The Pure Water Occasional for November 24, 2014
In this pre-Thanksgiving Occasional, you’ll hear about DEA, MEA, TEA, BHA. & BHT. Also there are stories about gummy lake invaders, lead in Brick, Clean Water Action, and fish farming. There’s yet another long, long beached oarfish and a tale of oily wastewater near Plaquemines Parish. Learn of the threat to Hetch Hetchy water and find out how the just and the unjust stack up rainwise. Glacier National Park is threatened by its loss of glaciers and copper-silver treatment for Legionella is questioned. Hear of polluted salmon streams and a modern-day Atlantis. Learn how Barack Obama pissed of the Australians, how Coca Cola pissed off the Northern Indians, and how you can piss off your Grandma when she visits for Christmas. You’ll be surprised to learn the number of desal plants in the world, the number of viruses in a drop of sea water, and the TDS of the Arabian Sea. There are articles by Bee Sharper, Pure Water Annie, and, as always, there is much, much more.
To read this issue on the Pure Water Gazette’s website, please go here. (Recommended! When you read online you get the added advantage of the Gazette’s sidebar feed of the very latest world water news.)
Do you know how many toxic chemicals are in your shampoo, your lipstick, your toothpaste?
by Joy McCarthy
We’ve been using cosmetics and personal-care products for thousands of years, from body paint to eye makeup, in nearly every single culture in the world. Egyptians first started using scented oils and ointments to clean and soften skin. They were also the first to use toxic chemicals in their beauty products, with lead and arsenic being common ingredients.
Fast-forward to today and you’d assume things have gotten better, right?
Not exactly. In 2007, researchers at the California-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found what they thought to be “hazardous levels” of lead in one-third of the red lipsticks they tested. And lead isn’t the only issue. There are over 84,000 chemicals registered for use with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (Being registered does not imply safety, only that they are used and tracked in some capacity.) Only 200 of these chemicals have been reviewed by Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan. (Again, these chemicals are not necessarily safe.) We’re still using chemicals we know are toxic, as well as a host of others whose effects are unknown.
While words like “lead” or “arsenic” would certainly raise your eyebrows, it’s not always so easy to discern the harmless from the potentially harmful. Here’s a list of the chemical “usual suspects” to watch out for, according to the David Suzuki Foundation:
• BHA and BHT. These are used as preservatives in moisturizers and makeup. Both are thought to be endocrine disruptors (chemicals that can interfere with hormones) and BHA has been linked to cancer.
• Coal-tar dyes. These are dyes that will have “Cl” followed by a five-digit number on the label (or in the United States, “FD&C” followed by the colour). These dyes are potentially carcinogenic and may be contaminated with toxic heavy metals.
• Siloxanes. Anything that ends in “-siloxane” or “-methicone” falls into this category. These chemicals are used as moisturizers in makeup and hair-care products, but they may also interfere with hormone function and damage your liver.
• DEA, MEA and TEA. These chemicals give moisturizers and shampoos a creamy, foamy texture, but they can also react with other chemicals to form cancer-causing nitrosamines.
• Phthalates. These plasticizer chemicals make personal-care products easier to handle and apply. They’re also suspected endocrine disruptors and reproductive toxins, and definitely not something that should be in cosmetics targeted at women (or anyone, for that matter).
• Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Remember that toxic, carcinogenic liquid used to preserve your high-school biology dissection project? It may be lurking in your nail-care products, hair dyes and shampoos under the names formic aldehyde, formalin, DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea or others.
• Parabens. These preservatives are found in a wide range of beauty products and have been linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer.
• Fragrance (a.k.a. parfum). Even products marked “unscented” may contain fragrance, so check your labels thoroughly. Because fragrances are often considered “trade secrets,” manufacturers aren’t usually required to disclose what chemicals they comprise, but some fragrance chemicals have been linked to cancer and neurotoxicity, while many can trigger asthma and allergies. The best course of action here is to call the manufacturer and see if they will disclose their ingredients.
• PEG. These compounds are used in many cosmetic cream bases, as well as in conditioners and deodorants, and can be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.
