The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs recently announced that it has been awarded $122,000 in federal grants to help several communities in the South Coast of Massachusetts protect and restore the important Buzzards Bay, according to Water World.
Officials in San Angelo, Texas, recently received noticed that the drinking water supply in the city contained too many chemical by-products that could potentially be harmful when consumed, according to the San Angelo Standard-Times. The specific by-products found in the drinking water supply come from a group of chemicals called trihalomethanes. When chlorine is used to disinfect the water, the chemical inadvertently mixes with organic matter found within the water to produce the unwanted by-product.
The acceptable limit for trihalomethanes in drinking water set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is .08 milligrams per liter, the news source reports. According to the public notice issued to the city by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the water in San Angelo contained approximately .096 milligrams per liter.
Although health officials have insisted that the residents of San Angelo are facing no immediate threat from the drinking water and can continue to consume from the city's supply, there are long-term health issues that could develop. According to the news source, heavy consumption of trihalomethanes over time can lead to liver, kidney or central nervous systems problems, as well as an increased risk of getting cancer. People on dialysis are at a higher risk for these medical conditions as well.
"It's not a short-term hazard," TCEQ spokeswoman Andrew morrow told the news source. "It's a long-term health effect. It happens from time to time." She added that contamination can be treated by blending water with another source.
Another way of ensuring a drinking water supply that is fully safe to drink – despite the TCEQ's assurances about the water in San Angelo – is to install bottleless water coolers from Quench. These coolers take advantage of UV technology to remove most contaminants from water.
Researchers at Northwestern University, in conjunction with their peers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, recently developed a nanoparticle system to detect trace levels of heavy metals and other toxic elements in drinking water, according to The Earth Times. Details on the system, known as 'nano-Velcro,' were published in the recent Nature Materials journal.
The teams were led by Francesco Stellacci at the EPFL and Bartosz Grzybowski at Northwestern University, according to Gizmag. The research project was undertaken with the intention of developing a cheaper and more efficient way of detecting these potentially dangerous elements, instead of the archaic and expensive methods currently in use.
"The system currently being used to test for mercury and its very toxic derivative, methyl mercury, is a time-intensive process that costs millions of dollars and can only detect quantities at already toxic levels," Grzybowski told The Earth Times. "Ours can detect very small amounts. This is important because if you drink polluted water with low levels of mercury every day, it could add up and possibly lead to diseases later on. With this system, consumers would one day have the ability to test their home tap water for toxic metals."
The system largely consists of a thin strip of glass that is coated by a film of "hairy" nanoparticles, which led to the 'nano-Velcro' nickname, the news source reports. If any positively charged item, known as a metal cation, such as methyl mercury elements comes between two hairs, the hairs will then shut and trap the pollutant. The metal cation would then be able to conduct electricity. A voltage-measuring device is then used to calculate the exact amount of electricity being conducted. If more ions are trapped within the hairs, more voltage will show up on the measuring device, indicating the degree of methyl mercury within.
According to Gizmag, what makes the system particularly accurate and reliable is that methyl mercury contains unique properties among elements. These traits ensure that only the mercury is trapped, ignoring other substances that could potentially throw off the testing results. Recent tests run at Lake Michigan obtained comparably accurate results to conventional techniques used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Along with its accuracy, one of the key selling points of the 'nano-Velcro' is its affordability. The news source reports that the nanoparticle film costs less than $10 to make, while the device to measure the currents costs several hundred dollars. With such affordability, researchers from both universities hope that the technology will be available to consumers to test their drinking water at home soon.
Until that technology is commercially available, residences and offices should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench. These coolers feature five-stage filtration to remove many of the dangerous elements and chemicals found in most drinking water supplies.
As part of the 40th anniversary of the national Clean Water Act, Illinois Governor PAt Quinn recently launched the $1 billion Illinois Clean Water Initiative in a bid to upgrade the state's aging water infrastructure, according to Water World.
As part of the effort to upgrade the archaic water system, Governor Quinn initiated a program by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) to expand the State Revolving Fund (SRF) program. The initiative, which makes low-interest loans to communities, was increased to $1 billion at the governor's request.
"On this anniversary of the landmark Clean Water Act, we renew our commitment to this precious, irreplaceable resource," Governor Quinn said in a statement. "Our Clean Water Initiative will preserve this legacy for future generations, improve our drinking water and put thousands of Illinoisans back to work."
The news source reports that there are currently $900 million in proposed projects awaiting review. With the allotment of new funds, dispersed among various local communities, the IEPA will be able to work with agency officials to ensure that some of these projects are met.
Along with upgrading drinking water supply systems – including installing new pipelines, enhancing water sanitization technologies and issuing educational programs – officials in various communities in Illinois should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench. These water coolers feature state-of-the-art UV sanitization and five-stage filtration technologies to ensure the cleanest and safest drinking water supply available to consumers.
Levels of radium that are beyond safe standards for drinking water have been found in water sources in Pecos County, Texas, according to News West 9. Although officials are saying that the levels of radium – a radioactive material that occurs naturally in rocks and soil – is not harmful to humans or animals, residents have expressed concerns.
