Water inequality on the Colorado River

by Jonathan Thompson

For the last couple of decades, water managers in southern Nevada have promoted a plethora of conservation measures, from fixing leaks in the vast system of pipes snaking beneath Las Vegas to encouraging reduced-flow faucets to banning ornamental turf. Golf courses are irrigated with treated wastewater, and water-gulping swamp coolers are discouraged. All this has helped Nevada stay within tight limits on how much it can draw from the Colorado River, bringing per capita consumption down to just over 100 gallons per day — about one-fourth of what it was in 1991.

But the sacrifices aren’t shared equally. A few miles off the Las Vegas Strip, for example, on the far edge of a golf course and residential development, sits a cluster of red-tile-roofed buildings. With its athletic club, tennis court, pool, lawns and grandiose structures, you might mistake it for a small private college or exclusive resort. In fact, this complex is a single-family residence that belonged to the Sultan of Brunei until November of last year, when a company associated with tech-company founder Jeffrey Berns paid $25 million for it. The home, if you can call it that, is also Las Vegas’ largest water user, guzzling 13 million gallons in 2022 — more than 300 times what the average resident consumes. Run down the list of the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s top 100 users, and you’ll see more of the same: While most residents are increasingly thrifty with their water, a select few — often associated with multimilliondollar homes — are binging on the stuff.

Call it water inequality, or the growing disparity in water consumption across the Colorado River Basin. Agriculture uses far more water than cities, and some crops are thirstier than others; Scottsdale’s per capita consumption is nine times that of Tucson’s; California’s Imperial Irrigation District pulls about 10 times more water from the river than all of Nevada; and the Sultan of Brunei’s Las Vegas estate sucks up 35,000 gallons each day. Meanwhile, nearly one-third of the Navajo Nation’s households lack running water altogether, and residents there use as little as 10 gallons daily.

 

High Country News

 

 

Water News for 2024


Posted May 27th, 2024

Water News for May 2024

 

 

 

Latest news! Retro Vintage Paper boy shouting with megaphone selling newspaper vendor, Extra! Special edition!

 

 

 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)  finalized Congressionally-mandated energy-efficiency standards for a range of residential water heaters to save American households approximately $7.6 billion per year on their energy and water bills, while significantly cutting energy waste and harmful carbon pollution. The final standards for residential water heaters align with recommendations from various stakeholders, including efficiency and environmental advocates, the Consumer Federation of America, and a leading U.S. water heater manufacturer. The standards would require the most common-sized electric water heaters to achieve efficiency gains with heat pump technology, helping to accelerate the deployment of this cost-effective, clean energy technology while also reducing strain on the electric grid. Over 30 years  these updated standards are expected to save Americans $124 billion on their energy bills and reduce 332 million metric tons of dangerous carbon dioxide emissions—equivalent to the combined annual emissions of nearly 43 million homes. Energy.gov.

On May 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $3 billion from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to help every state and territory identify and replace lead service lines, preventing exposure to lead in drinking water.

Each year, drinking water systems in the U.S. and Canada experience about 260,000 water main breaks, incurring an estimated $2.6B annually in maintenance and repair costs.

“Texas governor Greg Abbott’s strategy to deter immigration isn’t just harming people and costing billions – it’s ruining the Rio Grande’s ecosystem.” One scientist said it could take hundreds of years for nature to repair itself.” The governor has squandered $11 billion in Texas taxpayer dollars and has nothing but damage to the Rio Grande’s ecoystem to show for it. The Guardian.

 

Good News for Groundwater in California.  Water Year 2023 is the first year since 2019 that there has been a reported increase in groundwater storage. A significant reduction in groundwater pumping in 2023 also led to favorable groundwater conditions, including a decrease in land subsidence, or sinking of the land. Some areas that had previously experienced subsidence actually saw a rebound (uplift) in ground surface elevation from reduced pumping in the deeper aquifers and refilling of groundwater storage.

Severe floods in southern Brazil have caused the deaths of hundreds in what has been called the worst ever climate catastrophe. Streets in several towns have turned into rivers.

Vermont is poised to pass a measure forcing major polluting companies to help pay for damages caused by the climate crisis. It would make Vermont the first state to hold fossil fuel companies liable for planet-heating pollution. “If you contributed to a mess, you should play a role in cleaning it up,” one campaigner said.

