Entries in Drinking Water (7)


Hurricane Sandy: Tips To Make Tap Water Safe for Drinking

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If water supply becomes contaminated, you can either boil water for one minute or make water safe with bleach.

Here is how:

If tap water is clear:

1. Add eight drops of household unscented liquid bleach to one gallon of water.

2. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If tap water is cloudy:

1. Add 16 drops of unscented household liquid bleach to one gallon of water.

2. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

In addition:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
  • Open windows and doors to get fresh air when you use bleach.

For more information, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida County Pulls Fluoride from Water

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLEARWATER, Fla.) -- Florida’s Pinellas County commissioners have voted to stop adding fluoride to drinking water -- a public health effort proved to reduce cavities in kids and tooth decay in adults.

The 4-3 vote reneges the fluoridation policy adopted by the County in 2004, which is still touted as a “safe and effective” way to “inhibit, reduce, or even reverse the onset and development of tooth decay” on the County’s website.

Minute amounts of fluoride -- about one part per million -- have been added to American drinking water since 1945.

“We’ve been doing this for over 65 years now, and over time the percentage of the U.S population that gets fluoridated water has climbed steadily,” said Dr. William Bailey, chief dental officer of the U.S. Public Health Service and acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Oral Health.  “It’s the CDC’s recommendation that all communities should enjoy the benefits of water fluoridation.”

Water fluoridation has been shown to reduce a person’s risk of tooth decay by an additional 25 percent over fluoridated toothpaste, Bailey said.  And a lifetime supply costs less than a single filling.

“Community water fluoridation has been recognized by the CDC as one of the top 10 public health interventions of the 20th Century,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser.  “It has dramatically reduced dental caries across the population.  No longer do most Americans worry about losing their teeth as they get older.”

In 2008, 72.4 percent of the U.S. population -- or 195,545,109 people -- had access to fluoridated water, according to the CDC.  Like cereal fortified with folic acid, milk fortified with vitamin D and salt containing iodine, tap water containing fluoride offers a safe and healthful supplement that folks don’t even have to think about.

“It is a public health benefit that reaches every citizen from children to old age,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  “The risk is essentially nil in a well-managed program.”

But skeptics question the safety of fluoride, linking it to diseases like Alzheimer’s and arthritis, and even a low IQ.

“Fluoride is a toxic substance,” Tea Party activist Tony Caso told the St. Petersburg Times.  “This is all part of an agenda that’s being pushed forth by the so-called globalists in our government and the world government to keep the people stupid so they don’t realize what’s going on.”

The fluoridation debate is not new.  Scientific panels continue to review the research, and have found no evidence for any adverse health effects of fluoridation. Schaffner said he hopes Pinellas County and other communities that have decided to discontinue fluoridation will reconsider based on the scientific evidence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Waterlogged America: Do We Drink Too Much?

Comstock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- How much water should we drink?  It's a debate that seems to never be put to rest in part because doctors and health organizations send conflicting messages.

Many physicians will offer up the eight-glasses-a-day adage, though there is no actual research suggesting why this amount should be a goal.  For our skin, for our waistline, for our kidneys -- little snippets of advice seem to be perpetually passed around, all consolidating in a singular chant: drink more water, it's good for you.

But why?  This is the question that a group of dissenting medical opinions have been posing over the past few years.  In a nutshell, their argument is this: there's no evidence that drinking more water helps our health, so shouldn't we just drink when we're thirsty?

That's the take-home message Dr. Margaret McCartney, a Scottish physician, is putting forth in her opinion piece published in the British Medical Journal Tuesday.

The concept that we must drink six to eight glasses of fluids a day to prevent dehydration is "not only nonsense, but is thoroughly debunked nonsense," she writes.

McCartney is up in arms about the western world's tendency to over promote water in large part because she feels that promotion is guided by the beverage industry, not by medical science.

"We can emphasize non-evidenced based things too much," she told ABC News, which detracts from the real health messages we should be sending about exercise diet, and not smoking.

McCartney also calls out several water myths that are currently promoted by European bottled water producer, Danone: that drinking water will help you lose weight, that kids need to drink more water in order to concentrate in school, and that the lack of those eight glasses a day will lead to health problems.

"There is still no evidence that we need to drink more than we naturally want," she writes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


EPA to Set Regulations on Chemicals in Drinking Water

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday it will develop a regulation for perchlorate and several other toxic chemicals found in drinking water.

The EPA's decision comes after the agency's administrator, Lisa Jackson, asked scientists to thoroughly look into the "emerging science of perchlorate."  Scientific research shows that the naturally occurring and man-made chemical may affect how the thyroid gland functions.

Along with perchlorate, the EPA is also looking to set standards for 16 toxic chemicals found in drinking water that could be hazardous to humans.

