Friday, November 19, 2010

World Toilet Day!



Nov 19th, 2011 is  World Toilet Day!
A lack of proper sanitation affects 2.6 billion people, almost half the worlds population.

A lack of proper sanitation hurts women and girls more than men and boys.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The evils of Voluntourism

See this recent article in the Guardian about Voluntourism



"Before you pay to volunteer abroad, think of the harm you might do"



The PEPY group in Cambodia turned me on to this.

The article references a report by the Human Science Research Council
In recent decades, the tourism industry has thrived, grown and diversified to encompass a wide array of travel activities, with alternative volunteer tourism leading the way. Well-to-do tourists enrol for several weeks at a time to build schools, clean and restore river banks, ring birds and other useful activities in mostly poor but exotic settings. AIDS orphan tourism has become a niche market, contributing to the growth of the tourism industry. AIDS orphans ‘have economic valence' and ‘orphanhood is a globally circulated commodity', as some researchers have phrased it.


I am a supporter of "fun tourism". An old concept that our productive society seems to have forgotten.


Eco-tourism, "guilt-trips", mission trips, study tours, and "AIDS orphan tourism" don't match up to a nice work-free vacation to a new exotic land.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Online Home Water-Energy-Climate Calculator

Are you wondering how much water your household uses? The Pacific Institute offers a great free tool to estimate your homes energy use. I went through the survey and the website gave output many pages of statistics, figures and tables. It appears that the pacific institute's ultimate goal is to help us realize the embedded energy that we move through when we use water. Embedded energy is the total energy used by a utility to collect, treat, and distribute water to the customer and to treat wastewater.


The calculations have many assumptions built in. I was battling it's assumptions for leaks, but then I read the fine print.  The website operates on the assumption from an AWWARF study finding that states nearly all houses have leaks. The study, Residential end uses of water is linked here.  


http://www.wecalc.org/




Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Conspiracy theory on climate change: DEBUNKED

This is a great work which is necessary to depoliticize climate science.  

EPA Rejects Claims of Flawed Climate Science

EPA denied 10 petitions challenging its 2009 determination that climate change is real, is occurring due to emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities, and threatens human health and the environment.  The petitions to reconsider EPA's Endangerment Finding claim that climate science cannot be trusted, and assert a conspiracy that invalidates the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  After months of serious consideration of the petitions and of the state of climate change science, EPA finds no evidence to support these claims. In contrast, EPA's review shows that climate science is credible, compelling, and growing stronger.  Additional information is available at:


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Nicaragua's Escuela Técnica de Agua Potable

Water Wired posted this on 7/5/2010. Although there may be plenty of training programs in US and EU universities that tackle potable water issues for developing countries, this is the only local educational solution that I have ever seen.  It is well worth a look.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Open the levees and let the Mississippi go....

An interesting post from Water Wired: 


Historian Douglas Brinkley, author of the excellent chronicle of Hurricane Katrina, The Great Deluge,  wrote an Op-Ed for the Financial Times last week (you may need to complete a free registration to read it) titled, To Save the Gulf, Free the Mississippi.



Brinkley wants BP to deposit $20B in an escrow account, along with an additional $8B letter of credit. Besides paying claims, this fund would also finance a scheme to remove oil from Louisiana's wetlands. He advocates literally opening the floodgates and allowing the Mississippi River to flush the wetlands of oil.
Here are the relevant paragraphs:
MS RiverBut BP’s escrow billions should not go merely to paying lost wage claims to the charter boat operators, fisherman, motel owners, and seaside restaurateurs whose livelihoods have suffered. The money will also be needed for the US Army Corps of Engineers to open up the floodgates at the mouth of the Mississippi River and flush the Louisiana wetlands with new sediment-rich waters. Nothing is more toxic to wetlands than oil. The BP spill is not a Hurricane Katrina, in which 1,836 people died. Nor is it on the scale of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which claimed 2,995 lives. But it is the worst environmental disaster in US history. It requires Mr Obama to take one major action: start the decade-long process of saving America’s wetlands
Back in 1932 the Army Corps mistakenly raised the Mississippi River levies and built concrete jetties for flood control. The net effect of these engineering boondoggles – built ostensibly to improve navigation and reduce the need for dredging – has been to destroy Louisiana’s incredible wetlands; already a landmass the size of Delaware has disappeared. The Corps flood control programme has deprived the wetlands of their annual replenishing sediment. Instead, hundreds of tonnes of sediment a year drift far out over the outer continental shelf of the Gulf of Mexico for naught. Now, as the oil pours in, the wetlands have no natural means of replenishment. They are becoming a toxic dump.
Interesting idea. I'd like to see it vetted by someone qualified to assess its efficacy and speculate upon its unintended consequences.
Thanks to Steven Solomon for sending this my way. He mentioned that Brinkley told him that he had contacted the Department of the Interior about his idea and that they are considering it.
"And the river she rises
Just like she used to do.
She's so full of surprises
She reminds me of you."
-- 
Heart of the Night by Poco (written by Paul Cotton)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Imperial county exploratory water sampling trip and meeting with the Calexico New River Committee

