Consumption of Unpasteurized Milk
Recently there has been a move by certain parents to give their children unpasteurized milk as a better way of providing a healthy food. Unfortunately this fad, which has been spread by social media, as well as the fad of not immunizing children, not only endangers the child but also the entire community. There are far too many years of experience with outbreaks of disease and what constitutes good practices to allow these types of fads to endanger children. In Minnesota as an example, there have been numerous outbreaks of foodborne illness from the consumption of unpasteurized milk. People who buy a share of a dairy cow and then milk it and do not pasteurize it are definitely endangering their family. (See Chapter 7, “Food Security and Protection” for further details.)
Soil or dirt, the upper layer of earth in which plants may grow, may be contaminated by a variety of chemicals and microorganisms. The contaminants may leach into water, volatilize into the air, or bind to soil particles. The bioavailability of the substance to humans is determined by the various soil conditions. The contaminants rarely are distributed uniformly in the soil because the amount being distributed at any given time varies and the movement of air and water. The contamination may be from the residue of air pollution, the storage and disposal of solid and hazardous waste, the results of manufacturing and usage of chemicals especially pesticides, and on/in industrial/ commercial properties, high-traffic areas, treated lumber, automobile repair shops, junk vehicle storage areas, and furniture refinishing facilities. They may also come from landfills, fires, use of fertilizers in agricultural areas, construction, mining, oil/chemical storage, transportation or spills, flooding, natural sources, etc. An example of natural arsenic contamination is found in the soil of Hawaii. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the earth’s crust. However, elevated levels of arsenic have been found in the soil of former sugarcane fields, pesticide storage or mixing areas, sugar plantation camps, wood treatment plants, etc. In the past, the practice was to put the waste material on the land of the industry, bury it beneath the surface of the land, or dump it into a body of water. Also, lead may be present because of the use of lead paint in commercial, industrial, and residential properties.
All sources of contamination become a concern when small children are present because the contaminant may enter the child’s body primarily through inhalation of the dirt, ingestion by eating the dirt, and skin absorption through contact with the dirt. Food and water may become contaminated and then consumed by the child. The potential health effects depend on all the previously mentioned contributors to disease in children and: the types of chemicals, the dose, the duration of exposure, the frequency of exposure and the previous experience with this chemical and others.
Microbial contamination including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi including molds, and helminths, which are parasitic worms, cause a series of illnesses ranging from mild to severe including potentially death, and may be found at various times in soil especially in the aftermath of flooding. The microorganisms and helminths may survive in the soil for an extended period of time.
Best Practices for Limiting Soil Exposure (See endnote 55)
- • Do not allow contaminated land to be used for the sites of schools, other facilities, and homes where children may be exposed to the contaminants.
- • All contaminated land, including by radiation, must be remediated to remove or encapsulate all forms of contamination to prevent exposures in surrounding areas.
- • Industries must not contaminate the land site or off-site with their products, byproducts, raw materials, and waste materials.
- • All remediation activities must be licensed and inspected by the appropriate authorities.
- • A planning authority must be established to determine the appropriate use of land and the removal and prevention of potential contamination.
- • Follow all Best Practices as established in: Chapter 14, “Water Quality and Water Pollution”; Chapter 2, “Air Quality (Outdoor [Ambient] and Indoor)”; and Chapter 12, “Solid Waste, Hazardous Materials, and Hazardous Waste Management.”
- • Prevent disease from microbial contamination and helminths by use of the following procedures.
- • Practice the highest levels of proper hand-washing techniques.
- • Use extensive educational efforts to teach people to avoid standing water, ground saturated with flood water, and areas of debris.
- • Use signs to indicate areas of potential contamination.
- • Scrub and decontaminate all playground equipment and areas where children will be involved in activities.
- • Decontaminate all areas near septic tanks.
- • Put new soil top on the affected soil and compact it.
- • Plant new grass.
- • Use dust suppression techniques.