Vinyl Chloride

Posted September 17th, 2018

Vinyl Chloride

Vinyl chloride is not found in nature. It is a man-made cancer causer that gets into water supplies mainly as a result of manufacturing emissions and spills. It serves as a raw material to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polymers (plastics). PVC is used to manufacture many industrial and consumer products: water and sewer pipe, wire insulation, floor and wall coverings, toys, medical devices, food packaging, etc.

Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. It is a danger especially to workers in manufacturing plants where it is used. As a water contaminant, the greatest danger is from contaminated wells.  It seeps into wells as a result of manufacturing leakage and spills.

Removal of vinyl chloride is accomplished best by filtration with granular activated carbon and by reverse osmosis units. Some distillers remove vinyl chloride.

Go here for more information.

A Filter Control Valve that Costs Less and Does Not Need Electricity



Fleck’s Simple 2510 Manual Control.  No Electricity Required. It Isn’t Sexy, But It’s Very Functional.

Fleck 2510 Manual.  This is the most basic of filter valves, yet in many situations it can be the best.  In spite of the low price, it’s a tough and durable piece of equipment.  The 2510 Manual is a  non-electric control that requires manual backwash and rinse.  It is, therefore, not practical if backwashing needs to be performed daily (as with many iron filters, for example), but for a clean city water application where chlorine removal is the main purpose, a monthly backwash is often sufficient and performing it can be a 15-minute task.  The valve operates with a simple selection lever and has only three choices: Service (means the filter is in service, providing water for the home), backwash, and rinse.  Performing the backwash and rinse is like shifting gears in an car: pull the lever to backwash and let it run for five to ten minutes, pull it down to rinse for a couple of minutes, then return it to service.


Simple lever-controlled programming includes Service, Backwash, and Rapid Rinse positions. No electricity needed.

The 2510 Manual Control unit has exactly the same capacity as the larger-format, fully automatic 2510 timer control, but it costs approximately $150 less and requires no electrical connection.

Suggested uses:

City water chlorine or chloramine filters that require only infrequent backwashing.

Remote installations like seasonal cabins where an electrical connection is not available.

“Off the grid” installations where saving electricity is high priority.

Installations where a permanent drain connection is not convenient. (The filter must have a drain for backwash and rinse water, but it can be hooked to a garden hose and used for lawn or garden irrigation. The filter’s drain can be easily fitted with a garden hose connection.)

Any intermittent-use application where it’s easier to regenerate the filter manually than to continually reprogram an electric control valve.





N.J. is first state to regulate toxic PFNAs in drinking water


New Jersey has become the first state to regulate its drinking water for a man-made, toxic chemical compound once used in making nonstick cookware and now linked to a variety of health problems.

A new Department of Environmental Protection rule will cap the amount of compounds known as PFNAs, short for perfluorononanoic acid. For years, the state has been concerned about the level of PFNAs detected in water samples and has studied how the compounds were making their way into water.  The state has even found some of the compounds in fish from recreational waterways and has begun issuing consumption advisories.

PFNAs are part of a large group of chemical compounds known as PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The compounds were also used to make firefighting foam, stain-resistant clothing, and food packaging.  They have been linked to low infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer, and hormone disruption.  PFAS can accumulate in the body and remain for long periods.

There are no federal standards for the compounds.  Environmental Protection Agency officials under the Trump administration sought to block the release in June of a federal study showing that the same class of chemicals that contaminated water supplies near military bases and other areas, worrying it would cause a “public relations nightmare.”  Since then, the EPA has held a series of public forums on the compounds, including one in Horsham that drew hundreds of residents.

The New Jersey rule amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to set a maximum contaminant level of 13 parts per trillion of PFNAs starting in 2019.  It aligns with Gov. Murphy’s much more aggressive environmental policies compared with the Christie administration, which declined to take up the issue. Environmental groups have long sought such regulation.

“Today, the state has met the challenge to protect people from exposure to PFNAs, one of the most toxic perfluorinated compounds known,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

PFNAs were first detected in the Delaware River watershed in Gloucester County in 2010, according to the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.  The compound was found in a groundwater well in Paulsboro near the Solvay plastics manufacturing plant.  The Paulsboro groundwater showed concentration of 96 parts per trillion.  Higher levels were later found.  The borough filed notice it would sue Solvay, which led to a water treatment system to remove the compound.

