Daily Archives: June 8, 2011

Balazs et al 2011 – Inequity in drinking water quality?

The authors of the following study argue that an inequity exists in drinking water quality as a result of nitrate contamination in the California San Joaquin Valley.  This study of environmental equity warrants a closer look so I will refrain from commenting at this point.
Balazs, C., R. Morello-Frosch, A. Hubbard, and I. Ray. 2011. Social Disparities in Nitrate Contaminated Drinking Water in California’s San Joaquin Valley. June 3. [Epub ahead of print]

Satellite-Based Lower Atmospheric Temperatures

Introductory environmental engineering courses cover atmospheric science, air pollution (including listing CO2 as a pollutant, which it is not) and climate, including what is termed “climate change.”  Every textbook on the market today that I have reviewed is woefully out of date with regard to the information presented, which typically means that only one perspective (IPCC 2007) is presented.  Civil and environmental engineering students and water/wastewater practitioners alike must go to the literature and reliable web sources of current data to be fully informed.

Satellite-based lower tropospheric temperatures are tracked, recorded, and analyzed by the University of Alabama-Huntsville (UAH).  Dr. Roy Spencer provides a great service by presenting this data at his website and providing his expert commentary.

Click here for the UAH temperature update for May 2011.

Click here for Dr. Spencer’s blog.

Dr. Spencer’s books, Climate Confusion, and The Great Global Warming Blunder, are good sources of futher information on climate science.

Laboratories USEPA-Approved for Cryptosporidium

Click here for the updated list (May 4, 2011) of laboratories USEPA-approved for analyzing Cryptosporidium.

Rautianinen et al 2011 – Changing Forest Density


Rautianinen, A., I. Wernick, P.E. Waggoner, J.H. Ausubel, and P.E. Kauppi. 2011. A National and International Analysis of Changing Forest DensityPLoS ONE 6(5): e19577. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019577

Forests grow by spreading out or by growing denser. This paper presents a fascinating analysis of inventories gathered recently from many nations. During 1990–2010 national density grew and increased sequestered carbon in the European and North America, despite smaller changes in area. Results of analyses of other countries are also presented. Water systems with large forested watersheds are impacted by changes in runoff water quality imposed by changes in their forested areas.

Click here to read the abstract and paper.

Click here to read a news article discussing this study.


Fildes & Kourentzes 2011. Validation and forecasting accuracy in models of climate change.

Fildes, R. and N. Kourentzes, 2011: Validation and forecasting accuracy in models of climate change. Journal of Forecasting. doi 10.1016/j.ijforecast.2011.03.008

 Click here for the published abstract.

 Click here and here for additional discussion of this paper. 

Gorelick et al 2011 – Perceptions About Water and Increase Use of Bottled Water in Minority Children


Gorelick, M.H., L. Gould, M. Nimmer, D. Wagner, M. Heath, H. Gashir, D.C. Brousseau. 2011 Perceptions About Water and Increased Use of Bottled Water in Minority Children Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Published online June 6, 2011. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.83

The purpose of this study was to describe bottled water use and beliefs about water among parents of children from different racial/ethnic groups.  A cross-sectional survey was performed in an urban/suburban emergency department.   

Parents of children treated between September 2009 and March 2010 were interviewed. It is not reported whether the population sampled was representative of the surrounding community. 

The respondents completed a questionnairein English or Spanish, describing their use of bottled water and tap water for their children and rating their agreementwith a series of belief statements about bottled water and tapwater. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the associationbetween bottled water use and beliefs and demographic characteristicswith odds ratios (ORs).

A total of 632 surveys were completed (35% white,33% African American, and 32% Latino respondents). African American and Latino parents were more likely to give their children mostly bottled water; minority children were exclusively given bottled water 3 times more often than non-Latino white children (24% vs 8%, P < .01). In logistic regression analysis,the following factors were independently associated with mostly bottled water use:

  • belief that bottled water is safer (OR, 2.4),
  • cleaner (OR, 2.0),
  • better tasting (OR, 2.8), or
  • more convenient (OR, 1.7).

After other factors were adjusted for, race/ethnicity, household income, and prior residence outside the United States were not associated with bottled water use.

Click here for the published abstract which was the source of  information for the above summary. The full paper may be purchased.

Prior studies have also found differences in bottled water use between different ethnic groups so these results are not surprising.


Salmonella Foodborne Illnesses

When illnesses strike a community, there is a tendency to think that contaminanted drinking water is the cause.  However, without careful epidemiology, the actual cause may go undetected.  In many situations, even with careful epidemiology, the actual cause remains unknown.

Salmonella is a common foodborne disease.  There are other foodborne pathogens as well…such as E. coli, and Campylobacter. CDC estimates about 50 million cases of foodborne illness annually in the US, with 3,000 fatalities.

Click here for the CDC fact sheet released this week, “Making Food Safer to Eat.”

Click here for a news article on increases in Salmonella foodborne illness in the U.S.