Benefits of Bathing

Pharmaceutical Pollution
Current Water News
Radium in Water Supply
Garden Hose Filters
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Pure Water Occasional
April 28, 2017
In this issue you'll read about why bathing is beneficial to your health. Then, learn about the pollution in the Hudson River followed by the latest headlines in the world of water. Also, a reprint of a 2012 article about removing radium from a Texas water supply. Finally, National Garden Hose Day. And, as always, there is much, much more.

Thanks for reading!

For article archives and links to top daily water news, please visit the Pure Water Gazette.

How about a bath instead of a workout?

There could be more benefits than relaxation and clean skin.

According to a recent U.K. university study, “An hour-long hot bath can boost metabolic health and cause an anti-inflammatory response similar to exercise.”

It was a small study with surprising results: Ten sedentary men, attached to glucose monitors (which recorded changes in their blood sugar for 24 hours) bathed in 104-degree water one day. The next day, they cycled hard enough to bring their body temperature up by about a degree, which is what also happens in a hot bath.

The bathers burned an extra 126 calories per hour (equivalent to a 25-30 minute walk). That was still less than the energy used for cycling the same amount of time, but was an 80 percent increase in energy expended over not bathing.

In addition, participants who bathed had, on average, 10 percent lower peak glucose levels — a boon for diabetics, but also good for the metabolic health of those who don’t have the disease. The finding was unexpected, according to the lead author of the study: “We think the reason is that the bath may encourage the release of heat shock proteins, which may help lower blood sugar levels by improving insulin controlled glucose uptake.”

In many cultures and throughout many centuries, hot bath (or saunas and steam sessions) have long been praised as important for overall wellness. Now scientists are starting to understand the underlying reasons for the health benefits of bathing, which might be regarded as a passive workout. Clearly, there are many benefits from physical activity that you don’t get from bathing, so soaking in a tub should not be regarded as a substitute for exercise, but it can be a healthful addition to your daily activities.

Source: Mother Nature Network. Adapted from an article by Starre Vartan.

Vitabath tablets use plain old vitamin C to remove chlorine and chloramine from bath water and can increase the health benefits and enjoyment of a bath.
Pharmaceutical Pollution of the Hudson River

"There is a big universe of chemicals that we just don't know what their impact is." - Dan Shapley, Water Quality Director of the Hudson Riverkeeping advocacy group.

Treatment plants like the one run by the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission are unable to filter pharmaceuticals from human waste.

Scientists are taking samples of the Hudson River this month in an ambitious plan to measure how much pharmaceutical pollution gets washed into the waterway during heavy rains and to pinpoint its source.

Anti-depressants, blood pressure medicine, decongestants and other medicines have already been detected in the Hudson in preliminary samples. The latest round of testing is a larger sweep of the river, including the portion that passes by New Jersey, at a time of the year when pollution overall is washing into the Hudson at a greater rate due to runoff and sewage overflows.

Residue from medicine has made its way into rivers, streams and sources of drinking water for decades, but scientists have only begun identifying it recent years as testing has improved.
Little is known about their health effects on humans, but pharmaceuticals have had a major impact on wildlife. The Hudson study comes on the heels of a federal report that showed male fish in New Jersey’s Wallkill River — a tributary of the Hudson — were developing female reproductive characteristics, mostly likely due to hormone-based drugs that made their way into the water.

“There is a big universe of chemicals that we just don’t know what their impact is,” said Dan Shapley, water quality director of the Hudson Riverkeeper advocacy group. “It took years for us to understand that greenhouse gases change the Earth’s temperature, that nutrients added to water devastates coral reefs. We’re just starting to look at what pharmaceuticals can do.”

Most pharmaceutical pollution is believed to come from human waste, everyday medication that passes through a person unabsorbed. It also comes from people improperly disposing of their old medication in a toilet. Sewage plants are not capable of filtering pharmaceuticals before treated waste is released back into waterways. Other sources of pharmaceutical pollution include street or farm runoff containing animal waste.

The study — by Riverkeeper, Columbia University, Cornell University, CUNY and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — is a continuation of work that began in 2015 to target pharmaceuticals, industrial runoff and other pollution in more than 200 miles of the river from New York Harbor to the George Washington Bridge to Albany.

Water samples taken two years ago found 83 of 117 targeted chemicals in the Hudson, ranging from the anti-depressants to blood pressure medication to the insect repellent DEET.
Researchers hope the latest work will allow them to pinpoint the sources of pollution. And they expect to find much more with samples taken last week, since untreated sewage was entering the Hudson due to heavy rain. Plus the study has expanded to south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, where the Hudson hits New Jersey.

