Arsenic, lead, PFAS chemicals; A toxic brew is being found in our drinking water and it’s getting worse.

Water in glass, Clean drinking water

By Kami Klein

Water…we are all taught from an early age that drinking water is a must for our body to remain hydrated and flush out the bad stuff.  Health authorities commonly recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon per day. The American people seem to be getting the message and are drinking more water than ever before. but reports and studies recently released are creating increasing alarm about the many dangerous chemicals that we are consuming with every drop. Americans get drinking water from private wells, tap water from public water treatment plants and in buying bottled water. Many concerned consumers are urging scientists for in-depth analysis of the health risks for each.  

Groundwater contamination

The United States Geological Survey says that about 44 million people in the U.S. get their drinking water from private wells. Surveys show about half of those have their wells tested at least once a year.  When flooding occurs, such as in this spring’s historic storms, thousands can be exposed to a dangerous mix of materials in their water.

Many in the Midwest that are affected rely on groundwater for rural and small municipal water supply. Household, farm, and small business wells situated in broad, sand and gravel valleys and glaciated rolling countryside could be standing in water for several days, raising the potential for contamination if the wells aren’t properly maintained. Exposure to E. coli, coliform, and other pathogenic microbes from human and animal fecal matter in floodwaters is a common health concern following a major flooding event.

But there is a growing problem in many states that has nothing to do with flooding.   And that is from a natural substance found in our soil…Arsenic.

Though arsenic can be found in the air and soil, the World Health Organization says the greatest threat to public health globally comes from groundwater, which is contaminated as it flows through rocks and minerals containing arsenic and resides in wells and tributaries.  

In a recent study published by the American Heart Association Journal, the dangers of increased and prolonged exposure to arsenic in water and in some food such as rice are becoming more evident. The study found that young adults free of diabetes and cardiovascular disease developed heart damage after only five years of exposure to low-to-moderate levels of arsenic commonly found in groundwater. Arsenic has also been linked to various cancers, kidney damage, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

“It is important for the general public to be aware that arsenic can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the study’s lead author, Dr. Gernot Pichler said. “Private wells are currently not regulated and people using private wells, including children and young adults, are not protected.”

Millions Exposed to PFAS chemicals

In a recent report by the non-profit Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University, it has been found that people in nearly every state in the U.S. are exposed to unhealthy drinking water both in private wells and through public water systems. According to researchers, 43 states have locations, including drinking water sites, contaminated with PFAS chemicals

Taken from Pentagon data and water utility reports the study shows an estimated 19 million people are exposed to contaminated water. PFAS, are synthetic chemicals found in many products, including food packaging, household cleaners and nonstick cookware, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency

In an interview with CBSN, David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group said, “This should be frightening to all Americans in many ways. these chemicals… don’t break down in our body and they don’t break down in our environment and they actually stick to our blood. So levels tend to increase over time.”

The EPA stated in March 2019 that 92 percent of the water used every day by Americans meets all of the EPA requirements for safe drinking water.  According to Andrews, the EPA  has not set a new legal drinking water limit for any contaminant in over two decades. And feels that the whole system of regulating chemicals that may end up in our water is broken.  “The agency is really falling behind the science here.”

But let’s say that the EPA is correct and do the math on their claims. Nationwide, 327 million Americans each drink two to eight glasses of water on average every day. If 8 percent of that supply doesn’t meet EPA standards, that’s up to 209 million unsafe glasses of water per day, or 2.3 billion gallons of water—enough to fill a quarter of a million bathtubs. In short, high compliance numbers do not mean everything is fine.

In May 2019, Representatives from both parties of Congress released a half-dozen bills in response to PFAS contamination. The bills range from providing more funding for communities tasked with the cost of treating contaminated water to increasing transparency in reporting chemical flows and prohibitions on products with PFAS.

But as many consumer groups have stated, the damage is there and many feel that it would take decades to fix this ever-increasing problem.  

Filtered is Best

Many have turned to bottled water as a safer alternative. In fact, Americans consume more than 8.6 gallons of bottled water each year.  Studies on the health risks of bottled water have shown that plastic these bottles are made of and can basically leak into the water.

BPA, a component often found in plastic, is a hormone disruptor that can have a wide range of impacts on the human body, including hormone imbalance, toxicity, inflammation, and even cancer.  BPA isn’t even the only component of plastic that is potentially dangerous—there are dozens of other chemicals that can have adverse effects on the body, endocrine system, and other organs.

What is the solution?  How do we keep our family from toxic chemicals?  How do we know our water is safe?

