Israeli health minister tightens standards for drinking water

Oct. 31, 2000
Israeli Health Minister Roni Milo yesterday signed regulations amending standards for drinking water quality, following recommendations from a ministry-appointed committee of experts.

By JUDY SIEGEL

JERUSALEM, Israel, Oct. 30, 2000 (The Jerusalem Post )—Health Minister Roni Milo yesterday signed regulations amending standards for drinking water quality, following recommendations from a ministry-appointed committee of experts. The update brings chemical quality standards of drinking water to the highest levels accepted in developed countries.

For the first time, maximum levels of 35 new chemical substances - including pesticides, organic solvents, and petroleum products - have been set. In addition, existing standards for four chemicals in the water - nitrates, lead, cadmium, and zinc - have been made more rigorous. Water samples will be taken more frequently; instead of once in a decade for a full chemical test, this will be conducted once every three years.

Ministry spokeswoman Dalia Shaharabani said that the full application of the new standards will improve the quality of drinking water around the country and bring Israel up to the standards in Western countries.

Meanwhile, Milo has instructed ministry officials to launch an information campaign encouraging people at risk of complications of influenza to be vaccinated against the virus. The flu season begins in November and ends around March.

The ministry now recommends a flu shot to anyone over the age of 50 - rather than the previous minimum age of 65 - and others of any age who suffer from chronic diseases. Milo said this will reduce the number of flu-related hospitalizations by 70 percent and flu- related deaths by 80 percent.

The vaccine can be obtained free or at a subsidized price at one's health fund clinic. Those over 65 should also get vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia (once in five years). Both shots can be given simultaneously.

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