The Pure Water Occasional for October 27, 2014

In this almost-Halloween Occasional, you'll hear about the Thames Tideway Tunnel (aka the London Super Sewer), poultry litter, abandoned mines, drugs in the water of Congaree National Park, and saltwater intrusion in paradise. The Amazon Defense Fund vs. Chevron, Denton vs. fracking, and Mahaulepu vs. cow manure. Read about a sinking town in California, Detroit's continuing water bill dilemma, benzene and diesel, bad news for the Lodi Flames, and the danger of Crypto oocysts.  Finally, the wisdom of Bee Sharper and Pure Water Annie,  and, as always, there is much, much more.

The Pure Water Occasional is a project of Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette.

To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette's website,  please go here.  (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette's sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)

You'll sing better.


Maryland poultry farms fined for reporting lapses

by Timothy B. Wheeler

 Poultry "litter," a mixture of bird manure and wood shavings, is periodically removed from chicken houses. Growers with large flocks are required to report annually on what they do with the waste.


Nearly one in five large Maryland chicken farms has been fined recently, state regulators have disclosed, because the growers failed to file information required annually outlining what they did to keep their flocks' waste from polluting the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Since July 1, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued notices of violation to 104 of the state's 574 "animal feeding operations." Those are farms that are regulated like factories because of the large volumes of manure generated by raising 37,500 or more birds at a time.

Of those sent violations notices, 89 were fined $250 each for submitting incomplete reports, according to Jay Apperson, a department spokesman. The other 15 received $500 fines for not reporting anything, he said.

The reports, required once a year, spell out how much waste was generated, how it was stored to keep rainfall from washing it into nearby waterways, and what was ultimately done with it. The waste is often spread on fields to fertilize crops, either on that farm or elsewhere.

The fines represent a new, tougher stance by the state. Until recently, regulators say, they have sought to cajole and work with growers to comply with the paperwork requirements of five-year-old regulations that many farmers bitterly opposed -- and still don't think are warranted.

"This is the first time we're reaching out in enforcement," said Hillary Miller, deputy director of MDE's land management administration. "They really don't get sent these notices until we've tried and tried and tried to get these reports worked out with them."

The farmers cited had more than a year to catch up, as the citations issued in recent weeks are for failure to submit required information due in March 2013.

Miller said some of the growers' problems may have stemmed from confusion over a change in reporting requirements that was actually intended to ease their paperwork burden. Officials directed farmers to start reporting on one form information they used to have to submit in two separate filings, she said.

By comparison, in the previous year, five animal-feeding operations were cited for significant violations of state regulations and 34 for minor infractions, according to data on MDE's web site.

The recent spike in enforcement activity comes as the state moves to renew for another five years its permitting requirements for "animal feeding operations," the vast majority of them chicken-growing operations on the Eastern Shore.

State officials say they're proposing mainly minor changes to what regulated farms would have to do, and that the requirements in the new "general discharge permit" are at least as stringent as those now in force.

One proposed change is aimed at easing a backlog in processing growers' permits, dropping a requirement they submit a "comprehensive nutrient management plan" spelling out waste handling and conservation measures on their farms.  A shortage of consultants qualified to prepare those plans has led to lengthy delays in completing farmers' permit applications. Under the new state permit, officials say, farmers could instead submit two other plans they have to prepare which contain essentially the same information.

Another change would ease a requirement for the vast majority of growers to make weekly inspections of their manure storage facilities to ensure rainfall and snow melt can't carry waste into nearby ditches and streams. The small number of farmers with large cattle, dairy or hog herds would still have to make weekly checks of liquid manure impoundments to see that they're not leaking. But poultry growers with sheds storing "dry" bird litter -- manure mixed with wood shavings -- would only have to inspect them once a year under the new state rules.

Poultry industry representatives and advocates for farmers have urged the state to drop other requirements, including a new provision allowing regulators to mandate additional runoff control measures if officials decide the existing ones aren't doing enough to prevent pollution.

"It's not fair to change the rules during the game," Bill Satterfield, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., argued in a letter to MDE. He contended for the sake of growers, any changes found later to be needed should be postponed until the next scheduled renewal of the permit in five years.

Growers and industry representatives also are pressing the state to forget about charging permitting fees, arguing that they're a hardship and unnecessary.