The best solution is to filter your water.  Bottled water, which many believe is the best alternative is costly.  A good filtering system can save you money and remove ALL of the chemicals used to treat water as well as those that are leaking into our water systems.  

There are many advances in the past decade of filtering systems that remove more than 99 percent of pathogens, bacteria, lead and more.

The light on the problems with our water quality are becoming brighter by the day. In the meantime, we must tackle the problem with common sense and safety in mind.  A filtering system for your drinking water is what makes the most sense for YOUR health and for your family.

 

There are many water filtration systems out there.  Morningside highly recommends Seychelle products.  

References for this Article: Newsweek, CNN, CBS, Agency for Toxic Substances, National Groundwater Association, Livescience.com, World Health Organization,

Hundreds leave homes near dangerously crumbling Puerto Rico dam

Local residents look at the flooded houses close to the dam of the Guajataca lake. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

By Dave Graham and Robin Respaut

SAN JUAN (Reuters) – Most people living near a crumbling dam in storm-battered Puerto Rico have been moved to safety, Governor Ricardo Rossello said on Monday, as he urged the U.S. Congress to fund an aid package to avert a humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Maria.

Most of the Caribbean island, a U.S. territory with a population of 3.4 million, is still without electricity five days after Maria swept ashore with ferocious winds and torrential rains, the most powerful hurricane to hit Puerto Rico for nearly a century.

There have been growing concerns for some 70,000 people who live in the river valley below the Guajataca Dam in the island’s northwest, where cracks were seen appearing on Friday in the 88-year-old earthen structure.

An aerial view shows the damage to the Guajataca dam. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

An aerial view shows the damage to the Guajataca dam. REUTERS/Alvin Baez

Rossello said he was working on the assumption that the dam would collapse. “I’d rather be wrong on that front than doing nothing and having that fail and costing people lives,” he said in an interview with CNN.

“Some of the dam has fallen apart and now we’re making sure that we can assess if the other part is going to fall down as well. … Most of the people in the near vicinity have evacuated.”

It was unclear if the governor was saying that most of the 70,000 valley inhabitants had left the area, or only the several hundred people living in the small towns closest to the dam. About 320 people from those towns have moved to safety, according to local media.

The fear of a potentially catastrophic dam break added to the difficulties facing disaster relief authorities after Maria, which was the second major hurricane to strike Caribbean this month and which killed at least 29 people in the region.

At least 10 of those who died were in Puerto Rico, including several people who drowned or were hit by flying debris, and three elderly sisters who died in a mudslide.

Many structures on the island, including hospitals, remain badly damaged and flooded. Clean drinking water is hard to find in some areas. Very few planes have been able to land or take off from damaged airports.

After Maria caused widespread flooding, the National Weather Service warned of further flash floods in some western parts of the island on Monday as thunderstorms moved in.

The hurricane hit at a time when Puerto Rico was already battling economic crisis. [nL2N1M31LR]

Rossello said on Monday that before the storms struck he had been embarking on an aggressive fiscal agenda that included more than $1.5 billion in cuts.

“This is a game changer,” the governor told CNN. “This is a completely different set of circumstances. This needs to be taken into consideration otherwise there will be a humanitarian crisis.”

In Washington, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress was working with President Donald Trump’s administration to make sure the necessary assistance reaches Puerto Rico.

“Our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico remain in our prayers as we make sure they have what they need,” Ryan said in a statement.

Local residents react while they look at the water flowing over the road at the dam of the Guajataca lake.

Local residents react while they look at the water flowing over the road at the dam of the Guajataca lake.
REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Maria continued to weaken and would likely be downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm by Tuesday night, the National Hurricane Center said. As of 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) on Monday, it was about 315 miles (505 km) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, heading slowly north, the center said.

The storm was unlikely to hit the continental United States directly, but a tropical storm warning was in effect for much of the North Carolina coast. Officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for visitors to Ocracoke Island in the Outer Banks, beginning at 5 a.m. ET (0900 GMT) on Monday.

 

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Robin Respaut; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Peter Szekely in New York and Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Frances Kerry)

 

Prices soar, families use river water as Islamic State besieges Syrian city

FILE PHOTO: An Islamic State flag is seen in this picture

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Food prices have soared and families are drinking untreated river water in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Monday, as a siege imposed by Islamic State threatens tens of thousands of civilians.

Islamic State militants launched a fierce assault on Syrian government-held areas of Deir al-Zor earlier this month, capturing an area used to supply the city through air drops as the assault cut the state-controlled area in two.