A study found evidence that termites, when building their nests, are guided mainly by water evaporation that allows them to identify the regions of the structure with the largest curvature. How they work this out is largely a mystery. Nature Italy.

Is it safe to drink from the hose?

 

It’s a hot day, you’re out in the yard and you need to hydrate. A few steps away is a garden hose …

Should you take a drink?

You probably did when you were a kid. Your own kids may do it now. But is it safe?

We checked with two major municipalities. The short answer: No.

“While using your hose to water plants, fill water balloons or run your sprinkler are all great ideas, many don’t meet the safety standards required for drinking water,” the City of Cleveland Water Division says on its website. “They can contain lead or be made from materials that leach chemicals into the water, especially when heated by the sun.

“Plus, garden hoses are usually left outside in unsanitary conditions, making them susceptible to bacteria and insects.”

The City of Milwaukee agrees:

“It is not safe to drink from garden hoses. Vinyl hoses are treated with chemicals so they stay flexible. These chemicals may be toxic, which is why garden hoses should not be used for drinking purposes.”

Cleveland offers one “but”….

“However, there are faucets and garden hoses that are safe to drink from if properly maintained. If your garden hose or outdoor faucet is NSF/ANSI 61 or NSF/ANSI 372 certified, it means the products meet certain safety standards to be used for drinking water.”

Souce: Family Safety and Health.

 

 

After Decades of Disinformation, the US Finally Begins Regulating PFAS Chemicals

 

by Derrick Z. Jackon, Fellow

 

 

 

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would regulate two forms of PFAS contamination under Superfund laws reserved for “the nation’s worst hazardous waste sites.” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the action will ensure that “polluters pay for the costs to clean up pollution threatening the health of communities.”

That was an encore to the Food and Drug Administration announcing in February that companies will phase out food packaging with PFAS wrappings and the mid-April announcement by Regan that the EPA was establishing the first-ever federal limits on PFAS in drinking water. At that time, he declared, “We are one huge step closer to finally shutting off the tap on forever chemicals once and for all.”

One can forever hope the tap will be eventually shut, since it took seemingly forever for the nation to begin to crack down on this class of per-and polyfluoroalkyl synthetic chemicals. The chemical bonds of PFAS, among the strongest ever created, resulted in an incredible ability to resist heat, moisture, grease and stains. PFAS chemicals seemed like miracle substances in the 20th-century quest for convenience. They became ubiquitous in household furnishings, cookware, cosmetics, and fast-food packaging, and a key component of many firefighting foams.

The bonds are so indestructible they would impress Superman. They don’t break down in the environment for thousands of years, hence the “forever” nickname. Unfortunately for humans, the same properties represent Kryptonite.

Today, the group of chemicals known as PFAS is the source of one of the greatest contaminations of drinking water in the nation’s history. Flowing from industrial sites, landfills, military bases, airports, and wastewater treatment discharges, PFAS chemicals, according to the United States Geological Survey, are detectable in nearly half our tap water. Other studies suggest that a majority of the US population drinks water containing PFAS chemicals—as many as 200 million people, according to a 2020 peer-reviewed study conducted by the Environmental Working Group.

 

PFAS chemicals are everywhere

No one escapes PFAS chemicals. They make it into the kitchen or onto the dining room table in the form of non-stick cookware, microwave popcorn bags, fast-food burger wrappers, candy wrappers, beverage cups, take-out containers, pastry bags, French-fry and pizza boxes. They reside throughout homes in carpeting, upholstery, paints, and solvents.

They are draped on our bodies in “moisture-wicking” gym tights, hiking gear, yoga pants, sports bras, and rain and winter jackets. They are on our feet in waterproof shoes and boots. Children have PFAS in baby bedding and school uniforms. Athletes of all ages play on PFAS on artificial turf. PFAS chemicals are on our skin and gums through eye, lip, face cosmetics, and dental floss. Firefighters have it in their protective clothing.

As a result, nearly everyone in the United States has detectable levels of PFAS in their bodies. There is no known safe level of human exposure to these chemicals. They are linked to multiple cancers, decreased fertility in women, developmental delays in children, high cholesterol, and damage to the cardiovascular and immune systems. A 2022 study by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Sichuan University in China estimated that exposure to one form of PFAS (PFOS, for perfluorooctane sulfonic acid), may have played a role in the deaths of more than 6 million people in the United States between 1999 and 2018.

