Entries in Tap Water (3)


Pesticides in Tap Water Linked to Food Allergies

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As food allergies become increasingly common, a new study offers the first proof that they may be linked to pesticides found in tap water.

Researchers at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology used existing government data to see whether people with more dichlorophenols in their urine were more likely to have food allergies.  Dichlorophenols are a kind of chlorine in certain pesticides that are known to kill bacteria -- and in theory, they could be killing the naturally occurring bacteria in humans’ digestive systems, causing food allergies.

“We wanted to see if there was an association between certain pesticides and food allergies, and we were specifically interested in dichlorophenols because those were the ones that had this antibacterial effect,” said lead researcher Dr. Elina Jerschow.  “When researchers have compared bacteria from the bowel in healthy kids versus bacteria in the bowel for kids that have lot of allergies, they’ve noticed a big difference.”

The number of children and teens with food or digestive allergies in the United States has increased 18 percent between 1997 and 2007, according to a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  That’s about three million people under age 18.

Eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts and wheat make up 90 percent of food allergies, according to the CDC report.  Symptoms can range from mouth tingling to anaphylaxis, which is the swelling of the throat and tongue and can lead to death.

Jerschow clarified that the researchers were only looking for a statistical association, meaning they were not able to examine patients to see how these chemicals physically caused their allergies.  Because it’s only an association, these findings could mean that the chemicals caused the food allergies, or it could mean the food allergies caused the chemicals in the urine.  That part is not yet clear.

“While the study does not allow concluding that pesticides are responsible for the allergies, it certainly raises the possibility and justifies pursuing the kinds of studies that can help sort of if these pesticides are, indeed, the cause,” said Dr. Kenneth Spaeth, who directs the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center at North Shore University Hospital.  He was not a researcher involved in the study.

Spaeth said the study's findings fit in with growing evidence that pesticide exposure can damage the immune system, which could increase allergies as well.

Researchers were surprised to find that dichlorophenol levels in urine didn’t vary between urban and rural areas, Jerschow said.  They concluded that even those who opted for bottled water instead of tap water could ingest the pesticide chemical from eating fruit, fruit juices and foods with cocoa powder, like chocolate.

As such, Jerschow said the research is still too preliminary to suggest that Americans should change their eating or drinking habits.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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

ABC News Radio