Tag Archives: water
SUNDAY March 31, 2013 — Temperatures in home hot water heaters can be too high and pose a potential scald hazard for young children and seniors, according to a new study.
In the United States, burns from hot tap water result in about 1,500 hospital admissions and 100 deaths per year. Water at 140 degrees can lead to a serious burn within three seconds, while it takes 10 minutes for water at 120 degrees to cause a serious burn, according to the researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Young children and seniors have thinner skin that burns more quickly, making them more vulnerable.
Even though manufacturers adopted voluntary standards to preset hot water heaters below the recommended safety standard of 120 degrees, water heater temperatures remain dangerously high in a large number of homes, the researchers said.
They tested the temperature of hot tap water in more than 700 homes in Baltimore. Despite the fact that 99 percent of the water heaters in the homes were installed after the voluntary standard was implemented, hot water temperatures were above 120 degrees in 41 percent of the homes, and at or above 130 degrees in 27 percent of the homes.
Gas water heaters were less likely to have safe temperatures, as were water heaters that held fewer gallons per person. The researchers also found that renters were less likely to have safe hot water temperatures than homeowners.
The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of Burn Care Research.
“Delivering hot water at a consistent temperature is difficult,” lead author Wendy Shields, an assistant scientist with the Bloomberg School’s department of health policy and management, said in a school news release. “As a hot water tank is depleted, replenished and reheated, water temperature will not be constant throughout the tank. In addition, water heater thermostats are not designed to provide precise estimates of water temperatures, making it difficult for residents to assess the exact temperature.”
“One potential solution is to equip faucets with anti-scald devices, such as thermostatic mixer valves, anti-scald aerators or scald guards, but until engineering solutions can be implemented on a large scale, attention must be paid to educational messages,” Shields said. “To prevent scald burns, families should be encouraged to test hot water temperatures after adjusting gauges to ensure that a safe temperature is achieved.”
Safe Kids USA has more about burn and scald prevention.
Posted: March 2013
The marble-sized toy can expand inside the body and block the intestine. If these toys are swallowed, it can be life-threatening. One infant injury reported.
US Consumer Product Safety Commission – Recent Recalls and Product Safety News
The water bottle’s spout can break off. Recalled products were sold from July 2012 through August 2012.
US Consumer Product Safety Commission – Recent Recalls and Product Safety News
First Reported Case Reveals the Dangers of Children Swallowing Expandable Water Toy
By Cari Nierenberg
WebMD Health News
Sept. 17, 2012 — Toy balls that expand in water can be fun and fascinating for kids to watch, but if swallowed they can be downright dangerous. A new report published online in the journal Pediatrics warns parents of the health risks of these toys.
Doctors from the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston describe the first presumed case of an 8-month-old girl who swallowed a gel ball, known as Water Balz. The colorful water-absorbing ball can look like a piece of candy to young children, but the toy is made of a superabsorbent polymer that can grow up to 400 times its original size when submerged. It can become as big as a racquetball.
About 15 hours after the infant swallowed the ball, her parents took her to the hospital because of stomach problems. But X-rays couldn’t detect the toy at that time.
Even so, the baby was admitted to the hospital. Within two days, her belly was swollen and she had symptoms that suggested something was lodged in her bowel. Doctors decided to operate. They found the toy ball was blocking the lowest portion of the small intestine.
The water-absorbent ball had expanded to more than an inch big, a size larger than the small intestine’s normal diameter. But surprisingly the toy had remained completely intact — unaffected by the digestive process.
A Growing Problem
Pediatricians involved in this case wanted to find out how quickly and how much the superabsorbent ball could grow, since the material is increasingly being used in gardening products and in other household items.
So they tested the toy balls by placing them in water and then measuring their size hours and days later. After just two hours, the balls had more than doubled in size.
The balls grew at their quickest rate during the first 12 hours of being dropped into water. Testing also showed that the toy balls had not degraded at all after being placed in water for four days.
Other studies have suggested that most objects accidentally swallowed by children pass through the body on their own, usually without complications. Only rarely is a medical procedure required, and even fewer cases require surgery.
But pediatricians say that expandable toys and products made from water-absorbent materials are different, and their increasing size can become hazardous to children if they swallow them.
At first, the ball was small enough to pass through the opening between the lower end of the stomach and the beginning of the small intestine. But it enlarged as it traveled through the small intestine, where it eventually became stuck.
“This case represents a cautionary warning for both parents and practitioners of the potential dangers of ingesting polymer, water-absorbent balls,” the researchers say.
“It also highlights the need for earlier intervention if these superabsorbent toys are accidentally ingested.”
Viruses Creep Into Public Water Supplies Through Leaky Pipes
Sept. 14, 2012 — Two new studies are making waves in the tap vs. bottled water debate.
The first study shows that the pipes that ferry drinking water from public wells to home taps may let in viruses that cause more than a million cases of stomach illness every year. It’s published in Environmental Science & Technology.
The second study, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, shows that when viruses surge in tap water, people have a 30% higher risk of getting nasty stomach bugs that cause vomiting and diarrhea.
The studies stem from the same government-funded research project. It’s one of the largest ever to look at illnesses tied to public water supplies.
“As an individual looking at these results, I was alarmed,” says researcher Frank Loge, PhD, an environmental engineer at the University of California at Davis.
“The drinking water that we have in the U.S. is very, very good relative to other countries, and so I don’t want people to get the impression that we have a really bad problem relative to other parts of the world,” Loge tells WebMD.
“It really made me rethink whether I want to drink bottled water vs. tap water,” he says, noting that bottled water has its own problems. For one, it comes in plastic bottles that are often sent to landfills. Some bottled water comes from municipal water sources.
But some bottled water is bottled close to its source, and doesn’t travel through leaking pipes, which may ultimately render it cleaner.
Until more is known about bottled and tap water, Loge says, the question of which one is safer is still murky.
Looking at the Safety of Public Water Supplies
The project compared 14 public water systems in Wisconsin. Like more than 147,000 towns in the U.S., all the communities in the study pumped their public water from underground pools called aquifers. And like many of communities that rely on groundwater, the 14 in the study didn’t disinfect the water after it left those large wells.
For the first year, eight of the communities installed powerful ultraviolet (UV) lights to clean the water as soon as it left the underground pool. The other six continued to have no disinfection.
Scientists sampled water each month from the underground pool, from an area that was just past the UV disinfection, and then from six to eight home taps. The second year, the towns swapped. The eight towns that used UV disinfection turned their systems over to the six that didn’t have them. That let scientists compare how well the UV systems worked to clean the water.
After the two years of watching the water, researchers found that no community had consistently clean or consistently contaminated water.