World Water Week at Penn

World Water Week at Penn

Katherine Unger Baillie | | 215-898-9194

Originally Published on Monday, August 24, 2015

The University of Pennsylvania‘s health schools are showing support for World Water Week by highlighting the University’s expertise in a broad range of water-related issues. Each day we’ll feature a different topic. Follow along and learn more on Twitter at ‪#‎PennOneHealth‬.

Find Penn’s water experts here.



Perelman School of Medicine

For the two big outdoor events coming up in Philadelphia, the Made in Americafestival and Pope Francis’ visit, planning is key. Wallet? Check. Sunscreen? Check. Phone and charger? Check.

When getting ready to head out for a full day in the sun, all those things can be important, but it’s also important to have a plan for water intake. A water bottle is a good start, but will it keep you hydrated all day? If you’re going to a music festival, will they let you in with a bottle? Do they have refilling stations or should you bring extra money for bottled water at the event?

When it comes to staying hydrated while out in the heat, Alexis Tingan, a primary care fellow in sports medicine at Penn Medicine, says a little common sense goes a long way.

“Simply checking the weather before heading out to an all-day event is a good preventative start to the day,” he said. “You should be particularly focused on staying well hydrated on days that are predicted to be very hot and humid.”

Just how much water does one need? There’s no one answer because it depends on many factors. Heat and humidity need to be taken into consideration since sweat is a major cause of fluid loss and people with more body mass simply need more water than others with less. Diets also matter because of the fact stated above, up to 20 percent of our daily water intake can come from our food.

Check out the full post on the Penn Medicine News Blog here.

School of Veterinary Medicine

Deborah Silverstein, an associate professor in emergency and critical care at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital, conducted a study to monitor the effects of IV fluid on circulation during surgery.

Using a video microscope to record the blood flow of dogs undergoing spay surgeries, Silverstein found that increasing the amount of fluid delivered to the animal enhanced the total number of vessels receiving blood flow. The study points to the importance of giving IV fluids during even minor, elective surgical procedures, a standard of care that is recommended but not often practiced in many veterinary hospitals. (Giving an IV during spays and neuters is, however, standard procedure at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital.)

During brief surgeries like spays and neuters, animals can lose fluids through their abdominal cavity, their respiratory tract, and through blood loss. When combined with the effects of the anesthetic drugs, which can reduce the ability to regulate blood pressure, these losses can be significant enough to result in reductions in blood flow to and from cells.

Click here for more information about Silverstein’s study and a video clip of microcirculation in a dog.

School of Veterinary Medicine

About 60 percent of your body is water. Every cell in your body needs water to function. The same is true for your pet. Keeping fresh, clean water readily available is a necessity for your pet. This is especially true in the warmer months when water requirements can be higher, says Deborah Mandell, staff veterinarian at Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital and pet care advisor for the American Red Cross. You can add ice cubes to your pet’s water to keep the water cool, if you are outside or in a warmer environment. If you are going out with your dog, make sure you bring water for him/her. There are dog sport water bottles that have a bowl or container attached.



School of Nursing

Did you know? Penn Nursing’s Dean Antonia Villarruel participated in a White House roundtable discussion on education and climate change. The event was part of the Obama Administration’s activities around National Public Health Week. Dean Villarruel was one of a prestigious coalition of 30 deans from schools of nursing, medicine and public health. The initiative is one of the Administration’s executive actions to better understand, communicate, and reduce the health impacts of climate change on our communities, many of which involve water resources.



School of Veterinary Medicine

“Water is so important in animal agriculture. It’s becoming the nutrient of concern as we strive to meet the growing global demand for animal products and maximize the efficient use of limited resources.” – David Galligan, Director of Penn Vet’s Center for Animal Health and Productivity and Professor of Animal Health Economics

Experts at Penn Vet’s Center for Animal Health and Productivity (CAHP) work with dairy farmers to improve milk yield per cow and water-use efficiency. The increase in yield is accomplished by improving the health and reproductive efficiency of the cow, as well as ensuring that quality feed is available throughout the life of the animal.

“Improving yield per cow is critical for the economic sustainability for the producer, and it also has environmental consequences that ultimately reduce the amount of water needed to produce milk,” Galligan said.

Since 1950, the industry has:

  • Seen a more than four-fold increase in milk per cow
  • Reduced the national herd by more than half
  • Nearly doubled the total milk produced
  • Reduced by one-third the amount of water used on the farm to produce a gallon of milk

A fundamental, but often misunderstood, principle in dairy production is that animals have a daily maintenance requirement for water (as well as other nutrients). These “maintenance” levels of nutrients support the animals’ ability to move around the barn and maintain their body temperature. Additional water is needed for the cow to produce milk. As production increases, the cow will need to consume even higher quantities of nutrients beyond those needed for maintenance. The key principle is that, as production increases, a greater proportion of the water (and other nutrients) consumed is used for productive purposes rather than maintenance.

Galligan and his colleagues developed a visual analytical program to illustrate this concept by dynamically looking at the U.S. dairy industry over time. In 1950, the average cow produced 5,300 pounds of milk per year, and consumed an estimated 19 gallons of water per day. There were 22 million cows in the U.S. yielding a total of 117 billion pounds of milk each year, with an industry on-farm water use of 530 billion gallons a year – or about 36 gallons to produce each gallon of milk.

In 2014, however, the average cow produced 22,300 pounds of milk per year, and consumed about 30 gallons of water per day. The national herd was reduced to 9 million cows producing a total 206 billion pounds of milk each year, with an industry water use of about 260 billion gallons a year – or about 12 gallons per gallon of milk produced.

“At Penn Vet, our efforts are to improve the milk yield per animal by improving the health and performance of dairy cattle. The cascade effect of that is to also improve water efficiency as well as the efficiency of other nutrients,” Galligan said. “We are environmental stewards in our ongoing efforts to try to minimize water use in farm systems using new approaches to improve animal yield.”

See a demonstration here.



School of Veterinary Medicine

Fluoride has a proven benefit of reducing the incidence of cavities and decreasing dental hypersensitivity in humans. It is naturally present in water and added to toothpastes and mouth rinses. However, one has to be careful with children, puppies, and kittens, so that they are not exposed to too much fluoride, says Alexander Reiter, an associate professor of dentistry and oral surgery at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

You should not use human toothpaste for brushing your pet’s teeth, as pets do not know to avoid swallowing the paste after brushing. Pet toothpaste does not contain fluoride.

Exposure to high levels of fluoride at the time of enamel development can lead to fluorosis (fluoride intoxication), which often manifests on teeth as stains and defects of the enamel, the outermost layer of the crowns. Teeth may also exhibit hypomineralization, where the enamel is insufficiently mineralized and eventually flakes off of the crowns, leaving sensitive dentin exposed.

School of Dental Medicine

This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of community water fluoridation which is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25 percent in both children and adults. Just by drinking fluoridated water, Americans benefit from fluoride’s cavity protection, especially since community water fluoridation was named as one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century.

For more information, see the American Dental Association’s web site on water fluoridation.

World Water Week is Aug. 23-28.

A video microscope reveals how IV fluids affect circulation in a dog under anesthesia.

Penn Nursing is involved in the Obama Administration’s action to understand and act on the health impacts of climate change.

To make milk production more efficient, Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center is improving water-use efficiency as well.

Keeping pets’ teeth healthy at Penn Vet