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Research

Antibiotic Resistance in China

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February 16  |  antibiotics, Case Studies, Farm, food safety, Immune System, Latest News, Livestock, Pork, Research  |   Webmaster

More disturbing news from China. A news alert from Food Safety News reveals that manure from Chinese pig farms contains both antibiotic residues and high concentrations of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics.

The new study published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences adds to the evidence that antibiotics used by China’s pork producers pose significant health risks. The study also found that once manure leaves the farm, its potential for spreading antibiotic resistance to other surrounding bacteria in the environment is much diminished, but not eliminated. Why should this concern us?  Because it is becoming a worldwide problem.  “We’re not trying to single out the Chinese here. This is a global problem,” said James Tiedje, a microbiologist from Michigan State University who joined the team of Chinese researchers for the project.

Pork production with antibiotic use has been growing rapidly in China, where half of world’s pigs are grown for a country with a growing appetite for pork. Demand for pork has increased in the orient, while it is steadily dropping in western countries, and almost non-existent in the middle and near east countries. For a variety of religious, cultural, and personal health reasons, a huge and growing segment of the world’s population abstains from pork and the mounting evidence seems to support their position.

Closer to home, a recent article by Dr. Mercola detailed surprising and disturbing results in a new investigation by Consumer Reports. It found that 69 percent of all raw pork samples tested — nearly 200 samples in total — were contaminated with the dangerous bacteria Yersinia enterocolitica, which causes fever and gastrointestinal illness with diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.

The pork also tested positive for other contaminants, including the controversial drug ractopamine, which is banned in many parts of the world. Worst of all, many of the bacteria found in the pork were resistant to multiple antibiotics, weakening the immune system and compromising medical treatment with potentially lethal results. 

And much like other countries, what happens on the farm doesn’t stay on the farm – and it can impact human health.    Said a press release on the study, “Manure, compost, or soil containing antibiotic-resistant bacteria could thwart the efficacy of human antibiotic therapies if it runs off into rivers, leaches into groundwater, is dispersed as dust, or if composted manure is distributed as organic fertilizer, according to the authors.”

There is some good news, however.  Any of our customers operating pig farms have successfully overcome, and in many cases, eliminated these issues by using PurOxi products and systems.  Clean ~ Clear ~ Nutritional ~ Water is a cornerstone in their healthy, prosperous operations.

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Source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/02/china-antibiotic-resistent-bacteria-found-in-pig-manure/#.UR_aJfLaKSo

For full report and scientific evidence visit http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/02/05/1222743110 and click on the links provided.  Click here for the pdf file.

 

 

Safe Clean Produce

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July 12  |  antibiotics, food safety, Latest News, Research  |   Webmaster

Safe, Clean Produce

As you know, we have two daily electronic papers on our website linked to our twitter account; the Oxy Blast Digest and the Motala Water Report.  We encourage you all to subscribe to them.  There is always something of interest.

The article of interest today is testing of produce. You all should know this is a huge issue and could be solved by producers in-house.  How?  Well, the suggestion is that they shock their complete water system with Oxy Blast at 500 PPM. This dose will kill bacteria and allow for no further complications.  Of course, we also want to make sure when doing this that the pH level is at 6.  Now, they can use a maintenance dose of 50 PPM consistently, while keeping the pH at 6, and soak all vegetables in a clean disinfected sink for 30 minutes. They can now drain the sink.  This will help them stay fresh longer.

As a matter of fact if you spray left over tossed salad with a 3% solution of Oxy Blast (mix 15 parts of water with 1 part Oxy Blast 50% in spray bottle).  It will last longer and stay fresher longer in the fridge. My wife uses this formula to keep our complete kitchen and all bathrooms free of bacteria. If you spray some by the sink of your home you will see it with your own eyes – it bubbles and you can actually see it kill the bacteria!

 

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Milk

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June 30  |  Dairy, News, Research  |   Webmaster

Following is a presentation from the Dairy Council of California.  It’s an excellent source of information about milk; one of our most precious commodites.  Enjoy!

