Friday, September 18, 2009

News Flash

The intersection between the environment and public's health has made recent headlines in the New York Times. I wonder if it is any surprise that conditions related to CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) are implicated in at least one of the public health disasters. Here two of the most interesting (and disturbing) stories I read recently:
  • Health Ills Abound as Runoff Fouls Wells - The New York Times reported today that excess cattle manure is contaminating local water systems. The pollution is resulting in a wide-range of health problems including diarrhea, ear infections, and skin rashes. The problem appears to be in the enforcement of laws already on the books. Local communities need more safety mechanisms in place to identify and prevent possible sources of water contamination and to act quickly once a problem is identified.

  • Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering - A Sunday special in the New York Times investigates the problem of contaminated drinking water, beginning with a community in coal country West Virginia. Though legislation is in place (the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act) both are systematically violated resulting in dental caries, skin rashes, and likely far greater medical conditions. Again, regulators are overwhelmed, but urgent action and redress is needed.

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