Reprinted from

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Prices and Tariffs

Posted September 6th, 2018

Prices they are a-changin’


When all the political smoke clears, the truth about “tariffs” is that they amount to a tax increase that isn’t called a tax increase.

And it isn’t the Chinese or the Mexicans or the Canadians who pay the tax. It’s American consumers.

For those who buy water treatment equipment, taxes are going up sharply. One of our vendors just notified us that all products from one major American supplier are going up 4 to 8 percent because of tariffs. Our main parts vendor has just notified us that the prices of filter media and softener resin, filter tanks, and control valves are going to increase sharply. That means prices of finished filters and softeners will rise considerably.

Prices tend to spiral. When a tax on Chinese carbon forces up the price, this allows domestic carbon makers some room to raise their prices and still remain competitive. Foreign-made and American-made both go up. And once prices go up, they hardly every come back down, tariff or no tariff.

In a nutshell: because of the tax increase, we expect that our water softeners, tank-style and cartridge-style filters, filter media and parts in general will be selling for about 10% more.  Very soon.


Posted August 31st, 2018


Chloride, one of the most prevalent anions found in water, combines most commonly with the cations sodium, calcium, and magnesium.

Chloride levels in most waters range from 10 to 100 mg/l, and sea water contains over 30,000 mg/l chloride in combination with sodium, as NaCl.

Chloride is an essential electrolyte that helps to maintain pH, transmit nerve impulses and regulate cellular fluids.

Chloride in water is more a plumbing issue than a health issue.

Chloride, when concentrated, can cause corrosion of metal piping, so when treating water high in chloride plastic is usually preferred to stainless steel for reverse osmosis membrane housings. Iron is leached into water from metal pipes when high levels of chloride are present. Chloride is the main cause of pitting of stainless steel. Chloride combines with hydrogen to produce hydrochloric acid.

The suggested MCL for chloride is 250 ppm. Above this level water often has an unpleasant salty taste.

Reverse osmosis removes around 95% of chloride, and electrodialysis and distillation are also effective. In industrial settings, strong base anion exchangers can be used.

In practical terms for most residential users, in city water chloride is not a problem.  For well owners with high chlorides, undersink reverse osmosis takes care of drinking water.  If water is so high in chlorides that it is unusable for irrigation, whole house reverse osmosis is an option.


The World’s Most Polluted River


Environmental Regulation Matters

The Citarum is the longest and largest river in West Java, Indonesia. It is the third longest river in Java and has an important role in the life of the people of West Java, as it supports agriculture, water supply, fishery, industry, sewerage, and electricity. No one argues that it is perhaps the most polluted river in the world.

Despite the fact that the Citarum River has been named the world’s most polluted river by the World Bank, around 28 million people in Indonesia depend on it for irrigation and electricity — as well as nearly 80 percent of the capital city’s water supply.

It is estimated that more than 20,000 tons of waste and 340,000 tons of wastewater are disposed of directly into the waterways of the third-biggest river in Java every day from thousands of textile factories, killing nearly 60 percent of the river’s fish species and causing health problems for people who live along the banks of the polluted river.

In recent years, the Indonesian government has vowed to clean the Citarum River as studies from environmental groups had found that levels of lead in the river reached 1,000 times the U.S. standard for drinking water, but the problem has persisted due to the lack of coordination, maintenance and enforcement.


Yes, people still swim in it and use the water.



Fleck Control Valve Warranties

The generous “five-year warranty” on standard Fleck control valves doesn’t mean that the valve will be replaced or repaired for anything at all that goes wrong during the warranty period. In fact, most things that go wrong with filter and softener valves are regarded as normal wear and tear and are the responsibility of the owner.

Parts that are obviously defective are replaced through warranty. Examples would be a failed display screen or a burned-out transformer or a motor that stops working. In these cases, though, it is normally up to the owner to diagnose the problem and do the repair. You may have to send in the faulty part, pay shipping charges yourself, and wait for the replacement part.

