Archive for the 'waterborne diseases' Category

In the Shadow of Glacial Lakes, Pakistan’s Mountain Communities Look to Climate Adaptation

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Landslides, floods and soil erosion have become increasingly frequent, disrupting channels that carry fresh water from upstream springs into farmlands, and depriving communities of their only source of fresh water.

“Things were becoming very difficult for my family,” Zaman told IPS. “I began to think that farming was no longer viable, and was considering abandoning it and migrating to nearby Chitral [a town about 60 km away] in search of labour.”

He was not alone in his desperation. Azam Mir, an elderly wheat farmer from the Drongagh village in Bindo Gol, recalled a devastating landslide in 2008 that wiped out two of the most ancient water channels in the area, forcing scores of farmers to abandon agriculture and relocate to nearby villages.

“Those who could not migrate out of the village suffered from water-borne diseases and hunger,” he told IPS.

Now, thanks to a public-private sector climate adaptation partnership aimed at reducing the risk of disasters like glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), residents of the northern valleys are gradually regaining their livelihoods and their hopes for a future in the mountains.

Bursting at the seams

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), there were some 2,400 potentially hazardous glacial lakes in the country’s remotest mountain valleys in 2010, a number that has now increased to over 3,000.

Chitral district alone is home to 549 glaciers, of which 132 have been declared ‘dangerous’.

Climatologists say that rising temperatures are threatening the delicate ecosystem here, and unless mitigation measures are taken immediately, the lives and livelihoods of millions will continue to be at risk.

One of the most successful initiatives underway is a four-year, 7.6-million-dollar project backed by the U.N. Adaptation Fund, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the government of Pakistan.

Signed into existence in 2010, its main focus, according to Field Manager Hamid Ahmed Mir, has been protection of lives, livelihoods, existing water channels and the construction of flood control infrastructure including check dams, erosion control structures and gabion walls.”

Read more: IPS News

 

Lack of trickle-down in West Virginia leaves poorest high and dry

Photo retrieved from: www.america.aljazeera.com

“The ongoing water crisis in West Virginia has revealed the economic inequality in the state, as the richest shrug off inconveniences brought on by the contamination while the poorest struggle to obtain one of life’s basic necessities.

In the South Hills section of Charleston, where some homes sell for a million dollars, residents report few problems finding or affording potable water.

“There’ve been no complaints, really. People just go pick it up,” said Steve Bias, 51, the owner of Colonial Exxon gas station. “If someone said they had trouble finding water, we’d help them.”

The neighborhood’s rolling hills are home to the city’s doctors, lawyers and a few coal industry executives, whose homes — including some sprawling mansions — overlook more modest areas in the Kanawah River Valley.

An hour south of Charleston, residents in the impoverished coal mining town of Nellis in Boone County describe a very different scene than that in South Hills.

Some people work for the mine, but many have been laid off. Others drive long distances to low-paying jobs in the service industry.”

Read more: Aljazeera America

 

Fukushima radiation readings spike to highest levels

Radiation readings around tanks holding contaminated water at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have spiked by more than a fifth to their highest levels, Japan’s nuclear regulator said Wednesday, heightening concerns about the cleanup of the worst atomic disaster in almost three decades.

Radiation hot spots have spread to three holding areas for hundreds of hastily built tanks storing water contaminated by being flushed over three reactors that melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011.

The rising radiation levels and leaks at the plant further inflamed international alarm, one day after the Japanese government said that it would step in with almost $500 million of funding to fix the growing levels of contaminated water at the plant.

Readings just above the ground near a set of tanks at the plant showed radiation as high as 2,200 millisieverts (mSv), Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said Wednesday. The previous high in areas holding the tanks was the 1,800 mSv recorded Saturday.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera

Bengawan Solo in need of restoration

Photo retrieved from: www.theflyingtortoise.com

“An immediate restoration of Bengawan Solo river basin in Central Java is urgently required as the river is in a critical condition, an environmentalist says.

Bengawan Solo is one of five highly polluted river basins in Indonesia along with Brantas in East Java, Ciliwung in Jakarta, Citarum in West Java and Musi in South Sulawesi.

Green Society Forum director Wasisto Daru Darmawan said this conclusion was based on a study of Bengawan Solo watershed that was carried out from April this year.

Biota samples were taken from the bed of the Bengawan Solo in seven regencies in the Greater Surakarta area, encompassing Surakarta, Boyolali, Sukoharjo, Karanganyar, Wonogiri, Sragen and Klaten.

The observation, using a method called biotilik, also involved 50 students from seven schools in Greater Surakarta.

The biotilik is a water quality monitoring technique which can provide more detailed information by observing the impact of water quality degradation resulting in changes in the river habitat.”

Read more: The Jakarta Post

Hundreds of dead pigs fished from Shanghai river

Photo retrieved from: www.globaltoronto.com

“At least 2,800 dead pigs have been fished from a Shanghai river since Friday, but authorities insist that tap water in the city is still safe to drink.

State news agency Xinhua said labels tagged to the pigs’ ears indicated they came from the upper waters of the Huangpu River, which flows through the center of Shanghai and is a source of the city’s drinking water.

It’s not clear why the pigs had been dumped in the river, though local media reported earlier this month that a disease had killed thousands of pigs in a village south of Shanghai.

“We will continue to trace the source, investigate the cause, co-operate with neighboring areas and take measures to stop the dumping of pigs into rivers,” the Shanghai Municipal Agricultural Commission said in a statement posted on their website on Monday.

As of Sunday, water quality on the Songjiang section of the river, where most of the pigs were found, remained normal and the incident has had “no significant effect on tap water supply,” the commission added.”

