Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – June 22, 2001

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

June 22, 2001

Tropical Storm Allison Devastates Houston

Floodwaters began subsiding early last week in Houston, Texas. However, during the height of Tropical Storm Allison, flooding forced thousands of residents from their homes. The floods were responsible for as many as 43 deaths nationwide and over $2 billion in damages in Houston alone. This past weekend, the storm reached as far as the northeast United States, claiming four lives in southeastern Pennsylvania. As affected residents return to their homes, it is important to clean and rebuild what was tainted or destroyed by the disaster. Floodwater can contain harmful spores, molds, and bacteria that threaten human health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that returning residents clean and disinfect walls, hard-surfaced floors, and many other household surfaces with soap and water and a solution of one-cup of bleach to five gallons of water.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/emergency/flood.htm and http://www.fema.gov/nwz01/nwz01_59.htm

Incidence of TB on the Decline

According to a new report from the CDC, tuberculosis rates were cut in half in the United States during the past decade. The CDC cites better treatments and early detection as the primary reasons for this dramatic decline. In 2000, the CDC recorded 16,377 TB cases, the lowest figure ever. Despite the decline, CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan cautions, “While the 2000 national TB figures highlight the effectiveness of U.S. TB control efforts, the disease still remains a significant health threat in many parts of this country. To eliminate TB as a public health problem in the United States, efforts will need to be accelerated in those states and communities most affected by the disease.” Tuberculosis is an airborne disease that is easily cured, but often fatal if left untreated. Eight of the twelve states with the highest rates of TB are in the southeastern United States. Alaska had the highest incidence of TB with 17.2 cases per 100,000 people, and Vermont registered the fewest cases with just 0.7 per 100,000.

For more information on tuberculosis, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/tb/default.htm

US FDA Releases Tips to Promote Food Safety

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a series of tips promoting the safe handling of fruits and vegetables. Among the tips, the FDA urges consumers to avoid bruised or damaged produce, refrigerate appropriate fruits and vegetables after purchase, and wash hands thoroughly before and after handling produce. The FDA also recommends sanitizing cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops after use with a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach in one quart of water.

To learn more about the FDA’s food safety program, visit http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/list.html

Consumer Confidence Reports to be Multilingual

In late May, the EPA’s Office of Regulatory Enforcement issued an enforcement alert notifying community water systems to submit annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) by July 1, 2001. Pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA requires water systems to submit CCRs on an annual basis to educate customers about “the quality of their drinking water and opportunities to participate in its protection.” The EPA and State CCR codes require water suppliers to include a statement in Spanish and other languages as necessary. On its web site, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) has made available 19 different translations to aid water utilities’ efforts. Other state governments have undertaken similar efforts.

For more information, visit http://es.epa.gov/oeca/ore/ccr.pdf ( PDF) or the CDHS site of translations at http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/ddwem/publications/CCR/TranslationsforCCR6-8-01.doc

Special Note: Food Safety Posters Now Available For Use in Chinese Restaurants

In 1998, the Water Quality & Health Council, in conjunction with the Chlorine Chemistry Council and the National Restaurant Association, produced a clear, colorful poster in both English and Spanish offering food surface sanitizing tips to restaurants and other food service establishments. Entitled “Good Food Starts With A Clean Kitchen,” the poster was distributed to public health officials and restaurants around the nation. Based on popular demand, the poster is now available in both Mandarin and Cantonese (the main Chinese dialects spoken in the United States) for distribution to Chinese restaurants in your communities.

If you are interested in receiving the poster, please send us a message through the following link: http://www.waterandhealth.org/contact/index.html

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