Pure Water Occasional, December 12, 2018
In this just-before-Christmas Occasional, you'll hear about Asian Carp, Atrazine, Halosan, World Toilet Day, wooden water pipes, Emerging Contaminants (like Ibuprofen), GenX, acid demand, pipe corrosion, and the Fleck 5810 control on our new city water filter. Hear about "America's dirty little secret," clean energy in Arkansas, getting rid of caffeine with water, and how climate change is expected to affect water. And, as always, there is much, much more, and lest you think we're completely ignoring Christmas, we invite you to take this link to learn of Timmy's fate in Gazette columnist Bee Sharper's traditional Christmas saga The Number of Nights Before Christmas that 'Twas: 1.
Merry Christmas to all, and thanks for reading the Occasional.

The Pure Water Occasional is produced by Pure Water Products and the Pure Water Gazette. Please visit our websites.
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Water News 

World Toilet Day was celebrated on November 19. The stated goal of World Toilet Day is to assure toilets for all by the year 2030. We have a long way to go. 
As of today:
62.5% of the world's inhabitants do not have access to safe sanitation.

1.8 billion people use a drinking water source that could be contaminated with human feces.

4.5 billion people live without access to a safe toilet.

892 million people practice open defecation.


Water department workers in Charleston, SC discovered a wooden water pipe believed to have been used in Charleston's municipal water system between 1918 and the 1930s. Wooden pipes were deployed at the time because of metal shortages due to WWI. (No, the pipe was not still in service.)

Dr. Eden Wells, Michigan's chief medical executive, is among five people who will stand trial in a criminal investigation of the Flint water crisis. Doctor Wells is facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter for failing to warn the public of an impending outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease.
Studies by Jacobi, the carbon company, show that activated carbon (GAC and PAC) can be effectively used by municipal water suppliers to eliminate cyanotoxins. This does not necessarily mean the same technologies can be used for residential treatment. The carbons that proved effective were macropore carbons - largely wood-based carbons with large pores. The full article.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report this week showing the hormone-disrupting weed killer Atrazine taints the tap water of nearly 30 million Americans. The most shocking finding in the report demonstrates the weed killer’s presence in farmland drinking water supplies at up to seven times the EPA’s legally allowed limit during application season in the spring and summer. Atrazine is especially harmful to young, developing bodies.“Our investigation found that nearly 30 million Americans have Atrazine in their tap water,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG senior science adviser for children’s environmental health. “But many may never know, because outdated federal policies allow utilities to test for Atrazine before or after the spike.”Atrazine is removed from water by carbon filtration.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released its final draft plan to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes basin through the Chicago Area Waterway System. The system is a series of locks and channels connecting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River basin. The two watersheds are not connected naturally. Full report.

An investigation of Denmark, South Carolina's drinking water is underway after a chemical intended to clean hot tubs was found in the water supply. The chemical, called Halosan, was added to the water supply for almost ten years to regulate a naturally occurring iron bacteria. Halosan is not approved by the EPA for use in drinking water.

Fayetteville, Arkansas announced the implementation of a project to power all municipal operations with 100% clean energy, including its two water treatment plants, by 2030.
The EPA's Contaminant Database is a very handy and useful reference to water contaminants and treatments.

Dry And Getting Drier: Southwestern Water Scarcity The New Norm, Climate Study Says is the title of an article by Luke Runyon that takes a comprehensive look at the implications of the government's new climate study. It starts: "The effects of climate change are not far off problems for future generations. They are existential problems for everyone alive today." Read the full article with pictures and graphs. Also, see our own excerpted highlights of the government climate change analysis later in this issue.

Twenty-three of New Orleans' 82 public schools now have water filters to remove lead from drinking water. New Orleans Parish public school officials expect the installations for the remaining schools to be completed by Summer/Fall 2019.

 Follow water headlines and full articles at the Pure Water Gazette.

Emerging Contaminants: NSF Listings

The list of possible new water contaminants is endless, since new chemicals are issued much faster than regulators can test them.

Traditionally, ANSI/NSF certification has been divided into two categories: the contaminants with known adverse health effects, like arsenic, and items like the taste and color of water, which are aesthetic issues not known to affect health.