City Units vs. Well Units

Filters and softeners running on clean city water normally sail through the warranty period and last years beyond without a problem.  Units treating challenging well water issues like iron, manganese, heavy sediment, or extreme hardness, on the other hand, can be expected to need some maintenance from time to time. Harsh operating conditions cause problems that are regarded as normal wear and tear.

Seals and Spacers

The most common control valve issue that well water users face is replacement of seals and spacers.  The seals and spacers that surround the inner piston are vulnerable to damage by adverse water conditions. If you are treating iron, you can be certain that you will eventually have seal and spacer replacement to perform. Seals and spacers are non-warranty parts that fall into the “normal wear and tear” category regardless of how long they last.  The manufacturer does not replace seals and spacers or reimburse for labor charges.

The difficulty of seal and spacer replacement for the three most popular Fleck residential control valves varies.  All can be repaired without removing the control valve from its tank, but some are much easier than others.


Seals and Spacers are relatively inexpensive parts ($20 and up). 


In order of replacement difficulty:

Fleck 2510: Special tools are not absolutely required, but highly recommended.  Both extraction and replacement of seals and spacers can be difficult without owning the “puller” and “stuffer” tools sold by Fleck.

Fleck 5600: No special tools needed and the job can be done by anyone with normal handyman skills.

Fleck 5810: Fleck’s newest valve is easiest to service. Seals and spacers are sold in a cartridge format and are easy to replace. No special tools needed.

Seal and Spacer replacement is explained in most Fleck control valve manuals, and online videos a plentiful. Parts are also easy to find.

Industry Knew About Dangers of PFASs Decades Ago, But Kept It Secret


Research on the dangerous health effects of perfluorinated alkylate substances (PFASs)—chemicals widely used in everything from carpets and nonstick cookware to firefighting foams—was kept hidden for decades, according to a new editorial by Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Grandjean wrote that industry-sponsored animal studies documented PFAS toxicity in 1978 but were not shared with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until 2000. This delay prevented the development of proper guidelines for safe levels of the chemicals in drinking water, according to Grandjean.

PFAS have been linked to a range of health problems, including testicular and kidney cancers, decreased birth weight, and thyroid disease. While most companies have stopped producing two forms of PFASs— perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)—the chemicals persist in drinking water systems, and new forms of PFASs are raising concerns.

“It’s frustrating to be an environmental health researcher and spend years and years to characterize the exposures and the adverse health effects of these compounds, only to discover that most of that information was already known but had been kept secret,” Grandjean told Environmental Health News.

Grandjean’s revelation underlines the basic truth that allowing industry to voluntarily regulate itself does not work. Strong governmental oversight is essential.

Trump Reversal of Chlorpyrifos Ban Reversed by Court

A federal appeals court ruled August 9 that the Trump administration endangered public health by keeping a widely used pesticide on the market despite extensive scientific evidence that even tiny levels of exposure can harm babies’ brains.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days.

A coalition of farmworkers and environmental groups sued last year after then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt reversed an Obama-era effort to ban chlorpyrifos, which is widely sprayed on citrus fruit, apples and other crops. The attorneys general for several states joined the case against EPA, including California, New York and Massachusetts.

Chlorpyrifos was created by Dow Chemical Co. in the 1960s. It remains among the most widely used agricultural pesticides in the United States, with the chemical giant selling about 5 million pounds domestically each year.


Chlorpyrifos is marketed under such brand names as Dursban and Lorsban

Chlorpyrifos belongs to a family of organophosphate pesticides that are chemically similar to a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany before World War II. As a result of its wide use as a pesticide over the past four decades, traces of chlorpyrifos are commonly found in sources of drinking water. A 2012 study at the University of California at Berkeley found that 87 percent of umbilical-cord blood samples tested from newborn babies contained detectable levels of the pesticide.

In October 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning the pesticide’s use on food. A risk assessment memo issued by nine EPA scientists concluded: “There is a breadth of information available on the potential adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children as a result of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos.”

Federal law requires EPA to ensure that pesticides used on food in the United States are safe for human consumption — especially children, who are typically far more sensitive to the negative effects of poisons.

Shortly after his appointment by President Donald Trump in 2017, Pruitt announced he was reversing the Obama administration effort to ban chlorpyrifos, adopting Dow’s position that the science showing chlorpyrifos is harmful was inconclusive and flawed.

