Author Archives: waterhealthadmin

Keeping Your Reusable Water Bottle Clean

Louisville Water Company promotes filling reusable water bottles with tap water

Louisville Water Company promotes filling reusable water bottles with tap water

The reusable water bottle is one of those “grab and go” items that travel with many of us on a daily basis. The filled water bottle provides a handy means of hydrating on the spot. As we’ve noted, many water fountains now conveniently include water bottle-filling features. There’s just one caveat to deriving the maximum health benefit from reusable water bottles: They should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis to avoid contamination.

Germs Love Moist Environments

Germs thrive in moist environments such as parts of the cap and interior of your water bottle. As Dr. Charles Gerba of the University of Arizona notes, if you use your fingers to open and close the water bottle cap, there is a good chance that bacteria will be introduced into the cap, where moisture will support its … READ MORE >>

The Once and Future Water Fountain

water fountainIn the years since we last wrote on this topic, drinking water fountains—a once ubiquitous feature of the U.S. public health landscape—continue to decline in diversity, maintenance and numbers.1 Yet because many people, including commuters, tourists and the homeless, often rely on fountains for (usually) free and safe municipal water, they should not be taken for granted.

Concerns over drinking water quality, particularly lead and other metals associated with aging infrastructure but also waterborne diseases, continue to make headlines. But are these concerns well-founded? And if so, what can be done to reinvent public drinking water fountains in the era of the smart city and smart phone?

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Pool Chemical Safety: There’s No Substitute for Vigilance

Pool Chemical SafetyWe could not safely enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool this summer without someone shouldering the responsibility of using and storing pool chemicals correctly. Someone has to apply and store the chemicals that keep pool water sanitized and so clear that a swimmer floundering in deep water is visible to life guards. Pool chemical safety is the responsibility of backyard pool owners, professional pool service providers, community pool managers and life guards. It’s one of those usually “invisible” jobs that may be noticed only when something goes wrong.

Why Pool Chemicals?

Swimming pools are essentially communal bath tubs. Pool chemicals are necessary to help maintain appropriate pool water quality. That is especially true when patrons neglect the standard advice to shower before swimming. Knowing that each swimmer who enters the water without first showering brings with them about 0.14 grams of fecal matter adhering to the perianal area, the … READ MORE >>

Three Tips to Help You Prepare for a Home Water Emergency

Water flows into your home on a daily basis for essential uses, but how much do you know about your water supply and its circulation through your living space? Are you ready for a household water emergency? These tips can help you prepare for the unexpected.

  1. Main Shut-Off ValveKnow how to turn it off: In the event of a plumbing failure in the home, the first order of business is to turn off the water at its point of entry. This is done at the “main water shut-off valve.” Locate and label this valve. Make sure the valve is easily accessible at a moment’s notice (e.g., don’t store items in front of it).
If your house is to be evacuated and left unheated during cold weather, the water supply should be turned off at the main shut-off valve and pipes drained. This will help prevent water freezing and bursting the pipes, leading to extensive water damage. Remember that water expands at 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit), a phenomenon that keeps plumbers busy in winter!
 
  1. Know how to drain the pipes: Once the shut-off valve is closed, drain valves should be opened to drain the water remaining in the pipes. Drain valves are usually located on the downstream side of the shut off valve; sometimes they are separate valves. Draining water can be collected in a bucket. When draining water pipes, it is a good idea to open all faucets.
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Honoring our Fallen Colleague through “Angels of America’s Fallen”

This summer, we are happy to report that the organization we advise, the American Chemistry Council, has contributed $5,000 in our name to the “Angels of America’s Fallen” program. “Angels” engages with the children of our country’s fallen military and first responders, offering coaching and instruction in sports, music, arts, and other healthy activities. These programs cannot replace fallen mothers and fathers, but they do provide opportunities for children to cultivate interests in areas to which they might not otherwise be exposed.

