Nick Wilson, Leah Grout, Mereana Wilson, Anja Mizdrak, Phil Shoemack, Michael Baker
Protecting waterways has the benefits of: (1) protecting water from hazardous microbes; (2) minimising cancer risk and other problems from nitrates in water; (3) avoiding algal blooms that are hazardous to health; (4) protecting mahinga kai uses (cultural importance and food security); (5) facilitating safe recreational water use; (6) minimising flooding risks from silted up waterways; and (7) protecting renewable energy from waterway sediments. In this blog we briefly consider these issues and why health workers and agencies should now do submissions on protecting waterways to the Ministry for the Environment, as part of a current consultation process which ends on 31 October.
Professor Janet Hoek and Emeritus Professor Philip Gendall
Annual consumption of cigarettes now exceeds five trillion, with around four trillion butts littered every year. These cigarette butts cause major environmental damage and impose significant clean-up costs on local authorities. Although tobacco companies have framed smokers as responsible for butt litter, recent debate has focused on the tobacco industry’s role in creating tobacco product waste (TPW) and its responsibility for managing this problem. We recently examined public perceptions of TPW in New Zealand and allocation of responsibility for creating and managing it.
Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Alistair Woodward
The huge campylobacteriosis outbreak in Havelock North in August 2016 caused by contaminated drinking water was a public health disaster. The second report of the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry describes a long list of failings that contributed to the outbreak. In this blog we argue that the failings are much broader than the safety of drinking water supplies and represent a serious erosion and fragmentation of NZ’s national public health institutions. What is needed now is a major stocktake and rebuilding of our country’s national public health capacity.
Prof Alistair Woodward*, A/Prof Andrea t’Mannetje**, Dr Dave McLean**, Prof Jeroen Douwes**, Prof John D Potter** (*Auckland and **Massey Universities)
Last year the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) chose not to accept the assessment of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in “Roundup”) was a “probable carcinogen”. Instead the EPA commissioned its own report which found that glyphosate is “unlikely to be genotoxic or carcinogenic”, a significant departure from IARC’s conclusion. An investigation by the Green MP Stefan Browning released two weeks ago raises serious questions about the process followed by the EPA. The controversy has been given fresh life by comments made by the Chief Scientist for the Authority, Dr Jacqueline Rowarth. Her attempt to justify what happened gives a muddled account of risk assessment, and misrepresents her own Authority’s publication. In this blog, we explain why it is important to understand the issues raised by the EPA pronouncements on glyphosate and the potential implications for chemical safety more generally. This is now particularly important as the EPA is about to undertake an expanded review of hazardous substances in New Zealand.
Prof Alistair Woodward, A/Prof Simon Hales
An Independent Inquiry is now investigating the cause of the water-borne outbreak caused by Campylobacter in Havelock North. In this blog we consider the background to this issue and argue the Inquiry must not miss the opportunity to think up-stream, on the scale of water catchments, agricultural economies and climate systems.