Thursday, February 03, 2005

NRDC: What's on Tap? - The Karma of Health??

Ignorance is always the cause of the health concern later.

That is exactly the "Cause - Effect" rather call "Karma"

This article is produced by NRDC.

This is a useful reference for all concern.

What's on Tap?
Grading Drinking Water in U.S. Cities

Executive Summary

Every day more than 240 million of us in this country turn on our faucets in order to drink, bathe, and cook, using water from public water systems. And as we do, we often take the purity of our tap water for granted. We shouldn't. Before it comes out of our taps, water in most cities usually undergoes a complex treatment process, often including filtration and disinfection. As good as our municipal water systems can be (and they can be very good), they also can fail -- sometimes tragically. In 1999, for example, more than 1,000 people fell ill at a county fair in upstate New York after ingesting an extremely virulent strain of E. coli bacteria; a three-year-old girl and an elderly man died when their bodies could not fight off the pathogen.

1 This is just one incident; health officials have documented scores of similar waterborne disease outbreaks in towns and cities across the nation during the past decade.

So, just how safe is our drinking water? In a careful and independent study, NRDC evaluated the quality of drinking water supplies in 19 cities around the country.

2 We selected cities that represent the broadest range of American city water supplies and reviewed tap water quality data, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance records, and water suppliers' annual reports (material required by law in order to inform citizens of the overall health of their tap water; also called "right-to-know reports").

3 In addition, we gathered information on pollution sources that may contaminate the lakes, rivers, or underground aquifers that cities use as drinking water sources. Finally, we evaluated our findings and issued grades for each city in three areas:

* water quality and compliance
* right-to-know reports
* source water protection

NRDC found that, although drinking water purity has improved slightly during the past 15 years in most cities, overall tap water quality varies widely from city to city. Some cities like Chicago have excellent tap water; most cities have good or mediocre tap water. Yet several cities -- such as Albuquerque, Fresno, and San Francisco -- have water that is sufficiently contaminated so as to pose potential health risks to some consumers, particularly to pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems, according to Dr. David Ozonoff, chair of the Environmental Health Program at Boston University School of Public Health and a nationally known expert on drinking water and health issues.

While tap water quality varies, there is one overarching truth that applies to all U.S. cities: unless we take steps now, our tap water will get worse. Two factors pose imminent threats to drinking water quality in America:

* First, we are relying on pipes that are, on average, a century old. The water systems in many cities -- including Atlanta, Boston, and Washington, D.C. -- were built toward the end of the 19th century. Not only is our water supply infrastructure breaking down at alarming rates (the nation suffered more than 200,000 water main ruptures in 2002), but old pipes can leach contaminants and breed bacteria in drinking water.

* Second, regulatory and other actions by the Bush administration threaten the purity of American tap water. These actions include: weakening legislative protections for source waters, stalling on issuing new standards for contaminants, delaying the strengthening of existing standards, and cutting and even eliminating budgets for protective programs. Read More...

NRDC: What's on Tap? - Executive Summary

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