Digital News Report – The US Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, head of the organization was a guest on today’s ‘Dr. Oz Show’. She shared insight on how the agency regulates drinking water. Dr. Oz said that cancer, reproductive disorder, and asthma might be related to pollution in our environment.
Jackson has come under repeated attack trying to clean up the pollution in our country. She came from Louisiana, which has earned a nickname of “Cancer alley” from some of the area residents. She worked at the EPA for 16 years before being appointed to the head position by President Obama.
Jackson said that 92 percent of the drinking water meets the EPA safety standards. However, she worries about the 8 percent that do not have access to clean and affordable drinking water.
Dr. Oz asked about the arsenic in the drinking water. He wanted to know how safe drinking water is with arsenic in it. The EPA guideline is 10 parts in a billion for arsenic in the drinking water and 99 percent meet this standard answered Jackson. Dr. Oz asked if the maximum amount should be lower than the current standards. Jackson said that they are studying the effects of arsenic to determine if the amount should be less or not.
Dr. Oz said cancer of the lung, kidney, bladder, liver, and the skin has been attributed to exposure from toxins such as arsenic. He said the conglomerate of toxin exposures that might cause cancer. Dr. Oz showed a lung that was grey in color because the person lived in a city exposed to air pollution. He also showed other organs with cancer.
EPA standards are set when a study can prove that there is a $30 health benefits for return for every dollar spent explained Jackson. Think about who pays all the cost for medical care as opposed to asking the companies to cut back on the pollution to minimize risk added Jackson. She said that the agency does a cost analysis for everything they do.
To find out about toxins and pollution hazards near your home visit, EPA.gov/enviro website. There is a place to type in your zip code and this will take you to a variety of enviro facts surrounding your neighborhood, including water-testing results. Once a year the water agencies put out a report explained Jackson. She added that most water systems meet the standards because it is regulated.
Fluoride being added to the drinking water has been a debated topic among communities around the US. Dr. Oz said that dentist say that fluoride is good for the teeth. Dr. Oz asked if the municipalities should add fluoride. Fluoride can protect your bones and teeth, but you do not want to get too much of it said Dr. Oz. To demonstrate this fact, Dr. Oz showed fluorosis of the teeth. He said that 40 percent of the kids have some evidence of excess fluoride according to a report by the CDC. Jackson said that it is more a debate of benefits versus the challenges, as well as to find the right amount. She said that the EPA is looking at lowering the amount of fluoride in the drinking water.
Dr. Oz said to find out the amount of fluoride levels in the drinking water by reading the water agency’s C.C.R. report. He said that the amount of toothpaste should be pea sized on the toothbrush, which will minimize exposure to fluoride. Lastly, a Reverse Osmosis water system will take out fluoride, arsenic, and lead from the drinking water explained Dr. Oz.
Mercury emissions get into the drinking water. Power plants use coal emits mercury that turns into rain, then it goes into the fish and then we eventually eat the fish that have mercury in it. Dr. Oz wanted to know what is being done to minimize mercury in our food and drinking water. Jackson explained that he Obama Administration this month is going to set final standards for mercury admissions from power plants. The power plants will reduce the amount of mercury released into the air, but it will cost them money. The Clean Air Act should regulate the mercury pollution. She explained by reducing the mercury pollution, about 17,000 premature deaths could be avoided each year. She said that the regulation would not affect the cost of electricity bills. Dr. Oz said that others argue that companies cannot afford to follow EPA standards because they kill jobs. Jackson disagrees because it can help make people healthier.
Chemicals from cleaning products and personal care products are a problem that we consumers create. Jackson said that they do not know about the risks involved of the building up of these chemicals. Dr. Oz said that there are 84,000 chemicals that can potential pollute our drinking water. He said that there are a products that have an EPA seal of approval the says “Designed for the Environment,” which means that the product has tested the chemicals used in the product and believe them to be safe. It is a voluntary program, but the products will minimize the chemicals we introduce into the environment.
An audience member asked if hormones and caffeine in the water is a problem. Jackson said there is a list of unregulated contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and hormones that may be passing into the water supply. They do not currently require the water agencies to monitor these contaminants.
Another audience member asked how far do you need to live from a dumpsite to have safe drinking water. Jackson said that you have to be persistent to get your water tested to make sure it is safe because the water may be safe or it may not be.
Jackson said that recycling up to 80 percent of the items that are recyclable could create jobs and a cleaner environment. She added that everyone should protect the environment, not just a government agency.
By: Robert Williams