Author Archives: waterhealthadmin

In the Wake of Hurricanes: The Problem with Standing Water

A discarded tire containing standing water can become a choice breeding ground for mosquitoes.

A discarded tire containing standing water can become a choice breeding ground for mosquitoes.

As flood waters recede in Houston and Florida, a new public health threat rears its ugly head: Mosquitoes breeding in standing water left in the wake of hurricanes. Puddles, flower pots and saucers, rain barrels, bird baths, pet bowls, discarded tires, overturned trash can lids, canvas and plastic tarps covering boats and pools, and even swimming pools themselves can become watery incubators for mosquitoes.

Although most mosquitoes do not spread disease, some do spread Zika virus, West Nile virus, chikungunya, malaria, encephalitis and dengue fever. Fortunately, after a quiet summer for Zika virus on the US mainland during which there was no known local transmission of the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not expect to see cases of Zika virus appearing in the wake of flooding from the recent hurricanes, READ MORE >>

Stockholm Junior Water Prize Winners Propose Novel Approach to Expanding Safe Water Resources

New York high school students Ryan Thorpe and Rachel Chang, receive the 2017 Stockholm Junior Water Prize from H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in Stockholm Photo credit: The Stockholm International Water Institute

New York high school students Ryan Thorpe and Rachel Chang, receive the 2017 Stockholm Junior Water Prize from H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in Stockholm

Photo credit: The Stockholm International Water Institute

 

Striving for a better world by 2030, countries around the globe are beginning to incorporate the new, ambitious UN Sustainable Development Goals into their national agendas. Among the 17 bold goals, which include ending poverty and hunger, is the goal of universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation. This goal was front and center at last week’s Stockholm International Water Institute’s (SIWI) World Water Week meeting, the world’s biggest annual global meeting focused on water and development. SIWI Executive Director, Torgny Holmgren noted, “… it is here that we come together and make sure that the very best ideas are brought forward”.

One of those ideas originated with two Long Island, New York, high … READ MORE >>

Cleaning up After Hurricane Harvey: Chlorine Bleach Is Your Friend

Houston residents walk across a flooded street on August 27, 2017. Hurricane Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of water in several Gulf states, leading to devastating flooding.

Houston residents walk across a flooded street on August 27, 2017. Hurricane Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of water in several Gulf states, leading to devastating flooding.

After the shock and heartbreak of experiencing a flood comes the clean up to prevent further damage and spread of disease. Flood cleanup starts with removing flood water (usually contaminated with sewage) and drying the affected areas. Evaluate all items touched by flood waters, deciding which to keep and which to toss. Whenever possible, use a disinfecting solution of chlorine bleach to disinfect items touched by flood waters.

  • When using a disinfecting solution to clean up after a flood, remember to:
    • Wear gloves and protective clothing. Do not touch your face or eyes.
    • Change the disinfecting solution often and whenever it is cloudy.
    • Be thorough. Wash and dry everything well.
    • When finished, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least
READ MORE >>

Touring Orange County’s Groundwater Replenishment System and Celebrating World Water Week 2017

gwrsThe theme of this year’s World Water Week, which runs from August 27 to September 1, is “Water and Waste: Reduce and Reuse.” World Water Week was established in 1991 and is organized each year by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

To mark World Water Week, we thought it only fitting to share a highlight of our July 2017 summer meeting—a tour of the unique Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) of the Orange County Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District (OCWD/OCSD) in California.

World Water Week 2017

SIWI promotes sustainable development in water governance and transboundary water management. In 2016, SIWI named WQ&HC’s Dr. Joan Rose winner of their prestigious Stockholm Water Prize. As described in their program, World Water Week 2017 will focus on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). OCWD and OCSD … READ MORE >>

Kitchen Sponges: Cleaning Tool or Germ Dispenser?

The notorious kitchen sponge—that germ-ridden object found in many households—is at the center of a new controversy about controlling the spread of infections in the home. Several years ago we reported a University of Florida research team found microwaving spongevery wet sponges for two minutes at high power killed or inactivated over 99 percent of all the living pathogens in sponges and cleaning pads that had been soaked in a “witch’s brew of germs.” Easy and convenient, right? Think again: A team of German researchers using genetic techniques to characterize sponge microbes says that neither boiling nor microwaving sponges may be particularly effective in the long run. Careful testing of alternative sponge treatments is needed, but in the meantime, the researchers recommend the best course may be ditching your kitchen sponge once per week for a new one.

Sponge Microbe Dynamics

First, the German team found the density of bacteria … READ MORE >>

Preparing for the Next Flood and its Aftermath

If you live in a flood-prone area, are you prepared for the next deluge? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), fast moving water that reaches just over your ankles can knock you off your feet. And don’t try to drive through it. Driving on flooded roads is the floodmost common thunderstorm-related hazard that can kill you, according to NOAA. It is especially difficult to recognize flood danger in darkness or other conditions of poor visibility. As the National Weather Service urges, if you come to a flooded portion of roadway, “Turn Around Don’t Drown®”.

Head for the Hills

If it is necessary to evacuate your home, head for higher ground at a pre-designated meeting place known to your family. Pet owners should have an emergency plan for their pets that includes shelter, food and water. If possible, turn off electrical power, gas and water supplies … READ MORE >>

Sepsis: A New Global Health Priority

“Sepsis,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is “a complication caused by the body’s overwhelming and life-threatening response to infection, which can lead to tissue damage, organ failure, and death.” More commonly known as “blood poisoning,” sepsis strikes “with equal ferocity in resource-poor areas and in the developed world,” according to Dr. Konrad Reinhart, Chairman of the Global Sepsis Alliance. Sepsis is now front and center for the world health community: At a May 2017 World Health Assembly1, sepsis was designated a new global health priority and a resolution was adopted to improve its prevention, diagnosis and management.

Although reliable data are unavailable, globally there are an estimated 31 million cases and some six million deaths from sepsis annually.2 Most of those deaths are preventable, however, with early detection and timely treatment with antibiotics. According to one study involving over 2,000 septic … READ MORE >>

Climbing the Rungs of the Safe Water and Sanitation Service Ladders

Workers in Haiti install chlorinator equipment to disinfect a community water supply a measure that will help prevent waterborne illness

Workers in Haiti install chlorinator equipment to disinfect a community water supply a measure that will help prevent waterborne illness

The humble ladder can be a symbol of progress toward lofty goals. The lyrics of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” for example, include a moving wish for the singer’s newborn son: “May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung…” Symbolic ladders are also used by the Joint Monitoring Program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to communicate progress toward the goal of universal safe drinking water and sanitation.

In “UN-speak,” that ambitious goal is Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal #6, which includes specific targets and indicators that will help track progress toward a world in which waterborne illnesses are rare and sanitation is safely managed.

Ladders to a Better Life for All

Clean water and safely managed sanitation are … READ MORE >>

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?

READ MORE >>

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