Archive | Drinking Water

Non-stick Cookware Linked to Cholesterol

MORGANTOWN, W.Va., Sept. 8 (UPI) — Chemicals used in the production of non-stick cookware and waterproof fabrics appear more likely to have elevated cholesterol levels, U.S. researchers say.

Stephanie J. Frisbee of West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown and colleagues assessed serum lipid levels in 12,476 children and adolescents — average age 11.1 — included in the C8 Health Project, which resulted from the settlement of a class-action lawsuit regarding perfluorooctanoic acid contamination.

Perfluoroalkyl acids — including perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonate — are found in drinking water, dust, food packaging, breast milk, cord blood, microwave popcorn, air and occupational exposure. Perfluoroalkyl acids are used in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, which give non-stick heat resistance to cookware and waterproof fabrics and upholstery.

The children and teens submitted blood samples in 2005 and 2006. Among the participants, perfluorooctanoic acid was found in 29.3 nanograms per milliliter compared to a national survey of 3.9 nanograms per milliliter, but perfluorooctanesulfonate concentrations were similar — 19.1 nanograms per milliliter vs. 19.3 nanograms per milliliter.

After factoring for other variables, higher perfluorooctanoic acid levels were linked to increased total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, and perfluorooctanesulfonate was associated with increased total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and HDL or “good” cholesterol.

The findings are published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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Cancer Cluster Identified in Greece

ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 27 (UPI) — The incidence of cancer fatalities in a heavily industrialized area of southern Greece is higher than in the surrounding region, health authorities say.

Scientists say the rate of cancer-related deaths among residents of the Oinofyta area, near Attica, where water has repeatedly tested positive for carcinogenic hexavalent chromium, is 14 percent higher than among residents in the broader Viotia prefecture, Kathimerini reported.

Researchers from Athens University said 118 deaths, one-quarter of the 474 deaths registered in Oinofyta from 1999-2009, were caused by cancer.

They also found a relatively high incidence of fatalities from rare forms of cancer. Deaths from cancer of the liver in Oinofyta during the 1999-2009 period was 1,472 percent higher than deaths from the same form of cancer in the rest of Viotia, researchers said.

Deaths from cancer of the urinal tract were 841 percent higher than similar fatalities elsewhere in the prefecture and similar discrepancies were found between cases of mouth and lip cancer in Oinofyta and the surrounding region.

“These forms of rare cancer are often a result of environmental pollution … so it would be logical to say that they are the result of the longstanding presence of hexavalent chromium in the water of Oinofyta,” Athena Linou, a professor of epidemiology who led the study, said.

She proposed the immediate inspection of all sources of drinking water supply in Oinofyta.

“I know authorities have already taken some steps in this direction. But tests should be conducted regularly and the samples should be taken from tap water in homes and not just from the refinery,” she said.

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Herbicide Linked to Prostate Inflammation

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Aug. 26 (UPI) — Male rats exposed in vitro to low doses of widely used herbicide are more likely than others to develop prostate inflammation, U.S. researchers say.

Study leaders Suzanne Fenton and Jason Stanko of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, say the doses of atrazine — a herbicide used to control weeds and grasses in crops such as corn and sugar cane — given to mother rats during the last five days of pregnancy are close to the regulated levels in drinking water sources.

The maximum contamination level of atrazine allowed in U.S. drinking water is 3 parts per billion but the doses given to the animals were 2.5 parts per million, or 8.73 milligrams per kilogram body weight.

“We didn’t expect to see these kinds of effects at such low levels,” Fenton says in a statement.

The study, published online in Reproductive Toxicology, finds prostate inflammation went from 48 percent in the control group to 81 percent in the male offspring who were exposed to a mixture of atrazine and its breakdown products prenatally.

Fenton is scheduled to present the findings in September to the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its reassessment of atrazine.

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Exercise Caution when Exercising Outside

MAYWOOD, Ill., Aug. 18 (UPI) — High temperatures have dominated the summer, but as people try to make up for lost time they should still exercise caution outdoors, U.S. researchers say.

Kara Smith, a personal trainer and special projects coordinator at Loyola Center for Fitness in Maywood, Ill., says to go easy when exercising in the heat.

“It’s great to get outside and exercise before the cold weather sets in, but this year’s record heat makes it all the more important to take precautions so you don’t make a healthy activity bad for your health,” Smith said in statement.

Smith recommends staying hydrated by drinking water before, during and after exercise. She suggests weighing oneself before heading outside and again upon coming home. Whatever weight lost is water weight so drinking that amount in ounces of water will replenish the body.

For those who want to squeeze exercise into the last weeks of summer, Smith advises:

– Choosing time wisely. Avoid outside exercise during the hottest times of the day, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

– Protecting the skin and eyes from sun. Wear waterproof and sweat-proof sunscreen and sunglasses.

– Letting the heat escape. Wear light-colored, light-weight clothes that pull moisture away from the body.

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Africa Cellphone Benefits Need Support

DALLAS, Aug. 9 (UPI) — The explosive growth of cellphone use in Africa isn’t enough to drive the continent’s economic growth without accompanying infrastructure, economic experts say.

Researchers at Southern Methodist University say that while there is evidence of positive short-term impacts, so far there’s limited evidence mobile phones have led to large-scale improvements in African countries, a university release says.

Cellphones can do only so much, the researchers say, as long as many Africans still struggle in poverty and still lack reliable electricity, clean drinking water, education or access to roads.

