What We Are Reading Today: Four Friends by William D. Cohan

Updated 04 August 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Four Friends by William D. Cohan

  • It not only captures the fragility of life but also its poignant, magisterial, and pivotal moments

Four Friends is an immersive, wide-ranging, tragic, and ultimately inspiring account of promising lives cut short, written with compassion, honesty, and insight. It not only captures the fragility of life but also its poignant, magisterial, and pivotal moments.

The latest book by William D. Cohan chronicles the lives of four of Mr. Cohan’s classmates at the very elite Phillips Academy Andover who had grown to prove to the world that they had something special to offer, yet fate intervened and took them away from us all too soon. 

“We meet and get to know Jack Berman, Will Daniel, Harry Bull and John Kennedy Jr. in ways we may not have known them before,” said a review in goodreads.com.

Cohan is an American business writer. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. The book “has a wonderful fluidity that grabs onto you so you never want to put it down making for easy reading yet rich with detail,” said the review. It added: “While all four gentlemen made some sort of impact on society, we aren’t bogged down with pages of what feels like excerpts extracted from a history book.”


Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

Updated 22 August 2019

Plastic particles in drinking water present ‘low’ risk — World Health Organization

  • WHO issues first report on microplastics in drinking water
  • Reassures consumers that risk is low, but says more study needed
GENEVA: Microplastics contained in drinking water pose a “low” risk to human health at current levels, but more research is needed to reassure consumers, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.
Studies over the past year on plastic particles detected in tap and bottled water have sparked public concerns but the limited data appears reassuring, the UN agency said its first report on potential health risks associated with ingestion.
Microplastics enter drinking water sources mainly through run-off and wastewater effluent, the WHO said. Evidence shows that microplastics found in some bottled water seem to be at least partly due to the bottling process and/or packaging such as plastic caps, it said.
“The headline message is to reassure drinking water consumers around the world, that based on this assessment, our assessment of the risk is that it is low,” Bruce Gordon of the WHO’s department of public health, environmental and social determinants of health, told a briefing.
The WHO did not recommended routine monitoring for microplastics in drinking water. But research should focus on issues including what happens to chemical additives in the particles once they enter the gastrointestinal tract, it said.
The majority of plastic particles in water are larger than 150 micrometers in diameter and are excreted from the body, while “smaller particles are more likely to cross the gut wall and reach other tissues,” it said.
Health concerns have centered around smaller particles, said Jennifer De France, a WHO technical expert and one of the report’s authors.
“For these smallest size particles, where there is really limited evidence, we need know more about what is being absorbed, the distribution and their impacts,” she said.
More research is needed into risks from microplastics exposure throughout the environment — “in our drinking water, air and food,” she added.
Alice Horton, a microplastics researcher at Britain’s National Oceanography Center, said in a statement on the WHO’s findings: “There are no data available to show that microplastics pose a hazard to human health, however this does not necessarily mean that they are harmless.”
“It is important to put concerns about exposure to microplastics from drinking water into context: we are widely exposed to microplastics in our daily lives via a wide number of sources, of which drinking water is just one.”
Plastic pollution is so widespread in the environment that you may be ingesting five grams a week, the equivalent of eating a credit card, a study commissioned by the environmental charity WWF International said in June. That study said the largest source of plastic ingestion was drinking water, but another major source was shellfish.
The biggest overall health threat in water is from microbial pathogens — including from human and livestock waste entering water sources — that cause deadly diarrheal disease, especially in poor countries lacking water treatment systems, the WHO said.
Some 2 billion people drink water contaminated with faeces, causing nearly 1 million deaths annually, Gordon said, adding: “That has got to be the focus of regulators around the world.”