September 20, 2010   1 comment

 Public Health:  This week I met with seven ‘post-graduate’ students as the first of a weekly seminar series.  As part of this series we will be discussing topics of interest to the students as well as selecting papers from Environmental Health Perspectives (EHS) for review.  The reason for selecting papers from EHS is that they publish both an English and Chinese version which will enable the Chinese students to review their papers in Chinese.  We will also be comparing how systems operate in China with how the systems operate in the U.S.   One of the first areas we will be discussing is how the Chinese CDC is organized and its specific functions.  I will be giving an overview of the U.S. CDC and its functions. One of the first topics we discussed focused on water and wastewater treatment and water regulations.   There are some very interesting parallels between our approaches and the approaches of the Chinese government.   The basic strategies for water treatment are well developed (this is not surprising as the technology is well established, these methods include coagulation and flocculation, settling, and disinfection.  We had a lengthy discussion about disinfection and the risk associated with using chlorine.  It appears much of the scientific establishment considers the risk from chlorination disinfection by-products is sufficiently large that alternative methods for disinfection should be used.  They mentioned ozone, uv, and other forms of chlorine that do not react with organics to form the by-products.  However, most of the alternatives do not maintain a residual in the distribution system.  Also, it was unclear to me how they handle the sludge from the coagulation and flocculation.  For wastewater treatment the processes are again very similar, from primary treatment through secondary treatment.  All of the students were knowledgable about some of the tertiary treatment strategies to remove phosphorus, nitrogen, and other chemicals not removed during secondary treatment.  As for water, there was not much of a discussion about how sludge is handled.  From a regulatory perspective, the government has established standards for coliforms, BOD, suspended particulate, and some of the more common contaminants of supply waters.  The levels are comparable to those we have in the United States.  There are however some interesting differences.   The water treatment agencies are not required to report on the quality of the drinking  water (at least as far as I can tell).  It is also not clear to me, at this point, how enforcement is carried out to assure compliance with the regulations.  One of the interesting observations is that none of these students have ever visited a water or wastewater treatment plant.  I have been trying to identify the appropriate contact to see if we can arrange a site visit.  The other interesting observation was when I asked one of the students if they drink the tapwater, they said no. .. more later.

 From the China Daily:   Returning to the theme of smoking.   A recent article in the China Daily focused on smoking in films and on TV.  The article indicated that “ Although smoking scenes are still widespread in Chinese films and TV programs, the number of tobacco-free works showed a marked increase from 2008, according to 2009 statistics (Chinese Association on Tobacco Control).  Among the 40 films surveyed, nine have no smoking scenes at all. Compared to the 2:30 ratio in 2008, this reflects an encouraging change that show business has taken social responsibility in promoting healthy lifestyles.  However, copious smoking scenes are still prevalent. The movie “The Founding of a Republic” has smoking in up to 11.8 percent of its scenes…. A survey of 11,000 middle school students in Beijing found that 38.5 percent think actors who smoke in TV or films were mature and charming, and 32.9 percent said they would like to imitate them.  The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, in Article 13, suggests restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship on radio, television, print media, and as appropriate, other media, such as the Internet…..The recently released 2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey highlighted that China has a 300 million strong smoking population (Note: the U.S.population is about 305 million, my comment). In response to China’s acute smoking situation, the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control offers two broad recommendations: Actors, directors and producers should refrain from smoking, offering cigarettes or starring in commercials for tobacco products, produce tobacco-free works and create positive influences on society and  China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television needs to strengthen regulations, prohibit all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in films and TV programs, and undertake legislative measures to improve monitoring and supervision”

 My Day:  Next week will be fall festival or moon festival.  It is a national celebration during which the population celebrates the fall harvest.  There are generally numerous celebrations and the exchange of moon cakes.  There was a humorous article in a local English paper titled ‘The Mid-Autumn Festival Alternate Uses for Moon Cakes’  Some of the suggestions were to: 1. Stabilize a wobbly chair or coffee table, 2. As a replacement puck for ice or street hockey…. You get the picture.  This is the 2nd most important festival after the Chinese New Year.  Based on what (little) I have read there is a mythical story that is similar to a ‘pandora’s box’ story that leads to the exchange of moon cakes.  We have received a box of individually wrapped moon cakes from the International Office of the University.

The U.S. Consulate also hosted an Autumn Festival ‘Alumni Reunion’ in which faculty and students from U.S. sponsored exchange programs met for a dinner.  In addition to the Fulbright program there are several other types of exchange programs, including English language exchange, short term foreign expert exchange…  Two of the people we met were affiliated with the West China School of Public Health, a professor in the Department of Biostatistics and a second professor whose research is focused on HIV intervention in the Department of Health Behavior.


Posted September 21, 2010 by uolrrj in Uncategorized

One response to “September 20, 2010

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  1. Hi Bob
    Just learned of your blog today. Sounds like a mutually beneficial exchange for you and Chinese students – and a wonderful time for you and your Family too!

    Stay healthy!



    Rob Steiner MD PhD

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