As sweeping as PFAS contamination is, exposures in the United States are also marked by clear patterns of environmental injustice and a betrayal to military families. An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that people of color and low-income people were more likely to live near non-military sources of PFAS contamination than wealthier, white people.

Another study by UCS found that 118 of 131 military bases had PFAS contamination concentrations at least 10 times higher than federal risk levels. A federal study last year found a higher risk of testicular cancer for Air Force servicemen engaged in firefighting with PFAS foams.

 

Tobacco-like disinformation

In the end, the whole nation was betrayed, in a manner straight out of the tobacco disinformation playbook. Behind the image of convenience, manufacturers long knew that PFAS chemicals were toxic. Internal documents uncovered over the years show how DuPont and 3M, the two biggest legacy makers of PFAS, knew back in the 1960s that the compounds built up in blood and enlarged the livers of laboratory animals. By 1970, a DuPont document referring to a PFAS chemical under its famed “Teflon” trademark said that it “is highly toxic when inhaled and moderately toxic when injected.”

By the late 1970s, DuPont was discovering that PFAS chemicals were affecting the liver of workers and that plant employees were having myocardial infarctions at levels “somewhat higher than expected.” But that did not stop the industry from downplaying the risk to workers.

One internal 3M document in 1980 claimed that PFAS chemicals have “a lower toxicity like table salt.” Yet, a study last year of documents by researchers at the University of California San Francisco and the University of Colorado found that DuPont, internally tracking the outcome of worker pregnancies in 1980 and 1981, recorded two cases of birth defects in infants. Yet, in 1981, in what the researchers determined was a “joint” communication to employees of DuPont and 3M, the companies claimed: “We know of no evidence of birth defects” at DuPont and were “not knowledgeable about the pregnancy outcome” of employees at 3M who were exposed to PFAS.

The same suppression and disinformation kept government regulators at bay for decades. The San Francisco and Colorado researchers found internal DuPont documents from 1961 to 1994 showing toxicity in animal and occupational studies that were never reported to the EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act. As one example, DuPont, according to a 2022 feature by Politico’s Energy and Environment News, successfully negotiated in the 1960s with the Food and Drug Administration to keep lower levels of PFAS-laden food wrapping and containers on the market despite evidence of enlarged livers in laboratory rats.

 

A patchwork response

Eventually, the deception and lies exploded in the face of the companies, as independent scientists found more and more dire connections to PFAS in drinking water and human health and lawsuits piled up in the courts. Last year, 3M agreed to a settlement of between $10.5 billion and $12.5 billion for PFAS contamination in water systems around the nation. DuPont and other companies agreed to another $1.2 billion in settlements. That’s not nothing, but it is a relatively small price to pay for two industrial behemoths that have been among the Fortune 500 every year since 1955.

In the last two decades, the continuing science on PFAS chemicals and growing public concern has led to a patchwork of individual apparel and food companies to say they will stop using PFAS in clothes and wrapping. Some states have enacted their own drinking water limits and are moving forward with legislation to restrict or ban products containing PFAS. In 2006, the EPA began a voluntary program in which the leading PFAS manufacturers in the United States agreed to stop manufacturing PFOA, one of the most concerning forms of PFAS.

But companies had a leisurely decade to meet commitments. Even as companies negotiated, a DuPont document assumed coziness with the EPA. “We need the EPA to quickly (like first thing tomorrow) say the following: Consumer products sold under the Teflon brand are safe. . .there are no human health effects to be caused by PFOA [a chemical in the PFAS family].”

Two years ago, 3M announced it will end the manufacture of PFAS chemicals and discontinue their application across its portfolio by the end of next year. But the company did so with an insulting straight face, saying on its products are “safe and effective for their intended uses in everyday life.”

 

EPA action finally, but more is needed

The nation can no longer accept the overall patchwork or industry weaning itself off PFAS at its own pace. The EPA currently plans to issue drinking water limits for six forms of PFAS and place two forms under Superfund jurisdiction. The Superfund designation gives the government its strongest powers to enforce cleanups that would be paid for by polluters instead of taxpayers.”

But there are 15,000 PFAS compounds, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. There is nothing to stop companies from trying to play around with other compounds that could also prove harmful. Cleaning up the PFAS chemicals that have already been allowed will take billions of dollars and water utilities around the country are already screaming, with some justification, that the federal government needs to provide more money than it is offering. And even the Superfund designation does not actually ban their use.