“It’s really great for a farmer to find out the price of beans in the market,” said SMU economist Isaac Mbiti, who has seen the impact of the cellphone boom firsthand in his native Kenya.

“But if a farmer can’t get the beans to market because there is no road, the information doesn’t really help. Cellphones can’t replace things you need from development, like roads and running water.”

Mobile phone coverage has jumped from 10 percent of the population in 1999 to 60 percent in 2008 despite the extreme poverty of many Africans, Mbiti’s research found.

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India Opens Innovative Water Plant

MADRAS, India, Aug. 2 (UPI) — An Indian company says it has begun operating an advanced desalination plant to provide some of the cheapest drinking water in the country.

The Chennai Water Desalination Co. said its plant in Madras that began operating this weekend will supply around 260 gallons of water for just a little more than $1 and could be a “template” for other coastal Indian cities, the BBC reported.

By filtering seawater under high pressure, a company spokesman said, the plant will provide 26 million gallons of water to the city a day.

By comparison, the government-run water board supplies about 170 million gallons of water to the city’s seven million residents.

The $140 million plant is a joint venture between companies from India and Spain, the BBC said.

The government-run Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board says it will buy the purified water for the next 25 years.

“The water is purified and demineralized. This takes away salt, lime and other particles. The purified water meets the government standards. It tastes just like ordinary water and above all it is cheap,” water board Managing Director Shiv Das Meena said.

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How to Avoid the 'freshman 15'

TORONTO, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Eating breakfast, including protein in meals and drinking water can help college students avoid the so-called freshman 15, a Canadian expert says.

Rena Mendelson, professor at the school of nutrition at Ryerson University in Toronto, says simple things like that can help first-year students — and anyone who wants to avoid gaining weight — avoid the common experience of packing on extra pounds the first year of college. Mendelson also recommends eating regular meals, whether one’s schedule permits it or not.

For example, loading a backpack with a healthy lunch or snack that includes protein — part-skim cheese strings, baked tortilla chips and low-fat bean dip or dried fruit and nut mix, for example — will make it easier to resist junk food cravings. But keep food safe — do not keep at room temperature for more than 2 hours, Mendelson says.

Pick lower-fat options, or no-fat options, such as low-fat milk instead of whole milk or light salad dressing instead of full-fat dressing.

“Never snack out of the box or bag. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten when you’re studying or hanging out,” Mendelson said in a statement. “Take out one serving and put the package away before you eat what’s on your plate.”

Drink water at meals instead of soda or beer, and use water to quench your thirst and flush out excess sodium, Mendelson says.

Studying can go long into the night, but avoid late-night eating. If you do snack, make healthy choices, such as fruit and veggie bars, fresh fruit, almonds, low-fat granola bars, whole-grain crackers and mini cans of tuna.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Australia Turns to Sea for Drinking Water

CANBERRA, Australia, July 12 (UPI) — Australia will spend $13 billion to build desalinization plants to provide up to 30 percent of the country’s drinking water from the sea, authorities say.

Still recovering from the worst drought in its history, blamed in part on climate change, Australia is turning to seawater to deal with looming water shortages, The New York Times reported Saturday.

Other nations, facing possible future shortages, are watching the Australian plan with interest, the Times said.

“We consider ourselves the canary in the coal mine for climate change-induced changes to water supply systems,” said Ross Young, executive director of the Water Services Association of Australia.

The $13.2 billion is “the cost of adapting to climate change,” Young said.

The ambitious plan has plenty of critics.

Homeowners fear it will mean rising water bills, and environmentalists are wary of the plants’ effects on the climate.

“Big waste of money,” said Helen Meyer, 65, a retired midwife in Tugun, where the state of Queensland built a $1 billion desalination plant last year. “It cost a lot of money to build, and it uses a lot of power.”

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Hand Washing Improves Drinking Water

STANFORD, Calif., June 30 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say hand washing can improve the bacterial count of water collected at sources and brought home in containers.

Alexandria Boehm, Jenna Davis of Stanford University say about half of the world’s population, more than 3 billion people, have no access to municipal drinking water and obtain drinking water from wells, springs and other sources and store it in jugs and other containers. Past research showed stored water can have higher levels of bacterial contamination than the water at its source.

Boehm, Davis and students find a strong link between fecal contamination on the hands of household residents and bacterial contamination in stored water in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The water stored in containers had nearly 100 times more fecal bacteria than the source where it was collected.

“The results suggest that reducing fecal contamination on hands should be investigated as a strategy for improving stored drinking water quality and health among households using non-networked water supplies,” the study says.

The study is published in the Environmental Science & Technology.

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1 in 5 Bangladeshi Deaths Due to Arsenic

NEW YORK, June 26 (UPI) — One in five deaths in Bangladesh stems from arsenic in drinking water, which the World Health Organization describes as the largest mass poisoning in history.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet, found between 33 million and 77 million people in Bangladesh have been exposed to arsenic through drinking water linked to the widespread installation of tube wells 30 years ago to control waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery. Although the wells reduced exposure to the microbes causing such diseases, the water was contaminated with arsenic, which occurs naturally in the area.

Dr. Joseph Graziano, the study leader, and colleagues at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of Chicago said the arsenic-related deaths were due to heart disease and other chronic diseases in addition to the more common arsenic exposure — skin lesions, and cancers of the skin, bladder and lung.

The study tracked lifestyle and health data for 12,000 people in Bangladesh over a 10-year period via interviews and urine samples every two years. In addition, nearly 6,000 wells were tested to establish the arsenic concentration of the water source for each participant.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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