Pure Water Occasional, October 19, 2019
Water News in a Nutshell
A study done at Florida State University concluded that golf-ball sized clumps of oil and sand, called "sediment-oil-agglomerates," that were deposited on hundreds of miles of Gulf of Mexico beaches by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill will take at least 30 more years to decompose.
The EPA has awarded research grants totaling $6 million to eight universities to study a variety of PFAS issues. The largest went to Perdue University to develop methods to decrease per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) concentrations in both municipal wastewater treatment plant effluent and sludge. The university’s study will determine the technical and economic feasibility of using a specific two-treatment approach consisting of nanofiltration followed by electrochemical oxidation. PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals that have been in use since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a wide array of consumer and industrial products. Due to widespread use and persistence in the environment, most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS. There is evidence that chronic exposure above specific levels to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects.
Although National Garden Hose Day is months away, teams are already practicing for popular events like the Barrel Blast. National Garden Hose Day continues to grow in popularity across the US.
The waters of the Cape are fundamentally unhealthy was the main message of the report just issued by the Association to Preserve Cape Cod. "More than two-thirds of the Cape’s coastal embayments and one-third of its ponds are suffering from unacceptable water quality due to excess nutrients, according to the report.
Excessive nutrients from inadequately treated wastewater is easily identified as the problem." Blame was especially directed toward outdated laws allowing septic systems and excess fertilizaiton of lawns. More from the Wicked Local of Provincetown.
According to the University of Southern California, "New and emerging contaminants like antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) pose a potential hazard to public safety and water security. One concern is the spread of ARGs through the water system and an increase in development of antibiotic-resistant super bugs." Read the full article about ARGs on the Pure Water Gazette website.
Lead Filter Controversy in Newark Update
Beginning in October 2018 Newark officials handed out over 38,000 free inexpensive PUR water filters to residential customers. In August of 2019 the EPA tested three of these, concluded that the water filters don't work, and recommended that residents drink only bottled water. Nevertheless, Newark announced that bottled water distribution will end October 8 and residents should use the filters. “Our message is simple: the filters work, use the filters,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said. The city has concluded after more testing "that the filters are now almost all effective." The Water Quality Association chose to sidestep the issue and agree with the EPA that bottled water is the answer. A leading trade publication issued a timid explanation for the failure of the filters which concluded that the lead levels were too high and the filters may not have been installed properly. It seems no one is bold enough to suggest the obvious: that the cheap water filter being used, in spite of its "certification," isn't a very good one.
Australian news source Stockhead reports that stocks in water treatment companies have surged 260 percent in value. Here are some reasons it cites for the steady upward trend:
The world’s demand for clean water keeps increasing, but supply is not keeping up.
Water use has risen 1 per cent per year since the 1980s and more than 2 billion people live in countries with high water stress. China, for example, has eight provinces with an ‘absolute scarcity’ of water — meaning less than 500 cubic metres per person. Several more provinces are only just above this threshold.
In India, an estimated 70 per cent of its water supply is contaminated.
Even the most developed countries aren’t immune from water crises. The US city of Flint has suffered water contamination since 2014 from lead pipes emitting oxide into the water. But this may just be the tip of the iceberg. A study by the Environmental Working Group earlier this year found up to 43 US states had locations with contaminated water.
The state of Alaska and two companies have gone to court to determine who will be held responsible for water contamination in the community of North Pole. The chemical in question is sulfolane, which polluted wells in the area after unpermitted releases by the Williams Alaska Petroleum Company. Williams sold the refinery in 2004 leaving the pollution behind and is now making the interesting argument that since no state standard for sulfolane exists there would be no way to know when the requested cleanup has been completed. Details.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has secured nearly $20 million to fund measures that help California prevent millions of gallons of Tijuana’s raw sewage from flowing into San Diego. San Diego County has been dealing with raw sewage flows from Tijuana for decades. Last year, a pipe across the border in Mexico broke, causing millions of gallons of sewage to flow into the Tijuana River and, eventually, the Pacific Ocean, impacting California coastal areas.
"When groundwater levels drop, discharges from groundwater to streams decline, reverse in direction or even stop completely, thereby decreasing streamflow, with potentially devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems." That's the message of a new study in the science journal Nature. To put this simply, if we go on as we are, pumping groundwater at unsustainable rates, dried up rivers and lakes will be the price we pay for lush lawns and green golf courses.
How Buying a Reverse Osmosis Unit Can Make You Rich
Guess which man owns a reverse osmosis unit.
We usually just assume ingesting water contaminants like lead and arsenic is not a good idea. We don’t think about the economic implications. We want our kids to be as smart and as healthy as they can be without having to put a dollar sign on the loss in IQ points that could result from their consumption of water tainted with lead.