The state's existing regulations call for growers to pay $250 to $1,200 a year, depending on the size of their operation. In a bid to get farmers to comply with the new permitting requirement five years ago, state officials waived collecting the fees. The new rules still call for fees, and MDE spokesman Apperson said the agency is weighing public comments on whether to collect them this time around.

Colby Ferguson, government relations director for the Maryland Farm Bureau, said growers still think the permits and regulatory oversight are unnecessary. But as long as they don't have to pay for the extra paperwork, he said, they can basically live with it.

"We're complying with it, we're going through the process. It's working," said Ferguson. "Having the fees waived makes it more amenable and more digestible."

Environmental advocates contend the state shouldn't exempt poultry growers from paying for the costs of overseeing their operations, as permitting fees are routine in almost all other regulated industries. The fees would generate about $400,000 over five years a year, they estimate, money sorely needed by an agency that has seen its overall workload expand without commensurate increases in budget or staff.

Agricultural runoff is the largest single source of nutrient and sediment pollution fouling the bay, environmentalists point out. And animal farms in Maryland produce enough manure in a year to fill Ravens stadium twice, said Samantha Kappalman, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Clean Agriculture Coalition, a collection of environmental groups.

Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, argued that MDE is showing favoritism to the poultry industry by not charging fees, when the agency requires some environmental groups to pay to see documents they're entitled to under the state Public Information Act.

"These are basically groups that represent the average citizen," she said. "And they're letting [animal feeding operations], which are businesses, not pay the most nominal of fees, which were authorized by the legislature to support MDE's work."

But Horacio Tablada, MDE's land management administrator, said whatever other budget restraints the agency has, officials have seen that the animal-feeding oversight is adequately funded. State officials say they're are able to inspect about 20 percent of the regulated farms annually.


Delaware and Virginia do not charge permitting fees for regulating large animal-feeding operations. Pennsylvania does not charge fees under its general permit, either, according to a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. But for larger operations or those draining into sensitive water ways, there are fees ranging from $200 to $1,500, she said.

Factory raised chickens put out amazing amounts of feces and a good portion of this makes its way into water.

Source: The Baltimore Sun.

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London "Super Sewer" Approved

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will be 15 miles long.

The Government has given the go-ahead to start building London’s ‘super sewer’ which will tackle the sewage pollution in to the tidal River Thames.

The 25km tunnel will run underground from Acton storm tanks in West London, and travel roughly the line underneath the river to Abbey Mills Pumping Station in East London, where it will connect to the Lee Tunnel.

The sewage collected from the 34 most polluting discharge points along the tidal river in Central London, will then be taken via the Lee Tunnel to Beckton sewage works for treatment.

Last year, 55 million tonnes of sewage polluted the tidal River Thames, far higher than the average 39 million tonnes that discharges in a typical year.

This was due to the exceptionally wet weather, which caused the combined sewerage system that London has, collecting rain water and sewerage water from drains, to fill up and pour into the river even more than normal.

With the weather of 2014 already proving to be wetter than a typical year, the amount of sewage which is going into the river is likely to once again be above average.

Andy Mitchell, Chief Executive of Thames Tideway Tunnel, said: “If the tunnel had been in operation last year, it would have captured 97% of the sewage that poured in to London’s river. Hardly a week goes by when untreated sewage is not pouring in to London’s river and we are pleased that we can now start to tackle this archaic problem.

“This is a huge project but it’s a huge problem, and we can now get on with tackling it. It’s no easy task, but we’re confident that we can deliver this project and still achieve our aim of minimising the impact on our customer bills.”

The Thames Tideway Tunnel will take seven years to build, and main construction can now start in 2016 as planned.

Source: Stormwater.

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More about the very interesting Thames Tideway Tunnel.



The problem with America’s abandoned mines

by Rachael Bale


Taxpayer-funded efforts to clean up Oregon’s abandoned Formosa Mine, a federal Superfund site, could cost more than $20 million.

A mine plans its death before its birth. The leftover waste from mines is so hazardous that mining companies must figure out what to do with it decades in advance, even before they start digging.

That’s how it works today, at least. But in 1981, when the United States government began requiring mines to have rehabilitation plans, many operators simply up and left instead. The government has identified about 46,000 abandoned mines on public lands alone. Some of them are top-priority Superfund sites.