It would be better if the United States were to follow the lead of the European Union which is now considering a ban or major restrictions on the whole class of chemicals, fearing that “without taking action, their concentrations will continue to increase, and their toxic and polluting effects will be difficult to reverse.”

The effects are scary to quantify. Regan said in his drinking water announcement that the new rules would improve water quality for 100 million people and “prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses across the country.” A draft EPA economic analysis last year predicted that tight standards could save more than 7,300 lives alone from bladder cancer, kidney cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and avoid another 27,000 non-fatal cases of those diseases.

That makes it high time that the federal government borrow from DuPont’s arrogant assumption that it could push around the EPA. We need the EPA to quickly (like first thing tomorrow) say the following: Consumer products with PFAS are not safe and are causing unacceptable environmental consequences. We are shutting off the tap on ALL of them.”

 

 

How to Take Care of your Private Water Well

Here is some advice for private well owners extracted from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS).

Most private wells which are properly constructed and maintained provide safe water for years. However, contamination can occur due to improper construction, poor maintenance, or releases of contaminants into the well’s aquifer. Many contaminants cannot be detected by sight, taste, or smell. Even if there is no indication of problems with the water, it is the well owner’s responsibility to properly maintain the well and regularly test it for potential contaminants to ensure the safety of their drinking water. 

People should be reminded regularly that testing is an essential part of protecting your drinking water and in being a good steward of the water supply. Along with testing, being informed by understanding how your well works, where your water comes from, and how to take care of your water system is the best way to protect your family’s drinking water and health.

Potential contaminants in private wells include:  

  • Bacteria
  • Nitrate/nitrite
  • Metals
  • Pesticides
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals”)

Contamination may come from man made or natural sources and can cause a variety of health effects, ranging from developmental problems in children to a risk of cancer. Authorities recommends testing for bacteria (known as a total coliform test) and nitrate/nitrite every year and testing for metals every 3 years.

 

Most local health departments can provide well-owners with an affordable sampling kit for total coliform and nitrate/nitrite testing. Commercial labs are available for metals testing.

 

Testing for other chemicals such as VOCs, pesticides, and PFAS may be recommended if such contamination has been found in the area. This testing is only available from commercial labs and can be very expensive. If a well-owner is concerned about the possibility of contamination from VOCs, pesticides, or PFAS, testing through a commercial laboratory is in order, and if treatment is needed, advice can be had from appropriate state agencies and/or water treatment professionals.

 

Even if no contaminants are found, wells should still be inspected every year to make sure the well remains sealed and clear of debris, including yard waste. Look for damage to the well cap and cracks in the above-ground portion of the well casing. It is also important for well owners to maintain their septic system by following these guidelines:  

  • Do not dispose of kitchen grease or household chemicals in the sink
  • Do not flush personal hygiene products besides toilet paper  
  • Pump septic tanks every three to five years. 

Finally, record keeping is important. Keep records of all testing and all work done on the well.

People who live in cities can depend on the city water department to keep an eye on things.  If you have a well, you are the water department.

Reference Source.

Water New April 2024


Posted April 28th, 2024

 

 

newsboy

 

Leading Water News Stories for April 2024

Without question, the month’s leading water story was the EPA’s announcement of the establishment of enforceable for PFAS.

“A huge victory for public health”

The EPA has published its National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six PFAS chemicals. The ruling includes Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL), the legally enforceable limits, and MCL Goals for six PFAS chemicals.

The rule is expected to take effect in 2027 and requires public water systems to monitor and notify the public of the levels of these PFAS in water supplies. The rule also allows public water systems five years to reduce PFAS exposure if they exceed these MCLs and implement solutions by 2029.

This is a significant achievement.

Full text of the EPA announcement is on the Pure Water Gazette website.

New Mexico’s rivers, which include the Rio Grande, Gila, San Juan and Pecos, are America’s most threatened waterways, according to a new report. This is largely due to a 2023 US supreme court decision that left more than 90% of the state’s surface waters without federal protections from industrial pollution, according to state officials.

Consumer Reports has found unhealthy levels of pesticides in about 20% of US produce and The Guardian detailed the six fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide risk – blueberries, bell peppers, potatoes, watermelons, green beans, and kale and mustard greens.

Ocean waves crashing on the world’s shores emit more PFAS into the air than the world’s industrial polluters, new research has found, raising concerns about environmental contamination and human exposure along coastlines.

