BY ABDUL ALLAH MUHAMMAD

DEC 4, 2002

Back in November, 1997, THE NEW YORK TIMES ran a feature article entitled, “Turbid Tap Water May Be Source Of Unexplained Intestinal Ailments.” This comes as no surprise to those of us who follow Minister Louis Farrakhan, which is why we choose and purchase the water that we drink. The story’s sub-head reads, “Ills blamed on food poisoning may be caused by water.” It opened retracing a four-year study of tap water in Philadelphia, where the water was linked to “gastrointestinal infections that cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in children,” and quoted researchers as concluding “that tap water might be the source of millions of cases of unexplained illnesses that people now attribute to food poisoning or unknown causes.”

So far, the most obvious threat seems to be a microbial contamination known as “turbidity.” Usually, the presence of this substance causes the water to appear somewhat murky, but not always. Sometimes, the deadliest water looks clean and sparkling.

In 1993, a parasite called “Cryptosporidium” in Milwaukee’s tap water was blamed for sickening more than 400,000 people and killing at least 50 to 100, “even though the water system was in compliance with the Federal guidelines at the time. The water was filtered and disinfected with chlorine, but chlorine does not kill ‘Cryptosporidium.’ ” Despite the knowledge of this fact, the article points out that, “Water supplies in the United States are not routinely tested for individual parasites, viruses or bacteria. Instead of testing, most water departments filter or chlorinate, or both, with the expectation that treatment will get rid of microbes.”

Dr. Joel Schwartz, director of the Philadelphia study and an associate professor of environmental epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, said those worried about germs could boil drinking water for one minute.

The article closes with an observation by Dr. Barbara Herwalt of the division of parasitic diseases at the Centers for Disease Control, that the true extent of waterborne disease nationwide was unknown because the source of most gastrointestinal infections was never identified.

And for those of you who, after being made aware of these facts, reply that “Bottled water is just too expensive,” I say, far be it from me to try to tell you what your life is worth!

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