But most haven’t even been mapped. By some estimates, there are as many as half a million abandoned mines in the U.S. These sites have the potential to contaminate water, pollute soil, kill wildlife and sicken humans, to say nothing of the risks of falling down a hidden mine shaft. (This is a legitimate concern in some areas – in California, the state employs teams that scour the state looking for abandoned mines and plugging them up. There was even a “Dirty Jobs” episode about these folks.)

Last month, heavy rains from Hurricane Odile caused two abandoned mines in Arizona to leak orange and brown sludge, threatening a waterway that runs into Patagonia Lake State Park. With thousands of abandoned mines dotting the American landscape, particularly in the West and Southwest, just how worried should we be?

The problem with tailings

Minerals have to be separated from the rocks once they’re taken out of the ground. That process of separation creates a waste called tailings, a combination of ground-up rock, chemicals and heavy metals. This waste is often stored as a liquid in a pond, though sometimes it is dried and kept in a special building.

Today, a mine’s storage facilities for tailings are one of the most scrutinized parts of its construction plan. If a wall breaks, massive amounts of toxins would be released into the water and soil, causing what is considered an environmental catastrophe. This summer, a tailings pond spill at a mine in British Columbia was compared to an“avalanche” of toxic waste.

Abandoned mines don’t necessarily have the same level of protection around their tailings. Tailings can leach toxins up to 100 years after the mine is abandoned, and older abandoned mines weren’t necessarily as careful with their tailings as mines are today. There are several things about tailings that make them toxic:

Acid: Sulfides in the tailings turn into acid that drains into surface water, along with chemicals used during processing, like cyanide. Acid drainage makes the water more corrosive. Marine habitats become unable to support fish and plant life.

Heavy metals: As the newly created acid leaches, it allows heavy metals to escape. Arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead and other metals wash into the soil and water supply. People in turn eat fish and drink water contaminated with heavy metals.

Paying for the cleanup

Basically, the public foots the bill.

Funding can come from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, Clean Water Act grants, watershed programs run by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, state sources and others. No single agency is in charge.

To clean up the estimated 500,000 abandoned mines, taxpayers face a price tag of $32 billion to $72 billion, the Department of the Interior predicted. And that’s just for “hardrock” mines, which require mining that involves separating metals and minerals from ore.

The Superfund program, for example, puts a handful of former mine operators on the hook for part of the costs. To clean up just the 63 top-priority mine sites, the bill could top $7.8 billion. The public would pay about $2.4 billion of that, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Coal mines are treated separately. Current coal mine operators pay into the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Program, which then distributes money to states to clean up and rehabilitate abandoned coal mines. So far, it has spent about $7.6 billion.

Uranium mines, too, are treated separately – a select few get Superfund money, but most are handled by the Department of Energy. In 1998, it estimated a cost of about $2.3 billion to clean up tailings sites, an amount that didn’t include the additional costs of cleaning nearby water.

Where are they?

There isn’t a comprehensive list or map of identified abandoned mine sites – there are just too many federal agencies involved. Which agency is in charge depends on the type of mine, its location and the level and type of pollution.

The Bureau of Land Management, for example, takes the lead on abandoned hardrock mines on public lands. Most are in Western states, concentrated in Nevada, Colorado and Arizona. Abandoned uranium mines, on the other hand, are most often on tribal lands, especially in the “Four Corners” of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

Even so, cleaning up toxins isn’t the end for abandoned mines. The ultimate goal is to reclaim the land, allowing natural ecosystems to re-establish themselves and erase evidence of the mine almost entirely.

Source: The Center for Investigative Reporting.

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Water News for the week ending October 27, 2014


Can Ebola Be Spread Through the Water Supply?

In case you're wondering if Ebola water filters will soon be on the market, this from ABC News:

Ebola is not a water-borne disease, according to researchers at the Water Research Foundation. Therefore, it cannot spread through the water supply.

“Once in water, the host cell will take in water in an attempt to equalize the osmotic pressure, causing the cell to swell and burst, thus killing the virus,” the foundation noted in a statement.

Bodily fluids flushed by an infected person would not contaminate the water supply, the statement went on to say, because the virus is so fragile. Once separated from its host it is neutralized within minutes.


 Two painters feel 100 feet to their death this week while working on an Ohio water tower. 

