3 billion liters to 25.8.

While choosing bottled water over tap water due to safety concerns is a major reason for consumers spending more than a dollar a gallon on the liquid (in some cases it costs more per gallon than gasoline!), other people buy it because they prefer the taste over tap water or they like the convenience of the bottles when traveling.

The health concern is real. In the United States the vast majority of tap water is safe to drink due to testing and regulations, but in some other countries contaminated public water is a constant threat. One thing to keep in mind is most bottled water does not contain fluoride, and most American tap water is enhanced with the cavity-fighting substance. People who choose to exclusively drink bottled water may want to consider fluoride supplements, especially for their children.

To some people, the thought of one brand of bottled water tasting better than a comparable product is ridiculous. To illustrate that belief, in 2003 comedians Penn and Teller conducted a taste test in an upscale restaurant. Diners lavished praise on what they thought was expensive bottled water and picked their favorites, but all containers were filled from the same garden hose.

Nonetheless, many shoppers insist they can tell a difference between brands and buy accordingly.

The price between tap and bottled water is significant for several reasons, including the cost of the land where the water originates, plus the bottles, putting water in bottles and then transporting bottles to points of sale.

Some water bottles are made of petroleum resin, and as the price of oil increases so does the water. Such bottles don’t decompose, which adds an environmental cost to the equation.

Brands of Bottled Water; Filtration systems

Here’s how some brands compare, listed from least to most expensive:

Deer Park Spring Water, price per 1/2-liter bottle.

Costco: 13.4 cents (35-bottle pack)
Wal-Mart: 20.8 cents (24 bottles)
Bi-Lo: 20.8 cents (24 bottles, with frequent shopper card) or 29.1 cents (without frequent shopper card)
Food Lion: 25 cents (24 bottles)
Convenience store: 79 cents.

Dasani, price per 1/2-liter bottle

Food Lion: 29.1 cents (24 bottles)
Bi-Lo: 33.3 cents (24 bottles)
Convenience store: $1.29 for a slightly larger 591mL bottle.

Aquafina, price per 1/2-liter bottle.

Bi-Lo: 25 cents (24 pack, with frequent shopper card) or 47.9 cents (without card)
Food Lion: 48.3 cents (12 pack)
Wal-Mart: 50 cents (6 pack)
Convenience store: $1.49 for a slightly larger 591mL bottle.

Dasani flavored

Convenience store: $1.29 for 591mL
Wal-Mart: 37.3 cents for 355mL
Bi-Lo: 43.6 cents for 355mL

AqualCal flavored water, price per 1/2 liter

Wal-Mart: 47 cents
Bi-Lo: 59.8 cents
Convenience store: 99 cents.

Evian

Wal-Mart: $1.58 per liter or $1.98 for 1.5 liters
Bi-Lo: $1.59 per liter, 90 cents per half-liter or 74.8 cents for 330mL

Perrier

Costco: 53.7 cents for 330mL
Bi-Lo: 82.3 cents for 1/2 liter or $1.50 for 1 liter
Food Lion: 82.3 cents for 330mL or $1.49 for 750mL

Store brands

Costco: 13 cents for 1/2 liter
Food Lion: 16.6 cents for 1/2 liter
Wal-Mart: 17.8 cents for 591mL
Bi-Lo: 19.5 cents for 1/2 liter with frequent shopper card; 20.8 cents without.

Sources: David Suzuki, Environmentalist; Becky Billingsley, The Food Syndicate.

For documentary on breast cancer, click here

20 tips plus 1 for international travel

21 tips for global travel

Increasingly, with globalization, people are traveling to far off climes either for work or pleasure, or both. The knowledge and experience I gained during more than 30 years of traveling to and living in countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean will, continue to be of value to you as you organize your travels to tropical areas today.

The information is purely preventive and consists of actions that you should consider taking before the trip and during the trip. After the trip I am happy to return and plan the other one.

