Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – June 28th, 2004

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

June 28, 2004

Unsafe Water on List of Five Worst Child Killers in Europe

Unsafe drinking water ranks as one of Europe’s five worst child killers, according to a recently released study. The report, “Environmental Burden of Disease Report” cites five factors, outdoor and indoor air pollution, unsafe water, lead and injuries, as accounting for 34 percent of the deaths among Europeans from birth to the age of 19.

According to the study, more than two million people in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European region lack access to clean water, placing children at a high exposure to diseases associated with diarrhea. The report highlights that there are countries in central and Eastern Europe where schools do not have safe water and 20 percent of households lack access to clean drinking water.

First reported in the Lancet Journal, the study was conducted by the University of Udine and the Institute for Child Health “Burlo Garofalo” of Trieste, Italy. The report will be discussed by ministers from 52 countries at WHO’s conference on environment in Budapest this week.

To view the complete report please go to:
Environmental Burden of Disease in Children Report
Polio Outbreak Surging in Africa

The recent confirmation of a polio outbreak in Africa has prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that the region is facing the worst epidemic of the crippling disease in years.

While health officials have declared the disease to be eradicated in Europe, the Americas and much of Asia and Australia, it persists in Africa, specifically Nigeria and the Sudan. Polio is often found in poor countries where sanitation and hygiene levels are substandard and bacteria can spawn and infiltrate the drinking water supply.

The disease typically infects young children, striking the nervous system and causing paralysis, muscular atrophy, deformation and in some instances death. To date this year, there have been 333 cases worldwide, double the reported number at the same time last year. To read more about the WHO’s efforts against polio, please go to:
http://www.polioeradication.org/

Current Perchlorate Levels in Drinking Water Do Not Pose a Risk, Study Says

Despite recommendations for stricter standards by California’s leading health assessment agency, current levels of perchlorate, a drinking water contaminate, do not pose an additional health risk in healthy people, according to a report released by the UC Irvine Urban Water Research Center (URWC).

Although the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s current public health goal for perchlorate is 6 parts per billion, the URWC found that exposure to perchlorate at levels below 100 parts per billion would still protect the public health.

Perchlorate is a rocket fuel manufacturing byproduct that was discharged as waste into groundwater supplies from defense sites. It has been found in approximately 350 wells in 89 water systems across California of which 90 percent are located in Southern California.

The URWC report was being provided to the California Department of Health Services and state policy makers as debate continues over a statewide standard for perchlorate in drinking water.

A complete copy of the report is available at:
UWRC Perchlorate in Drinking Water Report ( PDF)
Western States Face Worst Drought in 500 Years

A sixth consecutive year of drought conditions in the western U.S. has brought on the worst drought that the region has witnessed in more than 500 years. According to the National Weather Service, relief is not in immediate sight as predictions indicate above normal heat and below normal rain in region for the month of July.

In an attempt to seek solutions, western governors from 18 states huddled this week in Santa Fe, New Mexico during their annual Western Governors’ Association (WGA) meeting to prepare for what could be a difficult summer for crops, wildfires and drinking water.

In 2003 the WGA began working in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to develop an improved drought monitoring system. The initial result of the joint venture is the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). When put into action, NIDIS will marshal together various areas of federal, state and local government that gather statistics used to predict drought and provide relief for the damage that occurs as a result of drought conditions.

The governors believe that the new system will allow for a quicker, more proactive response to drought conditions.

To view a complete copy of the NIDIS plan, please go to:
http://www.westgov.org/wga/publicat/nidis.pdf ( PDF)

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