Monday, July 18, 2005

Zogby and Me

Anderson Lake

I participate in Zogby online polls. I like to contribute to the cultural ambiance that way. I always answer polling questions, even when interviewers call during dinner. I think it's important.
I received one of Zogby online polls today. The first 79% (when you fill in the questionnaire online, it gives you a running total of how complete it is) was entirely on spectator sports, and specifically about boxing. I don't care a whit about boxing. I never watch it, ever. For some reason though, I kept up with the all the inane questions. Screen after screen. Blah blah boxing decisions. Blah blah officials mettling. I answered every question "Not sure" wishing they had a "Don't Care" category. But then, suddenly the questionnaire changed completely. And this is what the last 20% of the poll was about:

One of the most important steps in making water safe to drink is disinfection - the removal or inactivation of bacteria and other harmful pathogens. Some methods and/or technologies currently used by cities for disinfecting water, however, have been found by the U.S. EPA to add new risks to treated water, such as creation of byproducts that have been linked to cancer and birth defects in humans. In addition, some methods have been found by the EPA to be inffective in reducing certain targeted pathogens such as Cryptosporidium. Other concerns include use of technologies that expose water to fragile equipment that contains mercury that could accidentally be released into the water.

In the following question, imagine that you are presented a choice of one of four glasses of water to drink. Each has been treated with a different method or technology for the disinfection process. A listing of the pros and cons of each disinfection method is provided based on the 3 key health and regulatory concerns - creation of harmful byproducts, effectiveness with treating targeted pathogens like Cryptosporidium, and potential mercury risk-mentioned above. Other characteristics of each method, such as history of use and relative costs, are also included. Which glass would you choose - A, B, C, or D?

Glass A:
• Creates harmful byproducts
• Not effective in treating Cryptosporidium
• No mercury risk
• Long use history; moderate costs

Glass B:
• Does not create byproducts
• Effective for treatment of Cryptosporidium
• Risk of mercury contamination
• Limited use history; moderate costs

Glass C:
• Creates harmful byproducts
• Effective for treatment of Cryptosporidium
• No mercury risk
• Moderate use history; high costs

Glass D:
• Does not create byproducts
• Effective for treatment of Cryptosporidium
• No mercury risk
• New technology; moderate cost

What action do you feel your city should take to ensure that your water matches the glass you chose?

  • Switch as soon as possible to the disinfection method you selected
  • Continue current method while studying alternatives
  • Take no action
  • Not sure
What action do you feel the EPA or other regulatory agencies should take regarding continued use of the water treatment methods you did NOT select?

  • Phase-out or ban the use of such methods
  • Provide incentives to switch to the method you selected
  • Take no action
  • Not sure

Which of the following phrases or slogans do you feel best describes the water disinfection method you chose

  • For Safer Water
  • The Higher Standard for Safe Water
  • Safe. Certain. Secure
  • No Compromises
  • Ecomagination
  • None of the above

Now, why would they put such important polling question at the end of a boxing questionnaire? Makes you wonder, doesn't it? In case you're interested, I voted for Glass D. I'm sure you can guess how I answered the rest.

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