Read more: CNN

 

Can Jakarta ever root out the problems that cause so much destruction after every monsoon season?

Photo retrieved from: www.inquirer.net

“Jakarta, Indonesia, is one of Asia’s most flood-prone cities. Every year hundreds of thousands of citizens living in the capital of Southeast Asia’s largest economy brace for the loss of business, shelter and livelihoods.

Each year, as the rainy season approaches, the authorities insist they are ready to counter the tides of brown murky water, trash, and even animals, surging downstream. But the annual city-wide submergence continues.

This year’s sustained downpour threatens to prompt the kind of flooding not seen since 2007 when 350,000 people were evacuated from water-logged areas and dozens were killed. Already, at least 100,000 people have been affected. Army personnel have been deployed to some of the city’s poorest parts to clean up – a process likely to take weeks, if not months.

Asia’s monsoon season prompts annual debate about the state of infrastructure and the fundamental mismanagement of vital systems meant to keep some of the world’s biggest cities moving. With a population of 10 million, Jakarta’s latest battle to stem the tide highlights a deeper political and social problem: The government’s inability to remove and rehabilitate low-lying slum areas; an unwillingness on part of thousands of poor people to leave dangerous areas despite the risk to themselves and their families; and the overwhelming problem of waste and dumping, often cited as the biggest hindrance to keeping Indonesia “flood-free”.

Indonesia faces a formidable challenge: The country’s economy is growing at breakneck speed, its population is rising and the pressures on its decaying systems are mounting. The World Bank has stepped in to help save what it describes as a “sinking city”, due to rising sea levels, trash and annual rain. To dig the city out of its mess, the World Bank has invested $200 million to dredge parts of Jakarta.”

Read more: Aljazeera

 

Traces Of Anxiety Drugs May Make Fish Act Funny

Photo retrieved from: www.npr.org

“The water is likely to be considerably cleaner upstream and downstream from the sewage plant where the Swedish perch were captured.

Adding more uncertainty in this case: Benzodiazepines have been used for decades in Sweden, so they have no doubt been in this aquatic ecosystem for many years.

“These fish may have adapted to that,” Schlenk says.

Scientists now realize that low levels of pharmaceuticals have spread through the environment. For instance, Schlenk has found a Valium-like drug in the hornyhead turbot, a fish that lives on the seafloor off the California coast. Other lab studies have shown that human drugs can affect the behavior of striped bass and other species.

These drug traces don’t pose an obvious threat to people, who might drink water from streams or eat the fish that live in them.

“The presence of pharmaceuticals in surface waters — or even the residues that accumulate in edible in fish and shellfish — are much lower than what you might need to gain a therapeutic dose,” says Bryan Brooks of Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

But, he cautions, that isn’t necessarily the case in the developing world.”

“Some of the observations in India, for example, downstream of manufacturing facilities, are among the highest concentrations of pharmaceuticals reported in the environment,” he says. “So the developing world really deserves some additional attention.”

Read more: NPR

More Threats From Fracking: Radioactive Waste

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday it was embarking on a year-long study of radioactivity in by-products from oil and natural gas development.

But findings and any action from the study may come too late for people like Portage, Pennsylvania resident Randy Moyer, who is suffering from a flurry of health problems he believes are the result of radiation exposure from his work transporting fracking wastefluids. Pennsylvania’s Beaver County Times reports:

Moyer said he began transporting brine, the wastewater from gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, for a small hauling company in August 2011. He trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, and sometimes cleaned out the storage tanks used to hold wastewater on drilling sites. By November 2011, the 49-year-old trucker was too ill to work. He suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Chinese Mayor Apologizes for Drinking Water Contamination

Photo retrieved from: www.scmp.com

“The mayor of the Chinese city of Changzhi apologized for a delay in reporting a poisonous leak from a chemical plant that caused the cutoff of water to 1 million people, the state Xinhua News Agency said.

The environmental authority in China’s northern Shanxi province didn’t receive a report about the pollution from the city until five days after the Dec. 31 incident when it should have been reported within two hours, the official news agency said, citing a news conference with the mayor.

About 9 metric tons of aniline, a colorless and poisonous liquid chemical, spilled from a plant owned by Shanxi Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group, which also makes fertilizer, disrupting the drinking water supply in Handan city downstream in Hebei province, according to Xinhua. The leak was due to a loose drainage valve, Xinhua said.

Thirty more tons of aniline, which can be used to make pesticides, have been found in a nearby disused reservoir, it said, citing a local emergency response agency. The local environmental bureau is cleaning up the contamination in its reservoir, where water won’t be used until tests prove it safe.”

Read more: Bloomberg

 

The Great Lakes legacy: Old contaminants declining; newer ones on the rise

Retrieved From: Environmental Health News

Legacy contaminants are decreasing more quickly than previously reported in three of the Great Lakes, but have stayed virtually the same in two other lakes, according to new research. “These are very positive results. The lakes are improving and slowly cleaning themselves up,” said Thomas Holsen, co-director of Clarkson University’s Center for the Environment. Even with the decreases, it will be 20 to 30 years until the decades-old contaminants in Great Lakes fish decline to the point that fish consumption advisories can be eliminated. Banned in the 1970s, PCBs, DDT and other banned compounds dropped about 50 percent in fish in Lakes Michigan, Ontario and Huron from 1999 through 2009, although there were no significant changes in Lakes Superior and Erie fish, according to the new study. In all of the lakes, the older contaminants are being replaced by newer ones, mostly flame retardants, that are building up in fish and wildlife.

Read More: Environmental Health News