UN experts: Detroit should restore water to poor. United Nations human rights experts described Detroit's mass water shut-offs as "a man-made perfect storm" Monday and called on city officials to restore water to those unable to pay, including those with disabilities or chronic illnesses.

High pollution levels found near Ohio gas wells. A study in a rural Ohio county where oil and gas drilling is booming found air pollution levels near well sites higher than those in downtown Chicago. 

New data shows alarming nitrogen levels in Long Island’s waterways.  In a startling new study by Stony Brook scientists, more than two-thirds of the Island’s coastal waters this summer showed poor to lethal amounts of oxygen.

A parched farm town is sinking, and so are its residents' hearts. Beneath Stratford, this small farm town at the end of what's left of the Kings River, the ground is sinking. Going into the fourth year of drought, farmers have pumped so much water that the water table below Stratford, California fell 100 feet in two years.

Hawaiian Group Opposes Dairy 

If necessary, Friends of Mahaulepu says it’s prepared to take legal action to stop Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed $17.5 million, 578-acre dairy in the Mahaulepu Valley.

“Friends of Mahaulepu is pro agriculture and pro sustainable dairy on Kauai as long as it does not harm our environment — rivers, streams and oceans — and endanger our drinking water,” group member Jay Kechloian said.

After reviewing HDF’s plan,  however, the group is convinced the dairy is a disaster waiting to happen — too many cows in too confined an area in the wrong location.

One major issue, they say, is the volume of manure. In one month, the landfill on Kauai’s Westside takes in 6,000 tons of waste, according to Hammerquist. The initial 699 cows HDF plans to have during its first phase of the project will produce 25 percent of that. And once the entire 2,000-cow heard is on the property, the dairy will produce more waste than the landfill, she said.

For the full article:  The Garden Island.

Ecuadorians ask international court to open criminal investigation of Chevron CEO.

A group representing some 30,000 Indians and other inhabitants of Ecuador's Amazon region who are affected by oil pollution have requested that the International Criminal Court open a criminal investigation of Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson.

Pablo Fajardo, chief lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the Amazon Defense Front filed the complaint on Thursday over those executives’ role in obstructing a court-mandated clean-up of contamination stemming from decades-old oil operations by Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001.


Fracking Companies Can Use Toxic Benzene (as long as the don't call it diesel).

Some oil and gas drillers are using benzene, which can cause cancer, in the mix of water and chemicals they shoot underground to free trapped hydrocarbons from shale rock, an environmental watchdog group said today.

Benzene isn’t banned in hydraulic fracturing, although diesel is restricted because regulators determined it may have carcinogens, including benzene. Drillers need a permit before using diesel in the fracking mixture that’s blasted into shale with oil and gas deposits; they don’t need one for benzene. The Environmental Integrity Project today said at least six fracking fluid additives contain that compound.

“It’s bombs away. You can use benzene in large quantities, just as long as you don’t call it diesel,” said Eric Schaeffer, the Washington-based group’s executive director. Schaeffer said the compound could contaminate drinking water, although the group didn’t provide any evidence today showing such contamination.

In 2005, Congress exempted fracking from requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Health advocates called it the “Halliburton loophole,” referring to Halliburton Co. (HAL), the largest provider of fracking services, led by Richard Cheney before he was elected vice president in 2000.

Read the rest in Bloomberg News.

 Crypto oocyst 

Cryptosporidium will continue to contaminate, experts say.

A leading Irish ecologist has warned that the contamination of our water with Cryptosporidium will continue to be a problem unless the management of 'source to tap' process is drastically improved

In Ireland, one of most common sources of waterborne Crypto oocysts are agricultural lands which contain animal faeces from grazing herds,  and land spread wastes from animals and human sewage sludge.

In addition sewage effluent from wastewater treatment plants and septic tanks can also be a source of contamination. In both cases Cryptosporidium can end up in both surface and groundwaters used as drinking water sources.  

Anglers angered over possible ban on lead weights, lures. Anglers threw down their waders in anger this week over a decision by a state agency to look into regulating and possibly banning lead sinkers and other fishing gear as part of a comprehensive probe of toxic household products. 

New Mexico State environmental regulators are considering a rule that would allow oil companies to reuse water that's already flowed through drilling operations to help reduce the amount of freshwater the industry consumes.

