What is a Consumer Confidence Report?

drinking-water

The 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act implemented the Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) rule. The CCR rule required all community water systems to issue annual drinking water quality reports to their consumers by July 1st of each year.

A CCR is required to include all of the following:

  • The lake, river, aquifer or other source of your drinking water
  • A brief summary of the pollution threats to the sources of your drinking water based on investigations called “source water assessments.” All states must have their source water assessments completed by May 2003.
  • Information on how to get a copy of the water company’s “source water assessment” or any “sanitary surveys” that have already been done
    1. Sanitary surveys are carried out to evaluate: (1) the capability of a drinking water system to consistently and reliably deliver an adequate quality and quantity of safe drinking water to the consumer, and (2) the system’s compliance with federal drinking water regulations.
  • The level or range of levels of certain contaminants found in local drinking water, as well as EPA’s enforceable standard MCL (maximum contaminant level), and health-based goal MCLG, (maximum contaminant level goal).
    1. The maximum contaminant level is the greatest level of contaminants allowed in water that is delivered to anyone using the public water system. Exceedances of MCLs are considered violations under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
    2. The maximum contaminant level goal is a non-enforceable concentration of a drinking water contaminant protects human health. These numbers, allowing for an adequate margin of safety, are considered to be target levels to assure no adverse effects on human health.
  • The likely point source and/or non-point source of pollution or the category of pollution for that contaminant in the water supply.
  • The likelihood of adverse health conditions from any contaminant detected in violation of an EPA standard and documentation of actions taken to restore safe drinking water.
  • The water system’s compliance with other drinking water-related rules.
  • A statement for vulnerable people about avoiding the parasite Cryptosporidium because it is thought to be present in so many drinking water sources.
    1. Cryptosporidium is a parasite that is recognized as one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (drinking and recreational) in humans in the United States. Sources of contamination include human and fecal waste. Symptoms of the illness include diarrhea, loose or watery stools, stomach cramps, upset stomach, and a slight fever.
  • Information on the health effects of nitrate, arsenic, lead or trihalomethanes when these contaminants are found at levels above half of EPA’s standard.
    1. Nitrate is an inorganic chemical that may contaminate water by being leached from septic tanks, sewage and natural deposit erosion, as well as fertilizer use. Excess nitrate can cause “blue baby syndrome” in infants less than six months.
    2. Arsenic is an inorganic chemical that contaminates water through erosion of natural deposits and runoff from glass and electronics production wastes. Exposure to excessive levels of arsenic can cause skin damage, circulatory problems, and increased risk of cancer.
    3. Lead is a chemical that contaminates water through corrosion of household plumbing systems, and erosion of natural deposits. Exposure to lead among infants and children can result in delays in physical or mental development. Exposure to excessive levels of lead among adults can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure.
    4. Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) are by-products of drinking water disinfections. Exposure to TTHMs can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems, an increased risk of cancer, miscarriages and birth defects.
  • Phone numbers of additional sources of information including the water system and the US Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Information on how an individual can find out about public meetings where decisions about your water are being made.
*Campaign for Safe & Affordable Drinking Water, Making Sense Out of Drinking Water “Right to Know Reports,” Fall 1999.

The Case History of Everyman

doctor-visit

Let’s call him John Doe. John is a real patient and this is a real case history; however, this scenario could apply to any man. John came in about eight months ago for a “wellness check-up.” His affect made it clear that he really didn’t want to be there. His mind was on the golf course, or worse yet, on his overwhelmingly stressful job. It was an act of love that his wife made him come in, mentally kicking and screaming the entire way. It was also an act of reciprocal love that he consented to make the journey. After all, what was the big deal? A few extra pounds around the middle is just a part of growing older. OK, he was getting a bit more irritable, but it was certainly the job that was making him so fatigued. He figured that his mild erectile dysfunction was probably due to stress.

Of course it worried him a bit that he had heart disease in the family, and he was starting to accumulate quite a few risk factors himself. As it turned out his “wellness check up- up” revealed that he wasn’t so well after all. In fact he was careening down the road to ruin with a faint vision of an imminent crash in sight in the form of diabetes, heart attack, and/ or stroke. Until we got his labs back, we didn’t fully appreciate how dire things really were.

His triglycerides were through the roof. His cholesterols were elevated with lots of the bad kind. The good kind was barely to be found. His C-reactive protein, a sensitive measure of inflammation and an excellent predictor of heart disease, was also sky high. His testosterone was i n the basement. His vitamin D was tanked with serious implications for his immune function and cardiac function. We tested his overall nutritional function and found numerous other deficiencies. If all this was n’t bad enough, his blood sugar was elevated and he met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, a complex metabolic condition which portends heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

Fortunately, the labs got his attention when his wife and I had failed. They painted an undeniable picture of pending catastrophe. Life had a bullet with his name on it, heading straight for his heart. He realized that he was at a cross roads in his life. The age old cardinal sins of gluttony and sloth, along with the modern day curse of unrelenting stress were taking its toll. It also didn’t help that he was an unwitting victim of the modern American diet (MAD diet) and ubiquitous environmental toxins. John Doe realized that he had a choice, as most of us do. He could continue on the same path destined to result in misery and premature death, or he could turn his life around and travel down the path of wellness and vibrant living.

The first and most important step in this process is the mindful realization of the problem. Instead, the insidious slippery slope of illness stealthily stalks us day by day. Most of us never see it coming until the heart attack hits us. Men in particular live in a perpetual state of denial. Oh, we might pump a bit of iron to keep the biceps firm, and we might take some Viagra to keep other things firm, but the light bulb of wellness often does not illuminate until it is too late. Fortunately for John Doe, he got it!

The next important step is Intention. That is, intention to make a change. This step is never easy. It means altering a lifetime of bad habits. Habits that we got away with for
so many years i n our youth, but which then come back to haunt us. Fortunately for John Doe, he clearly saw the light and headed toward it full steam ahead. He started an exercise program, heavy on the cardio. He went on a serious diet appropriate for his condition. We corrected his underlying metabolic and hormonal deficiencies. He started a targeted supplementation plan to correct his nutritional deficiencies, and to provide therapeutic relief from some of his conditions. It was an amazing transformation.

When John arrived back in the office for his follow up visit, I could hardly believe my eyes. He had lost more than 20 pounds, as well as four inches from his waist. He was looking fit and trim and full of energy. He announced that he was feeling fantastic. We sat down to go over his labs and i n every instance there was remarkable improvement. His bad cholesterols were significantly down, and his good cholesterols were up. His markers of inflammation were dramatically improved. His metabolic syndrome had gone away. His vitamin levels were robust. In summary, John Doe was like a new man. He felt better than he had felt for years.

As we dedicate this edition of Natural Awakenings to men, I hope that all men will take hope from Joh n Doe. Just as John Doe turned his illness into wellness and will reap a longer more vibrant life, so too everyman holds within him the potential for greater wellness. We have been given precious gifts of mind, body, and spirit. To reach our full potential, we must nourish and grow these gifts with mindful attention.

Take note of the path that you are on. Are you at a crossroad? With steadfast intention, day by day, and step by step, begin your journey down the path of wellness. You and your loved ones will reap immeasurable and priceless rewards for the rest of your life.

This article is meant to educate. It is not intended to diagnose or treat. Anyone with a problem related to the issue discussed in this article should consult a qualified health care provider.