"We are trying to correct the problem which is by drilling another well, the well has been completed but its not online yet," County Precinct 2 Commissioner Santiago Cantu told the news source. "The community knows that it's not something that's gonna be real harmful or they can't drink it because they are gonna immediately feel something."
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Safe Drinking Water Act limits the Maximum Containment Levels (MCL) of radium to 5 picocuries per liter. This amount limits the increased cancer risk to about 2 in 10,000. The EPA's website also notes that there are certain geographic regions in the United States where higher concentrations of radium in water occurs due to geologic sources.
The news source reports that Pecos County Fresh Water has been in violation for the past six months, since the initial discovery of the elevated levels of radium in their drinking water. Officials have continued to downplay any possible threats, while expressing their beliefs that the new well would decrease the levels of radium.
Residents in Pecos County should call for the widespread installation of bottleless water coolers from Quench. These coolers feature UV technology and five-stage filtration which removes most of the contaminants from drinking water sources to render them safe for consumption.
Iowa American Water (IAW) is continuing its education program to help enlighten its customers on the processes that bring tap water into the their homes, what improvements are needed throughout the system, water efficiency and conservation efforts and the overall value of water, according to Water World. The state's largest investor-owned water utility hopes to not only inform customers of steps they can take to ensure they are receiving all the services they need, but also to highlight some pertinent water issues facing both the company and the industry at large.
"Since most of our infrastructure is underground and not seen, people don't realize what is involved," Randy Moore, the president of Iowa American Water, told the news source. "Through this education initiative, we're hoping to help customers better understand the systems and processes that provide them with reliable water service. As trusted stewards of the water supply, we work hard to treat and deliver high-quality water to our customers, and to make ongoing system improvements that benefit them now and in the future."
The company will be issuing brochures as part of customers' water bills this quarter. Included in the brochures will be a wealth of information on various issues, including an illustration of the state's underground and above ground water system. According to the news source, the company's research has revealed that most consumers rarely, if ever, think about the process of delivering safe drinking water to their homes. The brochure will also feature segments on improvements and investments that Iowa American Water has undertaken in recent years. These include the replacement of water mains and pipes, enhanced treatment capabilities and advanced metering technology that reduce leakages.
Additionally, the company will be expanding its consumer education program through a variety of different channels, the news source reports. These other channels will include community events and social media efforts. Social networks in particular will receive a heavy emphasis, with an updated company Facebook page that provides real-time updates on system improvement projects and customer programs, as well as tips for efficient water use.
One tip that the company could include in its education outreach programs is to recommend using bottleless water coolers from Quench. These water coolers help prevent leaks commonly found in tap sources, as well as provides state-of-the-art filtration technology to ensure the cleanest drinking water available.
A recent study of drinking water sources revealed that increased levels of methane at locations near hydraulic fracturing wells has raised concerns of residents in the community of Lubbock, Texas that their drinking water was also contaminated, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported.
The news source reports that methane has been discovered in drinking water sources around the country, particularly in Pennsylvania. A 2011 study by the National Academy of Sciences examined water sources near several northeastern Pennsylvania hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – wells. The increase in methane levels within the underground water sources was attributed to the close proximity to the nearby fracking wells. With a massive deluge of such wells in the state of Texas, members of the Lubbock Board of Health were beginning to voice their concerns.
"New data shows that methane from shale that comes 1,000 feet below drinking water was found to be contaminating drinking water," Board of Health member Anne Epstein told the news source. "This doesn't establish that it will happen in Lubbock, but it does pass down on what we thought was a very reassuring distance between the shale and groundwater. There has been some strong, scientific evidence for groundwater contamination from these studies."
Fracking is a process that is growing in frequency in the United States, as alternative sources of energy are being experimented on. The hydraulic fracturing process is used to release natural gas, with nine out of 10 such gas wells adopting the procedure, the news source reports. By pumping in millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and other chemicals, energy companies and drillers hope to break apart the rock and release the valuable gas trapped within. However, environmental advocates and opponents of the fracking process have cited the numerous causes of environmental degradation attributed to fracking.
According to Clean Water Action, at least eight states – including Texas and Pennsylvania - have reported some form of surface, ground and drinking water contamination attributed to fracking. Part of the problem is that many of the companies that use fracking fluid have balked at disclosing the specific contents of the mixture. The news source reports that samples from well sites have included such contaminants as formaldehyde, acetic acids and the aforementioned methane. Additionally, some companies have been caught illegally using diesel fuel to pack a more powerful punch in the fracking fluid. Inevitably, many of these contaminants will seep into the groundwater sources that are usually found precariously close to the natural gas wells.
To ensure that their drinking water remains clean and safe from contaminants such as methane, residents of Lubbock should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench around town. These water coolers use five-stage carbon filtration to remove 99.9 percent of contaminants found in drinking water.
According to recent data released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as many as 197 different sites in 37 states around the country were cited for violations of federal clean drinking water statutes as a result of coal ash contamination, the World Socialist Web Site reported. Environmentalists and health experts have noted that the presence of the contaminant in drinking water sources could have devastating impacts on the health of humans drinking the water, as well as the environment at large.