The problem is not limited to the Hudson. Scientists across the globe have found fish, birds, otters and other mammals with significant amounts of over-the-counter and prescription drugs absorbed into their organs.

That was seen in North Jersey two years ago when a study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that male fish in two of North Jersey’s most protected areas — the Wallkill River in Sussex County and the Great Swamp in Morris County — had developed female sexual characteristics. The findings alarmed clean-water advocates, who say the problem may be more widespread, considering that most fish in North Jersey swim in waters that are even more likely to be tainted.

More than 100,000 people in upstate New York get their drinking water from the Hudson, Shapley said. Since no New Jersey community gets water from the Hudson, the most likely human exposure to pharmaceuticals is from eating fish.
New Jersey officials advise against eating more than a minimal amount of fish caught from the Hudson because of decades of industrial and sewage contamination. But anglers, many of them new immigrants, can be found along the riverfront casting their lines from Bayonne to Alpine, especially in warmer months.

Unlike the voluminous data on the health effects of bacteria and other pathogens in the region’s water, the science on pharmaceuticals is in its infancy.

“It’s a human fingerprint that’s more unique, because we haven’t been studying it for decades as we have with other pollution,” said Gregory O’Mullan, an environmental microbiologist at Queens College in New York.
Researchers hope the study will also help pinpoint the origin of the pollution. By measuring pharmaceuticals, scientists will be able to differentiate whether the pollution came from animals, untreated human sewage or a sewage treatment plant.

Animal waste remains a huge problem for rivers and streams, whether it’s from farms or, more likely in the case of New Jersey, from street runoff pushing animal feces into waterways.

“Having that information on the source is going to be very helpful when you speak to managers about how to fix the problem,” O’Mullan said.

His work is funded partially by $15,000 from the New York Sea Grant, which is slated to be cut under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.

Dozens of New Jersey police departments accept old medication for proper disposal. For a complete list, visit

Most frequently detected pharmaceuticals found so far in the Hudson River:

Venlafaxine: 24 (anti-depressant)
Atenolol: 24 (beta blocker)
Lidocaine: 23 (local anesthetic)
Metoprolol: 23 (beta blocker)
Trimethoprim: 19 (antibiotic)
Pseudoephedrine:16 (decongestant)
Valsartan: 16 (blood pressure)
Theophylline: 14 (respiratory drug)

Source: New York State Water Resources Institute of Cornell University

Current Water News

Rising Salinity in Bangladesh

As the salinity increases in drinking water in a coastal region of Bangladesh, women must walk one hour twice per day to retrieve fresh water from a pump. An increase in health complications, commodification of fresh drinking water, and migration to larger cities are attributed to the rise in salinity found in the regional water supply.

Company offers public water filter use in NYC

The New York-based company Reefill is launching an app which will allow users to unlock and access water filter stations located across the city for merely $1.99 a month. The effort is a push to encourage higher consumption of tap water and less reliance on the bottled water industry.

Delaware proposes clean water trust fund

Delaware state legislators are proposing tax increases to create a trust fund for cleaning up drinking water sources that are polluted by nutrient and chemical runoff.

Proposed lead testing in Texas schools

In the wake of the Flint, Michigan water contamination crisis, Texas lawmakers are proposing mandatory testing for lead in public schools.The average age of schools in the state is thirty-four and half years.

Nation's most endangered river
The Colorado River has been named number one on the environmental group American Rivers' list of the nation's most endangered rivers. This was the third time that the Colorado has topped the list.

Oroville Dam is open again

California officials reopened the damaged spillway at Oroville Dam as another set of rainstorms began moving across Northern California. The state has received bids to fix the spillway at a cost ranging from $275 million to $344 million.

River reverses direction in Yukon
An excess of meltwater from the 15,000-square-mile Kaskawulsh Glacier in the Yukon Territory caused a river to reverse direction for the first time in modern history.

Getting Rid of Radium in Water:  The San Angelo Dilemma.

by Gene Franks
The water from San Angelo, Texas’ Hickory Aquifer has seven times the allowable radiation level for drinking water. The radiation comes from an elevated level of radium.  Radium is measured in picocuries per liter (pCi/L).  The federal standard for radium in water is five pCi/L.

The standard is based on the notion that water above 5 picocuries raises the cancer risk at a rate of 2 cases for every 10,000 people who consume a half gallon of the water over a 70 year period.