A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Arizona and funded by the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) sought to do just that: to determine the economic benefits of using point-of-use (POU) devices to reduce health risks in drinking water. The study was designed to put a dollar value on the benefits of treating five drinking water contaminant categories–microorganisms, arsenic, lead, disinfection byproducts, nitrates and chromium–with POU equipment.
Lead was considered apart from the other contaminants, since the Flint, MI ordeal offered a convenient way to study lead exposure. Here’s what resulted, as reported by Water Quality Products magazine:
In the case of the water emergency in Flint, the study assumed all of the 98,310 Flint residents were exposed to lead levels of 25 µg/L in drinking water, and 20% of lead in drinking water is manifested in the body as blood lead levels. This corresponded to an average blood lead level of 0.5 µg/L and a loss of 0.257 IQ points. Using the blood lead level to lifetime economic impact model, this corresponds to a lifetime loss of $5,381 per person and a total community cost of $435 million. The average household size in Flint is 2.42 persons, which equates to 40,064 houses. A five-year community wide intervention using one activated carbon filter with lead adsorption capabilities per household would have cost $11.1 million. A five-year POU RO implemented in every home would have cost $26 million.
This seems to mean that if each of the 40,064 houses had an RO unit that cost $648.96 to buy and maintain, and each of the 2.42 persons who lived in that home saved the $5,381 that would have been lost because of ingestion of lead, the per household profit resulting from RO ownership would be $12,265 from lead-avoidance alone.
What is more, if instead of the RO unit the home installed an activated carbon filter with lead adsorption capabilities, which costs only $277, profit (savings less the cost of the filter) for the 2.42-person home would be even more, $12,637!
Clearly, the filter is the better choice since you can get the same dollar savings from lead removal that you would from the RO unit at a lower purchase price. More bang for your lead-removal buck. Of course, if you factor in the costs of exposure to arsenic, nitrates, chromium, fluoride, sodium, and more–items the RO removes but the filter doesn’t–the extra $400 you pay for the reverse osmosis unit doesn’t look all that bad.
A reverse osmosis unit is like money in the bank. The more contaminants they find in the water, the more you save.
The Water Quality Products article suggests the cost saving figures that resulted from the Arizona study can be “leveraged” by water treatment professionals “to talk to their regulators and utilities about this study and encourage the acceptance of POU devices as a risk mitigation strategy.”
We at Pure Water Products will probably leave the leveraging to others and stick to our usual strategy of pointing out that with or without the dollar consideration, and whether you live in a 2.42-person home or a 6.79-person home, an undersink reverse osmosis unit should be a standard household appliance, not an optional item. What a great value! A device that produces pure, great tasting, contaminant-free water at a small cost. Getting rich in the process is just icing on the cake.
Many public drinking water supplies contain fluoride, which is added by water systems to help prevent tooth decay in consumers. But a new study has called into question whether those health benefits are outweighed by potential health risks.
“A study of 512 Canadian mothers and their children, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics … suggests that drinking fluoridated water during pregnancy could damage kids’ brains,” according to Insider. “In the study, boys between the ages of 3 and 4 years old whose mothers drank fluoridated water had slightly lower IQs (about 4.5 points lower, a small but noticeable difference when you consider that the average IQ score is around 100 points.)”
The study results have raised some red flags for consumers, adding fuel to an ongoing anti-fluoride movement. Fluoride addition began at public water systems as early as the 1940s, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention crediting the program with reducing cavities by about 25 percent in consumers. But opponents have linked the mineral to adverse health effects — including IQ loss — for years.
“This new study, if further evidence supports it, may give more scientific weight to the idea that fluoridated water is not the best route to prevent cavities,” per Insider.
However, for now, scientists are arguing that while this study is worth factoring into the equation, it is not enough on its own to completely condemn the practice of fluoridating drinking water.
“[Neurology professor David Bellinger] says it’s important not to read too much into a single study, but this one certainly raises important issues,” NPR reported. “Though it will no doubt play into the decades-long controversy over whether to add fluoride to public water supplies, he says that is misleading. The study found even in cities that had fluoridated water, women got most of their fluoride from other sources, such as food, tea and toothpaste.”
In any case, the findings of this study are almost certain to spur more research into the topic. While the controversy around fluoride in public drinking water supplies won’t die down any time soon, more research may better inform the approach taken by drinking water utilities.
Simple and Effective All-In-One Chlorine Treatment
Radon In Water: How it gets there and How to Get Rid of It
Radon is one of the more perplexing and misunderstood issues in home water treatment. The material below is excerpted from several sources, especially from an excellent Penn State University Extension services publication.
El Paso County to participate in CDC study on PFAS contaminants in drinking water
Ultrafiltration: Between Conventional Filters and Reverse Osmosis
by Gene Franks
Whole House Water Treatment: Keeping It Simple and Easy
Places to visit for additional information:
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the next Occasional!