Milk_program_2012.pdf

 

 

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Drought in U.S.

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June 30  |  crops, Farm, Latest News, Livestock, Research  |   Webmaster

Extreme temperatures and lack of adequate rainfall are causing the drought situation to worsen throughout the the western states. 

Here is an overview of the past 6 weeks:

U.S. Drought Monitor

https://www.oxyblast.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Drough-monitor-6_week.gif

You can also read more about this here:   http://www.agweb.com/article/14_states_that_need_a_drink/

 

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Importance of Water for Poultry

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May 7  |  Case Studies, Farm, News, Newsletters, Poultry, Reports, Tests, Research  |   Webmaster

We have many articles and studies on our website about the importance of water for health; both for us humans, as well as for our animals and livestock.  All life forms depend on water; in fact, after air/oxygen, it is the single most important factor to sustain life!  You can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. So it only stands to reason that the quantity, and especially quality of water, should be taken seriously.

However, water is not only a key ingredient to sustain life, it is also an important nutrient to maintain key bodily functions and the immune system. It is a critical agent to:

  • help dissolve minerals and nutrients making them accessible to the body
  • carry these nutrients and oxygen to all of the cells in the body

  Water also serves the body in many other critical areas, including:

  • protecting the body’s tissues and organs
  • moistening tissues in mouth, eyes, and nose
  • regulating body temperature
  • lubricating joints
  • helping to flush out waste products through kidneys and liver

In addition to the important factors listed above, water also plays a key role in preventing disease, for all humans and animals.

Following is a recent report by scientists at the University of Georgia, focusing on poultry.

The importance of water

Factors affecting water consumption, water quality and management tips are reviewed by Brian D. Fairchild and Casey W. Ritz, Extension Poultry Scientists at the University of Georgia.

 

Water is a critical nutrient that receives little attention until a problem arises. Not only should producers make an effort to provide water in adequate quantity, they should also know what is in the water that will be flowing through the water lines to be used in evaporative cooling systems and consumed by the birds.

Water Functions

Water is needed for bird consumption, reducing air temperature (including evaporative cooling pad and fogging systems) and facility sanitation. Broilers consume approximately 1.6 to 2.0 times more water than feed on a weight basis. Water is a critical nutrient in bird metabolism and nutrition. From a physiology perspective, water consumed by the bird is used for nutrient transportation, enzymatic and chemical reactions in the body, body temperature regulation and lubrication of joints and organs.

There is a strong relationship between feed and water consumption, therefore, water can be used to monitor flock performance. Many of the electronic controllers in poultry houses have the ability to monitor daily water consumption and have inputs for multiple water meters. This would allow a water meter to be installed separately on the lines supplying water to the front and rear of the house. Bird uniformity between the front and back of the house can be monitored using water consumption. Water consumption will be greater in the area of the house that has more birds. When birds are not distributed evenly between the front and back of the house it increases the competition for feed and water space. This, combined with the extra heat from excessive numbers of birds, can reduce bird performance.

water poultry figure 1

Figure 1. Water consumption in a tunnel ventilated broiler house

Factors Affecting Water Consumption

There are several factors that affect water consumption:

Bird age: Water consumption increases with age but decreases as a percentage of body weight.

Environmental temperature/heat stress: Birds consume more water as temperature increases. One of the main ways birds regulate body temperature is by evaporating water through the respiratory system during panting. As birds pant, water is lost and needs to be replaced in order to maintain body-water balance. Water consumption can double and even triple during periods of heat stress. Water consumption in broilers increases approximately seven per cent for each degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature.

A study at the University of Georgia examined the relationship of feed consumption to water consumption of seven consecutive flocks on a commercial broiler farm. As temperatures increased, the water consumed per pound of feed consumed also increased (Table 1).

 water poultry table 1

Water temperature: Several studies have examined the effects of providing cool water to birds during hot weather. In most of these studies, water temperature has improved the performance of broilers and layers. Any water temperature below the body temperature of the bird will be beneficial. The water consumed will help dissipate body heat and aid the bird in body temperature regulation. However, it is very difficult to cool the water significantly when moving the water hundreds of feet down a house.