The EPA has been asked to address a “long-ignored health crisis” in Iowa drinking water stemming from dangerously high nitrate levels. According to a legal petition filed by environmental and health advocacy groups last week, “For decades, Northeast Iowa residents have been exposed to dangerous levels of nitrate contaminated water. As the state reckons with high cancer levels and ongoing pollution regulation rollbacks, federal action is needed to safeguard the right to clean water. EPA must exercise emergency authority to hold polluters accountable and deliver safe drinking water in Iowa.”

The mayor of Paris expressed confidence that water quality in the river Seine will allow Olympic swimming.

In Mexico, angry subsistence farmers are staging a revolt against the thirsty avocado orchards of corporate farmers.

Just 56 companies are responsible for more than 50% of the world’s plastic pollution, according to a study published in Science Advances.  The top five polluters were the Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone and Altria, accounting for 24% of the total branded count.

Because of extreme heat and severe drought, several major cities in Mexico are facing a shortage in their water supply.

The U.S. government, in what an attorney says is a “monumental admission,” said last year that it caused injury to thousands of people on the Hawaiian island of Oahu when jet fuel from its storage facility leaked into the drinking water system.

Perrier has been ordered to destroy two million bottles of water after bacteria “of faecal origin” was discovered in one of its wells in Gard, in southern France.

 

PFAS in a Nutshell


Posted April 13th, 2024

PFAS Basics.  The Significance of the EPA’s Recently Imposed Limits on PFAS Levels in Drinking Water

 Extracted from a Statement from Guardian Editor Georgia Warren

April 2024

With so many big, splashy headlines fighting for our attention every day, it’s easy to miss those vital stories that build drip by drip, slowly over many years.

Falling into that bucket this week was the news that the US government has imposed the first-ever limits on levels of PFAS in our drinking water. The Guardian has been aggressively covering the health threat posed by PFAS for years, including a year-long investigation with Consumer Reports that revealed the extent to which these so-called “forever chemicals” have permeated US drinking water supplies.

For those who haven’t been following this story, this acronym masks a dangerous issue that everyone with a human body should be aware of.

OK, so what are PFAS?
PFAS (short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of about 15,000 human-made chemical compounds used widely in manufacturing to make products resistant to water, stains or heat – meaning they’re in everything from aerospace engineering components to takeout containers. Also known as “forever chemicals”, PFAS are unable to break down naturally in the environment or in our bodies.

Why should we care about them?
In recent years, scientists have discovered that exposure to PFAS is linked to a myriad of serious health problems, including cancer, obesity and birth defects. While many of the vast number of PFAS compounds remain unstudied, it is understood today that any exposure to some of the known highly toxic varieties is considered a health and cancer risk.

Are we all being exposed to these chemicals?
In short: yes – everywhere, all the time. In the past two months alone, the Guardian has published stories revealing that PFAS are entering our bodies via sources as disparate as bandagesartificial turfplastic sandwich baggies and household dust. However, our biggest exposure to PFAS is via our food and water – which takes us to this week’s big news.

What happened with PFAS this week?
On Wednesday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced legally enforceable drinking water limits for a group of the most dangerous PFAS compounds, after years of issuing only advisories. All US water providers will soon have to test their water and then install treatment systems that can filter PFAS if the results exceed EPA limits.

Is the PFAS problem solved then?
Public health advocates say it’s a great step – but not enough, as drinking water represents only about 20% of human PFAS exposure. Diet is likely a larger problem, as PFAS enter our food system via packaging, storage and machinery in factories, as well as during the farming process via contaminated water and sewage sludge used as fertilizer.

Is there hope for further action?
According to reporter Tom Perkins, who has been leading our PFAS coverage and provided this excellent analysis on the state of play following the EPA’s announcement this week: “Where there’s most hope is at the state level, where legislatures have started banning PFAS for all non-essential uses. It’s already happening in Maine and Minnesota. In turn, that creates market pressure on companies to stop using the chemicals altogether, because what are you going to do: produce shoes that can be sold in Mississippi but not in Maine? That wouldn’t make any sense.” Indeed, 3M, one of the world’s largest producers of the chemicals, announced last year that it would no longer make the compounds, citing in part the regulatory and legal environment.

