Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – Feb 26, 2006

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

February 27, 2006

Research Shows Anthrax May Survive Standard Disinfection Processes

Anthrax spores may survive traditional drinking water disinfection methods and attach themselves to the inside surface of water system piping, according to a research report released this month at the 2006 American Society for Microbiology Biodefense Research Meeting. The study conducted by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland was designed to determine how anthrax spores function in drinking water systems that use chlorine as a disinfectant.

According to the researchers, results suggest that existing water treatment methods might not be effective in the event of an anthrax spore release in the water supply, and that water treatment facilities should be prepared to employ alternate disinfection methods. These treatment methods include exposure to higher concentrations of chlorine (or an alternate disinfectant) for an extended period of time.

For the study, AFRL researchers tested anthrax spore survival in water with a concentration of 1 milligram of chlorine per liter. Findings demonstrated that after one hour of exposure, there was no significant decrease in the number of viable spores. However, higher concentrations of chlorine were far more effective. At 5mg chlorine/L water, 97 percent of spores were killed after one hour. At 10mg chlorine/L 99.99 percent were killed.

Tests were also conducted to determine the ability of anthrax spores to attach to the inside of pipes by running contaminated water in a continuous loop through sections of pipe made of either copper, chlorinated poly vinyl chloride (CPVC) or galvanized iron. After 6 hours of testing, 20 to 40 percent of spores had attached themselves to the surface of the copper and CPVC pipes, 95 percent attached to the iron pipes.

Assessing Mississippi’s Post-Katrina Drinking Water Response

The Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report this month evaluating EPA’s and the State of Mississippi’s efforts to safeguard the state’s drinking water in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The review found that the Mississippi Department of Health, along with state drinking water system operators provided timely and accurate information about the safety and proper treatment of public drinking water supplies, limiting the public’s exposure to waterborne pathogens and virtually eliminating disease outbreak. The review did not identify any conditions requiring corrective actions.

The evaluation is part of the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency (PCIE), an initiative involving a cross-section of federal investigative organizations that are conducting multiple audits and assessments of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

Highlighted in the evaluation is a positive review of the August 31 Department of Health blanket boil water notice for all public water systems in the state’s six most impacted counties, coming less than 48 hours after Katrina made landfall. Additionally, the report finds that there were no reported cases of waterborne illness in the two months following Hurricane Katrina. This despite the need for approximately $325 million in system replacement and repair cost to the public water system.

According to the Inspector General’s report, of the 1,368 Mississippi public water systems 40 are still subject to boil water notices and 16 remain inoperable due to either facility destruction or customer-base relocation.

To read the complete report, please go to:

New EPA Toolkit Aims at Safer Water for Kids

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a toolkit designed to encourage school officials and childcare facilities to reduce lead in their drinking water. The “3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water at Schools and Child care Facilities Toolkit” contains materials to implement a voluntary Training, Testing, and Telling strategy. The agency developed the toolkit in conjunction with non-governmental organizations and federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education.

The “3Ts Toolkit” explains how to test for lead in drinking water; report results to parents, students, staff and other interested parties; and take action to correct problems. The toolkit also provides an update to a 1994 EPA technical guidance to help schools design and implement testing programs. Program components include:

· collecting information on school drinking water; · identifying assistance to implement a school lead control program; and · developing a school plumbing profile.

The EPA will distribute toolkits at conferences attended by school officials and childcare providers throughout 2006.

For more information about drinking water and children’s health, please go to:

New Initiative for Source Water Protection Announced

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and 13 organizations, including state agencies, water utilities and environmental groups, agreed earlier this month to combine and intensify efforts to protect drinking water, through the Source Water Collaborative. Under the new agreement, members of the cooperative will share information, develop recommendations on source water protection methods and disseminate these recommendations to key decision makers. The collective also agreed to a one-year action plan, which includes potential pilot project scheduling.

As defined by the EPA, source water is untreated water from streams, rivers, lakes, or underground aquifers that is used to supply private wells and public drinking water.

To gather information on national source water conditions, states were required to conduct evaluations under the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 to determine for the public record what the extent of source water pollution and the overall vulnerability of the supplies across their respective states. According to The EPA’s Assistant Administrator for water Benjamin Grumbles, the initiation of the collaborative was possible at this time because EPA now possesses assessment data from the majority of the 160,000 community public water systems in the U.S.

Currently, post-assessment follow up source water protection programs are not required under the law, but EPA and the other organizations are now trying to develop voluntary protection plans.

To read more about the “Source Water Program,” please go to:

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