Drinking Water and Chlorine Smell
Linda Golodner

Fill a pitcher of water and set it aside for several hours to dissipate chlorine.

How would you describe the taste and odor of your tap water? “A rich bouquet earthy flavors“? “Sulfurous aroma with a hint of chlorine”? Or “simply divine”? The aesthetic properties of your tap water depend upon your local natural water supply source, how your water is treated, and how it is delivered to you.

In the case of private well water that undergoes no treatment at all, taste and odor are simply a function of naturally occurring minerals and organic matter in the locally tapped groundwater. Municipal treatment adds another level of “complexity” for the palate.

“Ultra-treated” water is disagreeable. Distilled water for example, which is pure water with no dissolved components, tastes flat, bitter, and astringent. That’s because our mouths are accustomed to the pH and mineral content of our saliva, which are quite different from those of distilled water. … READ MORE >>

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Good Chemistry for Swimmers
Bob G. Vincent

Swimming pools are amazing venues for recreation and exercise.  They are also reservoirs of all the substances swimmers introduce into them.  In addition to the substances that swimmers apply to themselves while at the pool, the average swimmer adds low levels of personal care products like deodorant, skin lotions, sprays and makeup, especially if they fail to shower before entering the pool.  Additionally, according to a 2009 Water Quality & Health Council survey, one in five adult Americans admits to having “peed in the pool,” introducing not only urine, but potentially low levels of caffeine and pharmaceuticals.  It is estimated that the average swimmer also introduces trace amounts of fecal matter into the pool.  Add to this mix needed disinfectants (see:  fecal matter reference), and you have all the makings of a chemistry experiment in a large “bath tub.”… READ MORE >>

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UV Irradiation and Its “Sleeping Beauty Effect” on Bacteria
Joan B. Rose, PhD

Until the late 1970’s, chlorine was virtually the only disinfectant used to treat drinking water, thanks to a number of desirable attributes including its effectiveness against most known pathogens, residual protection, operational reliability and cost. New challenges in the past several decades, however, including the identification of chlorine-resistant parasites Giardia and Cryptosporidium, disinfection byproducts, and greater security considerations at treatment facilities, have helped to expand the available technologies for water disinfection.

One of the relatively recent options for water disinfection is ultraviolet irradiation or “UV treatment.” New research1 from the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Urban Environment is providing further information on how UV alone is not always effective at completely destroying certain waterborne bacteria, leaving them in a dormant state reminiscent of the princess in the fairy tale, “Sleeping Beauty.” … READ MORE >>

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Blocking the Flu as You Watch the Big Football Game
Ralph Morris, MD, MPH

Are you ready for the big football game?  Are you ready for the flu virus if it shows up at your big game party?  This Sunday, as New England clashes with Seattle, your body may be up against its own formidable opponent—one that’s too small to be seen but packs a wallop.

Here are my “X’s and O’s” for blocking the flu on Sunday:

Sick?  Stay Home:  If you feel sick, enjoy the game alone.  Your friends will thank you and you can tune in to the plays in your pajamas!

Get a Flu Shot:  The annual seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months old and older. You may have heard that this year’s flu vaccine is only 23% effective, but not getting the vaccine takes that down to zero.  Getting a flu shot will prevent thousands of hospitalizations. The vaccine starts working about two weeks after you READ MORE >>

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Fighting Antibiotic Resistance at Home and Globally
The conclusion of a series of articles on the challenge of antimicrobial resistance

We all have a stake in the outcome of the battle against antimicrobial resistance. Everyone, from the global public health expert to the ordinary citizen, can play a role in reversing a dangerous trend in the balance of power between humans and pathogens.

Antimicrobial resistance has the potential to erase the astonishing gains made possible by the use of antibiotics over the past 70 years.  According to a report from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, although the widespread availability and effectiveness of antibiotics has positively impacted surgery, care of premature infants, cancer chemotherapy, care of the critically ill, transplantation medicine, and even our ability to respond to bioterrorism and pandemics, that widespread availability along with misuse has resulted in antimicrobial resistant pathogens.  This unintended consequence is already exacting a toll on both human health and wealth, as highlighted in a new UK report.  The toll will skyrocket if … READ MORE >>

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