On June 11 and 12, Diane, Kristen, and I made an exploratory trip to meet with Miguel Figueroa and to sample the water quality of Imperial county rivers and canals. 

Miguel of the Calexico New River Committee gave us a great tour of some interesting spots on the New River around Calexico. This river is reported to be heavily polluted as it flows across the international border in the heart of Mexicali/Calexico.   

There was a small amount of E.coli indicator in the Alamo river as it flowed across the international border. We found no other E.coli in rivers, irrigation canals, or irrigation drainage ditches except for one canal north of Brawley near Hwy 111 which also had 1 E.coli / ml.  Our sampling was by no means a representative sample of irrigation canals or the rivers of Imperial county. We were unable to obtain a sample of the new river. These data suggest that further study would be useful to discover if fecal pollution is indeed a problem in irrigation canals. 

If you are interested, email me for a KMZ file or the data. 





Contaminated reusable grocery bags

The media really picked up on this story. Only ~5% of everyone surveyed in Loma Linda wash their grocery bags. Dr. Germ really knows how to spark the public's interest in hygiene!


Most foodborne illnesses are believed to originate in the home. Reuse of bags creates an opportunity for cross contamination of foods. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential for cross contamination of food products from reusable bags used to carry groceries. Reusable bags were collected at random from consumers as they entered grocery stores in California and Arizona. In interviews it was found that reusable bags are seldom if ever washed and often used for multiple purposes. Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half. Escherichia coli were identified in 12% of the bags and a wide range of enteric bacteria, including several opportunistic pathogens. When meat juices were added to bags and stored in the trunks of cars for two hours the number of bacteria increased 10-fold indicating the potential for bacterial growth in the bags. Hand or machine washing was found to reduce the bacteria in bags by >99.9%. These results indicate that reusable bags can play a significant role in the cross contamination of foods if not properly washed on a regular basis. It is recommended that the public needs to be educated about the proper care of reusable bags by printed instructions on the bags or through public service announcements.


http://www.llu.edu/public-health/news/news-grocery-bags-bacteria.page



Contaminated reusable grocery bags

The media really picked up on this story. Only ~5% of everyone surveyed in Loma Linda wash their grocery bags. Dr. Germ really knows how to spark the public's interest in hygiene!


Most foodborne illnesses are believed to originate in the home. Reuse of bags creates an opportunity for cross contamination of foods. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential for cross contamination of food products from reusable bags used to carry groceries. Reusable bags were collected at random from consumers as they entered grocery stores in California and Arizona. In interviews it was found that reusable bags are seldom if ever washed and often used for multiple purposes. Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half. Escherichia coli were identified in 12% of the bags and a wide range of enteric bacteria, including several opportunistic pathogens. When meat juices were added to bags and stored in the trunks of cars for two hours the number of bacteria increased 10-fold indicating the potential for bacterial growth in the bags. Hand or machine washing was found to reduce the bacteria in bags by >99.9%. These results indicate that reusable bags can play a significant role in the cross contamination of foods if not properly washed on a regular basis. It is recommended that the public needs to be educated about the proper care of reusable bags by printed instructions on the bags or through public service announcements.


http://www.llu.edu/public-health/news/news-grocery-bags-bacteria.page

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Solar Water Disinfection and the BPA Plastic Panic


A May 31 article in the New Yorker is titled "The Plastic Panic".  It discusses the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA) and our government's response to plastics. 

