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Editors note: We need to consider the role of wastewater treatment plants in the transport of antibiotic resistant bacteria to farms and into lakes, rivers, and streams. But we also need to look at the wastewater treatment process in breeding and creating antibiotic resistant bacteria through the digestion process. Antibiotic resistant bacteria better survive the conditions in a wastewater treatment plant and therefore a higher percentage of surviving bacteria have multiple resistance. Some very pertinent reading:
Reinthaler, F.F., et al. ESBL-producing E. coli in Austrian sewage sludge. Water Res.
2010. 44(6):1981-5.

By Peter Eisler USA Today Sun Dec 2, 2012 1:01 AM

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The doctors tried one antibiotic after another, racing to stop the infection as it tore through the man's body, but nothing worked.

In a matter of days after the middle-aged patient arrived at the University of Virginia Medical Center, the stubborn bacteria in his blood had fought off even what doctors consider "drugs of last resort."

"It was very alarming; it was the first time we'd seen that kind of resistance," said Amy Mathers, one of the hospital's infectious disease specialists.

The man died three months later, but the bacteria wasn't done. In the months that followed, it struck again and again in the same hospital, in various forms, as doctors raced to decipher the secret to its spread.

Seattle PI | Link to original

Before Oak Harbor indebts its citizens by another $100 million for a new wastewater treatment plant (more than double that including interest), someone should suggest a cheaper alternative that is far more environmentally friendly: Composting toilets.

This is not a new suggestion. It was first proposed by environmentalists before Langley built its new sewer plant years ago. The proposal penciled out but didn't pass the nose test. The thought of a toilet in one's bathroom that composted waste rather than flushing it away was too indelicate for Langley's prim population to seriously ponder.

Jul 8, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today confirmed that the death of an Arizona resident who had traveled to Germany is linked to Europe's sprout-related Escherichia coli O104:H4 outbreak.

The CDC had previously said it was investigating if the fatality was related to the outbreak. In today's update, the CDC said it has now confirmed all six of the US cases that have links to the outbreak. Four of the US patients had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), including the Arizona patient who died.

Five of the US patients had traveled to Germany before they got sick, and one was a close contact of a Michigan patient who had HUS, a serious kidney disorder.

The Arizona case is the first fatality in the outbreak outside Europe. The Arizona Department of Health Services had previously said that the patient is a man older than 65 who died in mid June after he was hospitalized for HUS, according to a Jun 24 report from the Arizona Republic.

HL_Nano_2274Nanotechnology was supposed to revolutionize the world, making us healthier and producing cleaner energy. But it’s starting to look more like a nightmare.

Nanomaterials—tiny particles as little as 1/100,000 the width of a human hair—have quietly been used since the 1990s in hundreds of everyday products, everything from food to baby bottles, pills, beer cans, computer keyboards, skin creams, shampoo, and clothes.

But after years of virtually unregulated use, scientists are now starting to say the most commonly used nanoproducts could be harming our health and the environment.

One of the most widespread nanoproducts is titanium dioxide. More than 5,000 tonnes of it are produced worldwide each year for use in food, toothpaste, cosmetics, paint, and paper (as a colouring agent), in medication and vitamin capsules (as a nonmedicinal filler), and in most sunscreens (for its anti-UV properties).

Chicago Tribune | link to original - At a time of rising concern over pathogens in produce, Congress is moving to eliminate the only national program that regularly screens U.S. fruits and vegetables for the type of E. coli that recently caused a deadly outbreak in Germany.

The House last month approved a bill that would end funding for the 10-year-old Microbiological Data Program, which tests about 15,000 annual samples of vulnerable produce such as sprouts, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cantaloupe and cilantro for pathogens including salmonella and E. coli.

Over the last two years, its findings have triggered at least 19 produce recalls, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

news476265a-i1.0Gudgeon downstream of a wastewater-processing plant had swollen abdomens and other abnormalities.D. Gonseau

Consumers who flush unwanted contraceptives down the drain have long been blamed for giving fish more than their fair share of sex organs. Drugs excreted by patients can also taint rivers, even after passing through wastewater-processing facilities.

But evidence is accumulating that the effluent coming from pharmaceutical factories could also be carrying drugs into rivers. Many ecotoxicologists had assumed that water-quality standards, along with companies' desire to avoid wasting valuable pharmaceuticals, would minimize the extent of bioactive compounds released by factories into wastewater, and ultimately into rivers.

110817_diseasedcoral.grid-10x2A strange new menace has joined the long list of threats to corals, the tiny reef-building animals that create important habitat in our oceans.

A bacterium that attacks humans is also killing off a species of coral in the Caribbean, elkhorn coral, according to researchers who proved the link by infecting fragments of the coral with bacteria from human sewage.

"This is quite an unusual discovery. It is the first time ever that a human disease has been shown to kill an invertebrate," said University of Georgia professor James Porter, one of the study researchers. "This is unusual because we humans usually get disease from wildlife, and this is the other way around."

In humans, the pathogen Serratia marcescens is opportunistic, causing respiratory, wound and urinary tract infections. In coral, it causes a disease Porter and colleagues have dubbed "white pox" for the white scars that appear on infected elkhorn coral. These scars appear where the coral's living tissue has disappeared, leaving only its skeleton.

The Chronicle | Link to original
This was to be the year Toowoomba's taps were to flow with recycled wastewater, but the people would not let that happen.

At a poll on July 29, 2006, with the world watching, the city rejected the controversial scheme.

It voted 62% against recycling 25% of its water from its own sewage.

A city that had endured years of drought – and would have to endure many more – pinned its hopes on three other options.

They were expensive, unproven and over time most fell by the wayside.

One of those though, the pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to Toowoomba, became a reality in January 2010, at a construction cost of $187 million.

The bill to ratepayers – $112 million.

World Environmental News | Link to original
monsanto-skullSignificant levels of the world's most-used herbicide have been detected in air and water samples from two U.S. farm states, government scientists said on Wednesday, in groundbreaking research on the active ingredient in Monsanto Co's Roundup.

"It is out there in significant levels. It is out there consistently," said Paul Capel, environmental chemist and head of the agricultural chemicals team at the U.S. Geological Survey Office, part of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Capel said more tests were needed to determine how harmful the chemical, glyphosate, might be to people and animals.

The study comes on the heels of several others released recently that raise concerns about the rise of resistant "super weeds," and other unintended consequences of Roundup on soil and animals.

Aaron Lohr | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Endocrine Society

Male fish that used to be feminized after chemicals, such as the pharmaceutical ethinylestradiol, made it through the Boulder, Colo., Wastewater Treatment Plant and into Boulder Creek, are taking longer to become feminized after a plant upgrade to an activated sludge process, according to a new study. The results will be presented Sunday at The Endocrine Society's 92nd Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Although the levels of the chemicals that the fish swam in were very low even before the upgrade, the chemicals are endocrine disrupters. They mimic estrogen and may disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system of both animals and humans, said the study's principal investigator, David Norris, PhD, an integrative physiology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Norris' team reported in 2006 that native male fish in Boulder Creek decreased in numbers with respect to females and numerous intersex fish were found downstream of the wastewater treatment plant. After a technology upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant in 2008, the reproductive disruption in the fish was far less pronounced. However, Norris said the study results should still concern people.

"The fish are a wake-up call," Norris said. "Our bodies and those of the much more sensitive human fetus are being exposed everyday to a variety of chemicals that are capable of altering not only our development and physiology but that of future generations as well."