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Archive for the ‘water quantity’ 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.”




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

Radiation on left breast increases risk of heart damage

Women with early-stage cancer of the left breast who are treated with radiation as a component of breast-sparing treatment, have an increased risk of developing radiation-related coronary damage, researchers report.

Nevertheless, “the benefits of radiation therapy for breast cancer still clearly outweigh the risks,” Dr. Candace R. Correa told Reuters Health. “However,” she added, “there may still be room for improvement in radiation techniques,” when radiation is applied to the breast on the same side as the heart.

Correa, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the medical records of 961 stage I-II breast cancer patients to look into this issue of radiation damage to the heart’s arteries.

Read More

Get a sample newsletter from Muriella’s Corner by following this link

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

drinking water issues – tap water

What’s on tap?

Thursday 22 March is World Water Day. This is Muriella’s Corner blog on tap water. We shared with you in our last blog information on bottled water.

We often take the purity of our tap water for granted — and we shouldn’t.

The National Resources Defense Council – NRDC – produced a document 6 years ago, called What’s on Tap?, a carefully researched, documented and peer-reviewed study of the drinking water systems of 19 U.S. cities. Among other things it found that pollution and deteriorating, out-of-date plumbing are sometimes delivering drinking water that might pose health risks to some residents.

It also found that tap water in many cities might pose a health risk to some residents; that sometimes cities aren’t truthful about what’s in the water; that
the sources of tap water often aren’t adequately protected

Many cities around the country rely on pre-World War I-era water delivery systems and treatment technology. Aging pipes can break, leach contaminants into the water they carry and breed bacteria — all potential prescriptions for illness. And old-fashioned water treatment — built to filter out particles in the water and kill some parasites and bacteria — generally fails to remove 21st-century contaminants like pesticides, industrial chemicals and arsenic.

What’s on Tap?
found one overarching truth: If steps are not taken, our drinking water will get worse.

Is the situation better today than 6 years ago? Actions taken seem to be more in lline with protecting corporate polluters than protecting public health,

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. Public participation is the key to the process.

Everyone should be encouraged to look into the quality of their city’s water supply, and to demand that elected officials do whatever is necessary to provide safe tap water.

Citizens have a right to know about : water quality, right-to-know reports, and about protection of water sources, at least

Good drinking water depends on cities getting three things right:

• Lakes, streams, reservoirs and wells must be protected from pollution

• Pipes must be sound and well-maintained

• Modern treatment facilities are a must

If just one of those three factors goes awry, water quality will suffer. For example, according to the NRDC, four cities 1n 2001 were found to have fair-to-substandard drinking water:

• Atlanta, which maintains its distribution system poorly

• Albuquerque and San Francisco, which have poor treatment systems

• Fresno, which has no real source water protection

What do we drink in our glass?

Tap water may at times carry a worrisome collection of contaminants,
some of which showed up repeatedly in the water of the cities studied:

• Lead, which enters drinking water supplies from the corrosion of pipes and plumbing fixtures and can cause brain damage in infants and children

• Pathogens (germs) that can make people sick, especially those with weakened immune systems, the frail elderly and the very young

• By-products of chlorine treatment such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, which may cause cancer and reproductive problems

• Arsenic, radon, the rocket fuel perchlorate and other carcinogens or otherwise toxic chemicals

Contaminants like these get into our water from many different sources. A few examples: runoff from sewage systems that overflow after a heavy storm; runoff from contaminant-laden sites like roads, pesticide and fertilizer-rich farms and lawns, and mining sites; wastes from huge animal feedlots; and industrial pollution that leaches into groundwater or is released into surface water.

NRDC’s study found that relatively few cities are in outright violation of national standards for contamination of drinking water, but this is more a result of weak standards than it is of low contaminant levels.

For example, cancer-causing arsenic is currently present in the drinking
water of 22 million Americans at average levels of 5 ppb, well below a new EPA standard for arsenic of 10 ppb that will go into effect in 2006. Yet scientists now know that there is no safe level of arsenic in drinking water. (The EPA found that a standard of 3 ppb would have been feasible, but industry lobbying and concerns over treatment costs prevailed over public safety.)

Thus, the tap water in some cities might pose health risks to vulnerable consumers –
those with immune system problems, pregnant women, parents of infants, those
with chronic illnesses and the elderly should consult with their health care providers about the safety of tap water. Imagine that!

Each citizen has a right to know what is in their tap water.

The first question on reading the above is, “How do I find out what’s in my glass of water?” And according to U.S. law, every citizen is entitled to a straight answer. Every city is required to publish reports about the safety and quality of its drinking water system.

The problem, as NRDC found, is that while some cities do a good job with their right-to-know reports, others publish information that is incomplete or misleading, or omitted it entirely, or failed to report on the health effects
These right-to-know reports hold enormous promise. In addition to informing citizens about the state of their city’s water system, they can also build support for investment and encourage citizens to participate in fixing local problems.

The NRDC has included a set of recommendations that cities might adopt in setting goals for their right-to-know publications.

The first line of defense in ensuring the safety and quality of drinking water is to ensure that water sources — lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers (porous underground formations that hold water) — are protected from pollution.

There are many ways that contaminants get into source water, among them:
• Municipal sewage
• Polluted runoff from stormwater or snowmelt in urban and suburban areas
• Pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural fields
• Animal waste from feedlots and farms
• Industrial pollution from factories
• Mining waste
• Hazardous waste sites
• Spills and leaks of petroleum products and industrial chemicals
• “Natural” contamination such as arsenic or radon that occurs in water as a result of leaching.

Some cities are doing a fine job of protecting their drinking water supply. Seattle is doing an excellent job of protecting source water; Boston, San Francisco and Denver also get high marks. But many other cities have a long way to go:

• Albuquerque’s groundwater is becoming seriously depleted; Fresno’s groundwater is highly susceptible to contamination;

• In Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles,
Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego and Washington, D.C., source water is threatened by runoff and industrial or sewage contamination;

• Water supplies in Baltimore, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego and several other cities are vulnerable to agricultural pollution containing nitrogen, pesticides or sediment;

• Denver’s source water faces an additional challenge from debris from wildfires and sediments from floods;

• Manchester’s problems apparently come from recreational boating activity in its reservoir.

Email us at customerservice@clik-n-shoppe.com for more information on the NRDC study.

Next time we talk about ice…yes, ice in your drinks… for ice is also water.

Until we meet again, this is Muriella’s Corner – send us an email at customerservice@clik-n-shoppe.com for the newsletter dealing with the issue of bottled versus tap water.

Source: Related NRDC Pages
What’s On Tap? Grading Drinking Water in U.S. Cities (report table of contents)
Tap Water Quality and Safety (FAQ)

Environmental Working Group

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