The citizens of San Angelo are faced with a difficult decision on how to reduce the radium level in their water to an acceptable level.  All options are expensive.  Part of the expense is purchasing and operating the treatment equipment, but a considerable additional cost comes from getting rid of the waste from the treatment process.
There are two standard treatments for radium in water–reverse osmosis and cation exchange–plus a third strategy which does not remove radium but dilutes it with water from a non-contaminated source so that the blended water meets standards. 

Reverse osmosis readily removes radium, but in doing so it adds it to a waste stream that must be disposed of.  The reject stream, usually called brine, is about 10% of the total water volume.  This ten percent waste stream is most easily disposed of by injecting it into a deep well specifically drilled for the purpose.

Cation exchange works exactly like  home water softeners except that the softening resin is quickly contaminated and has to be trucked to a hazardous disposal dump at considerable expense. The water recovery rate is better than with reverse osmosis, but the spent resin disposal is costly.

Another possibility is a hybrid system that removes the radium from the brine from the reverse osmosis unit with ion exchange rather than pumping it into a well.  With this method there is resin to truck away, but there is less of it. This method is the least expensive of the three over a 30 year period, but it requires the greatest initial capital outlay.

Finally, the dilution method produces no waste but requires very large amounts of uncontaminated water.  In the case of San Angelo, this method is not being seriously considered because the water for blending is simply not available.

In the case of San Angelo, the projected 30-year cost of any of these treatments exceeds $100 million, as the table below indicates.
Treatment Options Waste Disposal Method % Recovery Cost
Ion (Cation) Exchange Solid Waste (the spent resin) is trucked to Hazardous Waste Disposal 99%  $116 million
Reverse Osmosis Radium contaminated water to be injected into a deep well 90%  $130 million
Reverse Osmosis with Ion Exchange Waste Treatment Radium contaminated reverse osmosis waste is treated by ion exchange and the spent resin is trucked away  99%+  $102 millon
Dilution by blending with water from another source Contaminated water is mixed with water from another source so that the resulting blend has <5 picocuries of radiation.  100%  $116 million
At this time (May of 2012), San Angelo is debating its course. San Angelo’s dilemma is mirrored in many of the nation’s communities.  

Water changes with time, and more to the point, regulatory standards change.  Radioactive water, after all, was marketed as a tonic just a century ago. Now it is a highly regulated contaminant that costs millions to remove from municipal water supplies.

As information grows about water contaminants, regulatory pressure felt by city water departments increases.

In recent years, the change in the federally mandated allowable level for arsenic has put many suppliers that were in compliance with the old standard in the difficult position of having to add expensive treatment equipment to protect the health of customers who are unwilling to have the cost passed to them in the form of higher water bills.

The use of chloramine in place of chlorine is an another often-unpopular change that has resulted from increased awareness of the health hazard posed by spin-off chemicals that result from chlorination.

The next great regulatory battle that the EPA faces is likely to be the need to set a maximum allowable level (MCL) for hexavalent chromium.  When the MCL is established, whether suppliers may face $ millions in added expense depends entirely upon where the number is set. A few parts per billion one way or the other will amount to $ billions in treatment expense.

Protecting public health is the top priority, but water suppliers have their problems as well.  My own view is that the solution to this dilemma of conflicting priorities must involve a compromise that takes into account the fact that only a small percentage of our processed water is actually used for human consumption.  Surely it makes no sense to apply difficult and very costly treatments like those required for radium or arsenic reduction to water that is going to be used mainly for washing cars, watering golf courses, and flushing toilets.

The realities of our current water situation point to increasing use of point of use systems.  Unless we plan to continue to truck tons of radioactive treatment resin to toxic waste sites, home treatment units to provide a small amount of top quality water for the home are in my opinion an essential part of a sensible overall water treatment plan.
In the early 1900s radiation water was sold as a health tonic.
Don't forget that National Garden Hose Day Is Just Around the Corner. Don't be the last on your block to own a garden hose filter.
Upcoming in the Occasional:
"Water and Weed" --how legalization of marijuana is affecting water usage and water quality.
"Water and the Wall" -- How the border wall, if built, would give birth to countless water issues that the politicians haven't considered.
"Why You Should Have a Reverse Osmosis Unit Under Your Kitchen Sink." --Why  RO makes sense. 
Thanks for reading and be on the lookout for the next Occasional!
Pure Water Products, LLC, 523A N. Elm St., Denton, TX