It concerns being conscious of what to eat, where to eat, what to drink, where to drink. In addition, information on:

  1. Before the trip — make packages of almonds, walnuts, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, apricot seeds, whatever country trail mix you like –enough to last throughout the trip (which for me was usually 7-10 days).
  2. Carry an assortment of sizes of glad ziploc bags, as well as drinking straws; a pair of rubber slippers/thongs .
  3. Make sure that you have mosquito repellent (Avon’s skin-so-soft worked well for me, as well as Cutters); and a good sunscreen .
  4. Carry a folding fan — even though one might be fanning hot air, the act of fanning seems to keep one cool; wide brimmed panama (folded) or baseball cap/visor also help to reduce the glare of the sun
  5. During the trip — the pre-trip ammunition above worked well for me at all times as I was never hungry given the nutmix.
  6. Eat only fruits that can be peeled -a source of great enjoyment as there are many fruits in the tropics to enjoy.
  7. Always splash the mosquito repellent (skin-so-soft oil)on your skin — exposed legs and arms and face — day and night .
  8. Drink beer if very thirsty especially if you doubt the source of the water. Or drink local, bottled water; imported bottled water is preferable and is usually available — (I would drink quite a lot of water). REMEMBER – NO CRUSHED ICE IN LIQUIDS…
  9. Use the straws to drink directly out of the bottle if you feel averse to using glasses or cups.
  10. Drinking a lot of water means going to the bathroom/toilet regularly.
  11. Regarding field trips or safaris, or taking trips outside of the capital city to places there might not be the convenience of sanitation and latrine facilities.
  12. I would never, ever wear pants/trousers or a jumpsuit on field visits. I would always wear a very wide skirt and take a lot of tissue paper in my handbag, which is usually very large.
  13. There is a saying that there are four categories of latrine users — sitters, squatters, washers, wipers. In the field and outdoors, squatting is the preferred method for women, hence the wide skirt.
  14. Avoid buffets, flies love them — only eat cooked through meats and other dishes, while hot.
  15. Always wear sunscreen and a wide brim, foldable panama hat or a cap with visor for shading from the sun .
  16. The protection the clearshield lotion provides helps in reducing hand-to-hand transfer of potential diseases, since the lotion wraps the hands like an invisible glove. Repeated application reinforces its efficacity and protects the hands themselves. Even when hands are washed, the protective lotion does not wash off easily.
  17. Never walk indoors or outdoors barefooted. The rubber thongs protect the bottom of the feet from those little worms looking for an opportunity to burrow into the soles of the feet – called the hookworm.
  18. Have fun and never be anxious. Share nutmix, straws, clearshield, skin-so-soft so as to not draw attention to the fact that you are taking preventive action.
  19. HAVE A GREAT TIME.
  20. When you are relaxed, you deal much better with other issues that come up. Be sure that other issues will always arise. As for other challenges, especially medical ones, always obtain the name of a local doctor -I always, always made sure that I had extra medication as well as a prescription, just in case. Do not carry them in the same bag.

Plus 1 – the 21st tip

As regards cultural appreciation which goes hand in hand with relating to new and different environments, I can safely say that each country has its charm.
My modus operandi was to really develop the “open mind muscle”, which we all have but which is usually un- or under-developed.
By this I mean that I would learn and appreciate the different cultural norms and practices of each country; I usually learned one or two opening sentences – usually a greeting; I would learn the working language of the country (which is usually a UN language – English, French, Spanish (which I speak) Russian, Chinese and Arabic (the last mentioned I am learning at the time of writing). Visit this website Hello to You World, which is a consequence of this experience.
It is amazing how people really warm up to visitors and foreigners who make an effort to understand them, even just a little bit. I have many stories about the consequences of greeting nationals at any level in their language. It is a real ice breaker!
Understanding the cultural norms and behaviours also gives a window into people’s way of living. What I found very toxic was to visit a country and try to impose my way of doing things at the outset without making the attempt to find out why things are done in a certain way. I have stories about this too.
So to conclude, or to begin, I find that the dominant culture approach in this globalizing world is not applicable to building and sustaining international relations. We need to be put our values on hold while we wrestle and grapple with the values/culture of the country in which we are visiting or working, all the while moving the international relationship agenda forward with little or no confrontation.

Appreciating culture demands a certain set of personal behaviours – it fosters patience, tolerance, understanding, elegance in communication (both verbally and non-verbally) and makes it clear that there is no dominant culture theory or practice. All is relative and relational.

These behaviours served me in good stead during my many excursions as part of my duties while working with the United Nations. It was always fun to share my goodies with friends and new acquaintances. There was no clash with the local culture as the actions were integrated easily and naturally.

Enjoy the world, travel and remain in health .

Just in case you want to lighten up on products, for example, brushing teeth with soap is a healthier alternative to toothpaste (see blogs on toothpaste, diethlylene glycol…) as you can take just a few shavings with you for the trip.

In case you are considering a romantic getaway, try a safari honeymoon trip (click here for more information)

Click here for more information of the products mentioned

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