A Quest for Even Safer Drinking Water
By PETER ANDREY SMITH for "The New York Times" August 26, 2013
On a muggy Friday afternoon in a strip mall parking lot, as thunder echoed in the Alleghenies and cottonwood seeds floated on the breeze, Lee Stanish, 32, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Natalie Hull, 24, a lab manager, stepped out of a white van, its hood plastered with dead insects.
After a brief conversation with a chain store manager, the two women retrieved a large black container from their van and wheeled it into the bathroom. Ms. Hull opened the faucet and let the cold water run. The two snapped on disposable gloves, unpacked their equipment, and began collecting tap water.
Ms. Hull checked the water temperature and filled water in a vial of formaldehyde for cell counts. Dr. Stanish placed another vial of water in a portable chlorine meter for analysis. "We're in and out in about 10 minutes," she said. Ms. Hull flipped the faucet off. On to the next tap.
By nightfall, the van would be loaded with close to 30 gallons of water sampled from dozens of locations across the Ohio River Valley. Dr. Stanish and Ms. Hull planned to set up a mobile laboratory in a hotel room in Morgantown, W.Va., all in an effort to understand a hidden underground ecology where organisms eke out a living in dark, cool pipes loaded with chlorine.
"What we know so far is that it's usually very clean," Dr. Stanish said. "But it's a disturbed environment."
The 53,000 water utilities in the United States deliver some of the safest drinking water in the world - a public health victory of unrivaled success that began in 1908 with chlorination campaigns in Jersey City and Chicago. Still, millions of individual cases of waterborne diseases occur annually and related hospitalization costs approach $1 billion each year. In 2007 and 2008, the most recent years for which figures are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 164 waterborne disease outbreaks, almost entirely from protozoan cysts of the parasite Cryptosporidium.
New rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, instituted after earlier outbreaks, have led New York City and other municipalities with unfiltered surface reservoirs to begin zapping tap water with ultraviolet light to inactivate organisms like Cryptosporidium that resist chlorine-based treatments.
The water supply system remains a deteriorating, mostly subterranean infrastructure so complex that in many municipalities officials can't even say where all the pipes are laid. The need for upgrades has never been greater, a report issued this year by the American Academy of Microbiology said, but they first want to understand what's living down there.
...Chlorine-based disinfectants destroy harmful cellular organisms that cause illness - eliminating infectious diseases like typhoid, cholera and dysentery - but to call the process purification is a misnomer. The researchers estimate that between 10 and 100 million free-floating, or planktonic, organisms survive in every quart of tap water. ..
...Mycobacteria are common inhabitants in drinking water systems, and researchers are particularly interested in the estimated 20,000 infections they cause annually. When ingested or inhaled, mycobacteria can infect the lungs of the elderly or immunocompromised individuals. The infections are sometimes an occupational hazard at indoor pools, called "lifeguard lung."
The bacteria can be spread with humidifiers, misted supermarket vegetables, or endoscopes and other medical equipment cleaned with tap water. Dr. Falkinham, for example, has isolated genetically identical strains of these bacteria from the lungs of affected patients and from household plumbing.
"My fear is that we're increasing the likelihood of engineered environments contributing to antibiotic resistance," he said. "Everything we do has microbial consequence. If we can better understand the ecology, then we can better manage them rather than, 'Let's hit them with a bigger sledgehammer."
1. Answer the following questions.
a. Why did the researchers arrive at the chain store parking?
b. Where did they take the water from?
c. Is the pipe system under the government control in the USA?
d. Waterborne diseases are not a problem, are they?
e. Can bacteria be spread under standard living conditions or only specific situations may lead to increasing their number?
2. Find English equivalents to the following words and word combinations.
Разрушать вредные клеточные организмы; вода из крана; ежегодно; затраты на лечение в больнице; устранить инфекционные заболевания; бассейны в помещении; образцы воды.
3. Make the following sentences negative:
1. By nightfall, the van would be loaded with close to 30 gallons of water.2. The 53,000 water utilities in the United States deliver some of the safest drinking water in the world. 3. The bacteria can be spread with humidifiers, misted supermarket vegetables, or endoscopes. 4. Let's hit them with a bigger sledgehammer. 5. Mycobacteria are common inhabitants in drinking water systems.
4. Ask as many questions as possible to the following sentence.
Ms. Hull checked the water temperature and filled water in a vial of formaldehyde for cell counts.
5. Is it true or false or not stated in the article?
1. There is a research group in University of Colorado to deal with water pollution. 2. The scientists take samples of water from areas where people live or work. 3. Drinking water in the USA is considered to be among the cleanest in the world. 4. They chlorinate drinking water in the USA. 5. Bacteria may cause up to 20 000 infections every year.
6. Correct mistakes in the following sentences.
1. After a brief conversation with a chain store manager, the two womаn retrieved a large black container from their van. 2. Ms. Hull openned the faucet and let the cold water run. 3. The two snapped on disposable gloves, unpacked there equipment, and began collecting tap water. 4. Ms. Hull checking the water temperature and filled water in a vial of formaldehyde for cell counts. 5. Dr. Stanish placed another vial of water in a portable chlorine meter for analysis. 6. We're have in and out in about 10 minutes," she said.
7. Write 5 sentences that show the main idea of the text
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