Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – April 15th, 2002

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

April 15, 2002

EPA to Spend $90 Million on Water Security Efforts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will allocate $90 million in federal funds toward wastewater and drinking water security efforts in the fiscal year 2002. The agency intends to make grants to large drinking water systems to enable them to complete vulnerability assessments and conduct other security planning. According to BNA’s Daily Environment Report, large drinking water systems could be awarded up to $125,000 to $150,000 each for water security activities. In addition, the EPA will provide training and technical assistance for small and medium drinking water and wastewater systems. The EPA hopes to begin awarding the grants as early as June. Awards will be given by EPA headquarters and managed from EPA regional offices. Grant funds may not be used for equipment or infrastructure but must be used for vulnerability assessments and other security efforts.

For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/epahome/headline_032202.htm

EPA Stresses the Need to Re-Examine U.S. Water Policies

EPA administrator Christine Whitman recently requested that Congressional hearings be held to discuss a series of water-related problems and the necessary steps to be taken to address these issues. Several major cities, including New York, are using pipes that are over one-hundred years old. Additionally, many parts of the nation are experiencing drought conditions. A recent study by the Harvard University School of Public Health concluded, “U.S. public drinking water supplies will face challenges in these areas in the next century and… solutions to at least some of them will require institutional changes.” The report suggests that at least $151 billion should be spent over the next 20 years to guarantee the high quality of U.S. drinking water.

To keep abreast of EPA water-related activities, visit http://www.epa.gov/ebtpages/water.html

CDC Battles Drug Resistance

As part of an effort to curb the spread of potentially fatal drug-resistant bacteria in hospitalized adults, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched an education campaign to advise doctors on antibiotic use. The “Campaign to Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance” strives to prevent infections, diagnose and treat infections effectively, use antibiotics “wisely” and prevent the spread of infections. Dr. Julie Gerberding, acting deputy director of the CDC’s National Center for Infectious Diseases, commented that this program would address a crisis that claims tens of thousands of lives each year. The campaign recommends steps and strategies, such as using available vaccines like the flu shot, removing catheters quickly and limited “last-resort” antibiotic use.

To read more about this initiative, visit http://www.cdc.gov/antibioticresistance/

Postal Service to Use Chlorine Dioxide to Decontaminate Buildings

Officials at the U.S. Postal Service are beginning to outline their plans to return the Brentwood postal facility to service as Washington D.C.’s mail hub following the anthrax attacks last fall. The use of chlorine dioxide to remove anthrax from the Hart Senate Office Building earlier this year is providing a blueprint for decontaminating the Brentwood facility. Contractors will attempt to fill the Brentwood postal facility with chlorine dioxide gas and keep the gas at a specific concentration and a precise level of humidity for 12 hours. According to The Washington Post, “the yellow-green gas will curl into every nook, envelop every machine, penetrate the shells of spores and kill them more efficiently than human cleaning could.”

To monitor the status of the cleanup, visit http://www.usps.com/news/2001/press/serviceupdates.htm

Water and Sanitation Problems Lead to Resurgence of Malaria in North Korea

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that it will begin an anti-malaria program in North Korea later this month. Serious water and sanitation problems have led to a recent resurgence of malaria in the financially-strapped country. The WHO estimates that as many as 300,000 North Koreans were infected with the disease last year. Working with local health officials, the WHO will help to distribute anti-malarial drugs, insecticides, and treated bed nets for families, as well as microscopes for health laboratories.

To learn about the WHO’s fight against malaria, visit http://www.who.int/tdr/diseases/malaria/


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