Category Archives: In The News

Clean Drinking Water: UN Goal Met Five Years Early

Video from UN News Centre

A significant global public health milestone has been reached: In the two decades between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people worldwide gained access to clean drinking water sources,i according to the United Nations (press release). This raises to 6.1 billion the number of people on Earth with access to clean drinking water, a full 89 percent of the world’s population.

In 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration vowed to reduce extreme poverty in the world by meeting a series of time-sensitive goals known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One of those goals was to halve by 2015 the fraction of the world population that lacked sustainable access to safe drinking water in 1990. That fraction has been more than halved from an estimated 24 percent to 11 percent, and it was accomplished five years ahead of schedule! Nearly half … READ MORE >>

Drink Water: Sage Advice in Two Little Words

Person drinking waterDrink water: It’s a common refrain, but do you know why those two little words combine to produce such good advice?

According to the online article Water and Your Body, water serves many critical purposes in the human body: It carries waste and toxins from the body, participates in critical chemical reactions, lubricates and cushions joints, serves as a “shock absorber” inside the eyes and spinal cord, aids in the body’s temperature regulation and maintains blood volume. Researchers suspect 75 percent of Americans have mild, chronic dehydration, believed to be a common cause of daytime fatigue.

Facts on Dehydration and Drinking Water

  • Know How Much Water You Need on a Daily Basis
  • The old guideline of 8 glasses of water per day for adults is not far off. According to the Mayo Clinic, the Institute of Medicine determined men need about 13 cups (3 liters) and women need

Pain at the Pipe – Part 2: Consequences of Failing to Repair and Replace Our Buried Water Piping Infrastructure

People repair and replace many things throughout their lives including shoes, clothing, automobile tires, household appliances and the like and sometimes even hips, knees, lungs, and kidneys. Generally, the longer the useful life, the greater the reliability, and the more something is out of sight, the less prepared people become when major renovation or replacement becomes necessary.

This is precisely the case of the massive US buried water piping infrastructure. In this sense it is a victim of its reliability and durability. Many of the systems have exceeded their expected useful life by several decades and a few by more than a century. Numerous systems throughout the US are now nearing or have already reached their expected useful life and are in dire need of replacement or extensive repair.

The continuing postponement and failure to carry out the renovation or replacement will have extremely serious, perhaps even disastrous consequences. One … READ MORE >>

Pool Chlorine Hypothesis Remains Unproven

Swimming researcher Dr. Joel Stager says swimming is “the only activity we know of where you can say that if that’s all you do for exercise, you can be almost perfectly fit.”Swimming researcher Dr. Joel Stager says swimming is “the only activity we know of where you can say that if that’s all you do for exercise, you can be almost perfectly fit.”

Can pool swimming promote the development of asthma in children or help alleviate its symptoms? This question has been debated among researchers ever since Belgian Professor Alfred Bernard published a 2006 study supporting the “pool chlorine hypothesis”. That hypothesis suggests that the increasing exposure of children to pool chlorine could be contributing to the rise of childhood asthma in the developed world. Other studies have found swimming improves asthma symptoms; Welsh et al., for example, reviewed the relevant scientific literature and found “positive effects of swim training on fitness as measured by improved aerobic efficiency, physical working performance, and recovery heart rates.”

Since the Bernard study appeared, there has been much discussion of the pool chlorine … READ MORE >>

Hand-washing and the Role of Feedback in Hygiene Strategies

Can video cameras be used to encourage health care workers to wash their hands? Yes, according to one study, but only if video-monitoring is combined with continuous feedback to workers. Feedback, that is, as in progress displayed on electronic boards mounted in hospital hallways! Are there other uses for the monitor and feedback approach?

Hand-washing is one of the simplest and most important measures we can take to prevent infection, yet it is frequently omitted, even in the health care environment. A report in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, however, found hand-washing rates in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU) soared when workers were video-monitored and provided feedback.