That’s a lot of information: it seems the Guardian has really been on top of this issue.
Indeed. According to environment editor Mark Oliver: “In 2019, we launched a series called Toxic America, inspired by the idea that compared with the EU and other places, US safeguards and regulations around the threat of toxic chemicals were weaker. It’s one of those times where our outsider lens on the US can be helpful for how we see issues that perhaps other outlets aren’t seeing with as much alarm. We got a lot of engagement from readers on that series, and they helped us fund more journalism in that area. We’ve been in the vanguard of coverage around this ever since.”

 

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

 

Biden Harris Administration Finalizes First-Ever National Drinking Water Standard To Protect 100M People From PFAS Pollution

Today, April 10, the Biden-Harris Administration issued the first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard to protect communities from exposure to harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals.’ Exposure to PFAS has been linked to deadly cancers, impacts to the liver and heart, and immune and developmental damage to infants and children. This final rule represents the most significant step to protect public health under EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap. The final rule will reduce PFAS exposure for approximately 100 million people, prevent thousands of deaths, and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses. Today’s announcement complements President Biden’s government-wide action plan to combat PFAS pollution.

Through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, EPA is also making unprecedented funding available to help ensure that all people have clean and safe water. In addition to today’s final rule, EPA is announcing nearly $1 billion in newly available funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination. This is part of a $9 billion investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help communities with drinking water impacted by PFAS and other emerging contaminants – the largest-ever investment in tackling PFAS pollution. An additional $12 billion is available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for general drinking water improvements, including addressing emerging contaminants like PFAS.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan will join White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory to announce the final standard today at an event in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 2017, area residents learned that the Cape Fear River, the drinking water source for 1 million people in the region, had been heavily contaminated with PFAS pollution from a nearby manufacturing facility. Today’s announcements will help protect communities like Fayetteville from further devastating impacts of PFAS.

“Drinking water contaminated with PFAS has plagued communities across this country for too long,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “That is why President Biden has made tackling PFAS a top priority, investing historic resources to address these harmful chemicals and protect communities nationwide. Our PFAS Strategic Roadmap marshals the full breadth of EPA’s authority and resources to protect people from these harmful forever chemicals. Today, I am proud to finalize this critical piece of our Roadmap, and in doing so, save thousands of lives and help ensure our children grow up healthier.”

“President Biden believes that everyone deserves access to clean, safe drinking water, and he is delivering on that promise,” said Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “The first national drinking water standards for PFAS marks a significant step towards delivering on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing environmental justice, protecting communities, and securing clean water for people across the country.”

“Under President Biden’s leadership, we are taking a whole-of-government approach to tackle PFAS pollution and ensure that all Americans have access to clean, safe drinking water. Today’s announcement by EPA complements these efforts and will help keep our communities safe from these toxic ‘forever chemicals,’” said Deputy Assistant to the President for the Cancer Moonshot, Dr. Danielle Carnival. “Coupled with the additional $1 billion investment from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to help communities address PFAS pollution, the reductions in exposure to toxic substances delivered by EPA’s standards will further the Biden Cancer Moonshot goal of reducing the cancer death rate by at least half by 2047 and preventing more than four million cancer deaths — and stopping cancer before it starts by protecting communities from known risks associated with exposure to PFAS and other contaminants, including kidney and testicular cancers, and more.”

EPA is taking a signature step to protect public health by establishing legally enforceable levels for several PFAS known to occur individually and as mixtures in drinking water. This rule sets limits for five individual PFAS: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, and HFPO-DA (also known as “GenX Chemicals”). The rule also sets a limit for mixtures of any two or more of four PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX chemicals.” By reducing exposure to PFAS, this final rule will prevent thousands of premature deaths, tens of thousands of serious illnesses, including certain cancers and liver and heart impacts in adults, and immune and developmental impacts to infants and children.

This final rule advances President Biden’s commitment to ending cancer as we know it as part of the Biden Cancer Moonshot, to ensuring that all Americans have access to clean, safe, drinking water, and to furthering the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to environmental justice by protecting communities that are most exposed to toxic chemicals.

EPA estimates that between about 6% and 10% of the 66,000 public drinking water systems subject to this rule may have to take action to reduce PFAS to meet these new standards. All public water systems have three years to complete their initial monitoring for these chemicals. They must inform the public of the level of PFAS measured in their drinking water. Where PFAS is found at levels that exceed these standards, systems must implement solutions to reduce PFAS in their drinking water within five years.

