Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – January 10th, 2003

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

January 10, 2003

Security Information Tool Now Available to Water Utilities

Water utilities now have access to security information and terrorist threat alerts through a secure Internet-based tool launched last week by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Water Information and Sharing Analysis Center (WaterISAC) is the only centralized resource that gathers, analyzes and disseminates threat information specific to water systems, including up-to-date vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans. This sensitive information is then distributed to subscribers through encrypted e-mail and a secure portal, according to the AMWA.

For more information, please visit: AMWA’s web site at:
To access the WaterISAC site, please visit:

Draft Revisions of WHO Guidelines for Water Quality Issued

The World Health Organization (WHO) is updating its Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality. These guidelines reflect the WHO’s authoritative assessment of the global health risks and issues associated with water, including waterborne diseases and sanitation practices, and seek to assist countries in establishing effective standards for water quality and protecting public health. The WHO is posting draft documents for the Third Edition of the guidelines on its website, and will accept comments until February 28, 2003. An e-mail listserv has been created for anyone interested in receiving messages each time a new draft is posted.

For more information, please visit:

USEPA Seeks to Clarify Arsenic Rule

The U.S. EPA recently proposed to revise the language provided in the arsenic standard adopted in January 2001 to clarify the acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water. Until now, the standard has been stated as 0.01 mg/L, but the proposed change would make it 0.010 mg/L. The change was prompted by concerns of state officials that the prior, less accurate figure allows for statistical rounding up to 0.014 mg/L. The proposed language is open for public comment until January 22, 2003. Public feedback will be further taken into consideration when drafting the next six-year review of drinking water standards, which will be completed in August 2008.

To view the December 23, 2002 Federal Register announcement, please visit:

West Nile in Newborn Signals New Mode of Transmission

A baby recently born in upstate New York apparently became infected with the West Nile Virus while in utero. The pregnant mother was diagnosed with the disease before giving birth, and the newborn subsequently tested positive for a West Nile antibody following delivery, according to The Washington Post (12/20/02). In response, the CDC issued a warning to pregnant women to wear protective clothing and use insect repellant containing the chemical DEET, which has no known side effects on fetuses. West Nile Virus surfaced in the U.S. in 1999, and has since claimed the lives of over 230 people. Aside from direct transmission from an infected mosquito, other known modes of transmission include organ transplants, blood products and possibly breast milk. There is currently no effective treatment for West Nile Virus infection.

To read the transcript from a recent CDC teleconference discussing the latest infection, please visit:

New Study Shows Obesity and Diabetes Remain on the Rise

A recently released study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrates that rates of obesity and diagnosed diabetes have continued to increase throughout 2001. While the reported increases were evident regardless of sex, age, race and educational status, the report does show a higher level of obesity among certain geographical areas and within certain populations. The highest rate of obesity in the country was in the state of Mississippi (25.9 percent), while Colorado had the lowest (14.4 percent). Alabama had the highest rate of diagnosed diabetes, with 10.5 percent of the population being affected. Minnesota had the lowest at 5.0 percent. African Americans had a higher rate of obesity and diagnosed diabetes than did other ethnic groups. People with less than a high school education also were found to have higher rates of obesity and diabetes. Today, more than 44 million Americans are considered obese by body mass index.

For more information, please visit:

In The News… is a bi-weekly, online service from the Water Quality & Health Council. The publication is updated every other Friday and can be viewed by logging onto To receive the publication via e-mail, please click here and enter your e-mail address to join our mailing list.

Subscribe to receive the weekly "Water Quality & Health Council Perspectives"