ICU health care worker hand-washing habits were observed remotely for two years. In the first 16 weeks of the study, employees were video-monitored with their knowledge, but no feedback was offered. During that time hand-washing rates were less than 10 READ MORE >>

Super Bowl Commercial Highlights Pee in the Pool Taboo

Oh, the power of suggestion of running water…the overwhelming sense of urgency elicited. The little boy in this year’s TaxACT Super Bowl XLVI commercial is in the family swimming pool when he realizes he has to go! He tries to do the right thing: He leaves the pool and dashes through the house in search of an open bathroom. But luck is not on his side. Every bathroom is occupied and to make matters worse, as he races from room to room, the little guy is tormented by the sight of water streaming from the washing machine and steam shooting from the tea kettle. Desperate, he plunges back into the pool where relief floods his face. Yes, he pees in the pool. But he tried valiantly to avoid it.

In 2009 the Water Quality & Health Council conducted a public survey that found one in five American adults admit to … READ MORE >>

Norovirus: The “Stomach Flu” That is Not a Flu

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.

(Image from CDC website)

The dreaded “stomach flu” that hits particularly hard in winter is not a flu at all. It is norovirus, a highly contagious virus that causes symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramping. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the illness often begins suddenly and lasts for one to two days with no long-term adverse health effects. True “flu” is a respiratory disease caused by the influenza viruses; sometimes the “true flu” can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms similar to norovirus. Getting an annual flu vaccine can help prevent flu; unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the norovirus and antibiotics, useful only for bacterial infections, do not help.

Norovirus is extremely common and has gained notoriety as a vacation cruise spoiler and an unwelcome visitor in … READ MORE >>

Water Wall in Hospital Dispenses Legionella

In the wake of a Wisconsin hospital outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease, a decorative water wall has been shut down.Question: When does a decorative water wall, installed in a hospital lobby to provide a calming ambience, become a health risk? Answer: When the water wall dispenses a bacteria-laden mist that results in an outbreak of Legionnaires disease.

Eight people who walked by just such a water wall in a Wisconsin hospital lobby in 2010 are believed to have contracted the disease by inhaling the mist from the streaming water. Legionella can affect people whose immunity may be depressed due to an underlying illness, or due to a medication regimen; smokers may also be vulnerable. One of the patients affected in Wisconsin was a delivery person who had been a smoker and had made two deliveries to the hospital. Others had visited the pharmacy adjacent to the water wall to obtain medications.

The outbreak is an unintended consequence of well-intentioned efforts to create a soothing and welcoming healthcare environment. For … READ MORE >>

The Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Outbreak: How to Avoid Repeating a Tragedy

Jensen Farms Cantaloupe contaminated with Listeria
Chlorinated wash water used during cantaloupe processing can help reduce the risk of foodborne illness to consumers.

Last summer a family-owned farm in Colorado became the focal point of the largest foodborne illness outbreak in the US in 25 years. Tragically, cantaloupe contaminated with Listeria bacteria sickened 146 people in 28 states, killed 30 and caused one pregnant woman to miscarry, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded the outbreak likely could have been prevented if Jensen Farms had maintained its facilities in accordance with existing voluntary FDA guidance. FDA has no enforceable regulations on cantaloupe processing, and farm facility auditors conducting inspections do not consider FDA voluntary guidance when scoring facilities. Scores can be lowered only if practices are inconsistent with FDA regulations. That could, and should, change.

Recently the House Committee on Energy and Commerce released … READ MORE >>

InFLUenza: Early 2012 Update and Tips for Staying Healthy

Flu News:

  • 2011-2012 Flu Season: So Far, So Good
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flu prevalence maps indicate flu season is off to a slow start. But don’t be complacent: Flu activity most often peaks during the month of FEBRUARY.

  • Flu Season is Unpredictable
    In the U.S., on average, 5 -20% of the population gets the flu each year, and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications. According to CDC, flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. Just because you have never had the flu doesn’t mean you won’t get it this year.

  • Flu Risk by Zip Code?
    One study correlated the percentage of children in a given zip code with the risk of ending up in the Emergency Room with the flu. Preventing the spread of flu in children may be an important factor in slowing a flu epidemic. Experts


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