• Petrolatum. Doesn’t that word look an awful lot like “petroleum?” That’s because this is a petroleum product – meaning its very production isn’t great for our environment – usually used for shine and as a moisture barrier in cosmetics and skin-care products. But these petroleum products can also be contaminated with cancer-causing impurities.
• Sodium laureth (or lauryl) sulfate. Also known as SLES and SLS, these two chemicals were initially used as industrial cleaners in car-wash soaps and engine degreasers and now produce the foam associated with a wide variety of personal-care products, including shampoos and bubble baths. SLES and SLS can be irritating to sensitive skin and can be contaminated with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.
• Triclosan. This antibacterial compound found in toothpastes, soaps and hand sanitizers may do more harm than good, since it may interfere with hormone function and lead to liver fibrosis, as a new study shows. Plus, it contributes to the creation of superbugs, as bacteria become resistant to its antibiotic properties.
This list may feel a little overwhelming at first and you may be thinking that cosmetics companies wouldn’t put anything unsafe in their products, right? That’s a reasonable conclusion, but unfortunately we must be responsible for what we put on our bodies because many companies are not, in fact, looking out for our health.
Some companies defend their products with the claim that each potential toxin is in such tiny doses that it couldn’t possibly cause harm. However, most people use a variety of products, from body wash to body lotion to perfume to lip gloss, and that’s just first thing in the morning. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the average person is exposed to 126 toxic chemicals from personal care alone, per day. What about all these toxic chemicals in combination? The problem is, we just don’t know.
When I personally made the switch to clean beauty products more than 10 years ago along with healthy lifestyle changes, my health transformed for the better, including clearer skin. Not only do I feel good using products with coconut oil as a base but I know that these products are safe for the environment as well. No fish will be bothered by the fact that the main ingredient in my face wash is coconut milk.
Ditching toxic ingredients and replacing them with clean ones in your personal-care products will go a long way to helping your skin glow from the inside out and lessen the burden on your liver, the body’s main organ of detoxification which has to neutralize every itty-bitty chemical that comes into contact with your skin.
Source: The Globe and Mail.
Industrial Pollution Is Turning Lakes into “Jelly”
by Rachel Feltman
As Canadian lakes have become more acidic, they’ve become increasingly dominated by jelly-like plankton that are throwing things out of whack, new research suggests. And these gummy invaders aren’t going anywhere. Soon, they could even disrupt the country’s water supply.
Years of industrial pollution have replaced the calcium that should be in Canadian soil with acid. Over time, as the drainage areas that feed the country’s lakes are leeched of their calcium, so are the lakes themselves.
Gummy Invaders are Bad News for Plankton (Click Picture for Larger View)
That’s bad news for the calcium-rich plankton (like the Daphnia water fleas) that used to thrive there. Research published recently in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B suggests that these plankton may be losing their turf to invaders less friendly to human needs.
Daphnia need calcium to build up their exoskeleton. Without it, they’re more vulnerable to predators, and their populations have been dropping. Meanwhile, the researchers report, climate change has caused oxygen levels in the lakes to decline as well. This makes for higher populations of larval midges, which are Daphnia’s main predators.
That’s allowed the opportunistic Holopedium to jump in, and the study authors report that populations of these gelatinous plankton have exploded in the past few decades. They only need a tenth of the calcium that Daphnia do, and are protected by their outer jelly capsules instead of by hard exoskeletons.
According to the researchers, Holopedium have been steadily increasing since around 1850 — around the same time that industrialization began.
Why worry about jelly lakes? The researchers believe that these plankton will continue to increase in number, and will eventually be numerous enough to clog up the extraction of drinking water. They also worry that the plankton will disrupt the food chain, eventually causing changes in the populations of other organisms.
“It may take thousands of years to return to historic lake water calcium concentrations solely from natural weathering of surrounding watersheds,” study co-author Andrew Tanentzap of the University of Cambridge said in a statement. “In the meanwhile, while we’ve stopped acid rain and improved the pH of many of these lakes, we cannot claim complete recovery from acidification. Instead, we may have pushed these lakes into an entirely new ecological state.”
Source: Washington Post.