Emerging contaminants are a new category of water quality concerns for which evidence of health effects has not yet been established due in part to the trace levels at which these compounds are currently being detected.

The newer chemicals that are being listed by regulatory agencies are seen below in the Emerging Contaminants list being tested to a new NSF standard called American National Standard NSF/ANSI 401. 

You’ll see some familiar names in the list. Yes, DEET is the stuff you spray on your body to discourage mosquitos, Ibuprofen is what you take for a headache, and Bisphenol A (aka BPA) is the ingredient in plastic bottles you’ve been trying to avoid.

Note the allowable amount for all of  these is expressed not in parts per million, or parts per billion, but in ng/L, nanograms per liter. One nanogram per liter is one one-millionth of one milligram per liter.

Expressed differently, one nanogram per liter is the equivalent of one part per million of one part per million of the whole. When you think of it as slicing a pie into a million pieces then one of the pieces into a million pieces, that isn’t much.

To understand how NSF testing is done, what the chart tells you is if they take a solution containing more or less 200 ng/L of the angina and blood pressure medicine Atenolol and put it through a filtration device, the device must reduce the Atenolol content to 30 ng/L or less to receive NSF certification.

It is noteworthy that the fairly short list of devices having attained NSF certification for removal of Emerging Contaminants includes only carbon filtration devices, and some of these are small devices like refrigerator filters or pitcher filters. The moral is if you drink water from a good carbon-based drinking water filter, or a reverse osmosis unit, you can safely stop worrying about being overcome by the page-long list of health problems associated with the anti-seizure drug Carbamazepine.
SubstanceAverage influent challenge ng/L*Maximum effluent concentration ng/L*
Meprobamate 400 ± 20% 60
Phenytoin 200 ± 20% 30
Atenolol 200 ± 20% 30
Carbamazepine 1,400 ± 20% 200
TCEP 5,000 ± 20% 700
TCPP 5,000 ± 20% 700
DEET 1,400 ± 20% 200
Metolachlor 1,400 ± 20% 200
Trimethoprim 140 ± 20% 20
Ibuprofen 400 ± 20% 60
Naproxen 140 ± 20% 20
Estrone 140 ± 20% 20
Bisphenol A 2,000 ± 20% 300
Linuron 140 ± 20% 20
Nonyl phenol 1,400 ± 20% 200


NSF Certification

Partly because of misleading advertising, there is broad misunderstanding about what "NSF Certification" of water treatment products really means. NSF certification is not necessarily a guarantee of performance. Certification of water treatment devices is done under a number of "standards," and only some of them involve performance. And who or what is NSF, anyway? For the answer to this and other persistent questions about NSF, please read "The Mysteries of ANSI/NSF Explained," on the Pure Water Gazette's website.


EPA: GenX Nearly As Toxic As Notorious Non-Stick Chemicals It Replaced

Agency’s Review Comes 12 Years After Industry Began Phaseout of PFAS Compounds

GenX, introduced a decade ago as a “safer” alternative for the notorious non-stick chemicals PFOA and PFOS, is nearly as toxic to people as what it replaced, says an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study released recently.

EPA published a draft toxicity review for GenX and a related compound called PFBS, both part of the PFAS family of chemicals. Environmental Working Group’s analysis of EPA’s assessment shows that very tiny doses of GenX and PFBS could present serious health risks, including harm to prenatal development, the immune system, liver, kidney or thyroid.

“It is alarming that, 12 years after DuPont, 3M and other companies, under pressure from EPA, began phasing out PFOA and PFOS, we find that replacements like GenX are nearly as hazardous to human health,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., senior scientist at Environmental Working Group.

“EPA scientists have given us valuable new information here, but the study’s real significance is to show that the entire chemical regulatory system is broken. EPA has allowed hundreds of similar chemicals on the market without safety testing, and it’s urgent that the agency evaluate the risk Americans face from all of these chemicals combined.”

GenX is a successor to PFOA, formerly used by DuPont to make Teflon. PFOA has been linked to cancer in people and to the reduced effectiveness of childhood vaccines and other serious health problems at even the smallest doses. GenX’s chemical structure is very similar to PFOA’s, but it was not adequately tested for safety before being put on the market, in 2009. DuPont has provided test results to the EPA showing that GenX caused cancer in lab animals.