“The escalation of violence threatens the lives of 93,000 civilians, including over 40,000 children who have been cut off from regular humanitarian aid for over two years,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director, in a statement.

“Indiscriminate shelling has reportedly killed scores of civilians and forced others to remain in their homes. Food prices have sky-rocketed to levels five to ten times higher than in the capital, Damascus. Chronic water shortages are forcing families to fetch untreated water from the Euphrates River, exposing children to the risk of waterborne diseases,” he said.

The assault appears to be part of an IS effort to shore up its presence in Syria as it loses ground in Iraq.

Islamic State controls nearly all of Deir al-Zor province, with the government-held part of the city and nearby air base representing the only state-controlled part of the area.

Islamic State encircled the government-held area of Deir al-Zor city in July 2014. Since April 2016, the World Food Program has completed more than 177 air drops to the city. But these stopped on Jan. 15 when IS seized control of the drop zone to the west of a government air base near the city.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

California seeks long-term water savings as drought lingers

Mud cracks along a dried riverbed are pictured near San Ysidro, California

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) – California water regulators on Wednesday recommended tighter oversight of agricultural irrigation and a permanent ban on over-watering urban lawns, a first step toward developing a long-term conservation plan amid ongoing drought.

The proposal comes as nearly two-thirds of the state heads into a fifth year of severe drought despite a wet fall and heavy rains last winter that have ameliorated conditions in many areas.

“The last few years provided the wake-up call of all wake-up calls that water is precious and not to be taken for granted,” said Felicia Marcus, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, one of several state agencies that worked on the proposal.

California has been in the grip of drought since 2013. It has cost billions to the state’s agricultural economy, led a half-million acres of farmland to be fallowed and deprived some communities of reliable sources of drinking water.

In January 2014, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought an emergency and in 2015 he ordered urban areas to cut back their water use by 25 percent. Earlier this year, Brown ordered the state to develop a long-term conservation plan.

“We learned during this drought that our planning efforts just weren’t robust enough,” said Max Gomberg, climate and conservation manager for the water board. Going forward, the most populous U.S. state will need to provide water for yet more people while also facing warmer and drier weather associated with climate change, he said.

Rain has returned to Northern California parts of the south over the past year, leading scientists at the U.S. Drought Monitor to declare about 25 percent of the state drought-free. Even so, 60 percent of California is still experiencing severe drought and it is not clear how long those conditions will persist.

The draft proposal released Wednesday will now go through a period of public comment before it is finalized, likely early next year. The legislature must also sign on to parts of the plan.

It calls for urban areas to submit annual water use budgets and plan for droughts of at least five years in length. Suppliers of agricultural water will be required to submit reports on water usage and show that they are working to increase efficiency.

Water utilities must also report how much water they lose through leaks, and speed up repairs.

Temporary requirements such as bans on over-watering lawns, hosing down sidewalks and washing cars with hoses that do not have a shut-off valve would become permanent under the plan.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Dangerous levels of Chromium-6 in water found in all 50 states

Refreshing Drinking water

By Kami Klein

Millions of Americans in all 50 states are drinking water with a dangerous amount of Chromium 6, a known cancer causing chemical that has a huge list of potential health hazards. This is the damaging chemical that was the focus in California 25 years ago in the profound and popular true life movie, Erin Brockovich.  

A new report last month from the nonprofit research group, Environmental Working Group (EWG), analyzed evidence gathered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from samples of more than 60,000 water systems in all 50 states between 2013 and 2015.  These samples show that the tap water of 218 million Americans contain high levels of chromium 6. In fact, this carcinogen turned up in as much as two-thirds of our nation’s water supply! These high levels of chromium 6 were deemed unsafe by public health officials. Oklahoma, Arizona and California had the highest average statewide levels of the chemical found in their drinking supply. 

According to the report by EWG, a two-year study by the National Toxicology Program found that drinking water with chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium, caused cancer in laboratory rats and mice. The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment concluded that ingestion of even tiny amounts of chromium-6 can cause cancer in people, by using this report along with other animal studies. This conclusion was affirmed by state scientists in New Jersey and North Carolina.

In an article released by the Global Healing Center , Chromium 6 was ranked #16 out of the top 275 most toxic substances found by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Health Problems from Chromium-6

Studies of chromium-6 have established that breathing the particles can cause lung cancer. The chemical has also been connected to liver damage, reproductive problems, developmental harm, blood anemia, and cancer according to the EWG. Chromium-6 presents greater risks to infants and children, people who take antacids, and people with poorly functioning livers.