Dental hospital ready to file report to board on tainted water blunder. Hong Kong's dental teaching hospital will submit a report to its board next month to explain how it gave patients heavily contaminated water to rinse their mouths. 

Government makes water problems worse. Our environmental rules and regulations have become so bogged down in bureaucracy and entrenched interests that we are wasting enormous resources trying to solve problems that should cost us much less. It needn’t be this way. 

Election on Fracking Upcoming in Denton, TX.

Below is a clip from an interesting account of the upcoming vote to ban fracking in Denton, TX (our fair city). The richly (oil company) funded ad barrage has been overwhelming because of the number of mailers and the shallowness of their content but especially because of their threatening tone. The predominant argument against the proposed limitation on hydraulic fracturing in residential areas has been the not-at-all-subtle threat that if we don't cave in the oil companies will bankrupt the city with never-ending litigation to teach us a lesson. It's like a threat from the Mafia. Do what we say or we'll break your fingers.

A couple of weeks ago I got a glossy mailer from Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy depicting a care-free child on a swing with the word "responsible" written across the image. An adjacent image shows a broken swing with the word "irresponsible" written across it. Beneath the images is the following sentence: "Denton's irresponsible drilling ban proposition will hurt our parks and recreation areas." The mailer argues the city will lose revenue that would go to parks if the ban passes.

My jaw literally dropped at the Orwellian mailer, turning our more than year-long struggle to protect McKenna Park, and the children who play there, on its head. The gas well at the site continues to vent pollution that is toxic to the people who live close by. Not only is that "irresponsible" - it's violent. The only thing that kept me from immediately tearing the mailer in two was knowing I'd need to refer to it later to write this paragraph.

My neighbors also don't seem to be buying their argument. Dozens and dozens of light blue and red "for the ban" yard signs dot my neighborhood. The closer you get to the park, the more "for" signs you see.

The battle over the McKenna Park gas well prompted the city to review its entire drilling ordinance in a process that would begin in December of 2009 and end with an entirely new drilling ordinance in 2013. 

Read There's a real chance my Texas town might ban fracking, by Candace Bernd. 


Researcher probes saltwater intrusion into Calif.'s coastal groundwater supplies 

MONTERREY, Calif. -- In one of the most picturesque parts of California's long Pacific Coast, researchers are investigating what could be a large and contentious unknown: the groundwater that lies beneath the shoreline.

A Stanford University earth sciences professor, Rosemary Knight, is investigating the extent to which salt water has intruded into underground aquifers. The topic is of immediate relevance in the drought-stricken state, and particularly along the 24-mile stretch Knight has selected where small legal wars over groundwater use are brewing.

Using wells to pump out the fresh groundwater has been drawing salt water into aquifers for decades. Against the background of the record-breaking drought, the questions are: How serious could the saltwater intrusion become, and how it will affect supplies of fresh water to residents, businesses and agricultural uses?

Knight's technique, called electrical resistivity tomography, reveals the composition of underground water, clay and other substances. She draws a comparison to medical techniques like magnetic resonance imaging that can see soft tissue in the human body. Read the rest in E & E Publishing.

Chemicals and medicines tainting Congaree National Park waters. Scientists are finding potentially harmful levels of medicines, chemicals and bacteria in waterways at Congaree National Park as the preserve’s managers scramble to resolve what they suspect is a growing threat from leaking sewage and farm runoff.

Traces of birth control medicines and drugs to control diabetes and epilepsy are among the pollutants in some of the park’s waterways, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Farm chemicals also are being found in the water.

EPA seeks input on safety of strontium. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comment about its preliminary determination to regulate strontium, a naturally occurring element found in drinking water that can negatively impact bone strength, 




Support your local water polo team and follow America's team, the Lodi Flames, in the Occasional.

Lodi Flames Varsity Boys Trounced by Jesuit Marauders, 17-10.

The Lodi Flames varsity boys water polo team took on a section power on the road and didn’t bring their best game.

The Flames traveled to Carmichael and took on the Jesuit Marauders, the winner of two of the last four Sac-Joaquin Section Division I titles and lost 17-10. The loss comes against a team Lodi could very well see again in the playoffs and will need to do better according to coach Courtney Porter. 

“Defensively we played poorly,” Porter said. “It was their senior night and this was a tough defeat.”

