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Animal waste a threat to water, says APHA.

To maintain access to safe drinking water, animal waste should remain classified as a hazardous substance under federal rules, according to APHA.

In an August letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, noted that efforts to weaken current rules "run counter to public health practice and policy-making." Currently, animal waste is listed as a hazardous substance under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act. The APHA letter was sent shortly before Boxer held a hearing to discuss Senate legislation, S. 807, sponsored by Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., that would remove animal manure's hazardous label.

Actions to remove animal waste's hazardous label would have a negative impact on a community's ability to monitor pollutants that harm human health, the letter stated. For example, it could restrict a community's efforts to recover costs stemming from cleaning up animal waste contamination by facilities known as concentrated animal feed operations.

"(Concentrated animal feed operations)-generated animal wastes often contain heavy metals, antibiotics, pathogen bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus as well as dust and mold," the letter stated. "The waste is often spread untreated on nearby cropland. Runoff from this practice can carry human pathogens and other toxics into surface waters that often serve as drinking water sources."

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In 2003, APHA adopted policy calling for a moratorium on concentrated animal feed operations until additional scientific data is available on their effects on public health.
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Title Annotation:APHA ADVOCATES: Recent actions on public health by APHA
Author:Krisberg, Kim
Publication:The Nation's Health
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Words:247
Previous Article:APHA's 135th annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Nov. 3-7.
Next Article:APHA supports public health work force.
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