How did chromium-6 get into our water supply?  

According to Live Science, Chromium is an odorless and tasteless metallic element that can be found naturally in rocks, plants, soil and volcanic dust and animals. Chromium-6, however, is a toxic form of the mineral. While this form does occur naturally in the environment, chromium-6 is mostly produced by industrial waste processes. The EPA has reported many instances of chromium-6 being released into the environment from industrial pollution — leakage, poor storage, or inadequate industrial waste disposal practices.

How much chromium-6 is it safe to consume?

According to the EWG article, the California scientists set a public health goal of 0.02 parts per billion in tap water, the level that would pose negligible risk over a lifetime of consumption. This means that the amount posed no more than a one-in-a-million risk of cancer for people who drink it daily for 70 years. (A part per billion is about a drop of water in an Olympic-size swimming pool.) But in 2014, after aggressive lobbying by industry and water utilities, California State regulators adopted a legal limit 500 times the public health goal at 10 ppg. Far lower than any other state, but still not the scientists’ public health goal. It is the only enforceable drinking water standard specifically for hexavalent chromium (chromium 6), not total chromium at either a state or federal level.  

The U.S. Environmental Protection agency has set a maximum contaminant level of 100 parts per billion for total chromium in drinking water. Numerous states have established limits of 50 parts per billion of total chromium in drinking water. For water control standards, they are combining the natural levels of chromium and the toxic form  Chromium 6 into one category.

Comparing the public health goal to levels of contamination found in the EPA tests, EWG estimates that if left untreated, chromium-6 in tap water will cause more than 12,000 excess cases of cancer by the end of the century.

In an article written by CNN, Bill Walker, co-author of the report and managing editor of the Environmental Working Group said, “These figures may be confusing, but the real point is that chromium-6 is one of many chemicals in our environment.” The group receives grant money from the Turner Foundation, which is chaired by CNN founder Ted Turner, who is no longer involved with the news organization or any Turner entity.

“Americans are exposed to dozens if not hundreds of other cancer-causing chemicals every day in their drinking water, their consumer products and their foods,” Walker said. “And what the best science of the last decade tells us is that these chemicals acting in combination with each other can be more dangerous than exposure to a single chemical.”

How can you filter Chromium 6 and other chemicals from your Drinking water?  

There are many water filtering options out there but experts say that to look explicitly for those that will advertise effective filtering of chromium and chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium).

Is my state included in these water samples?  

There is a very informative map from the EWG showing where the water samples were taken and the results of their testing and evaluation. Not every county was tested.   Contact your health department in your area if you are concerned over your chromium 6 levels and want to find out more!

The quality of the water that we are putting into our bodies, the pureness of water that we encourage in children’s bodies can either mean good health, chronic health problems or even cost you your life. The fight against industrial waste in our water supply continues from the state level to our federal government.

Invest in a good filtering water bottle or system for your home!   Your body will thank you!

 

Flint Mayor Declares State of Emergency As Lead Seeps Into Water Supply

The new mayor of Flint, Michigan, declared a state of emergency earlier this week, the latest development in the embattled city’s ongoing battle with elevated levels of lead in its water.

Karen Weaver, who became mayor in November, said in a statement on the city’s website that she made the declaration to raise awareness that the water still isn’t safe to drink, almost two months after the city stopped taking problematic water from the Flint River and reverted to its old supplier, the city of Detroit. Weaver said Flint was experiencing “a man-made disaster.”

“It’s been going on for over a year now,” Weaver said in a televised interview on The Rachel Maddow Show. “We have problems with our infrastructure. We have children that have been damaged by this lead. They have permanent brain damage. We know that Flint is not in a position to bear this burden alone, and we are asking and looking for state and federal assistance. The only way we were going to have this happen was to declare a state of emergency.”

According to MLive.com, which covers news in Michigan, the problem started in April 2014. That’s when the city stopped taking water from Detroit and started taking water from the Flint River as it awaited the construction of a new pipeline to Lake Huron. City officials decided not to ink a short-term contract with Detroit, which gets water from the lake, and use the river instead.

But in her interview with Rachel Maddow, Weaver said that the river water was corrosive and damaged a protective part of the city’s pipes, allowing lead to leach out into the water supply. Michigan Radio reported that city and state officials continued to insist the water was safe, even as scientists from Virginia Tech found higher levels of lead in the city’s tap water. MLive.com reported the city finally issued a lead advisory in September 2015, 17 months after the switch.

