Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – April 26th, 2002

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

April 26, 2002

EPA Reviews Drinking Water Regulations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently completed a review of 69 existing standards for drinking water contaminants. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA is required to review its standards at least once every six years, and if public health concerns necessitate, revise them accordingly. The current review looked only at standards established prior to 1997, including the Total Coliform Rule and 68 regulations for chemical contaminants. EPA has made a preliminary decision to revise the Total Coliform Rule, which addresses bacteria that indicate possible microbiological contamination but do not necessarily cause illness. The agency believes that the other 68 regulations remain appropriate at this time. However, 36 new health assessments are currently in progress, and will be considered during the next review cycle. EPA is seeking public comments on its preliminary decisions, and will hold a public meeting for interested stakeholders on May 15 in Washington, DC.

For more information, please visit,

New Website Provides Vital Information to Health care Providers

For years, the medical community has been in dire need of pertinent information concerning waterborne diseases. When such diseases are misdiagnosed or undetected, patients are put at risk of more serious, life-threatening illnesses. A new website,, aims to fill the void in practitioners’ knowledge by providing educational information in its Physician On-Line Reference Guide. Particularly in the wake of September 11th, when the safety of our water systems is at the forefront of our minds, physicians may often be the first to detect signs of chemical or biological contamination through recognizable symptoms in their patients. The website, funded by the Arnot Ogden Medical Center and the American Water Works Association, provides information about how to detect these signs and respond with appropriate treatments.

To visit this resource, go to

CDC and USDA Announce Decline in Food Poisoning Cases

On April 18th, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) each released new data revealing a decline in the number of food poisoning cases in the U.S. According to the CDC, instances of food poisoning declined by 21 percent between 1996 and 2001. The CDC’s research shows a decrease in the major bacterial foodborne illnesses, including Salmonella and Listeria. However, the CDC notes, “The data do not show a sustained decline in some infections, indicating that increased efforts are needed to reduce further the incidence of foodborne illnesses.” The USDA data, based on microbial testing done at meat and poultry plants, showed a similar decrease in food contamination. The USDA’s research indicates a decrease in the prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry, correlating with the CDC data indicating a decline in human illnesses linked to Salmonella. The USDA attributes the dramatic decline in food poisoning cases to the strict hazard-control systems implemented by the meat and poultry industries in recent years.

For more information, please visit, or

Congress Advocates for Local Water Projects

Several members of Congress recently pushed for new Army Corps of Engineers water projects in their home districts. Presenting their proposals before the House Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources, representatives from states and territories including California, Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Guam and Puerto Rico primarily used environmental reasoning to argue for improved infrastructure for local dams and streams, as well as projects affecting flood control along rivers and wetland erosion. Every two years, in accordance with the Water Resources Development Act, Congress reviews bills related to environmental restoration and water-related projects.

For more information, please visit,

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