Electrolytes: During periods of potential heat stress, many producers supplement drinking water with electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals that can be found in the blood and are important for normal cell function and growth. Electrolytes, as the name implies, help regulate nerve and muscle function by conducting electrical signals from nerves to muscles.

Electrolytes are also important for the acid-base balance of the blood and fluid retention. Some of the electrolytes found in blood plasma include sodium (Na), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), chlorine (Cl), bicarbonate (HCO3) and sulphate (SO4). The addition of the electrolytes not only replenishes those depleted during heat stress, but also stimulates water consumption. When the results of these are added together (electrolyte intake and increased water consumption), the mortality due to heat stress can be reduced.

Lighting programs: Light is another environmental factor that can influence bird water consumption. Birds will not drink if they are not eating and vice versa. During dark periods, the birds rest and as a result, they do not consume water. The exception is long dark periods. In dark periods exceeding eight hours, it is not unusual to see some water consumption register on the water meter. In operations that utilize lighting programs, two distinct water consumption peaks can be observed. The first peak is just after the lights come on (dawn) and the second is just prior to lights turning off (dusk).

The correlation of water consumption with feed intake and many environmental factors indicate its importance in bird metabolism and body function. Efforts should be made in all poultry operations to ensure that adequate and unlimited access to water is provided. Failure to do so will result in reduced feed intake, poor egg production, reduced growth and reduced feed efficiency.

water poultry figure 2

Figure 2. Lighting influences water consumption

Water Quality

While water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen molecules (H2O), it is a universal solvent and as a result can contain many minerals and compounds. The only sure way to get pure water is to use distillation or other treatment methods to remove dissolved minerals and compounds. This can be expensive considering the volume of water a typical broiler farm consisting of four or more houses would consume. Water treatment should be done based on the results of water quality analysis. While poultry drinking water does not have to be pure, heavily contaminated water is undesirable.

Water composition varies with geographical region as the nature of the geological makeup changes. Water contamination can occur if surface water drains into the well. All farms should submit water samples to a qualified laboratory for testing to establish a baseline for water quality. This will help producers determine if and what water treatment might be warranted.

Water quality should be of concern to all poultry operations. Poor water quality may interfere with digestion and subsequent bird performance. The effectiveness of vaccines and medications administered through the water lines could be reduced when water quality is poor. Water contaminants could create equipment problems that would either restrict the amount of water available for consumption or the effectiveness of the evaporative cooling and fogging systems. Reduced water consumption or cooling capacity may have detrimental effects on both growth and reproduction. Poor water quality could also result in leaky water nipples inside the house, which will wet litter and lead to increased ammonia production. Poor litter quality and high ammonia can result in reduced performance and livability.

Standards for water quality should include factors that affect taste, solid buildup within water systems and toxicity. Factors that should be observed for poultry production include, but are not limited to those listed in Tables 2 and 3.

water poultry table 2

Many of the water quality standards for poultry drinking water were originally developed from those for human drinking water. Few of the standards recommended today are based on research utilizing broiler or layers.

Recently, a series of studies has been conducted examining the effects of iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), nitrates (NO3) and pH levels in drinking water on poultry performance. The results of these studies have found that very high levels of Fe, Mn and NO3 do not impact broiler health. In those studies no differences in performance were noted due to 600ppm of Fe, 600ppm of NO3 and 20ppm of Mn.

It should be noted that the water lines were thoroughly flushed between studies and that particulates that result from high Fe and Mn levels can lead to equipment problems such as leaky nipples and clogged fogging nozzles. Broiler performance is more likely to be affected by improper equipment function rather than bird health due to high concentrations of these substances. Poor water quality can lead to increased microbial growth (such as iron bacteria) and biofilm build-up.

water poultry table 3 Water Management Tips

Conduct water tests

Each farm should have its well water tested. Water quality can change during periods of heavy rain or drought and additional water tests during these periods will ensure that water lines continue to deliver adequate water volume for both the birds and the cooling systems. County agents can provide more information on the tests available, provide information on fees for testing and submit samples to the Agricultural and Environmental Services Laboratory at the University of Georgia.

Change filters regularly

Sediment and other particulates can cause leaky water nipples that can have negative effects on litter quality. Clogged filters restrict water flow to the drinker and cooling systems. In some cases, simple cartridge filters may not be adequate, such as for water with high iron. In those cases, other water treatments will need to be considered.

Flush water lines regularly

A high–pressure flush should be performed on water lines between each flock and after adding supplements through the medicator, e.g. vaccines, medications, vitamins, electrolytes, etc.

Plan ahead before treating water

Before implementing water treatment or sanitation programs, consult your county agent to ensure that contaminants in your water will not react negatively and cause the water system to become clogged.

References

Batal, A.B., B.D. Fairchild, C.W. Ritz and P.F. Vendrell, 2005. The effect of water manganese on broiler growth performance. Poultry Sci. 84 (Suppl. 1.).

Bell, D.B., 2002. Consumption and quality of water. In: Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production. D.D. Bell and W.D. Weaver, eds. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Norwell, MA. p411-430.

Carter, T.A. and R.E. Sneed, 1987. Drinking water quality for poultry. PS&T Guide No. 42, Extension Poultry Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

Dozier, D.A., M. Czarick, M.P. Lacy, and B.D. Fairchild, 2002. Monitoring water consumption on commercial broiler farms: Evaluation tool to assess flock performance. Poultry Sci. 80:154 (Suppl. 1.).

Fairchild, B.D., A.B. Batal, C.W. Ritz and P.F. Vendrell, 2006. Effect of drinking water iron concentration on broiler performance. J. Appl. Poultry Res. 15:511-517.

May, J.D., B.D. Lott and J.D. Simmons, 1997. Water consumption by broilers in high cyclic temperatures: Bell versus nipple waterers. Poultry Sci. 76:944-947.

Pesti, G.M., S.V. Amato and L.R. Minear, 1985. Water consumption of broiler chickens under commercial conditions. Poultry Sci. 64:803-808.

Schwartz, D.L. Water Quality. VSE, 81c., Penn. State Univ. (mimeographed)

Waggoner, R., R. Good and R. Good, 1984. Water Quality and Poultry Performance. Proceedings AVMA Annual Conference, July.

For more information about water quality studies, reports, resources, and solutions, please contact us or your local OxyBlast dealer:  CONTACT PAGE


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Veterinary Group Reaffirms Support for Antibiotics Use

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April 23  |  antibiotics, Beef, Dairy, Editorial, Farm, food safety, Immune System, Latest News, Livestock, Nutrition, Pork, Poultry, Research  |   Webmaster

While there are many sides and opinions to this ongoing debate, we are in full agreement with the following article. As stated in the AVMA statement, it  supports the prudent use of antibiotics: “The judicious use of antimicrobials plays a key role in preserving the health of our nation’s food animals and the safety of our nation’s food supply. Many agree that there is a need for greater veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food-producing animals, and the AVMA is currently working with the FDA to develop practical means to increase this veterinary oversight.” 

In other words, prudent use of antibiotics and other microbial products, should be made only when necessary, and not indiscriminately in feeds or in any other attempt to prevent illness and disease.  As medically and scientifically proven, the over-exposure to antibiotics eventually increases our resistance to them, thus diminishing their effectiveness and leaving us even more susceptible to infection and disease.  The key here is the definition of “productive uses” and the need for more direct involvement of the AVMA in advising and regulating the use of antibiotics and antimicrobials.

As mentioned in previous posts, any wide-encompassing and long-term policies should be “based on solid science and risk-based assessment, and not on anecdotal reports and speculation.” (sic)  (as evidenced by the recent uproar of LFTB).

Following is the full text of the statement by the American Veterinary Medical Association …

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reaffirmed its support of the responsible use of antibiotics in food animals after a federal court ruling demanded that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) start proceedings to withdraw approval of certain uses of antibiotics used in food production.

United States Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz ruled March 22 that the FDA must start proceedings to withdraw approval of what the FDA currently refers to as “production uses” of penicillins and tetracyclines in food-producing animals. As part of the withdrawal process, manufacturers of the products can request hearings to allow them to provide scientific evidence that the production use of antimicrobial products does not pose a threat to public health.

“The AVMA acknowledges the growing concern regarding antimicrobial use and resistance in animals and people, and supports the judicious use of antimicrobials to maximize public and animal health benefits while minimizing risks,” says AVMA Chief Executive Officer Ron DeHaven. “The judicious use of antimicrobials plays a key role in preserving the health of our nation’s food animals and the safety of our nation’s food supply. Many agree that there is a need for greater veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use in food-producing animals, and the AVMA is currently working with the FDA to develop practical means to increase this veterinary oversight.”

DeHaven cautions, however, that any decision to withdraw approval or ban any antimicrobial uses should be based on solid science and risk-based assessment, and not on anecdotal reports and speculation.

“It is crucial that safe and effective antimicrobials remain available for use in veterinary medicine to ensure the health and welfare of animals and, consequently, the health of humans,” DeHaven says. “The AVMA will continue to work closely with the FDA to formulate a sound, science-based strategy to deal with this complex issue.”

The AVMA, founded in 1863, is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world, with more than 82,500 member veterinarians worldwide engaged in a wide variety of professional activities. For more information about the AVMA, visit www.avma.org.


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LFTB

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April 21  |  Beef, Editorial, food safety, Latest News, Nutrition, Opinion, Research  |   Webmaster

Lean Finely Textured Beef vs. Pink Slime

 

So, what’s all the fuss about “Pink Slime”?  Lean Finely Textured Beef has been used as an additive to ground beef for years, without so much as a whimper or whisper from the politicians, watchdogs, or general public.   Unfortunately, an opinionated poorly-researched blog went viral and the media got hold of it, combined with even more misinformation, escalated this non-story into a major headline that lasted for days.  In the old days, exaggerated, persistent gossip and innuendo (“nudge, nudge, wink, wink”) could eventually lead a person or company to ruin and disrepute.  Nowadays, we have the power of the internet and social media to spread gossip and opinionated misinformation as if they were on super steroids. 

Here is a well-balanced article from a beef industry advocate.  We hope that you enjoy this and the additional links at the bottom of the page.  Your comments are always welcome and we encourage all of you to do your own research and investigation before jumping on the “Doomsday Bandwagon”.   – ed.

 

Make Room For A Bigger, Badder Foe

by Troy Marshall in My View From The Country

Apr. 20, 2012 9:25am

Anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups are quickly becoming the largest threat to animal production.

Boxed-beef prices rallied substantially early this week, bringing some stability back to the beef markets as the peak grilling season gets underway. Analysts say the rally was confirmation that the media-fueled frenzy over lean finely textured beef (LFTB) is waning.  

I haven’t seen any official estimates of what this PR disaster cost the industry, but we do know that hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars were sucked out of the system in the last few weeks. This wasn’t an accident, either; it was a well conceived and orchestrated campaign that utilized an unwitting media to whip the firestorm.   In fact, the campaign’s success probably greatly exceeded the wildest expectations of a faction that’s quickly becoming one of the most threatening alliances against agriculture. This faction encompasses a passel of anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups masterful at creating buzzwords and narratives that obscure their true agenda while rallying well-intentioned consumers and voters to their side.  

The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) used to be the master of this strategy; that is, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars from people who actually believe their contributions support animal shelters and help abused animals. Instead, they fund a war chest to battle livestock production.   The animal welfare movement also is masterful at using groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to paint an extreme view. That way, a more mainstream group like HSUS can appear more center-based when it pushes for radical policy.  

