Public Health and Drinking Water News Brief – April 2nd, 2004

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

April 2, 2004

Water Suppliers Urge Additional Federal Funding

Water suppliers testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies last week in support of increased FY 2005 spending for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWRSF), security and compliance related training needs, the Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC), and drinking water research.

Representatives from the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) told congressional appropriators that the White House’s FY 2005 spending plan falls short in addressing the security, public health, and infrastructure needs of the nation’s public water systems.

AWWA Representative Michael Hooker recommended that the Appropriations subcommittee provide at least $3 billion for the DWRSF, an additional $2 million for security and training, $2.9 million for the WaterISAC and $5 million for the AWWA Research Foundation. The White House has requested $850 million for the DWRSF and to date, Congress has appropriated $3 billion less than authorized for DWRSF. AWWA estimates that $1.6 billion is needed to help community water systems meet immediate needs.

A link to the complete article can be found at:
http://www.awwa.org/Communications/waterweek/subscribers/currentissue/

Elsewhere, the EPA awarded AMWA with a $2 million grant to support efforts to disseminate critical water security information, allowing AMWA to continue its WaterISAC support activities. EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt announced the grant at AMWA’s annual legislative and regulatory conference.

A link to the EPA’s safe water security programs can be found at:
http://www.epa.gov/safewater/security/index.html


FDA, EPA Revise Consumer Advice on Mercury Levels in Fish

The FDA and EPA issued a joint advisory, which warned pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid certain types of fish and to eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Specifically, the FDA and EPA made three recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish:

1. Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

* Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.
* When choosing two meals of fish and shellfish, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week, as albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna.

3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught in local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish caught from local waters, but other fish should not be consumed in the same week.

The advisory marks the first time the FDA and EPA have combined their advice into a single, uniform advisory.

A link to the advisory can be found at:
http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg3.html

Study Supports Chlorine in Household Mold Treatment

For the first time, a chlorine bleach solution has been found to not only effectively kill mold but also neutralize the indoor mold allergen, according to a new study released at the 60th annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). The study found that low concentrations of chlorine bleach, such as those in commercial household products certified to kill mold and mildew, were proven to not only kill mold spores but also neutralize the surface allergen. Mold spores are a common cause of allergies.

“The study results confirm that denaturing the mold spores with a diluted chlorine bleach solution appears to be the most effective and efficient way to reduce the mold allergen on hard surfaces,” said Kelly Reynolds, lead investigator for the study from the University of Arizona. The study yielded 1,300 mold samples and evaluated the growth rate and distributions of house hold mold on indoor surfaces in 160 homes in seven geographical regions. The study found mold spores to be present in 100 percent of the homes surveyed.

The study was funded by a grant from the Clorox Company. The University of Arizona’s press release can be found at:
http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/040322/lam010_1.html

Ocean ‘Dead Zones’ On Increase

Ocean “dead zones,” oxygen starved areas of the world’s oceans that are devoid of fish, top the list of emerging global environmental challenges, according to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). New findings suggest that there are nearly 150 dead zones across the globe, double the number in 1990. Caused by excess nitrogen runoff from farm fertilizers, sewage and industrial pollutants, nitrogen triggers blooms of microscopic algae, phytoplankton. When the algae die and rot, they consume oxygen, suffocating fish and shellfish.

These findings were announced as environment ministers from more than 150 nations gathered on the South Korean resort island of Jeju this week for the UNEP’s 8th Special Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The forum will also address impending global water shortages as well increasingly frequent dust and sand storms. UNEP warns that without a concerted effort to improve access to safe drinking water, a third of the world’s population is likely to suffer chronic water shortages in several decades. Roughly 1.1 billion people lacked access to safe drinking water in 2000 and another 2.4 billion lacked access to basic sanitation, the UNEP said.

In addition, the UNEP said scientists have linked dust and sand storms caused by land degradation and desertification, originating in the Sahara, with damage to coral reefs in the Caribbean.

A link to the complete article can be found at:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/03/29/tech/main609151.shtml

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