Although BPA commonly found in nalgene bottles is a health hazard when heated, I have not seen evidence against consuming water heated in polyethylene terphalate (i.e. PET or coke bottle plastic type 1). For this reason I still promote Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) in used PET or glass bottles. The method was featured in the February National Geographic on Water and is described on by the EAWAG group in Switzerland.

This first study listed in the PET bottle research section of the SODIS website is a recent investigation of SODIS and plasticizers. The study shows that plasticizers in solar disinfected bottles are never more than the amount in newly purchased bottled water.

Is there a health effect? The EAWAG group in Switzerland is still searching. One problem the recent New Yorker article mentions is that there are fewer funded plastic research projects than there are types of plastic that we use on a daily basis. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lunch: Solar Box Cooked Eggs

As a gift, Sophea built a solar box cooker for work. This is an ideal lunch cooker. Its small, cute, and can handle one pan of lunch. Instead of using a microwave for that pasta you bring for lunch, why not use a solar cooker? Put the pasta in the solar cooker when you get to work, and by lunch, your food will be sizzling and hot. 
The solar cooker can boil water and will keep things warm for a long time.  Also, you never have to worry about things burning in the solar cooker. 


I built this one from a styrofoam box, an old scanner's glass (from LLU SPH), aluminum foil, blue masking tape, and some Arizona license plates spray painted black.  


Two hour cooked eggs for Lunch on June 1st, 2010
I use it as an alternative to microwave ovens.  I use microwaves for lunch at work, but my soup usually spatters and I have to clean  up the microwave. With a personal solar box cooker you don't have to worry about that. You also never have to wait in line to microwave your food.  There are plenty of environmental/carbon footprint reasons to use a solar cooker, but I use it for the convenience aspect. 
There is plenty of sun in Loma Linda, so bon appetit!
Build a solar cooker
Recipes for solar cookers
Wikipedia
I prefer Sophea's design over many of the solar cookers you see in these websites. It is portable and cute. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dr. Germ is quoted on office germs again...

Dr. Charles Gerba Ph.D is also known as "Dr. Germ". He has multiple studies (~400) published on everything from toilet germs to water distribution systems. 
He was quoted here in a piece on office health risk published online by Yahoo.  
Problem: "The desk, in terms of bacteria, is 400 times more dirty than your toilet," University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba told WebMD (NASDAQ: WBMD -News). "People turn their desks into bacteria cafeterias because they eat at them, but they never clean them. The phone is the dirtiest, the desktop is next, and the mouse and the computer follow."
But bacteria problems at your desk could be more severe than Gerba thinks. Breadcrumbs and other food remnants get can get in between keys on your keyboard, attract rats and lead to unintended exposure to their germs. What's more, many raw and cooked foods need to remain refrigerated, and leaving them out for two hours or more is a food safety no-no.
Prevention: If you frequently eat your lunch at your desk, you may want to make sure you have hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes to wipe down your work surface daily. That can also protect you from germs sprayed into the air by your coughing and sneezing coworkers.
If your office has a communal kitchen sink with a sponge, the American Dietetic Association suggests using paper towels instead, just to stay safe from bacteria.
The association goes as far as recommending that those who eat in the office bring a refrigerator thermometer and a meat thermometer as well.

Bottled water contains high levels of heterotrophic bacteria.

This was spotted by Gayle Leonard's thirsty in Suburbia blog. This was reported this week at the ASM meeting in San Diego. 

Canadian researchers have discovered that many popular brands of bottled water contain “surprisingly high” levels of heterotrophicbacteria! The researchers presented their study results at the general meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in San Diego on May 26.
According to their research, more than 70 percent of the popular brands of bottled water tested failed to meet standards.
The standards are set by the United States Pharmacopeia, the non-governmental agency responsible for setting safety standards for medications and health care products.
This sets the stage for many inquiries to the bottled water industry. Shouldn't it be safer than tap water? Why are they regulated by the US Pharmacopeia and not the USEPA?  Maybe we should ask how often they are regulated. The questions go on. View an interesting video on this topic here.  

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why US philanthropists should care about sanitation and water

John Sauer, Communications Director of  of Water Advocates  has this blog from the Huffington Post

This week was the the first High Level Meeting of Sanitation and Water for All, a global partnership aimed at achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation and drinking-water for all.  The activities this week included the release of the 2010 GLAAS report – the UN’s annual assessment of the sanitation and drinking water sector. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NPR: Drink bottled water?