“Clean water is critical to the health and prosperity of every American community and a fundamental concern to every American family.  EPA is hard at work on innovative ways to improve protections for the water we drink and give to our children, and the development of these improved standards is an important step forward,” Jackson said.  “Our decisions are based on extensive review of the best available science and the health needs of the American people.”´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drinking Water: EPA Issues New Recommendations

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Several weeks after promising to address the issue of chromium-6 levels in drinking water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued new recommendations for monitoring the potentially hazardous chemical.

Chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, is the chemical made famous by the 2000 film Erin Brockovich. It was back in the news last month after an environmental organization released a report indicating that the chemical has contaminated drinking water in more than 30 cities.

The Environmental Working Group tested tap water in 35 cities and found hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, in 31 of the cities.

Chromium-6 was the same chemical that had seeped into the groundwater of Hinkley, Calif., where Erin Brockovich waged her fight, and whose residents were awarded a $333 million settlement from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The movie drew attention to the potential dangers of hexavalent chromium, and scientists at the Environmental Working Group say previous research found the chemical can cause cancer, and that its presence in drinking water is much more widespread than originally believed.

Currently, the EPA only requires water systems to test for the presence of total chromium, which includes chromium-6. In response to what the agency calls "emerging public health information," the EPA has made a number of updated recommendations for water systems to follow. Among the new recommendations are collecting and testing samples at more points throughout the water distribution systems as well as more frequent testing.

"As we continue to learn more about the potential risks of exposure to chromium-6, we will work closely with states and local officials to ensure the safety of America's drinking water supply," said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson.

But as the Environmental Working Group, the group that published the report on chromium-6 in drinking water, stresses the potential dangers of chromium-6, other scientists say there's no good science on just how much of an impact the chemical can have on public health.

"The National Toxicology Program has found that hexavalent chromium in drinking water shows clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of otherwise rare gastrointestinal tumors," reads the report's executive summary. The National Toxicology Program is a branch of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and considers hexavalent chromium a "probable carcinogen."

"There have also been some other health effects seen in animal studies, such as anemia and damage to the lymph nodes, liver and gastrointestinal tract," said Rebecca Sutton, the report's lead researcher.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Report Raises Concern Over 'Erin Brockovich' Chemical in Drinking Water

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hexavalent chromium, the chemical made famous by the 2000 film "Erin Brockovich," is once again in the news after an environmental organization released a report indicating that the chemical has contaminated drinking water in more than 30 cities nationwide.

The Environmental Working Group tested tap water in 35 cities and found hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, in 31 of the cities.

Scientists for the group say previous research found the chemical can cause cancer, and that its presence in drinking water is much more widespread than originally believed.

Regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency set a total chromium limit of 100 ppb, or parts per billion, for drinking water. However, there is no set limit for chromium-6, and water utility companies are not required to test for it. California is the only state that mandates testing, and that state's legal limit for chromium-6 in drinking water is .06 ppb. Researchers found that 25 of the 31 cities with chromium-6 contaminated water had levels higher than that amount.

Norman, Okla., the city with the highest concentration of chromium-6, measured about 200 times that level, with a concentration of about 12 ppb.

But some scientists say that's an extremely small amount. One part per billion is equivalent to about a drop in 250 gallon drums of water, or three seconds in a century.

Toxicology experts say inhaling chromium-6 can cause cancer, but there isn't much data on the dangers of drinking it.

"The evidence is fairly good that it's carcinogenic in people in occupational settings who inhale it and get a good dose," said Dr. Shan Yin, assistant medical director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center.

Most unintentional chromium exposure comes from industrial processes, such as leather tanning and metal plating.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Probable Carcinogen Present in Many Cities' Water Supplies

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An environmental group is set to release a study that found the probable carcinogen hexavalent chromium is present to some degree in the drinking water supplies of 31 American cities.  The Environmental Working Group report is due out on Monday.

The Environmental Protection Agency has not set acceptable limits for hexavalent chromium in tap water but is about to do so. California has proposed a limit of 0.06 parts per billion.  It is the chemical at the center of the fact-based 2000 film, Erin Brockovitch

The Environmental Working Group surveyed 35 cities and found the substance in the water of 31 of them.  Of the 31 cities, 25 water supplies exceeded the proposed goal in California.  The highest levels, at more than 200 times the California figure, were in Norman, Okla.

Hexavalent chromium was commonly used in many industrial processes 20 and 30 years ago and is still used in some today. 

The American Chemistry Council represents the chemical industry and told the Washington Post the California goal is unrealistic because some water supplies have hexavalent chromium levels higher than the California proposal that occur naturally.  Medical experts tell the Post the study is "disturbing" and say the U.S. should strive to have no hexavalent chromium in drinking supplies, or at least limit it to the California goal.

Hexvalent chromium has been known to cause lung cancer when inhaled but recent research on animals shows it causes other potentially deadly conditions when ingested.

The Environmental Working Group says on its website it is dedicated to using public information to protecting the public and the environment.  Most of its funding comes from grants and private donations.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio