Pure Water Occasional, August 27, 2019
Water News in a Nutshell
Is your city water department hiding something in your neighborhood? If there's a home on your block with no sidewalk and no driveway, it may not be a residence but a . . . . Watch the video.
The endangered whale shark, reported to be the largest fish species on Earth, has been seen twice recently off the South Texas coast. The whale shark can weigh up to 11 tons and can reach a length of 40 feet.
Relationships among water constituents inside pipes are complex. We're learning that when manganese meets chlorine in a city water pipe, the result is often lead in the water. With the presence of manganese in city water on the rise, this is important. More information.
Turkey has started filling a huge hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river despite protests that it will displace thousands of people and risks creating water shortages downstream in Iraq. The Isisu Dam has been in the making for decades. More.
Starting next year, California water systems must notify residents if their water sources contain potentially toxic levels of cancer-linked chemicals called PFAS under a law Gov. Gavin Newsom signed in early August.
According to National Geographic, a comprehensive report done in 2013 found that humans kill 100 million sharks per year around the world, although another credible estimate puts the figure as high as 273 million. Why are so many sharks killed? "The culprit is the proliferation of illegal shark finning that spiked in the 1990s to feed appetites for shark fin soup, a delicacy in parts of Asia on par with fine truffles or expensive caviar. According to some reports, a bowl of shark fin soup can sell for as much as $100." In the practice of "finning," the shark's fins are cut off and the shark, unable to swim without fins, is returned to the ocean to sink to the bottom and die. Full article.
San Francisco has initiated an ambitious water recycling plan that is expected to save millions of gallons of water per year.
EPA Ignores "Shocking and Unambiguous" Evidence about Chlorpyrifos
The pesticide chlorpyrifos, a chemical cousin of nerve agents used in World War II, has been shown to impede brain development in children. But the Environmental Protection Agency under President Trump recently decided to reject an Obama-era plan to ban the pesticide.
In a July 25, 2019 op-ed in the Washington Post, Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote that chlorpyrifos has been associated with reduced IQ and working memory, delays in psychomotor development, and autism spectrum disorder in children. Allen called the science “shocking and unambiguous.”
The Trump administration went against decades of advice even from its own scientists in rejecting the chlorpyrifos ban, Allen wrote. In 2016, EPA scientists reported that there are unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos on food crops and in drinking water. (Source: Harvard University.)
People Having Sex in Bathrooms to Be Punished with Water
The Welsh seaside town of Porthcawl is planning to install anti-sex public toilets that would spray occupants with water and sound an alarm. Violent movement sensors would automatically open the doors and sound high-pitched alarms, with fine water jets soaking the interior. Weight-sensitive floors would ensure only one user could be in a cubicle at a time, to safeguard against “inappropriate sexual activity and vandalism."
Porthcawl town council is spending £170,000 on the futuristic toilets. Cynical critics of the plan have pointed out that the use of weight-sensitive flooring might lead to the dousing of single large but innocent bathroom users or, heaven forbid, allowing two very light sexual misbehavers to go un-squirted. Did we make this up? No, it's from the Guardian.
Alaska has been in the throes of an unprecedented heat wave this summer, and the heat stress is killing salmon in large numbers. Scientists have observed die-offs of several varieties of Alaskan salmon, including sockeye, chum and pink salmon. Salmon are dying because water temperatures are too high. Details.
A significant new study of mothers who drink fluoridated water during pregnancy indicates that "Fluoride exposure during pregnancy may be associated with adverse effects on child intellectual development, indicating the possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy." More specifically, "Fluoride exposure during pregnancy was associated with lower IQ scores in children aged 3 to 4 years." The full study is in Medical News Today.
You may have noticed that water polo is evolving rapidly into a very popular sport—so popular that wealthy parents buy fake water polo credentials to get their sons and daughters into the finest universities. 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics. In its half century lifespan, the tournament has evolved from a regional novelty to a national behemoth. Over two weekends last month, almost 900 boys’ and girls’ teams played hundreds of games in Southern California.
Scientists testing rainwater around metro Denver and high in the Front Range mountains found microscopic bits of colored plastic in more than 90% of their samples — adding to growing evidence that plastics have contaminated the planet far more deeply than people can see. Read the full article in the Pure Water Gazette.
by Pure Water Annie
Gazette technical wizard Pure Water Annie offers a nutshell view of treating acid water.
Acidic water is, by definition, any water with a pH of less than 7.0.
Water that is low in pH can have undesirable effects on plumbing fixtures and piping. Green staining of fixtures is a common indication of acidic water. Copper pipe can be ruined by water low in pH.
