Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – October 25th, 2002

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

October 25, 2002

Pennsylvania Plant Issues Largest Poultry Recall in USDA History

Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has issued a voluntary recall of approximately 27.4 million pounds of fresh and frozen ready-to-eat poultry products produced since May, from the Franconia, PA plant of Wampler Foods, Inc. Samples taken from floor drains tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Investigators are trying to pinpoint the source of a widespread Listeria outbreak in the Northeast, which has sickened over thirty people and claimed seven lives. Symptoms of Listeria are usually short-term and include severe headache, high fever abdominal pain, stiffness, nausea and diarrhea. However, those with weakened immune systems may face critical risks. Contracting Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women and severe infections among newborns and the elderly. Those at high risk should avoid consuming hotdogs unless steaming hot, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, refrigerated pâtés, meat spreads and refrigerated smoked seafood. Always wash hands after handling potential contaminants and stay cognizant of the expiration dates of perishable food.

For more information about the recall, please visit:
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/recalls/prelease/pr090-2002.htm

Chlorination Byproducts Not Linked to Health Impacts

The International Journal of Toxicology recently published the last in a series of four studies examining possible reproductive and developmental health effects from two byproducts of drinking water chlorination. As noted in the Journal’s press release, researchers at Argus Research Laboratories examined laboratory animals exposed to bromodichloromethane (BDCM) and dibromoacetic acid (DBA) through drinking water. These studies, sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Council’s Research Foundation for Health and Environmental Effects, fill significant data gaps identified by a Federal Advisory Committee formed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on drinking water regulations. Each study found no adverse effects at dose levels thousands of times higher than those to which humans are exposed. Based on the results of these studies, the researchers concluded that BDCM and DBA are unlikely to pose a reproductive or developmental health risk to humans.

Editor’s Note: The Water Quality and Health Council is an independent, multidisciplinary group sponsored by the Chlorine Chemistry Council.

To read the Journal’s press release, please visit:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2002-10/opr-nsa101502.php

FDA Finds that Reuse and Reprocessing of Single-Use Devices a Common Practice in Hospitals

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released results of its recent survey of U.S. hospitals on the reuse and reprocessing of single-use-devices (SUDs). Reprocessing refers to the cleaning and resterilization of devices. Results indicate that over 24 percent of hospitals reuse SUDs. The most commonly reused devices include sequential compression device sleeves, drill bits, saws, blades and biopsy forceps. According to the survey results, larger hospitals of at least 250 beds are more likely to reuse SUDs (45.2%) versus hospitals with fewer than 50 beds (12.3 %). The majority of hospitals (84%) reprocess the devices through outside companies. The purpose of the telephone survey was to obtain an estimate of the extent of hospital reprocessing in order for the FDA to develop cost-effective hospital inspection protocols and enforcement strategies.

For more information about the survey, please visit:
http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/Reuse/survey-execsum.html


House Approves Wastewater Security Bill

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed a wastewater security bill authorizing $220 million in grants from the EPA to support the efforts of wastewater systems to assess and prevent vulnerabilities against terrorist threats. Specific allocations include $200 million for facilities to assess vulnerabilities and repair weaknesses, $15 for technical assistance and $5 million for nonprofit assistance in improving vulnerability assessment methods. The measure also is being considered in the Senate, where Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) has drafted similar legislation.

Information on the passage of the bill is available from the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at:
http://www.house.gov/transportation/press/press2002/release372.html

EPA Celebrates 30th Anniversary of Clean Water Act

The EPA celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and the establishment of National Water Monitoring Day last Friday, October 18. According to the agency, enacting the legislation has prevented 700 billion pounds of pollutants from being discharged into critical waterways. In honor of the anniversary and in observance of National Water Monitoring Day, communities nationwide participated in a variety of events, including water sampling. Environmental advocates used the anniversary to urge the current administration to protect and enforce existing laws and continue working to clean up the more than 40 percent of the nation’s waters that remain polluted.

For more information about the legislation and its anniversary, please visit: http://www.epa.gov/epahome/headline_101802.htm

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 www.waterandhealth.org. To receive the publication via e-mail, please click here and enter your e-mail address to join our mailing list.

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