Louisiana recommends increasing chlorine levels as citizens petition for safe water

In a follow-up to a story Wednesday, officials with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) announced that they are monitoring certain public drinking water systems to determine if they have residual chlorine levels of 0.5 milligrams per liter throughout their distribution lines.

Public domain image/ The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

Public domain image/ The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin

For drinking water systems that utilize chloramines, the Department is also strongly recommending they increase the frequency of testing and number of samples for chlorine residual levels throughout their distribution lines.

This comes after the “brain-eating amoeba”, Naegleria fowleri was confirmed in the water systems of St. Bernard and DeSoto Parishes and the death of 4-year-old Drake Smith Jr .

The DHH says residual chlorine levels of 0.5 milligrams per liter throughout drinking water distribution lines are key to eliminating biological contaminants such as Naegleria fowleri, the brain-eating ameba found to be present in two water systems in St. Bernard and DeSoto parishes. If systems do not meet the 0.5 threshold, the Department will require it. This requirement will exceed the current federal standard issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Based on DHH’s analysis, the St. Bernard and DeSoto water systems have a common trait in that they disinfect by chloramination. A total of 84 water systems – including St. Bernard and DeSoto – disinfect by chloramination.

DHH public health engineers and officials will work closely with water systems and parish management teams to outline work plans and timelines in order to achieve required chlorination residuals. DHH will continue to evaluate chlorine residual levels in other public drinking water systems throughout the state; later requirements may be issued for systems that utilize free chlorine.

The 84 chloraminated water systems required to increase their chlorine sampling and monitoring frequency will be provided additional assistance by DHH that could include testing kits and personnel to conduct monitoring. Public health engineers are currently evaluating and monitoring recent residual chlorine levels for the more than 1,300 drinking water systems throughout the state.

This follows a petition on the website, Change.org, demanding the state to adopt the CDC-recommended 0.5ppm/(mg/L) minimum for residual chlorine levels in municipal water supplies was started by a Chalmette, LA resident recently.

The petitioner, Jamie Doerr writes:

With the recent events in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana concerning the deaths of two individuals due to the Naegleria fowleri amoeba (coined the “brain-eating amoeba”) via the municipal water supply, the State of Louisiana and the Department of Health and Hospitals need to raise the minimum standards for what is considered acceptable amounts of residual chlorine in our tap water.

The CDC recommends levels at a minimum of 0.5ppm/(mg/L) to combat contaminants in municipal water supplies. However, the State/DHH only require “trace amounts” of residual chlorine to be present for a Parish’s water supply to be compliant. Maintaining this 0.5ppm level has been shown to keep water systems safe from such organisms as Naegleria fowleri.

We need to demand these higher standards be put into place, state-wide, immediately. Two individuals within the past 3 years have died from infections caused by this amoeba in St. Bernard Parish. For this to occur, statistically, in a single location, is almost impossible. This is not acceptable.

Join me in telling our government officials their citizens and constituents deserve better, and doing less than the minimum will no longer be tolerated.

Please share this with everyone you know. Only united can we make a difference.

What is Naegleria fowleri?

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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