Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – April 25th, 2003

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

April 25, 2003

FDA Releases New Guidance for Blood Donations

On April 17th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance to the blood establishments on measures to safeguard the nation’s blood supply against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The guidance is an interim measure while more is learned about the disease; at this time it is not known if SARS can be transmitted through blood. The guidance asks blood establishments to temporarily defer potential donors who may have been exposed recently to or experienced SARS. Specifically, the guidance calls for blood establishments to:

* Question potential donors to ascertain if they may be at elevated risk for SARS due to recent travel to areas known to be high risk or due to exposure to a person with SARS.

* Encourage those who have donated to report any SARS exposure that occurred within 14 days before donation or SARS illness or treatment occurring within 28 days prior to the donation.

* Encourage donors to report SARS illness or treatment occurring within 14 days after donation.

* Defer potential donors who have recently been to areas of the world with a high rate of SARS cases but show no symptoms for 14 days after their return to the United States.

* Defer potential donors who have suffered from an acute case of SARS from donating for 28 days after their symptoms are resolved and treatment is complete.

Donated units under question will be quarantined and indefinitely kept out of the general blood supply. This guidance is expected to have a minimal effect on the number of blood donors available and the quantity of the blood supply.

Additional information is available at:
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2003/ANS01215.html

USDA Reports Decrease in Salmonella in Raw Meat and Poultry

On April 16th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that regulatory sampling demonstrates that the overall prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry continues to decrease. The FSIS took 26.4 percent more samples in calendar year 2002 compared with 2001 and the percentage of samples that tested positive across all commodities dropped 0.7 percent from 5 to 4.3 percent. For steer/heifer carcasses, FSIS samples tested 0.3 percent positive. Positive Salmonella samples from very small broiler plants showed the greatest decrease, dropping from 37.2 percent in 2001 to 8.4 percent in 2002. The FSIS collects and analyzes samples in the following categories: broilers, market hogs, cows/bulls, steer/heifer, ground beef, ground chicken and ground turkey. In every category, Salmonella levels register well below Federal guidelines. Between 2001 and 2002, ground chicken was the only category that showed an increase in positive test results.

The complete report can be found at:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ophs/haccp/salm5year.pdf ( PDF)

New Labels for Bottled Water Considered in California

Companies that bottle water in California may soon have to produce water quality reports similar to those produced by public water systems. On April 8th, the California Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee approved a bill that would make California’s bottled water quality standards one of the strongest in the nation. The bill would provide the California Department of Health Services the same authority to inspect bottled water facilities that it has to inspect public water systems. The bill now moves to the Appropriations Committee before reaching the full Assembly. Stephen Kay, spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association, argues that the new regulations are unnecessary and costly because industry already meets the same standards under food laws.

An online version of the bill can be found by visiting:
http://www.assembly.ca.gov/acs/acsframeset2text.htm and entering “AB 83” into the search field.

AWWA’s Annual Washington Meeting Next Week

The annual “Washington Fly-In” sponsored by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) will held on April 30th and May 1st. The event brings together water officials from across the country to discuss the latest drinking water issues with EPA Administrator Christie Whitman and Members of Congress. Topics of discussion will include drinking water standards, water security, infrastructure and the Chemical Security Act. AWWA policy recommendations include:

* Passing H.R. 306 – This bill, the Drinking Water Standards Preservation Act of 2003, will shield utilities from lawsuits as long as they are in compliance with the Safe Water Drinking Act.

* Providing Additional Funding for Water Security – Congress should provide $450 million to help small and medium-sized utilities develop vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans, at least $1 million to the Water Information and Analysis Center and at least $2 million to AWWA for security-related training and technical assistance to community water systems.

* Increasing Spending on Water Infrastructure – Congress should spend at least $15 million to expand and reform the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

Additional information is available at:
http://www.awwa.org/Advocacy/pressroom/pr/index.cfm?ArticleID=153

White Paper on Drinking Water Chlorination Released

Last week, the Chlorine Chemistry Council released a new white paper titled “Drinking Water Chlorination: A Review of Disinfection Practices and Issues.” The paper tackles numerous topics of importance, including chlorination and public health, disinfection byproducts, and drinking water and security issues. In addition, the paper provides a comparison of the various disinfection methods.

To download a copy of the white paper, visit:
http://www.c3.org/chlorine_issues/disinfection/c3white2003.html

Editor’s Note: The Water Quality and Health Council is an independent, multidisciplinary group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Council. Members of the Water Quality & Health Council served as reviewers of the white paper.

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