196722 And drink plenty of water

Sunday, November 8, 2009: 5:00 PM

Brenda Afzal, RN, MS , Environmental Health Education Center, University of Maryland School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD
The post-World War II growth in agricultural and industrial development and the production of man-made chemicals provided an economic boom in the United States. Unfortunately, it also led to widespread pollution of the nation's waterways from toxic industrial chemicals and agricultural and sewage run off. Many once pristine waterways had become unsafe for swimming and worse, unsafe for drinking. The purpose of this Quad Council Learning Institute is to explore drinking water protection in the United States and examine current and emerging drinking water issues of concern and the role of nurses as provider, educator, researcher, and advocate.

The Institute of Medicine report Nursing, Health and the Environment (1995) asserts the need for nurses to understand basic and applied principles of environmental health. Nurses, who are one of the most trusted sources of information by the public, must be in a position to both respond to questions about drinking water and its relationship to health with credible, evidence-based information, as well as provide leadership in making the necessary changes in our policies and practices to protect and promote human health. To that end we must prepare nurses to be a cut above the average citizen with regard to their knowledge of drinking water issues

As drinking water concerns unfold at the local, state, and national level, nurses who care for our most vulnerable populations have a unique opportunity to incorporate environmental health competencies into their day-to-day practices. The profession of nursing was founded on principles of prevention of disease and illness, today's environmental health challenges demand that we return to that foundation. We have immense power to bring science and passion to the critical water issues at hand.

“From earliest times, we and our ancestors have depended on water as a highway, a sewer, a pathway to discovery, a means to an empire, an irrigator of crops - in short, as a social as well as chemical necessity. Chemistry, however, remains the bottom line: whatever else we do with water, we must also drink it.”

Charles J Hitch

Learning Objectives:
At the completion of this presentation the participant will be able to: 1.Describe why nurses are well positioned to address drinking water hazards. 2.Define current national drinking water policies and discuss their effectiveness. 3.List three categories of drinking water contaminants and Identify their possible sources of contamination. 4.Discuss alternative sources of drinking water for individuals and populations with special vulnerabilities. 5.List at least three alternative sources to tap water. 6.Discuss emerging national drinking water concerns.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present on public health concerns related to water because I have 10 years of experience as a community health specialist with a focus on environmental health exposures. I have participated on national advisory committees to the National Safe Drinking Water Advisory Council to the U.S.EPA and as an alternate on the Children’s Environmental Advisory Council. I have published on basic water issues in a nursing textbook and have published in peer reviewed journals on water issues related to women’s health and climate change.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.