Yesterday, on a voice vote, the Vermont Senate passed legislation that studies alternatives to chloramine in drinking water. The bill, a revised version of H. 80, outlines an engineering study of disinfection methods that the Champlain Water District (CWD) and other water districts in the state could use instead of processes that rely on chloramine as a secondary disinfectant. House concurrence is expected later this week. The study would be supported by funding from the EPA, secured through efforts by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. An EPA contractor would perform the study.The legislation passed after months of work in the State House by People Concerned About Chloramine (PCAC), and Vermonters for a Clean Environment (VCE). Its passage comes during national Drinking Water Week, and highlights the serious issues facing water systems around the country.PCAC coordinator Ellen Powell expressed both frustration and hope as the legislation moved forward. This won t end the suffering, but it will hopefully get us more information, she said. We re counting on the promises we have gotten that the study will be truly independent, and answer our specific questions. If it does that, then it will be helpful to everyone, she said.The two groups continue to advocate for a multi-year moratorium to allow those suffering to have some relief, and to allow the CWD to work with regulators and community members to find a better way to provide clean, safe water to all their customers. A time out is really the only way we are going to get a solution to this problem, VCE Executive Director Annette Smith said. If we didn t think it was possible and safe, we wouldn t support it. This legislation will help us get us more information to assure legislators that a moratorium is both feasible and prudent, she stated.Chloramine has been linked to hundreds of reported cases of skin, breathing, and digestive problems since the CWD began using it in April 2006. Chloramine use has also been linked to fish kills, infrastructure degradation, and elevated lead levels in some systems around the country. Reports of health impacts have been reported in over a dozen states. PCAC and VCE are working with activists in New York, Pennsylvania, California, and other states on the issue.The CWD is currently the only system using chloramine in Vermont, though other systems, including Rutland City and Bennington, are reported to be considering its use. Even though the CWD and regulators continue to deny the connection between the tap water and health issues customers are experiencing, legislators are starting to listen to the people. For that, we are grateful, Smith concluded.(See p. 2484 of May 6 House Calendar for text: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2010/calendar/hc090506.pdf(link is external) )Source: Vermonters for a Clean Environment, Inc.
A new budget was approved during Tuesday night’s Undergraduate Student Government Senate meeting, giving $30,000 to USC’s USG. The funds were provided by USC Student Affairs. USG received the money two weeks ago, but the Allocations Committee met four times to discuss the changes that would be made to the budget. The new budget passed by a vote of 11-0 Tuesday, with one member abstaining.Big money – The Undergraduate Student Government voted 11-0 to approve a new budget plan, allocating $30,000 from Student Affairs. – Hayden Bennet | Daily TrojanThe branch of USG that received the most money was the Discretionary Board, which gives money to student organizations to fund events on campus.“The discretionary fund is bigger than some of the other funding boards because it encompasses a wider range of possible events so there are more students that can qualify to get funding that way,” USG Senior Director of Communications Elizabeth Trower said.The administrative branch of Program Board received $3,000 to cover basic costs such as paperwork, supplies, posters and shirts. The Performing Arts Committee of Program Board received $7,500, which will possibly go toward another event or bringing in more high-profile talent to perform at USC.“They always have really well-attended events,” USG Speaker Pro Tempore and Greek Senator Mikey Geragos said. “So we thought students would really appreciate the money going there.”Program Board’s Special Events Committee received $1,850, which will go toward improving the events already planned.In previous years, the Special Events Committee had issues providing food for all the students that attended.Another segment of Program Board that will receive an increase in funding is the Queer & Ally Student Assembly. A $2,000 increase will be allocated with the goal of having its funding more evenly match those of other assemblies.“All their events have been so highly attended. They feel underrepresented at times,” USG President Chris Cheng said. “We want to give them more money to show our support for their community.”The USG Student Senate Allocations Board also received an additional $800, which will go toward any specific projects the Senate is working on.“Senate Allocations took a hit because they changed the interpretation of what Senate Allocations is there for,” Geragos said.The administrative branch under the USG Executive Cabinet received $2,000. The increase will be used for purposes similar to Program Board’s administrative branch.The Elections Commission received an additional $800. This money will be used to host events during USG elections, and encourage more students to run for various USG positions.The USG legislative branch received $2,000 for projects that Senators are working on.
The Caster Semenya caseSouth Africa | DANIEL KELLY | The South African athlete, Caster Semenya, has lost her case against the athletic governing body, IAAF, which means that she will have to take medication to lower her testosterone levels if she wishes to continue competing internationally in running events.Last year, the IAAF introduced new regulation for female athletes with “difference of sexual development” (DSD). Athletes with circulating testosterone of five nanomoles per litre of blood (5nmol/L) or above and who are androgen-sensitive, have to meet certain criteria if they wish to compete internationally. One criterion is that DSD athlete must use medication to reduce their blood testosterone level to below 5nmol/L for a continuous period of at least six months.Semenya felt that the IAAF was targeting her, specifically. She took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but the court rejected the 28-year-old athlete’s challenge against the IAAF’s new rules. Although CAS found the rules to be discriminatory, it also said that they were “necessary, reasonable and proportionate”.Difference of sexual developmentSo what exactly is DSD and does a serum testosterone level above 5nmol/L really confer an unfair advantage in running events? DSDs are a group of rare conditions that are acquired before birth, where the reproductive organs and genitals don’t develop as expected. While the condition can be inherited, it usually occurs at random.A person with DSD may have a mix of both male and female sexual characteristics. For example, they may be genetically female, but with reproductive organs that are of the opposite sex (or the other way around), a combination of both male and female, or not clearly either.As the testes are the primary site of testosterone production, if a female is born with these male reproductive organs, their testosterone level will be high, often reaching male levels. Testosterone is involved in many factors that may confer athletic benefit including increased muscle size and strength, along with the ability for the blood to deliver oxygen to those working muscles. This is why elite male athletes are generally faster and stronger than females – and also why males don’t compete against females in most sports. Semenya has high levels of testosterone so she will undoubtedly have at least some associated metabolic benefits.How much benefit testosterone gives female athletes is difficult to define as women cannot convert testosterone into its more potent form and do not possess the same numbers of testosterone receptors (to carry out its actions) as men. The IAAF level of 5nmol/L is still high for female levels, which normally range from 0.1 – 1.8nmol/L. Judging the actual benefit of testosterone and where to draw these lines would require a lot more research and investigation.Where does it stop?However, Semenya hasn’t artificially altered her testosterone levels and while her condition is rare – and gives her a large advantage as a track athlete, they are naturally occurring – so is it not discrimination to make her change her body to compete? Does this take the phrase “all men are equal” to the extreme and try to make everyone the same, even by artificial measures? And where does this stop? Many genetic physical attributes can contribute to athletic performance such as height, muscle composition and aerobic capacity.Dutee Chand, the female sprinter who was also barred from competing against women in 2014 because her natural levels of testosterone exceeded guidelines for female athletes, publicly expressed her disbelief as to why she was penalised for her natural body when she competes against women who are taller and from wealthier backgrounds, which certainly put them at an advantage.Cases like Semenya and Chand will always be contentious and generate more questions than solutions, and there will always be disagreement among athletes and fans over the right way to approach this sensitive issue in elite sport.****Daniel Kelly is a Lecturer in Biochemistry, Sheffield Hallam UniversityShare on: WhatsApp