Dominic Hummel led Lodi (14-13) with four goals. Marshall Grim, Colin Porter and Noah Carniglia had two goals apiece for the Flames. Goalie Reiss Mahoney had six saves.

Lodi returns to league action on Monday when the Flames host St.Mary’s at Tokay High School. 

More Lodi Water Polo Action in the Lodi News-Sentinel. 




Gazette Numerical Wizard Bea Sharper brings you up to date on the current water news in numbers.

Tons of London sewage that pollute the Tidal Thames in an average year -- 39 million.

Tons of London sewage that polluted the Tidal Thames in 2013 -- 55 million.

Years it will take to build the new Thames Tideway Tunnel that will fix the problem -- 7.

Estimate number of abandoned mines in the US -- 500,000.

Number of these that have been "identified" by the US government -- 46,000.

Number of years that mine tailings can leach toxins into water supplies -- 100.

Estimated cost to US taxpayers for cleanup of the nation's abandoned mines -- $32 to $72 billion.

Amount that Maryland fines giant agribusiness chicken factories when they submit "incomplete reports" of their activities -- $250.

Number of cases of Ebola contracted by drinking water during the current outbreak -- 0.

Number of cases of Ebola predicted to be contracted by drinking water during the next decade -- 0.

Lost elevation in the water table beneath Stratford, California during the last two years -- 100 feet.

Number of times the manure produced in a year on Maryland's farms would fill Ravens stadium -- 2.

Year in which Congress exempted fracking from the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act -- 2005.

Number of customer water shutoffs made in Detroit between January and September of 2014 -- 27,000.

The EPA allowable for benzene in drinking water -- 0.005 mg/L  (5 parts per billion).

Current price of Pure Water Products Model 77 Countertop Filter, "the world's greatest $77 water filter" -- $77.

Price of Model 77 in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2004, and 2013 -- $77.

Model 77

What You Should Know about Benzene

by Pure Water Annie

Benzene is a known carcinogen. There is a lot of it around. You'd do best to take in as little as possible.

This piece appeared originally in the Pure Water Occasional for February 2012

Benzene is an organic chemical, one of the aromatic hydrocarbons. It is essentially colorless and has a slightly sweet odor. It is highly flammable. Benzene dissolves easily in water and evaporates quickly at room temperature. It boils at 176 degrees F.

Benzene has been much in the news recently because of its presence in the fracking fluids being injected into the ground by gas well producers, but it can contaminate water via many other sources.

Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke. Burning PVC also produces benzene.Some industries use benzene to make other chemicals that are used to make plastics, resins, nylon and synthetic fibers. Benzene is also used to make some types of lubricants and pesticides.

Benzene can cause cells not to work correctly, leading to conditions such as anemia. It can damage the immune system by changing blood levels of antibodies and causing the loss of white blood cells.

An ingredient of gasoline, benzene is found in groundwater contaminated by leaking underground fuel storage tanks, or in surface water subject to fuel spills. Gasoline contains a bit less than 1% benzene. Produced from coal or petroleum (usually the latter), benzene ranks among the top 20 chemicals in production volume. Benzene is used to make solvents, detergents, plastics, resins, paint and many other products.

Benzene is a carcinogen in humans. Also, long exposure to high levels in air causes leukemia. People who are exposed over long periods in their workplace are most at risk.

Drinking water or eating food containing high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, dizziness, or even death.

The EPA regulates benzene. The MCL for benzene in water is 0.005 mg/L (5 ppb).

If exposed to air, benzene evaporates to the environment. It can also be broken down by some soil microbes. It may also be degraded in some ground waters. If benzene is released to surface water, most of it should evaporate within a few hours. Though it does not degrade by reacting with water, it may be degraded by microbes. It is not likely to accumulate in aquatic organisms.

Benzene can be removed from water by adsorption with granular activated carbon. It can also be treated by ozonation. Because benzene evaporates easily, open tank aeration is also a valuable treatment method. If benzene is present, it should be treated as a "whole house" issue because inhalation is a hazard. The most practical residential treatment is filtration with a good activated carbon filter.

Sources: US EPA, US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Clean Water Partners. Water Technology Volume 32, Issue 4 - April 2009

 Pure Water Gazette technical writer Pure Water Annie explains




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