GenX is used to produce non-stick coatings on food wrappers, outdoor clothing and many other consumer goods. A 2017 report by EWG and other groups found the GenX family of chemicals in food wrapping samples from 27 different fast food chains.

“The system has it backwards: Instead of putting the burden of proof on EPA to show that chemicals like GenX are safe, the chemical industry should be responsible for testing its products for safety before they’re put on the market,” said Andrews. “This broken system has enabled DuPont and other companies to contaminate nearly everyone on Earth, including babies in the womb, with these chemicals.”

DuPont’s Deception About Health Risks From Non-Stick

 In 2001, attorney Robert Bilott sued DuPont on behalf of 50,000 people whose drinking water had been contaminated by PFOA, the carcinogenic compound used to make Teflon at the chemical company’s plant in Parkersburg, W. Virginia. EWG published a series of investigative reports based on secret documents uncovered in the lawsuit, revealing that DuPont knew about PFOA’s dangers for decades but didn’t tell regulators or the public. EWG filed a complaint with the EPA, which led to a record fine against DuPont. Our research also found that the entire class of non-stick, waterproof chemicals had polluted people, animals and the environment in the most remote corners of the world.

Although PFOA and some related PFAS chemicals have been phased out, they still contaminate the drinking water of an estimated 15 million Americans. The saga of PFOA pollution in Parkersburg and beyond is told in “The Devil We Know,” a documentary available on streaming services.

Source: Environmental Working Group

"Best We Can Make" City Water Backwashing Filter

For some time we've offered a variety of city water whole house filtration options - using two separate control valves and a variety of filter carbons. We've now combined these styles of offer a single, "best we can make," city water backwashing filter. Although the new filter comes in four sizes, all use the same control system, the same carbon, and the same basic components.

Here are the highlights:

All units use coconut shell catalytic carbon (Jacobi Aquasorb CX-MCA), so they treat both chlorine and chloramine. You'll get the same filter, but need a larger size, if you're treating chloramines.

All units use the water-saving, high performance Vortech mineral tank.

All units use Fleck's classy, new Fleck 5810 control valve, pre-programmed and with a bypass valve included. 

All units feature Fleck's SXT electronic programming system.



 America's Dirty Little Secret

Water Online writer Sara Jerome, in her article “Small Town, Big Water Problems,” says that in the small Louisiana community of Enterprise, the tap water is so bad “one woman drives 20 miles each way to do her laundry in another town.” The water situation in Enterprise illustrates a festering problem in the United States: Funding for infrastructure repairs and upgrades in small communities is hard to come by.

Jerome continues:

“Years of water system neglect means that the 250-or-so residents there are left with pipes that leak more than 70 percent of their water into the ground — all because they can’t afford to fix them,” CNN reported, citing John Tiser, resident and water board president.

But Enterprise is hardly alone.

“The EPA estimates $132.3B is needed to repair small water systems in America over the next 20 years. But, in 2017, only $805.7M was allocated to these systems — about 12 percent of the amount needed,” CNN reported.

Virginia Tech Engineering Professor and water expert Marc Edwards refers to it as America’s “dirty little secret.” He explains that oftentimes towns like Enterprise are stuck with aging infrastructure that they can’t fix, leaving few options for them to deal with complaints about dirty or contaminated water. Edwards received a nearly $2M grant to uncover water issues in towns like this.

When Edwards and a scientific team tested Enterprise’s water in 2017, they found bacteria, lead and other contaminants that exceeded EPA limits.

“The whole idea is, at the end of this, to come up with a model to predict which cities are likely to have problems,” Edwards said. “Which cities are most likely to have lead pipes, and not be following the rules, and then work with communities there to figure out if they do have a problem, then build algorithms for individual homeowners to protect themselves, from sampling to filters.”

It is important to point out that while “over 92 percent of U.S. residents who receive water from community water systems are supplied by water that meets health-based standards at all times,” the U.S. EPA estimates that over $743B is needed for water infrastructure improvements.

Reference Source: Water Online

How Caffeine Is Stripped from Coffee by Use of the Chemical-Free Water Method

Caffeine is in the coffee bean for a reason. It’s a natural alkaloid that serves the coffee plant as a pesticide. It paralyzes bugs that invade the plant and also gives off a bitter flavor as a warning of its toxic nature.