The Associated Press reported in June 2017 that Pruitt announced his agency’s reversal on chlorpyrifos just 20 days after his official schedule showed a meeting with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris. At the time, Liveris headed a White House manufacturing working group, and his company had written a $1 million check to help underwrite Trump’s inaugural festivities.

Pruitt resigned July 6 amid more than a dozen ethics investigations. 

Little information is available about point of use treatment of chlorpyrifos in water, but treatment with GAC has been used with some success in wastewater treatment. Chlorpyrifos has also been reduced with ozone and coagulation. Some states now have established standards for chlorpyrifos.  Florida, for example, has a legal maximum of only 21 parts per billion.


Reference: Huffington Post

Chemicals that keep drinking water flowing may also cause fouling

by Yun Shen et al

Research from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Summary: Many city drinking water systems add softening agents to keep plumbing free of pipe-clogging mineral buildup. According to new research, these additives may amplify the risk of pathogen release into drinking water by weakening the grip that bacteria — like those responsible for Legionnaires’ disease — have on pipe interiors.

Many city drinking water systems add softening agents to keep plumbing free of pipe-clogging mineral buildup. According to new research, these additives may amplify the risk of pathogen release into drinking water by weakening the grip that bacteria — like those responsible for Legionnaires’ disease — have on pipe interiors.


Biofilms, which are similar to the films that grow on the glass of fish tanks, are present in almost all plumbing systems and anchor themselves to mineral scale buildups in pipes. They are teeming with harmless microbial life and incidents of waterborne illness are rare.

“The groundwater that supplies many cities may be high in magnesium and calcium,” said Helen Nguyen, a professor of civil engineering and co-author of the study. “When combined with other elements, they can form thick deposits of mineral scale that clog up engineered water systems. Because of this, water treatment plants add chemicals called polyphosphates to dissolve the minerals to keep the scale buildup under control.”

A recent study by co-author and civil and environmental engineering professor Wen-Tso Liu has shown that even with the addition of antimicrobial agents by water companies, the bacteria that grow on the mineral scale can reproduce to harmful levels in supplies that stagnate within indoor plumbing.

In a new study published in the journal Biofilms and Microbiomes, a team of University of Illinois engineers shows that the addition of anti-scalant chemicals cause the biofilms to grow thicker and become softer.

The team measured the thickness and stiffness of lab-grown biofilms using magnetomotive optical coherence elastography — a tool used to measure the strength of cancer tissues. The analytical method, developed by Stephen Boppart, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and study co-author, allowed the team to quantify the effect that polyphosphate has on the strength of biofilms.

To reproduce what happens in engineered plumbing systems, the team used PVC pipe and groundwater from the Champaign-Urbana area source to grow biofilms. They set up multiple scenarios with and without added polyphosphates. All scenarios produced biofilms, but the system that used polyphosphates grew a much thicker and softer biofilms than the others, the researchers said.

“Increased biofilm thickness means more bacteria, and the softening increases the chance that pieces will detach and foul the water supply under normal flow pressure,” Nguyen said. “Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency up to the property line, not the tap. So, in buildings where water has been stagnating for a while, this could become a public health issue.”

A problem, according to researchers, is that some sort of anti-scalant chemical is required to maintain adequate water flow through pipes. “Of course, one solution could be to replace pipes once they become clogged with mineral buildup,” Nguyen said. “But that would be a very expensive endeavor for public utilities and property owners in a country as large as the United States.”

Nguyen believes that the most affordable and realistic solution will come through a better understanding of water chemistry, not by trying to kill all microbes, ripping out pipes or changing regulations.

“Before this work, we did not have a good understanding of the relationship between the water chemistry and microbiome that exists in plumbing. This work has given us initial insight and tools to help determine what chemicals will work best and at what concentration,” Nguyen said.

The team is moving ahead with related studies that look at ways to help physically remove biofilms while pipes remain in place and others that look at the effects of anti-corrosive chemicals on biofilms and water quality.

“We will not be able to control how long a drinking water user will allow water to stagnate, but we can work to understand how the chemicals we add to our water interact with biofilms.”

Reprinted from Science News.

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