Brick residents sound off on lead in their water
by Kevin Pentón
Gazette Introductory Note: The lead issue at Brick, New Jersey illustrates a common problem for which “authorities” draw some unrealistic conclusions. The advice to run water for 30 seconds before drinking isn’t really a sustainable alternative to proper treatment for lead. This is clearly a case where “point of use” treatment is the sensible solution. The Clean Water Action official’s advice that “most filters on the market won’t properly exclude lead” is essentially true, but what should be added is that many filters, even some very inexpensive ones, do effectively reduce lead. Reverse osmosis removes lead by its nature, and inexpensive carbon filters can be engineered to remove lead effectively. It certainly makes a lot more sense to use a “final barrier” drinking water treatment than to continually test your water for lead and scores of other possible contaminants or to trust your fate to running the water for 30 seconds before every drink.–Hardly Waite.
BRICK – Township residents are concerned over a recent report that elevated lead levels were found in the water of nearly half the homes tested this summer.
After reading the initial Asbury Park Press story on the issue, resident Michele Richards said she went out and spent over $10 on a lead test. Afterwards, she said she learned she would need to spend at least $30 so a laboratory can analyze the results.
“I pay enough taxes as it is,” Richards said. “I don’t feel like I should have to pay to test my drinking water.”
Water in 16 of the 34 homes tested this summer by the Brick Municipal Utilities Authority was found to have more lead than the maximum amount allowed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.
At least one home was found to have a lead level of 184.5 parts per billion, more than 12 times the FDA’s cap of 15 ppb.
State and local officials believe the source of the contamination is the pipes and solder inside residents’ homes, not the drinking water supplied by the authority to approximately 38,000 connections.
If the water was coming into homes dirty, then perhaps the authority or the township might have more of a responsibility to pay for individual lead tests, Mayor John Ducey said.
“Unfortunately, the problem is coming from inside residents’ homes,” Ducey said. “It doesn’t make any sense for the town to pay.”
Three years ago, the last time the authority tested for lead, it found three homes with levels above 15 ppb, according to its report.
One theory floated by the authority is that with superstorm Sandy forcing many people out of their homes and not subsequently running their household pipes, the underutilized water supply’s acidity levels may have increased near the ends of the system. The more acidic water would have then been more prone to eat away at the pipes and solder, releasing the lead.
On the Asbury Park Press’ Facebook page, Brick residents lamented the news and wondered aloud whether to buy filters or bottled water to be safe.
Most filters available on the market will not properly exclude lead from the water, said Amy Goldsmith, New Jersey director of Clean Water Action.
“Filters give people a false sense of security,” Goldsmith said. “Most filters don’t really work for lead.”
Boiling the water could actually make the problem worse, Goldsmith said. Heat will not cause lead, a metal, to vaporize or otherwise leave the water inside a kettle or pot, she said.
Boiling will cause some of the water to evaporate, leaving an even more lead-laden liquid, Goldsmith said.
“The best, easiest method is what Brick is advising residents to do, which is to run their pipes in the morning or after any other period when the water in the house has not been used,” Goldsmith said.
The authority, which had already begun to add a corrosion inhibitor to its water supply, is now expected to test every six months until the problem is remedied, according to the DEP.
Authority officials could not be reached for comment on whether they will consider paying for residents to test their water for lead.
“I don’t think the residents are getting the help that they need here from the town,” Richards said. “They’re just doing the minimum that they have to do.”
Water News for the week of November 24, 2014.
Click picture for larger view.
Food supply: Uncharted waters. Fish farming was initially seen as an environmentally friendly way to produce food using limited resources and agricultural waste. But in the 1980s, it came under pressure for the overuse of antibiotics and environmental issues such as destruction of mangroves and pollution from wastewater.
Texas oil company pleads guilty to dumping wastewater into Gulf. A Texas oil company has pleaded guilty to knowingly dumping oily wastewater into the Gulf near Plaquemines Parish for more than two years, saving it $1.5 million in disposal costs in the process, according to federal court documents.
California drought: S.F. wants to add groundwater to tap.The recipe for San Francisco’s famously delicious tap water is, gulp, about to change. Most city spigots, which, since the 1930s, have gushed water from Yosemite’s pristine Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, will start delivering the Sierra supply blended with a splash of local groundwater – by many measures, a far inferior source.