Peter Gleik was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air. He discussed his new book bottled and sold, the story behind our obsession with bottled water.  Water wired has a review of the book here







Friday, May 14, 2010

WaTER Laboratory now open

The LLU School of Public Health now has the Water Treatment and Environmental Research (WaTER) laboratory. The WaTER laboratory has the capacity to investigate research questions of surface water quality, hygiene, sanitation, and water disinfection.  The laboratory is located on the first floor in the SW corner of Evans Hall on the Loma Linda University campus.  While this laboratory is under construction, the WaTER lab has relocated to the Shryock Hall.  

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A ban on plastic bags?

In the last two years, many counties, states, and municipalities have considered a ban on plastic grocery bags. Is this the best course of action?

The issue is becoming complex. Read this blog's report on how the battle is taking form.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Last Weekend's Hang Gliding

Averill Strasser from the NGO WaterCharity sponsored a tandem hang gliding flight for me with Rob from High Adventure.  I added on the training hill option and had a great weekend!  Here is a video of one of my training hill runs.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Are you flushing your drinking water?

Gayle Leonard on her blog Thirsty in Suburbia posted this link about upgrading your water wasting toilets.

This will work for many americans who waste thousands of gallons of water each year with inefficient water wasting toilets.
Keep in mind that if you make heavier deposits to your toilet bank, you may want to do some independent research on the subject!  Most Americans have bowel movements of less than 200grams and their 1980's toilets handle Gayle's modification without any problem.

If you want to save the water and worry about flushing efficiency, there are several other options:

The ideal toilet would be one where you could have a separate flush for urine and a flush for the big BM. Home Depot and others sell them.

An even more aggressive approach are the urine separation toilets using disinfected urine for fertilizer. 



Friday, April 30, 2010

Where did the money go from the American Red Cross?

Remember your text message donations?
It is getting spent, but slowly.

Haiti Video

Fred Sajous, a Haitian earthquake survivor armed with a video camera and a cause, is a man on a mission: to figure out how the American Red Cross spent the $430 million it raised for the disaster.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/27/1601420/spotlight-falls-on-red-cross-spending.html?story_link=email_msg#ixzz0mbJuMkrZ

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Katrina and the Tsunami

This is something I wrote a few years ago.  A Haiti publication will come soon.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Drink bottled water??

Here are some videos on bottled water. Although I drank SODIS water for one year in Cambodia using recycled PET, I always drink tap water in the United States.

"Manufactured Demand"

The industries response:

I find much of this blog's information from the WaterWired blog.

Here is another one on youtube.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3QBZac3MSY

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Free WATER NG issue

For a limited time, March 22 - April 2, you can download a free, interactive version of National Geographic's special issue 'Water: Our Thirsty World'


http://www.natgeofreshwater.com/?of=500204105&bd=1

Friday, March 19, 2010

A war on water?

Is there going to be a "War fought over Water"?
Are we going to run out of food to feed the world?

Water Wired posted a very helpful link for those of us who worry about these questions:

"Global Water Crisis: Myth or Reality?"

Asit Biswas, an expert in international water resource management, has changed his mind. He no longer believes a world water crisis is a crisis of physical supply. It is, instead, a crisis of management.




Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Are you a climate change denier?

For anyone with any doubts about climate change.
Here is what the world's scientific societies say about climate change:
please click here.
This was prepared by Dr. Peter Gleick.

I credit WaterWired again.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

UA research on happiness

http://uanews.org/node/30432


What Mehl and his team found was that, consistent with prior research, higher well-being was associated with spending less time alone and more time talking to others.


Furthermore, and maybe more surprisingly, they found that higher well-being was robustly related to having less small talk and more substantive conversations.