The anti-market, anti-modern folks do it a little differently, however. They believe in government control of the marketplace, and replacing the market and industry institutions they view as supportive of the industry. To do this, they understand they must affect policy, which entails shaping public opinion. They do this by using the media and populist rhetoric to create “moral” perceptions in order to shape policy that is continually evolving in their direction.   Stepping back, one has to admire their success. They’ve used words like “pink slime” and “factory farming” masterfully.  

• The fact is that most people aren’t opposed to a product like LFTB, which reduces costs to consumers, raises prices for producers, and improves the safety and healthfulness of beef; but everyone can hate the concept of “pink slime.”  

• In addition, nearly everyone can line up to oppose factory farming and multinational large-scale food production entities. Most of these same people, however, don’t understand that these groups define a “factory farm” as any entity large enough to be economically viable, or that uses modern technology to produce a higher-quality product more efficiently.  

These groups champion the little guy, and even get some producers to stand with them. They also castigate the government and government involvement on issues they believe will increase the competitiveness of the industry while, at the same time, pleading for government intervention, rather than letting the marketplace function.   It’s the same concept that the Occupy Wall Street movement employs, which is to create an enemy that is perceived to be a dramatic minority or that is part of the “establishment.”  

In fact, these anti-meat groups are successful enough that their message is almost becoming mainstream in the minds of consumers in regard to animal production. Packers are held up to be inherently evil; confined animal feeding units are immoral; and large-scale production is wrong, as is the implementation of modern technologies in food production.   These groups will ally themselves with any group that opposes animal production; yet, they’re not perceived as affiliated with those groups, which increases their credibility. They’ve even been successful in attracting to their cause some producers who don’t understand that they are working for their own demise.

It’s for these reasons that these anti-modern, anti-capitalist, anti-technology groups are quickly becoming the largest threat to animal production.

As a fulltime rancher, Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how various consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

Click here for the original article  http://beefmagazine.com/blog/make-room-bigger-badder-foe

Following are links from various sources covering differing viewpoints …

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases

http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/28/chris-selley-pink-slime-is-benign/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/pink-slime-outrage-goes-viral

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Pink+Slime+controversy

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/

http://www.cattlenetwork.com/cattle-news/Science-must-guide-ag-policy

 

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FDA ruling on Antibiotics in Feed

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April 15  |  antibiotics, Case Studies, Dairy, Farm, Latest News, Livestock, Pork, Poultry, Research  |   Webmaster

We have posted several articles about concerns of the over-use of antibiotic additives in feed for various farm operations.  This past week the FDA finally weighed in with a decision to hava a “voluntary ban” on this practice, while gathering information, comments, and results from operators, consumers, and the differing factions of the medical and scientific communities.  

There have been many differing views on this subject, but this FDA ruling seems to be seeking the middle ground.  We will continue  to follow developments on this story.  In the meantime, here are some links from different sources:

http://nationalhogfarmer.com/

http://beefmagazine.com/

http://www.latimes.com/

http://articles.latimes.com/

www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/GuidanceComplianceEnforcement/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/animal-antibiotics

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244022.php

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Antibiotic Use in Food Animal Production

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November 2  |  antibiotics, food safety, Latest News, Livestock, Newsletters, Nutrition, Research  |   Webmaster

Antibiotic Use Increased in 2010 Food Animal Production

by Helena Bottemiller | Nov 01, 2011

Sales of antibiotics intended for domestic food animals increased from 2009 to 2010, according to new data released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Pew Health Group analyzed the numbers in the report, the second-ever issued by FDA, which showed a boost of 6.7 percent, from 28.8 million pounds in 2009 to 30.6 million pounds in 2010.

If ionophores, which are used exclusively on animals, are excluded from the analysis, the increase is 8.6 percent.

Pew points out that the increase in antimicrobial sales is greater than the 1.3 percent increase in meat production, which was up by 1.2 billion pounds to 92.1 billion pounds.