The news source reports that there are currently more than 430 power plants in the country, collectively contributing more than 140 million tons of ash to the environment each year. Located within this ash are dangerous toxins like arsenic, lead and mercury, all of which result in serious health problems when consumed. While some of the waste is stored in dump sites, more than half of it ends up in landfills, ponds and old mines. Additionally, according to Care2, many power plants installed scrubbers and other technologies to help reduce the threat of coal fired power by blocking them from drifting in the air. However, this has led to the contaminants traveling through solid waste residue and wastewater and eventually affected important drinking water sources around the country.
The study by the EPA revealed that 45 ponds in the country were rated as being "high hazard," which means that any rupture within the pond infrastructure would lead to a significant number of casualties. Some of the more devastating findings were at the Zekiah Swamp, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. According to the news source, more than 8.4 million tons of coal ash had leaked into the groundwater in the area.
Another region which displayed dangerously high levels of coal ash contamination as part of the study was North Carolina. According to Care2, French Broad River and Mountain Island Lake had some of the highest levels of arsenic contamination in the study. A recent study by Duke University discovered that there was 44.5 micrograms per liter of arsenic at the French Broad River and an astronomical 92 micrograms per liter in Mountain Island Lake. Nearly one million residents in the greater Charlotte region depended on Mountain Island Lake and French Broad River for their drinking water supplies.
"These are very toxic pollutants that have no business in the French Broad River where people swim and recreate every day," French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson told the news source. "The fact that the scrubbers have doubled the amount of water pollution is a great concern and illustrates why we need to clean up the toxic coal ash lagoons and move Asheville Beyond Coal."
Residents living in one of the more affected areas should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench. These coolers use advanced technologies, including Ultraviolet treatment, to remove contaminants from drinking water.
Private well owners in Nacogdoches County, Texas, were encouraged to take advantage of extended water well screening services, according to KTRE. The Nacogdoches County AgriLife Extension Office was offering screenings of water samples taken from private wells in the area, as well as hosting presentations on water well safety.
Some of the potential contaminants that water quality experts were looking for included fecal coliform, salinity, nitrate and dog manure, the news source reported. John Smith, a Texas AgriLife Extension Program Specialist, admitted that dog manure was not typically associated with contaminating private water well sources. However, he explained that 23 million contaminants can be found in a dollar size portion of dog waste, making rural counties like Nacogdoches County especially susceptible.
"We have over a million wells here in the state of Texas that are privately owned," Smith told the news source. "We would expect 20-30 percent of the wells…to be susceptible to fecal coliform. There's no federal regulation for private water well supplies. It's the responsibility of the well owner to check for water quality."
Private wells are a significant contributor to the drinking water source in the state. According to the news source, 6 percent of Texans rely on a private water well as their primary source of drinking water, placing an even greater emphasis on the importance of screening for contaminants.
Along with screening water samples from their wells, owners of these private water sources should consider installing bottleless water coolers from Quench to provide additional layers of filtration. The UV technology embedded within the coolers help eliminate contaminants from the water drawn from the main water lines.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) suggests links between the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA, which is found in plastics such as those used to manufacture water bottles, and childhood obesity, the Detroit Free Press reports. The study, known to be the first large-scale, nationally representative examination linking environmental chemicals to obesity, is the latest in a growing line of research that question the safety and feasibility of exposing children to BPA.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 92 percent of Americans over the age of 6 have detectable levels of the estrogen-like chemical in their blood. Building on this, data from the CDC revealed that 22 percent of people with the highest BPA levels in their urine were found to be obese, compared to just 10 percent of those with the lowest levels.
While previous studies have linked the chemical to adult obesity, the new study published by the AMA is the first to directly link BPA to childhood obesity. Scientists have suggested that this is because BPA is known to disrupt the body’s metabolic mechanisms, thus affecting its ability to control weight, WANE reports. Children are especially vulnerable to the negative effects of environmental chemicals.
“Pound for pound, [children] breathe more air, they eat more food and drink more water so early harmful exposure can have permanent and lifelong consequences,” Dr. Leonardo Trasande, the lead author on the study, told the news source. “Children with highest levels [of BPA] had more than twice the odds of being obese. It is fair to say that if you reduce a child’s food [and drink] consumption from [plastic-based sources] you would reduce a child’s BPA levels.”
There have been many studies in recent years that have linked BPA to a variety of human ailments, further bolstering the arguments made in this latest study. According to the Detroit Free Press, BPA has been linked to diabetes, breast and prostate cancers, behavior problems and other dangerous issues in animals and humans exposed before birth. A recent Pediatrics study found that girls with high levels of pre-birth exposure were more apt to be anxious and depressed at the age of 3. Meanwhile, men with exceedingly high levels of BPA were two to four times more likely to have problems with sperm quality and quantity, noted a 2010 Fertility and Sterility study.
While BPA is used in the manufacture of a wide variety of plastics-based products, its presence in bottled water is especially troubling, given its wide consumption by people of all ages and demographics. Along with the environmental concerns raised by widespread bottled water use, the presence of dangerous chemicals have further bolstered arguments against its use. A healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternative would be a water delivery system from Quench.