The new limits in this rule are achievable using a range of available technologies and approaches including granular activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange systems. For example, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, serving Wilmington, NC – one of the communities most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination – has effectively deployed a granular activated carbon system to remove PFAS regulated by this rule. Drinking water systems will have flexibility to determine the best solution for their community.

EPA will be working closely with state co-regulators in supporting water systems and local officials to implement this rule. In the coming weeks, EPA will host a series of webinars to provide information to the public, communities, and water utilities about the final PFAS drinking water regulation. To learn more about the webinars, please visit EPA’s PFAS drinking water regulation webpage. EPA has also published a toolkit of communications resources to help drinking water systems and community leaders educate the public about PFAS, where they come from, their health risks, how to reduce exposure, and about this rule.

“We are thankful that Administrator Regan and the Biden Administration are taking this action to protect drinking water in North Carolina and across the country,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “We asked for this because we know science-based standards for PFAS and other compounds are desperately needed.”

“For decades, the American people have been exposed to the family of incredibly toxic ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS with no protection from their government. Those chemicals now contaminate virtually all Americans from birth. That’s because for generations, PFAS chemicals slid off of every federal environmental law like a fried egg off a Teflon pan — until Joe Biden came along,” said Environmental Working Group President and Co-Founder Ken Cook. “We commend EPA Administrator Michael Regan for his tireless leadership to make this decision a reality, and CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory for making sure PFAS is tackled with the ‘whole of government’ approach President Biden promised. There is much work yet to be done to end PFAS pollution. The fact that the EPA has adopted the very strong policy announced today should give everyone confidence that the Biden administration will stay the course and keep the president’s promises, until the American people are protected, at long last, from the scourge of PFAS pollution.”

“We learned about GenX and other PFAS in our tap water six years ago. I raised my children on this water and watched loved ones suffer from rare or recurrent cancers. No one should ever worry if their tap water will make them sick or give them cancer. I’m grateful the Biden EPA heard our pleas and kept its promise to the American people. We will keep fighting until all exposures to PFAS end and the chemical companies responsible for business-related human rights abuses are held fully accountable,” said Emily Donovan, co-founder of Clean Cape Fear.

More details about funding to address PFAS in Drinking Water

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is making an unprecedented $21 billion available to strengthen our nation’s drinking water systems, including by addressing PFAS contamination. Of that, $9 billion is specifically for tackling PFAS and emerging contaminants. The financing programs delivering this funding are part of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which set the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

Additionally, EPA has a nationwide Water Technical Assistance program to help small, rural, and disadvantaged communities access federal resources by working directly with water systems to identify challenges like PFAS; develop plans; build technical, managerial, and financial capacity; and apply for water infrastructure funding. Learn more about EPA’s Water Technical Assistance programs.

More details about the final PFAS drinking water standards:

  • For PFOA and PFOS, EPA is setting a Maximum Contaminant Level Goal, a non-enforceable health-based goal, at zero. This reflects the latest science showing that there is no level of exposure to these contaminants without risk of health impacts, including certain cancers.
  • EPA is setting enforceable Maximum Contaminant Levels at 4.0 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS, individually. This standard will reduce exposure from these PFAS in our drinking water to the lowest levels that are feasible for effective implementation.
  • For PFNA, PFHxS, and “GenX Chemicals,” EPA is setting the MCLGs and MCLs at 10 parts per trillion.
  • Because PFAS can often be found together in mixtures, and research shows these mixtures may have combined health impacts, EPA is also setting a limit for any mixture of two or more of the following PFAS: PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and “GenX Chemicals.”

EPA is issuing this rule after reviewing extensive research and science on how PFAS affects public health, while engaging with the water sector and with state regulators to ensure effective implementation. EPA also considered 120,000 comments on the proposed rule from a wide variety of stakeholders.

Background:

PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals,’ are prevalent in the environment. PFAS are a category of chemicals used since the 1940s to repel oil and water and resist heat, which makes them useful in everyday products such as nonstick cookware, stain resistant clothing, and firefighting foam. The science is clear that exposure to certain PFAS over a long period of time can cause cancer and other illnesses.  In addition, PFAS exposure during critical life stages such as pregnancy or early childhood can also result in adverse health impacts.