Laura Rogers, project director for the Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming said the report backs up their calls for reforms.

“This report confirms what we already know: industrial farms are using antibiotics on a massive scale that far exceeds what doctors are using to treat sick people,” said Rogers. “As a result, infections are becoming more difficult and expensive to treat.  The time for the Administration to protect our health is long overdue.”

Ron Phillips, vice president for legislative and public affairs for the Animal Health Institute, which represents the animal pharmaceutical industry, said the numbers do not necessarily illustrate a trend.

“In the eight years that AHI voluntarily collected and released this data, we saw many year-to-year changes — both up and down — in this range,” said Phillips. “These two limited data points are not sufficient to draw any conclusions.”

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist serving in Congress, continues to push for a bill that would restrict farmers from using seven classes of antibiotics, deemed important for human health, unless needed to treat sick animals. In the Senate, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced similar legislation last summer.

foodanimaldrugs-480.jpg

 

© Food Safety News

More Headlines from      Government Agencies »

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Unsafe Drinking Water in Schools

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October 26  |  Latest News, News, Nutrition, Reports, Tests, Research, safe drinking water  |   Webmaster

 

Drinking water unsafe at thousands of schools

Federal government has done little to monitor the problem, AP finds

Gary Kazanjian  /  AP

 

At Lovell High School in Cutler, California, signs posted above the kitchen sink, warn students not to drink from the tap because the water is tainted with nitrates, a potential carcinogen, and DBCP, a pesticide that scientists say may cause male sterility.

The Associated Press

CUTLER, Calif.
Over the last decade, the drinking water at thousands of schools across the country has been found to contain unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins.

An Associated Press investigation found that contaminants have surfaced at public and private schools in all 50 states— in small towns and inner cities alike.

But the problem has gone largely unmonitored by the federal government, even as the number of water safety violations has multiplied.

“It’s an outrage,” said Marc Edwards, an engineer at Virginia Tech University who has been honored for his work on water quality. “If a landlord doesn’t tell a tenant about lead paint in an apartment, he can go to jail. But we have no system to make people follow the rules to keep school children safe?”

The contamination is most apparent at schools with wells, which represent 8 to 11 percent of the nation’s schools. Roughly one of every five schools with its own water supply violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in the past decade, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency analyzed by the AP.

In California’s farm belt, wells at some schools are so tainted with pesticides that students
have taken to stuffing their backpacks with bottled water for fear of getting sick from the drinking fountain.

Experts and children’s advocates complain that responsibility for drinking water is spread among too many local, state and federal agencies, and that risks are going unreported. Finding a solution, they say, would require a costly new national strategy for monitoring water in schools.

Schools with unsafe water represent only a small percentage of the nation’s 132,500 schools. And the EPA says the number of violations spiked over the last decade largely because the government has gradually adopted stricter standards for contaminants such as arsenic and some disinfectants.

Children at risk

Many of the same toxins could also be found in water at homes, offices and businesses. But the contaminants are especially dangerous to children, who drink more water per pound than adults and are more vulnerable to the effects of many hazardous substances.

“There’s a different risk for kids,” said Cynthia Dougherty, head of the EPA’s Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water.

Still, the EPA does not have the authority to require testing for all schools and can only provide guidance on environmental practices.

In recent years, students at a Minnesotaelementary school fell ill after drinking tainted water. A young girl inSeattle got sick, too.

The AP analyzed a database showing federal drinking water violations from 1998 to 2008 in schools with their own water supplies. The findings:

* Water in about 100 school districts and 2,250 schools breached federal safety standards.

* Those schools and districts racked up more than 5,550 separate violations. In 2008, the EPA recorded 577 violations, up from 59 in 1998 — an increase that officials attribute
mainly to tougher rules.

* California, which has the most schools of any state, also recorded the most violations with 612, followed by Ohio (451), Maine (417), Connecticut (318) and Indiana (289).