The city reverted to Detroit’s water system in October, but the danger of lead exposure is still very much real. The problem is no longer with the water source, but Flint’s damaged pipes.

“We don’t want people to feel that because we’ve made the switch back to Detroit water that everything is fine now, because it’s not,” Weaver said in her interview with Maddow.

The World Health Organization, an arm of the United Nations, says that lead poisoning is particularly harmful to children. It’s known to damage nervous and reproductive systems, as well as cause high blood pressure and anemia. If enough lead gets into the blood of children, it can lead to irreversible consequences like learning disabilities, retardation and even death.

In September 2015, the day before the city issued the lead advisory, doctors from the Hurley Medical Center released a study that found that more of Flint’s children were displaying elevated levels of lead in their blood since the switch. The percentage of children with elevated lead levels went from 2.1 percent to 4 percent citywide, though it was as high as 6.3 percent in some areas.

Speaking to British newspaper The Guardian on Thursday, one of the doctors responsible for that study, Mona Hanna-Attisha, said up to 15 percent of children in certain parts of the city now have high levels of lead in their blood. Hanna-Attisha called the water situation “an emergency” and said it was “a disaster right here in Flint that is alarming and absolutely gut-wrenching.”

“We are assuming that the entire population of the city of Flint has been exposed, if you drank the water or cooked with the water,” Hanna-Attisha told the newspaper, noting that cooking with the water would actually concentrate the levels of lead. According to Flint’s website, the levels of lead “remain well above” federal safety standards for drinking water “in many homes.”

In her interview with Maddow, Weaver said some kids under the age of six have neurological damage, and the city would have to attempt to provide services to them and their families.

The city encourages residents to keep using water filters while it works on a long-term solution.

Study Finds Uranium Seeps into Two Major U.S. Aquifers

Researchers have found that about 2 million Americans in the Great Plains and central California are living close to sites that far exceed federal safety guidelines for uranium levels.

A recent study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found uranium levels in the High Plains and Central Valley aquifers, two of the country’s most significant sources of drinking water and irrigation, are far above thresholds set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The research showed that water in the High Plains aquifer, the largest in the United States, had uranium levels as high as 89 times the EPA-established standards. The water in California’s Central Valley aquifer, a source of irrigation for one of the country’s most important agricultural hubs, showed some uranium levels that were 180 times the guidelines set forth by the EPA.

Uranium is an element whose isotopes were famously used in the production of atomic bombs. Past studies have shown long-term exposure to water tainted by uranium can lead to high blood pressure and kidney damage, according to a news release accompanying the Nebraska study.

The researchers found the uranium contamination in most of the 275,000 water samples they collected was directly tied to nitrate, a more common water polluter that is found in chemical fertilizers and animal waste. The scientists say that nitrate interacts with the uranium that’s naturally present in the ground in a way that makes the material dissolve in groundwater.

About 78 percent of the contaminated sites had nitrates present, the study indicated. The researchers said the data indicated that the uranium levels weren’t predominantly the result of mining or any kind of nuclear fuel, but rather the reactions between nitrate and the element.

“It needs to be recognized that uranium is a widespread contaminant,” one of the Nebraska study’s researchers, Karrie Weber, said in a statement accompanying the research. “And we are creating this problem by producing a primary contaminant that leads to a secondary one.”

The researchers said that facilities to treat water can cost seven figures, which makes it hard for some smaller municipalities to buy them. And there are some people who receive their water from private wells and don’t tap into any kind of regulated municipal water system.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the uranium contamination has been so widely underreported that some people living in the affected areas didn’t even know it was an issue.

The news agency said it conducted its own tests on the private wells of five homes near Modesto, California, where officials spent $500,000 on upgrades to its water system that were designed to bring down uranium levels. The report indicated none of the homeowners knew uranium even had the potential to be a water pollutant, yet two of the five wells showed dangerous levels of it.

The High Plains aquifer supplies drinking and irrigation water to eight states from South Dakota to Texas, according to the Nebraska study. The Central Valley aquifer is a major water source for California and the state’s vital agriculture industry, which the state Department of Food and Agriculture said produces half of America’s domestically-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. In all, the department said California growers and ranchers got $54 billion for last year’s products.

“When you start thinking about how much water is drawn from these aquifers, it’s substantial relative to anywhere else in the world,” Weber said in a statement. “These two aquifers are economically important — they play a significant role in feeding the nation — but they’re also important for health. What’s the point of having water if you can’t drink it or use it for irrigation?”