Across the country, PFAS contamination is impacting millions of people’s health and wellbeing. People can be exposed to PFAS through drinking water or food contaminated with PFAS, by coming into contact with products that contain PFAS, or through workplace exposures in certain industries.

Since EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the PFAS Strategic Roadmap in October 2021, EPA has taken action – within the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach – by advancing science and following the law to safeguard public health, protect the environment, and hold polluters accountable. The actions described in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap each represent important and meaningful steps to protect communities from PFAS contamination. Cumulatively, these actions will build upon one another and lead to more enduring and protective solutions. In December 2023, the EPA released its second annual report on PFAS progress. The report highlights significant accomplishments achieved under the EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

Source: U.S. EPA

PFAS in Prison Water


Posted April 8th, 2024

Nearly half of US prisons draw water likely contaminated with toxic PFAS

Around 1m people, including 13,000 youths, especially vulnerable because they can do little to protect themselves

Nearly half of US prisons draw water from sources likely contaminated with toxic PFAS “forever chemicals”, new research finds.

At least around 1m people incarcerated in the US, including 13,000 juveniles, are estimated to be housed in the prisons, and they are especially vulnerable to the dangerous chemicals because there is little they can do to protect themselves, said Nicholas Shapiro, a study co-author at the University of California in Los Angeles.

“We need to think about who is exposed and who has the least agency to mitigate their exposure – that’s why this is such a unique population,” he said. “We see the dehumanization of incarcerated people across the country, and these exposures are symptoms of that larger problem.”

PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 15,000 chemicals often used to make products resistant to water, stains and heat. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, and are linked to cancer, liver problems, thyroid issues, birth defects, kidney disease, decreased immunity and other serious health problems.

The study analyzed the likelihood that watersheds serving the nation’s 6,118 carceral facilities were contaminated with PFAS. The authors zoomed in on hydrologic unit codes to identify those regions near prisons most likely to be contaminated from nearby airports, military sites, landfills, wastewater treatment plants and a range of manufacturing facilities.

The study found that testing has only been performed on several hundred of the drinking water sources identified, and better monitoring is “desperately needed”, the authors wrote. The true number of incarcerated people drinking contaminated water is likely much higher, they noted.

Shapiro highlighted a women’s prison near Tampa, Florida, that draws from groundwater highly contaminated by PFAS-laden firefighting foam from by a nearby firefighting school. Foam is one of the largest sources of PFAS water pollution in the US.

Levels in the groundwater were 170 times higher than state health guidelines, and officials warned residents who drew the water – but no one alerted the incarcerated people or did anything to prevent their exposure. Even when incarcerated people learned of the threat, the state would not provide clean water.

That is especially a problem because the nation’s prison population is generally in poorer health than the non-incarcerated population, and the issue disproportionately threatens people of color and people with lower incomes, Shapiro noted.

“For all of these reasons, we need to take extra care to understand these exposures and mitigate them,” he said.

Source: The Guardian

Pure Water Gazette Fair Use Statement

Postcards


Posted March 20th, 2024

Why We Send Postcard Reminders

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If you have a product of ours that requires regular replacement parts, we send you a postcard reminder once a year. Reminders go to customers who need filter cartridges for whole house or drinking water filters or reverse osmosis units, washing machine or garden hose filters. Even shower filters.  UV customers also get cards to remind them to replace the ultraviolet lamp.

Cards are sent with the broad assumption that cartridges and lamps need to be replaced once a year. It’s an imperfect system, and once a year is as close as we can get. We fully realize that in some homes one person uses the shower filter while in others six do.   People often tell us things like the filter is in a summer home that is unoccupied much of the year, or that their daughter has gone away to college, so they don’t need replacements as often. That’s way too complicated for us. We are simple people and it’s a simple system.  Once a year. And it’s once a year from your last purchase: If we send a card in February and you purchase in April, you’ll get your next reminder in April. And if you don’t purchase, you don’t get another postcard.

And if you get a card and don’t buy anything, you won’t get another card until you buy something, so rest assured that buying a countertop water filter from us does not put you on a never-ending mailing list. We aren’t like the Vet who’ll keep sending cards until you take Bowser in for his rabies shot.

Postcards may be the most popular thing we do, judging from the many thank-you notes we get. Cards make re-ordering easy. They tell you what you need to know to order by phone or from our website.

Why don’t we send email reminders instead? Email is cheaper and easier. We’ve tried, and email isn’t even remotely as effective as a postcard.