Caffeine is water soluble, as are most of the other ingredients of the bean that give coffee its flavor.

The art of decaffeination, therefore, consists of stripping the caffeine from the coffee bean while leaving behind the desirable ingredients that provide the coffee taste and aroma.

Several methods are used to remove caffeine from coffee. Many involve chemicals, but others rely almost entirely on water. The water methods are definitely the more desirable. The so-called Swiss Method is considered the standard of excellence. Here’s how the process is described:

The green, or unroasted coffee is fully submerged in filtered water that has been heated, in order to extract all the soluble material from the beans. The water solution is then filtered through carbon to separate the caffeine compounds from any of the aromatics that also came out during the extraction, and the coffee beans are then placed in an immersion tank with the caffeine-free solution, allowing them to reabsorb everything but the jitters.

World standards differ on the definition of “decaffeinated coffee,” some allowing 97% caffeine reduction, but the highest standards require elimination of as much as 99.9% of the alkaloid content of coffee in order to display the decaffeinated label.




Water Pipe Corrosion: A Problem With Many Causes

Corrosion of water pipes has many causes, and not all are well understood. Corrosion causes leaks and also affects the quality of drinking water.

Here are a few of the main reasons why water pipes corrode. Some are simple and easy to remedy; others are complex and hard to diagnose. Often, more than one of the following contributes to the breakdown of pipes.

Galvanic. Galvanic corrosion is common with metal pipes. It occurs when pipes made of different metals are joined. A small electrical current flows from one to the other. Galvanic corrosion is easily prevented by installing a dielectric union when joining the pipes, but in the effort to save money, dielectric connectors are often left out.

Galvanic Corrosion

Dissolved Gases and ChemicalsHigh levels of dissolved gases, like oxygen or carbon dioxide, can corrode metal pipes and cause pinhole leaks. High levels of chlorine can be corrosive to pipe, and high levels of fluoride corrodes stainless steel. Chloramine is associated with the leaching of lead from inner pipe surfaces.

Low pH. Water with low pH attacks copper pipes and causes pinhole leaks. Copper is subject to corrosion when the water is below 7.0 pH. This is usually not a problem with city water, but it can be a significant issue for well owners.

Low alkalinity. Alkalinity is related to pH, but it isn’t the same. Low alkalinity leaves pipes vulnerable to acids.

Low TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). Nature hates a vacuum. Water that has a low dissolved mineral content can pull minerals from metal pipes.

Pinhole Leak in Copper Pipe Caused by Corrosion

High Temperature and High Flow Rates. Hot water is much more corrosive than cold. The faster water flows through a pipe, the more it breaks down the pipe material.

Microbiological. Microbes, if given a food supply and oxygen, can corrode pipes causing interior buildup and subsequent leaks.

Corrosion in a water distribution system can cause health issues as well as damaging water leaks. When pipes are corroded, some of the metal from the pipe enters the drinking water and is consumed. Pipes and fixtures containing copper, lead, and brass (brass contains lead) can cause a variety of health problems.

While the municipal supplier regulates such contaminants as lead at the water plant, no one is checking the actual amount of lead or copper that comes out of the kitchen tap.

Pipe corrosion is a compelling justification for having a drinking water system under the kitchen sink. A comprehensive treatment system like reverse osmosis takes care of virtually any  contamination that enters the water on its way from the water plant.

People often purchase a water filter when a plumber shows them the inside of a pipe during a plumbing repair. The pristine water described in the city’s annual water report has to come through miles of dirty pipes before it gets to your drinking glass.

Does  What Does "Acid Demand" Mean in Water Treatment?
by Pure Water Annie

Acid demand can be defined as the amount of acid needed to reduce the pH level of water. Acid demand is frequently measured in swimming pool applications by a test known as an acid demand test.

Results of the test are applied to a specific amount of water to determine what amount of acid to add to the water to achieve the desired pH.

Acid demand is strongly affected by the alkalinity of the water, which is a measure of the water’s resistance to pH change. The higher the alkalinity, the more acid that will be needed to lower the pH.

