Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – January 11th, 2002

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

January 11, 2002

WHO Calls for Increase in Health Spending

An international panel of economists, public health officials and policy experts presented a comprehensive report to the World Health Organization (WHO) concluding that eight million lives could be saved and over 50 nations could escape poverty if wealthy countries quintupled their Third World health spending over the next two decades. While the document also focuses on necessary domestic improvements in public health, it asserts that foreign aid is the best method to help developing nations. The report aims to demonstrate that health spending must increase from $13 a year, the average annual health budget for an individual in one of the world’s 60 poorest countries, to $38 by 2015. Industrialized nations currently spend approximately $7 billion for developing nations’ medical needs. Endorsing the report, Gro Harlem Brundtland, head of the WHO, stated, “The idea that you have to have sound economic policy is still right, but you also have to increase the investment in people.”

To view the WHO study, please visit,cmh_report&language=english

House Authorizes $60 Million for Water Security Research

The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation authorizing $60 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over five years to support research and development of new tools to protect water systems from terrorist attacks. The measure authorizes $12 million per year for both physical and computer security needs, such as protection of computerized systems that regulate water treatment and flow. Companion legislation currently pending in the Senate authorizes $12 million over six years. The bills are among several in Congress that address water security and other measures to counter terrorist threats.

To view the Congressional record describing such preventative measures, visit ( PDF)

NRDC Sues EPA Over Arsenic Standard

On December 14, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit against the EPA in hopes that the agency will further lower the permissible arsenic level in drinking water from ten parts per billion (ppb) to three ppb. The Bush Administration recently lowered the arsenic level from fifty ppb to ten ppb. The NRDC asserts that the lawsuit was filed in part to prevent any effort to exempt some water suppliers from the ten ppb standard.

To learn more about the NRDC stance on arsenic levels, visit

Crypto and Giardia Found in Sydney Water Supply

Raging brushfires are not the only environmental threat to Sydney, Australia. A recent report by the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation urged city officials to prevent further degradation of the water supply by eliminating the presence of Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Current contamination levels and risks are low, but if left unchecked, weaknesses in Sydney’s water management could pose serious threats to public health. The study rated one-fifth of Sydney’s water catchment as “moderate to poor,” and 38 percent of rivers in the catchment run through farmland where animals can defecate in the water. Also, the water is not currently monitored for potentially dangerous metals, such as copper, cadmium and zinc. The state Minister for the Environment admits much needs to be done to ameliorate Sydney’s weak water infrastructure.

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