Tuesday, June 22, 2010

E. coli poisoning from Missouri stream cost a biologist his appendix

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 11:00 AM

click to enlarge "Explosive diarrhea, anyone?"
  • "Explosive diarrhea, anyone?"

A biologist with Missouri's Department of Conservation suffered year-long complications from E. coli poisoning after participating in a stream cleaning event, according to the testimony of an environmental advocate at a Missouri Clean Water Commission meeting in Jefferson City.

Dan Sherburne, who was with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment

at the time of the November 2008 meeting (he's now a consultant),

testified that Missouri's criteria for measuring bacteria levels in

state waters fall short of the standards set forth by the U.S.

Environmental Protection Agency.

To illustrate his point,

Sherburne brought up the example of the unfortunate biologist. During a

stream cleanup, Sherburne said, "He and another guy were trying to

remove a partly buried tire from a stream. It came loose suddenly and

splashed water into his mouth."


Sherburne continued, "About 12 hours later, he started getting sick and he ended up developing infections which were ultimately traced to a pathogen found only in human sewage. As it turned out, he had been downstream of a waste water outfall. He ended up losing his appendix and part of his colon to the illness, which took a year to resolve."
 
To determine whether a water body is safe for human contact, Missouri's

Department of Natural Resources tests water for bacteria and pathogens

over many months, then calculates the "geometric mean," from those numbers. The geometric mean calculation reduces the effect that very high and very low readings would otherwise have on the average. If the geometric mean turns out to be less than 206 colony forming units of E. coli per 100 milliliters, the waterway is deemed safe.

This method isn't

effective, Sherburne argued. The EPA recommends that the geometric mean standard be used in combination with a daily

maximum standard, which would lend more consideration to the highest E. coli readings recorded on a day-to-day basis. After all, when a kid swims in a creek and gets sick, he doesn't get sick from the "geometric mean" of E. coli sampling results -- he gets sick from the quantity of pathogens in the water that day.

In states that comply with the EPA's testing standards, Sherburne said, "there has been no evidence presented that this daily maxiumum standard has been ruinous or even onerous to facilities (that hold water-discharge permits). But there can be little doubt that its presence has been far more protective of public health than its absence would have been."

More disturbingly, Sherburne tells The Pitch, 90 percent of the waters in Missouri aren't "classified" by the DNR, and thus have no E. coli standards. The majority of those are not tested at all.

Ultimately, Sherburne's testimony didn't sway the commissioners. Hold onto your colons, folks.

Tags: , , , ,

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Most Popular Stories

All contents ©2014 Kansas City Pitch LLC
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Kansas City Pitch LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.

All contents © 2012 SouthComm, Inc. 210 12th Ave S. Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of SouthComm, Inc.
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Website powered by Foundation