Compared with the unhappiest participants in the study, the happiest participants had roughly one-third as much small talk and twice as many substantive conversations.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Stirring the Pot: John Briscoe on the Practice and Teaching of American Water Management in a Changing World

This was posted on WaterWired

The editorial is the water side of the book "dead aid". It explains why middle income countries are beginning to provide more international development support for hydrological projects than Developed nations.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Church Responses to Haiti

To cut through the red tape which dominates so many relief organizations:

Donate to Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti
Currently one of the surviving clinical centers in Haiti:

Loma Linda University has established a fund to facilitate donations to the Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti. The hospital is in need of many resources in order to function around-the-clock during this critical period. Donations may be made as follows:

    1. On-line: www.llu.edu
    2. Telephone: (909) 558-5010
    3. Mail checks: Loma Linda University – Haiti Earthquake

Office of Philanthropy

24519 Redlands Boulevard, Suite A

Loma Linda, CA 92354

I found this on Water Wired:
The EPA is sponsoring a 2-day symposium to discuss newly published and forthcoming information on epidemiology studies related to people who consume drinking water from public systems supplied by groundwater. Renowned speakers will focus on endemic disease and predictive methods. There will also be discussions of pathogen and fecal indicator occurrence and transport – primarily E. coli and Cryptosporidum – in the subsurface.

The meeting will be helad at the Carnegie Institute of Washington, 1530 P St. NW, Washington DC.

You need to register by 25 January 2010. Here are the online agenda and a pdf version:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Environmental & water journal list

This is a list that I am going to continually update as new interesting ones come along:

Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics

The aim of the Engineering Applications of Computational Fluid Mechanics is a continuous and timely dissemination of innovative, practical and industrial applications of computational techniques to solve the whole range of hitherto intractable fluid mechanics problems. The journal is a truly interdisciplinary forum, and publishes original contributions on the latest advances in numerical methods in fluid mechanics and their applications to various engineering fields including aeronautic, civil, environmental, hydraulic and mechanical. The journal has a distinctive and balanced international contribution, with emphasis on papers addressing practical problem-solving by means of robust numerical techniques to generate precise flow prediction and optimum design, and those fostering the thorough understanding of the physics of fluid motion.

http://www.cse.polyu.edu.hk/publication/jeacfm/

Environmental Microbiology Reports

You are invited to submit manuscripts succinctly reporting significant advances to Environmental Microbiology Reports, the new online sister journal to Environmental Microbiology, devoted to publishing Brief Reports in the field of microbial processes in the environment, microbial communities and microbial interactions.

http://www.wiley.com/bw/journal.asp?ref=1758-2229&site=1

My journal bookmarks:

SRA / Society for Risk Analysis / Journals

SRA / Society for Risk Analysis / Journals

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

ASCE: Journal of Environmental Engineering

NRC Research Press: Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science

Water Research - Elsevier

Harzing.com - Research in International and Cross-cultural Management

Journal of Microbiological Methods - Elsevier

Science of the Total Environment - Elsevier

Environmental Science & Technology

Journal of Applied Microbiology: Including Letters in Applied Microbiology & Annual Symposium - Journal Information

Environmental Microbiology - Journal Information

International Journal of Environmental Studies

Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science

Journal AWWA WEF lab on a chip

NEHA - Journal of Environmental Health Risk Analysis: An International Journal - Journal Information Advances in Applied Microbiology, Volume 64, Pages 1-264 (2008)

Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Food and Environmental Virology

Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A: Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering

EndNote - Output Styles

Environmental Microbiology Reports

EPA P3 proposal



Our Loma Linda student group finished the EPA P3 competition proposal submission!!

Great Basin / Mojave Desert Climate Change Workshop

EPA to Co-Host the Great Basin / Mojave Desert Climate Change Workshop on April 20-22, 2010 at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas
EPA, in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Park Service, and several other agencies and organizations, are sponsoring the Great Basin / Mojave Desert Climate Change Workshop, focusing on natural resource research, adaptation, and mitigation needs. The workshop will be held from April 20-22, 2010 at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. It will examine how climate change is affecting natural resources in deserts of the western U.S. and identify essential research needs to address in the coming decade. The workshop offers a valuable opportunity for scientists and natural resource managers to gather for a discussion of their information needs and opportunities. For additional information, please visit http://www.wr.usgs.gov/workshops/index.html.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The WASH Blogs

Like many things, I also found this on the WATER WIRED blog by Michael E. 'Aquadoc' Campana.

As part of the Source Water and Sanitation News service, IRC and partners have set up the following news blogs on water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in developing countries.

One of the blog entries ends my long-procrastinated business idea:

Journal on WATER

I found this on the WATER WIRED blog by Michael E. 'Aquadoc' Campana.

Water is a new, online, open-access journal on water science and technology, including ecology and management.

Its an open access online journal which means the journal is free for readers. The website also states, "free publication for manuscripts submitted in 2010".