Colorado weighs taking “waste” out of wastewater to fix shortfall. Colorado water providers facing a shortfall of 163 billion gallons are turning to a long-ignored resource: wastewater. They’re calculating that, if even the worst sewage could be cleaned to the point it is safe to drink — filtered through super-fine membranes or constructed wetlands, treated with chemicals, zapped with ultraviolet rays — then the state’s dwindling aquifers and rivers could be saved,
It raineth on the just and the unjust
Two years ago, Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, endorsed the idea of transporting water from north to south via rivers and canals, highlighting the possibilities of the Grand Contour Canal, a scheme devised in the 1940s which would follow the contours of the hills from the Scottish Borders to the south-east of England.
At the time, he said: “The rain it raineth on the just and the unjust, says the Bible, but frankly it raineth a lot more in Scotland and Wales than it doth in England.”
A bold proposal to tackle water shortages in Britain’s southern counties by building a vast “super canal” between the two countries is being considered by both the UK and Scottish governments.
Read about a £14bn plan to share Scots water with England.
Climate change threatens to strip the identity of Glacier National Park. What will they call this place once the glaciers are gone? A century ago, this sweep of mountains on the Canadian border boasted some 150 ice sheets. Now a warming climate is melting Glacier’s glaciers. In 30 years, there may be none.
Rush to blame copper-silver water treatment for Legionella? For at least 20 years it had been the gold standard. The copper-silver ionization water disinfection system, when properly maintained, had proven time and time again that it could prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria in systems serving hospitals and other institutions.
Copper-silver — which uses electrical charges to spur copper and silver ions into water, killing Legionella — is considered by experts as the most effective of the water disinfectant technologies because it is less corrosive to pipes than other systems such as those using chlorine, and has the ability to get into the biofilm, or sludge, in pipes where Legionella can hide.
Despite that, there are signs that governmental agencies and institutions are backing away from copper-silver.
What rains carry into streams is making them unfit for salmon. As soon as the fall rains begin, the intermittent headwater streams that were dry all summer flow downstream into creeks, rivers, lakes and Puget Sound.
When rainstorms arrive after long dry spells, roads and highways become slick with oil and other pollutants from our cars. Excess fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides from manicured lawns flush downhill. Pollutants from stormwater runoff have rendered many streams in Snohomish County streams unsuitable for kids to swim and play.
Except in north Everett where storm drains connect to the sewage treatment plant, every parking lot or roadside storm drain in Snohomish County leads directly or indirectly to a creek, stream, river, lake or Puget Sound.
A Japanese engineering company, Shimizu Corporation, has released ambitious designs for an underwater city, a modern-day Atlantis.
With dry land increasingly at a premium, a Japanese construction company has come up with a plan to sink a spiralling city into the depths of our oceans.
Each Ocean Spiral will be home to about 5,000 people, according to Shimizu Corp., with each structure also incorporating business and office facilities, hotel and entertainment facilities.
A blueprint for the city of the future was unveiled in Tokyo this week, with Shimizu confidently predicting that the first of its underwater cities would be ready for residents to move in as early as 2030.
At the surface, the city will have a vast floating dome that could be made watertight and retracted beneath the surface in bad weather.
Beneath the dome, the spiral structure would descend as much as 9 miles to the seabed, where an “earth factory” would produce methane from carbon dioxide by using micro-organisms, the company said.
Read the full story and view a slideshow of an underwater city in The Telegraph.
Australia rebukes Barack Obama for warning on Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government has launched an “extraordinary” attack on Barack Obama over the US president’s concerns about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
The EPA is planning an ambitious clean-up for a lake polluted by a DuPont munitions plant in New Jersey. Details.
Coca-Cola blasted for ‘highly unsustainable’ water use in India. Government authorities have declared that Coca-Cola is ‘over-exploiting’ the groundwater around its controversial bottling factory in Mehdiganj, Northern India.
Pure Water Gazette Numerical Wizard Bea Sharper brings you up to date on the current water news in numbers.
Getting Drinking Water from the Sea
by B. Sharper
Bee Sharper rolls out some numbers on sea water desalination.
Approximate number of desalination plants in the world as of 2013 — 17,200.
Daily production capacity of these plants in gallons — 23 billion.
Percentage of these plants that make potable water from sea water — 59%.