* Nearly half the violators in California were repeat offenders. One elementary school in TulareCounty, in the farm country of the Central Valley, broke safe-water laws 20 times.

* The most frequently cited contaminant was coliform bacteria, followed by lead and copper, arsenic and nitrates.

The AP analysis has “clearly identified the tip of an iceberg,” said Gina Solomon, a San Francisco physician who serves on an EPA drinking water advisory board. “This tells me there is a widespread problem that needs to be fixed because there are ongoing water quality problems in small and large utilities, as well.”

Schools with wells are required to test their water and report any problems to the state, which is supposed to send all violations to the federal government.

But EPA officials acknowledge the agency’s database of violations is plagued with errors and omissions. And the agency does not specifically monitor incoming state data on school water quality.

Critics say those practices prevent the government from reliably identifying the worst offenders — and carrying out enforcement.

‘Just no excuse’

Scientists say the testing requirements fail to detect dangerous toxins such as lead, which can wreak havoc on major organs and may retard children’s learning abilities.

“There is just no excuse for this. Period,” said California Sen. Barbara Boxer, Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “We want to make sure that we fix this problem in a way that it will never happen again, and we can
ensure parents that their children will be safe.”

The problem goes beyond schools that use wells. Schools that draw water from public utilities showed contamination, too, especially older buildings where lead can concentrate at higher levels than in most homes.

In schools with lead-soldered pipes, the metal sometimes flakes off into drinking water. Lead levels can also build up as water sits stagnant over weekends and holidays.

Schools that get water from local utilities are not required to test for toxins because the EPA already regulates water providers. That means there is no way to ensure detection of contaminants caused by schools’ own plumbing.

But voluntary tests in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattleand Los Angeles have found dangerous levels of lead in recent years. And experts warn the real risk to school children is going unreported.

“I really suspect the level of exposure to lead and other metals at schools is underestimated,” said Michael Schock, a corrosion expert with the EPA in Cincinnati. “You just don’t know what is going on in the places you don’t sample.”

Stomach aches, nausea

Since 2004, the agency has been asking states to increase lead monitoring. As of 2006, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control found nearly half of all schools nationwide do not test their water for lead.

Because contaminant levels in water can vary from drinking fountain to drinking fountain, and different children drink different amounts of water, epidemiologists often have trouble measuring the potential threats to children’s health.

But children have suffered health problems attributed to school water:

* In 2001, 28 children at a Worthington, Minn., elementary school experienced severe
stomach aches and nausea after drinking water tainted with lead and copper, the result of a poorly installed treatment system.

* In Seattleseveral years ago, a 6-year-old girl suffered stomach aches and became disoriented and easily exhausted. The girl’s mother asked her daughter’s school to test its water, and also tested a strand of her daughter’s hair. Tests showed high levels of copper
and lead, which figured into state health officials’ decision to phase-in rules requiring schools to test their water for both contaminants.

Many school officials say buying bottled water is less expensive than fixing old pipes. Baltimore, for instance, has spent more than $2.5 million on it over the last six years.

After wrestling with unsafe levels of arsenic for almost two years, administrators in Sterling, Ohio, southeast of Cincinnati, finally bought water coolers for elementary school students last fall. Now they plan to move students to a new building.

In California, the Department of Public Health has given out more than $4 million in recent years to help districts overhaul their water systems.

But school administrators in the farmworker town of Cutler cannot fix chronic water problems at Lovell  High School because funding is frozen due to the state’s budget crisis.

Signs posted above the kitchen sink warn students not to drink from the tap because the water is tainted with nitrates, a potential carcinogen, and DBCP, a pesticide scientists say may cause male sterility.

As gym class ended one morning, thirsty basketball players crowded around a five-gallon cooler, the only safe place to get a drink on campus.

“The teachers always remind us to go to the classroom and get a cup of water from the cooler,” said sophomore Israel Aguila. “But the bathroom sinks still work, so sometimes you kind of forget you can’t drink out of them.”

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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