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Global warming increases health risks for Inuit

Research shows links between warming climate and disease

Earth is getting warmer, and indigenous people are among the most vulnerable to the impacts.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A Canadian researcher says indigenous people around the world are among the most vulnerable to climate change. They may be increasingly susceptible to pathogen loads found in drinking water after heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt, according to the preliminary findings of Sherilee Harper, a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Aboriginal People’s Health at the University of Guelph, who says that there has been a significant increase in the incidence of diarrhea and vomiting following these weather events.

Harper’s research is comparing how extreme weather events affect waterborne diseases in the Arctic and in southwestern Uganda, and she is finding parallels between health issues faced by indigenous groups in Uganda and those in Inuit Nunangat.

“There are a lot of similarities,” she said. “One of the most significant is caused by changes to the climate; in both places, increased temperatures and rainfall are leading to increased bacterial loads in water. This can be because of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, but, in each case, it leads to an increased risk of exposure to waterborne disease from both tap water and brook water.” Continue reading

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Colorado climber to focus on global water issues

Jake Norton plans to climb the three highest peaks on each continent to raise money for improving access to water and basic sanitation

Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world. PHOTO VIA THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

Jake Norton.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —After scaling some of the world’s highest peaks and helping to discover the remains of George Mallory on Everest, Colorado climber Jake Norton is focusing his attention on  improving access to clean water and sanitation in developing countries with a quest to climb the three highest peaks on each continent: http://www.challenge21.com.

Along the way, Norton wants to draw attention to the fact that there are nearly a billion people worldwide without access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion people without adequate toilets. He is convinced that safe water and sanitation are the most pressing global-development issues.

“I’m hoping to take the visibility of my life’s work and use it to help empower often-invisible people around the world lacking basic human needs. This is really about changing the world around us, and making sure my life and my passion serve more than just me,”  Norton said. Read more at his MountainWorld blog and stay in touch with Norton via Twitter and Facebook.

“Schools, libraries and computers are all great philanthropic efforts. But if people are fetching water all day, they can’t attend school. And if they’re dying of water-related illness before they get to the school, library, or computer, nothing has really been gained. Like climbing, we’ve got to start at the most fundamental level and work our way up, one step at a time.” Continue reading

Contamination found at roadside spring near Keystone

This water, collected from a spring near A-Basin, may cause illness in some people, according to Summit County health officials.

Health officials recommend treating the water before drinking

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Local officials say the popular drinking water well on national forest lands along Highway 6, between Keystone and Arapahoe Basin is contaminated. The spring, near mile marker 218, is a routine stop for many skiers on their way to and from A-Basin, helping to quench the thirst worked up by a long day of skiing bumps on Pali.

The health department has been testing the well since 1997. For the first time, recent sampling found bacteria that can cause illness, including diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In some susceptible people, the illness can become more serious.

Assistant county manager Scott Vargo, who issued the press release, said he wasn’t sure if the water was contaminated with Giardia lamblia, a single-celled parasite that causes giardia, colloquially known as beaver fever because it’s often spread by small mammals — and by humans. Continue reading

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