[EDITORIALS]Pure Water Is a Basic Necessity

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[EDITORIALS]Pure Water Is a Basic Necessity

Grand National Party lawmakers on the Environment and Labor Committee said they have examined tap water at 13 different locations in Seoul and identified pathogenic viruses in the water at five locations. That is unnerving for Seoulites.

The debate about unsafe tap water first arose when Professor Kim Sang-jong of Seoul National University said he found harmful viruses in Seoul and Incheon tap water in 1997. The city of Seoul and the Environment Ministry countered that Mr. Kim's examination method - DNA analysis - was not an international standard, and that no viruses were found using the cell-cultivation method.

During this latest round of tests, viruses showed up at three locations using the approved cell-cultivation method. That seems to rule out questions about whether faulty methodology caused false findings.

Regardless of which examination method was used, no citizen can feel safe about drinking the tap water after learning that it may contain harmful viruses. The government and public agencies should have allayed those concerns through objective examinations, but they nit-picked the method and blamed the researchers. Now the government's own methodology has detected viruses. May we have an explanation?

Both adenoviruses and enteroviruses were found; adenoviruses can cause respiratory diseases and enteritis and enteroviruses can lead to aseptic meningitis and polio. People's health is at risk.

The city and the ministry should stop objecting and start analyzing the water. They should inspect water-processing facilities in the metropolitan areas and replace any worn-out or damaged facilities.

The research team from Seoul National University should also make the examination process public in order to clear up any possible grounds for continued controversy.

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