Low pH is also an issue in water treatment. Sometimes it is necessary to raise the pH of acidic water in order for other treatment strategies to apply. For example, oxidizing iron to prepare it for filtration is difficult if the pH of the water is low, so raising the pH of the water is often the first step in removing iron from well water.
Almost all water treatment issues involve pH in some way. Water constituents change in nature as pH changes, so many treatments can be applied only if pH is within the desired range.
Although the sales strategy of a class of drinking water products called “ionizers” is based on raising the pH of acidic water, there is no evidence that drinking water low in pH has any negative effect on health. Taste, of course, can be an issue if the pH is very low.
Treating Acidic Water
The pH value of water decreases as the amount of carbon dioxide, CO2, increases, and pH increases as the amount of bicarbonate alkalinity increases. The ratio of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate alkalinity within the ranges of 3.6 to 8.4 is an indication of the pH value of the water.
Acidic water can be corrected by several water treatment strategies. A common treatment is injection of soda ash, and a more aggressive treatment is the injection of caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). This is usually accomplished by injecting a solution of the soda ash or caustic soda directly into the water pipe.
A second strategy is to run the water through a bed of calcite (the most common treatment mineral) or corosex. As the low pH water passes through the bed, the mineral dissolves into the water and raises its pH.
Calcite treatment raises the pH by adding calcium carbonate to the water. This has the sometimes undesirable effect of increasing the hardness of the water slightly. Calcite and corosex are most commonly used in backwashing filters, but calcite alone can be used with simple upflow filters if the water is reasonably clean. Calcite is also commonly used in cartridge form as a postfiltration treatment for undersink reverse osmosis units. RO lowers pH, and calcite filters are used to bring the pH back to neutral.
The Current Status of US and UK Regulation of PFAS.
(Excerpted from a Harvard School of Public Health article by Dr. Phillipe Grandjean.)
Q: Are governments in Europe and the U.S. taking any action to regulate PFASs?
A: The Council of EU Ministers recently concluded that the European Commission should generate a joint EU strategy on PFASs, treating all the many individual compounds as a group and recommending that they be approved only for essential uses. This means that two commonly used PFASs, such as PFOA and PFOS [perfluorooctane sulfonic acid], cannot be swapped out for other PFASs, except for uses considered “essential.” This is being done because the entire class of chemicals is suspected of having similar properties in regard to environmental dissemination and human health.
Individual EU agencies are currently working on more specific issues, such as lowering tolerable limits in drinking water and phasing out the use of PFASs in food wrappings.
In the U.S., older PFASs are being phased out but they are being substituted with similar PFASs that have not yet been tested in any detail and are therefore not regulated.
There are some legislative efforts underway in Congress to address the use of PFASs, and these are of course highly beneficial and appropriate. For example, one proposal would require a number of actions, including the stipulation that the EPA set nationwide drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS. But the proposal would give the EPA two more years to address what are termed “unreasonable risks” from these chemicals, which is generous, as EPA has been aware of the growing problems for a very long time. It’s also not clear if President Trump will approve these congressional proposals. He recently threatened to veto a bill that would phase out the military’s use of firefighting foams that contain PFASs and that has led to the contamination of vast groundwater reservoirs.
States continue to be impatient and have developed their own approaches to control what some call the PFAS “crisis.” Most recently, New Hampshire has announced new water limits for the four major PFASs, with limits for two of those, PFOS and PFOA, about five-fold lower than the EPA guidelines. At least six other states have also set limits below EPA guidelines.
RO: Large and Small
Over the years we've been consistent and enthusiastic reverse osmosis boosters. Without challenge, RO is the best all-around home treatment for most drinking water contaminants. RO covers it all—including the persistent issues like lead, PFAS, fluoride, arsenic and nitrates. An undersink RO unit is the best investment for years of superior quality drinking water. We're very proud of our basic undersink Black and White RO units. We've been making Black and White for over 25 years now and we get better at it all the time.
The three articles below feature other RO offerings. The "countertop" RO, which is part of the Black and White series, was designed mainly as an inexpensive source of superb drinking water for anyone who doesn't want to do a permanent undersink installation. We've found, however, that it has so many other uses that we've started calling it a utility RO unit. The articles below will explain.
Big residential RO units are featured in the final article. We've sold Watts R12 series units (600 and 1200 gallons-per-day) for a number of years, and have recently added Watts R4X40 series units that produce 2200, 4400, and 6600 gallons per day. The article below discusses their application.
Countertop Reverse Osmosis Doesn’t Have to Sit on the Countertop
by Gene Franks
Car Wash Reverse Osmosis: Build Your Own Simple System
Whole House Reverse Osmosis for Residential Wells
Places to visit for additional information:
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the next Occasional!