Saturday December 7, 2019

EPA Seeks to Rewrite Rules for Dealing with Lead Pipes Contaminating Drinking Water

Communities and families in Flint, Michigan, Newark, New Jersey, and elsewhere have had to grapple with high levels of lead

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EPA, Rules, Lead
FILE - A bottled water dispenser sits in a hallway at Gardner Elementary School in Detroit, Sept. 4, 2018. Some 50,000 Detroit public school students will drink water from coolers, not fountains, after the discovery of elevated levels of lead or copper. VOA

The Trump administration Thursday proposed a rewrite of rules for dealing with lead pipes contaminating drinking water, but critics say the changes appear to give water systems decades more time to replace pipes leaching dangerous amounts of toxic lead. EPA.

Contrary to regulatory rollbacks in many other environmental areas, the administration has called dealing with lead contamination in drinking water a priority. Communities and families in Flint, Michigan, Newark, New Jersey, and elsewhere have had to grapple with high levels of lead in tap water and with regulatory failures dealing with the health threat.

Lead in drinking water has been linked to developmental delays in children and can damage the brain, red blood cells and kidneys. It is most often caused by lead service lines — pipes connecting a home to a water main — or lead fixtures in a home or school.

At a news conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced changes that include requiring water systems to test lead levels in water at schools and child care facilities.

EPA, Rules, Lead
Contrary to regulatory rollbacks in many other environmental areas, the administration has called dealing with lead contamination in drinking water a priority. Pixabay

But Wheeler disappointed conservation groups by declining to lower the level of lead contamination in drinking water systems that triggers cleanup action. And another change lowered the amount of lead pipe that water systems have to replace each year once the threshold is hit, cutting it from 7% a year to 3% a year.

That, according to Eric Olson at the Natural Resources Defense Council conservation group, would give water utilities about 20 more years to fully replace all the lead pipes in a contaminated system.

Wheeler said a series of other, smaller changes in the new proposals would offset that. Overall, he argued, the rule changes, if the White House ultimately adopts them, would mean leaking old lead pipes are “replaced at a much faster rate than ever before.”

Also Read- Hundreds of School Children in Nigeria Join Global Fight for Climate Action

Betsy Southerland, a senior EPA water official under the Obama administration, said the new proposals largely miss the opportunity to boost the urgency of the country’s rules, issued in 1991, for cleaning up lead in water systems. Asked her overall impression, she said, “I would say disappointing.” (IANS)

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Facebook Plans New Strategy to Take Lead Over TikTok

The Facebook CEO also said that TikTok is almost like Instagram''s Explore Tab

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FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

Admitting that TikTok is doing well in the US and growing quickly in India, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled his own plans to counter the rising clout of the Chinese short video-sharing platform in meetings with employees, the details of which have now been leaked.

Saying that Facebook has a “number of approaches” to compete with TikTok, Zuckerberg said the company would first test the efficacy of its strategies in markets where TikTok is not already big, according to the details of the meeting published by The Verge on Tuesday.

With over 200 million users in India, TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, is fast closing the gap with Facebook in the country.

“So we have a number of approaches that we’re going to take towards this, and we have a product called Lasso that’s a standalone app that we’re working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico, is I think one of the first initial ones,” Zuckerberg was quoted as saying.

“We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big,” he said in response to a question on how Facebook plans to counter TikTok’s growing cultural clout among teenagers and Gen Z.

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TikTok is fast catching up: it has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India so far, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. VOA

In November last year, Facebook quietly released a stand-alone app called “Lasso” to compete with TikTok.

The Facebook CEO also said that TikTok is almost like Instagram’s Explore Tab.

Also Read: Researchers Detect 172 Malicious Apps on Google Play Store

“I kind of think about TikTok as if it were Explore for stories, and that were the whole app,” Zuckerberg said.

“We’re taking a number of approaches with Instagram, including making it so that Explore is more focused on stories, which is increasingly becoming the primary way that people consume content on Instagram, as well as a couple of other things there,” he said. (IANS)