Jerod poses with fellow first-responders in 2011

Jerod poses with fellow first-responders in 2011

Our donation to “Angels” will be channeled by the National Swimming Pool Foundation to local Jewish Community Centers that will provide learn-to-swim scholarships to the children of fallen heroes. We are particularly pleased that the 2017 donation was made in honor of our dear, late colleague, Dr. Jerod Loeb.

Remembering Jerod

Our close-knit advisory group has not forgotten our … READ MORE >>

Avoiding Salmonella from Backyard Poultry

BackyardPoultryBackyard poultry farming is an increasingly popular trend in urban and suburban areas that permit it, giving families a fun way to raise food while learning to care for animals. Assuming roosters are banned in the neighborhood for their earsplitting “cock-a-doodle-doo,” what could be the downside of raising poultry in the backyard? The answer is illness. Unfortunately, outbreaks of Salmonella infection linked to backyard poultry are on the rise. We have described this type of disease in a previous article as a “zoonotic disease,” which is one that can spread between animals and humans under natural conditions, e.g., in your own backyard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella bacteria reside in poultry droppings and on the feathers, feet and beaks of poultry, even though the chicks and ducklings may appear clean and healthy. Any human contact, whether through handling poultry directly or … READ MORE >>

Finished Drinking Water and Treatment Fundamentals

Finished Drinking WaterDrinking water has been called the 2nd most essential human need (after the air we breathe). Every day, over 50,000 community drinking water systems serve over 300 million Americans, with just 3 percent of these systems serving almost 80 percent of the US population.1,2 Regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and supported by the work of federal, state, tribal and local governments and utilities, the US drinking water system has been recognized as one of the nation’s most significant advances in public health.3

Raw and Finished Drinking Water

About two-thirds of Americans served by community drinking water systems obtain their raw (i.e., untreated) water from surface water sources, such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs.4 The remaining third are served by municipal groundwater systems using wells, while some systems use both sources. In addition to source water protection, transforming raw surface water or groundwater into … READ MORE >>

Zika Virus: What Can We Expect this Summer?

Mosquito repellent can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes that carry Zika virus; infants younger than two months can be protected with mosquito netting.

Mosquito repellent can help reduce exposure to mosquitoes that carry Zika virus; infants younger than two months can be protected with mosquito netting.

As summertime approaches and vulnerable areas of the US warm up, concerns over the potential spread of Zika virus are on the rise. The virus is spread mainly through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, but also can be transmitted sexually. Zika virus is associated with birth defects (microcephaly) in infants of infected mothers and Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an immune system disorder.

Last summer, several regions of the US were identified as possible sites of Zika virus outbreaks based on modeling studies1 and well-publicized outbreaks in Brazil and other areas of Latin America. Although there have been over 5,000 travel-related cases reported2 in the US since 2015, local transmission of the virus in the continental US occurred in just 224 … READ MORE >>

Avoiding Crypto at the Pool this Summer

This summer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health departments across the country will strive to keep an unwanted parasite out of America’s pools, hot tubs and water parks. The microscopic organism, “Crypto,” short for Cryptosporidium, causes diarrhea and spreads through recreational water via the fecal-to-oral route. Yes, that’s a revolting image, but an awareness of how Crypto spreads can go a long way toward preventing outbreaks that can put a serious dent in your summer fun.  Crypto is not present in every pool, but according to CDC data, the number of US Crypto outbreaks in aquatic venues doubled between 2014 and 2016.

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Superbugs and Sewage at the Beach

We seem to be reading and writing a lot about superbugs—antibiotic resistant bacteria that are responsible for at least 2 million infections (including healthcare-associated infections acquired while receiving medical treatment in a hospital) and 23,000 deaths each year in the US.1 But the recent discovery of the “superbug enzyme” NDM2 in bathing seawaters in Ireland impacted by untreated sewage/wastewater3 brings this global public health issue even closer to home. After all, unless you work in the healthcare field, most of us avoid hospitals but go out of our way to spend a day at the beach!

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