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  1. Letters to the Editor

Saturday's letters: Health risks of reclaimed water

Proposals threaten Tampa Bay Water | Jan. 23

Health risks of reclaimed water

Two bills in the Florida Legislature seek to dismantle the consortium of regional water suppliers and consumers that has successfully provided safe water to area residents for over 20 years. The bills would allow the city of Tampa (with the blessing of Mayor Bob Buckhorn) to distribute and sell "highly treated reclaimed water" as drinking water.

Even if the reclaimed water is temporarily stored in the aquifer or reservoirs, this protocol is not wise from a public health standpoint for three reasons.

First, reclaimed water contains estrogen, the female hormone, no matter the degree of disinfection. Male frogs raised in reclaimed water take on female characteristics and those of hermaphrodites and intersex frogs.

Second, reclaimed water contains endocrine disrupting chemicals, or EDCs. These also cannot be removed by disinfection. The research of Laura Vandenberg at the University of Massachusetts has focused on how fetal chemical exposures can produce birth defects and how early life exposures to chemicals and chemical mixtures can predispose individuals to diseases that manifest later in life. She found that EDCs change the level of hormones in the human bloodstream and can be especially dangerous to pregnant women because the hormone levels in the mother's blood regulate the development of the child. For example, EDCs inhibit the production of the thyroid hormone, which in an expecting mother alters the development of the child's brain, resulting in impaired cognitive ability.

Third, reclaimed water contains fragments of cancerous pathogens which cannot be removed by disinfection or filtering. They induce primary brain and bone cancers, malignant mesothelioma, and lymphomas in laboratory animals.

I don't think that the mayor and the legislators proposing the use of reclaimed water have thought the situation through. As a show of faith, perhaps the mayor and the legislators could drink only reclaimed water while at work, for six months, and require that their staffs do the same. That would quickly put an end to their silliness.

David W.R. Brown, Sun City Center

The writer is citizen representative on the Hillsborough County Cross Connection and Backflow Control Board.

A first step in restoring voting rights
Jan. 24

Restore the right to vote

Voting is a right, not a privilege. Those who deny the right to vote to those who did their time for the crime are on the wrong side of history and crime reduction. No legislature should have the power to take away the right to vote. And no citizen should be eternally denied the right to vote if he has paid his debt to society.

American history is full of heroes from Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Susan B. Anthony to Martin Luther King Jr. who fought to expand voting rights. There are no American heroes whom we revere who fought for the English king, slavery, resistance to the Suffragettes or Jim Crow.

Denying the right to vote to ex-felons who served their sentences encourages recidivism. No taxation without representation is a basic American principle. Having skin in the game creates a respect for the law. Encouraging ex-felons to become a part of their community leads to rehabilitation and thus reduces crime.

Martin Peters, Tarpon Springs

Human trafficking

Preventive education

Florida ranks third in the nation for reported incidents of human trafficking. Miami is first in the state, followed by Tampa, Orlando, Ocala and Tallahassee. The average age of victims is 11 to 14. Early education to potential child victims is key.

Health education to children includes helmet, bike and water safety, and the dangers associated with texting while driving. Why would human trafficking prevention in curriculums be excluded when outcomes are potentially as catastrophic?

A student appeared with state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, last year to introduce Senate Bill 96. Its purpose is to alert middle and high school students to signs of malicious intent, cyber trafficking, terms and pretexts commonly used by predators, and available resources. Students could opt out with a note from parents.

SB 96 was heard and passed unanimously by two Senate committees; however, it was not allowed a hearing in the House.

Steube refiled SB 96 on Jan. 9. This bill for preventive education would reduce incidents of trafficking and save lives. What could be a more important early lesson to children than how not to become victims?

Cynthia Ebben, Tallahassee


Opportunity for 'Dreamers'

"Dreamers" are asking for a path to citizenship, not amnesty. Amnesty is forgiveness for something you did wrong. The Dreamers did nothing wrong. They were brought to the United States by their parents. They had no choice. Now that they have been here for years and established themselves in school, in the military and at work they do not need to be excused for wrongdoing; they merely want the opportunity to continue to contribute to their adopted country with full citizenship.

Obviously any Dreamer who has committed a felony or serious misdemeanor should not be part of the program.

Richard Horowitz, Palm Harbor

Scarf thief on the wing | Jan. 24

More like this, please

I have never written a letter to the editor, but I simply had to say what a treat it was to read such a lovely article in the local section of the Times this morning.

It was written so well and made me smile while I was enjoying my breakfast and coffee before going to work. Life isn't perfect, as we all know, but people are inherently good and stories like these are such a delight.

We desperately need more articles like these in the times we live in.

Suzy Cochrane, New Port Richey