Acid demand tests used by pool owners are usually titration tests, where a reagent is added to the test solution and the drops counted to determine the “acid demand.”

Acids that are commonly used for lowering pH in residential water treatment are citric acid, muriatic acid, and vinegar. Muriatic acid and sodium bisulfate are commonly used to reduce pH and alkalinity in swimming pools.


The US Government’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, issued in the fall of 2018, devotes a long chapter to the effects of climate change on the nation’s water. Below are excerpts from the chapter which highlight its important features.

National Climate Assessment: Highlights from the Water Chapter

by Emily McBroom

Rising air and water temperatures and changes in precipitation are intensifying droughts, increasing heavy downpours, reducing snowpack, and causing declines in surface water quality, with varying impacts across regions. Future warming will add to the stress on water supplies and adversely impact the availability of water in parts of the United States.
Changes in the relative amounts and timing of snow and rainfall are leading to mismatches between water availability and needs in some regions, posing threats to, for example, the future reliability of hydropower production in the Southwest and the Northwest. Most U.S. power plants rely on a steady supply of water for cooling, and operations are expected to be affected by changes in water availability and temperature increases.
Groundwater depletion is exacerbating drought risk in many parts of the United States, particularly in the Southwest and Southern Great Plains.
Dependable and safe water supplies for U.S. Caribbean, Hawaii, and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Island communities are threatened by drought, flooding, and saltwater contamination due to sea level rise.
Aging and deteriorating water infrastructure, typically designed for past environmental conditions, compounds the climate risk faced by society. Water management strategies that account for changing climate conditions can help reduce present and future risks to water security, but implementation of such practices remains limited.
Changes in Water Quantity and Quality

Changes in climate and hydrology have direct and cascading effects on water quality. Anticipated effects include warming water temperatures in all U.S. regions, which affect ecosystem health, and locally variable changes in precipitation and runoff, which affect pollutant transport into and within water bodies.
These changes pose challenges related to the cost and implications of water treatment, and they present a risk to water supplies, public health, and aquatic ecosystems.
Increases in high flow events can increase the delivery of sediment, nutrients, and microbial pathogens to streams, lakes, and estuaries; decreases in low flow volume (such as in the summer) and during periods of drought can impact aquatic life through exposure to high water temperatures and reduced dissolved oxygen.
The risk of harmful algal blooms could increase due to an expanded seasonal window of warm water temperatures and the potential for episodic increases in nutrient loading.
In coastal areas, saltwater intrusion into coastal rivers and aquifers can be exacerbated by sea level rise (or relative sea level rise related to vertical land movement), storm surges, and altered freshwater runoff. Saltwater intrusion could threaten drinking water supplies, infrastructure, and coastal and estuarine ecosystems).
Indirect impacts on water quality are also possible in response to an increased frequency of forest pest/disease outbreaks, wildfire, and other terrestrial ecosystem changes; land-use changes (for example, agricultural and urban) and water management infrastructure also interact with climate change to impact water quality.
Deteriorating Water Infrastructure at Risk

Capital improvement needs for public water systems (which provide safe drinking water) have been estimated at $384 billion for projects necessary from 2011 through 2030. Similarly, capital investment needs for publicly owned wastewater conveyance and treatment facilities, combined sewer overflow correction, and storm water management to address water quality or water quality-related public health problems have been estimated at $271 billion over a 20-year period. To date, however, there is no comprehensive assessment of the climate-related vulnerability of U.S. water infrastructure, and climate risks to existing infrastructure systems remain unquantified.
Compound extremes, such as terrestrial flooding and ocean flooding occuring at the same time, can also increase the risk of cascading infrastructure failure since some infrastructure systems rely on others, and the failure of one system can lead to the failure of interconnected systems, such as water–energy infrastructure.
Water Management in a Changing Future

Paleoclimate analyses and climate projections suggest persistent droughts and wet periods over the continental United States that are longer, cover more area, and are more intense than what was experienced in the 20th century.
The challenge is both scientific, in terms of developing and evaluating these approaches, and institutional–political, in terms of updating the regulatory, legal and institutional structures that constrain innovation in water management, planning, and infrastructure design.


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Pure Water Products, LLC, 523A N. Elm St., Denton, TX, www.purewaterproducts.com