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

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

March 11, 2002

Bleach Approved for Use Against Anthrax

On March 4th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that under certain conditions, government officials may use chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) for anthrax decontamination. The CDC previously endorsed the use of bleach for this purpose. After viewing the results of tests conducted by the EPA’s Antimicrobial Division, the EPA determined that solution of bleach at specified pH levels is able to disinfect hard surfaces of anthrax contamination when left in contact for 60 minutes. EPA then granted an emergency exemption to allow bleach to be used specifically for anthrax decontamination. Only bleach that is already registered by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act may be used, and applications must be conducted in accordance with use instructions from emergency response personnel.

For more information about the application of bleach, visit

Fluoridated Water Reaching Two-Thirds of Americans on Public Water Systems

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that two-thirds of the American public that receives water from public water systems is now receiving fluoridated water. Identified by the CDC as one of the 10 best public health accomplishments of the 20th Century, fluoride has been proven to be a safe and effective means of helping to prevent tooth decay among both children and adults. Fluoridation of the public water supply is recognized as the most cost-effective, practical means of providing fluoride to the public.

For more information, please visit:

EPA Promoting Home Water Efficiency

The EPA is promoting water efficiency in the home by providing online tips for reducing water consumption. Replacing faulty water fixtures and installing high efficiency appliances such as clothes washers and toilets are just a few of the ways consumers can save thousands of gallons of water and hundreds of dollars each year. Water efficiency not only protects water sources and improves water quality, but it also reduces the amount of energy needed to treat, heat and pump the water, thereby conserving more resources for future use.

For more information about water efficiency, please visit:

USDA Strengthening Security Efforts

In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, much attention has focused on the many forms future attacks could take. There is growing concern about the safety of U.S. food supplies – in particular, the importation of meat, which accounts for 10% of the U.S.’s overall meat consumption. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that its inspectors are on heightened alert at ports of entry and in food processing plants. At the same time, the agency is researching and developing new security tactics and is in close coordination with other state and federal agencies. In his recent budget proposal, President Bush requested an additional $45 million to further strengthen the USDA’s biosecurity measures. Critics of the USDA recently cited the department’s lax treatment of foreign meat processing facilities as a cause for alarm. They argue that despite the fact that USDA inspectors visited many Mexican and French plants where diseased and contaminated meat was being packed and shipped to the United States, little has been done to prevent future violations.

To learn more about the USDA’s food safety and security policies, visit

Cure for Malaria on the Horizon?

Researchers at the French National Centre of Scientific Research have developed a drug that prevents the reproduction of malaria parasites. Known as G25, the drug has proven to be successful on monkeys and could be available for human testing within the next two years. In its present form, the drug is injected, but researchers are working to develop a tablet form of the drug so that it can be widely distributed to populations most affected by malaria – particularly those in Africa and Southeast Asia. The disease claims the life of approximately 3 million people each year, according to World Health Organization estimates.

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