Percentage that make potable water from brackish water — 22%.
Percentage that make potable water from river water and wastewater — 9%.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) count of the saltiest of sea waters (e. g,.the Arabian Gulf) — 50,000 mg/L.
Total dissolved solids (TDS) count of most ocean water — 35,000 mg/L.
Typical chloride content of sea water — 19,000 mg/L.
Typical calcium content of sea water — 400 mg/L.
Typical sodium content of sea water — 10,500 mg/L.
Typical number of viruses present in one drop of sea water — 10,000,000.
Nominal pore size of a reverse osmosis membrane used for desalination — 0.0001 to 0.001 microns.
Nominal pore size of a nanofiltration membrane — 0.001 microns.
Psi equivalent of one bar of pressure — 14.5.
Pressure required to treat sea water by reverse osmosis desalination — 55 to 70 bars (800 psi to 1000 psi).
Pressure required to treat brackish water by reverse osmosis desalination — 15 to 35 bars (220 psi to 500 psi).
Percentage of salts, organics, and microbes that are remove from sea water by high pressure reverse osmosis — 99%+.
Estimated per gallon cost of producing fresh water by desalination with reverse osmosis –1/2 cent.
Pure Water Gazette technical writer Pure Water Annie explains O-Rings
O-Rings are an essential part of most water filters. They’re the part that keeps the water where it’s supposed to be.
When your Grandma comes for a Christmas visit and you have to tell her that she can’t flush the toilet because you have no water because you wouldn’t fork over $2 for an o-ring for your whole house filter, don’t come whining to Pure Water Annie. I warned you.
O-rings are essential for leak-free performance of most water filtration equipment, but they can deteriorate over time. Regular o-ring replacement prevents leaks.
If you service your own water filter, a good rule to follow is never open the filter housing unless you have a replacement o-ring. This is especially true if you are servicing your whole house filter on Sunday afternoon or on the day before your holiday guests arrive. No matter how leak-free the filter has been, any time you open the housing, there’s a significant chance that the o-ring seal won’t hold when you reassemble the unit. Looking for an o-ring on Christmas Eve is no fun.
It only takes a small nick or a flat spot to make the o-ring unusable. And over-tightening can definitely cause the o-ring to “pancake” and refuse to fit into the groove on the housing.
A good thing to find out before you buy a product is the availability and cost of o-rings. The o-ring price for some “proprietary” (non-standard) products can be shocking. And worse, some vendors simply sell products and have no provision for such such standard upkeep parts as o-rings. Many good water filters are actually thrown away because the owner cannot find a replacement o-ring.
These o-rings fit in the cap of Pure Water Products’ Q Series filters and reverse osmosis units. Since the housing manufacturer does not provide them, we buy equivalents at a local hardware store and make them available to our customers.
Quick-connect fittings (John Guest, Mur-lok, etc.) are extremely reliable, but after time they may develop a slow leak. They can always be fixed by replacing the o-ring(s). Pure Water Products stocks quick-connect o-rings and the accessory collets.
Here are just some of the o-rings that we have in stock for immediate shipment, and we can overnight you an o-ring if you have a leak in your whole house unit on the day before your Grandma arrives for a visit.
- Countertop Filter O-Rings
- Undersink Filter O-Rings
- Reverse Osmosis: Undersink and Countertop
- Pura Ultraviolet
- Garden Hose Filters
- Compact Whole House: Cartridge Style Filters
- Viqua Advanced Water Products™ Housings
- Quick Connect Fittings
And while you’re looking at o-rings on our site, we suggest you pick up a small packet of silicon grease. The biggest enemies of o-rings are chloramine in the water, over-tightening the housing, and failure to lightly lubricate the o-ring.
Please visit our RO Parts Page for tanks and accessories. We also have dedicated parts pages for countertop water filters, undersink filters, and aeration equipment. We stock parts for everything we sell.
Thank you for reading. Please come back next week.
Places to Visit on Our Websites in the meantime.
Garden Hose Filters. Don’t be the last on your block to own one.
Model 77: “The World’s Greatest $77 Water Filter”
”Sprite Shower Filters: You’ll Sing Better!”
Write to the Gazette or the Occasional: firstname.lastname@example.org
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