Aug 14

Unhealthy Levels Of Chromium-6 Found In Chicago’s Tap Water

Tests Confirm High Levels Of The Carcinogen, Chromium-6, In Tap Water

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The results are in and they are hard to swallow: Chicago’s drinking water contains levels of the toxic metal chromium-6 11 times higher than a public health standard established recently in California.

City officials responded to a memo from the EPA in January urging public water departments to check their drinking water for the hazardous compound chromium-6, also called hexavalent chromium — a contaminant perhaps best known from the 2000 film Erin Brockovich and the real-life crusade of its titular character.

Chicago’s Department of Water Management said they would begin quarterly tests for the heavy metal. The Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne reported Saturday on the results.

Test results obtained by the Tribune show that treated Lake Michigan water pumped to 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs contains up to 0.23 parts per billion of the toxic metal, well above an amount that researchers say could increase the long-term risk of cancer.

The National Toxicology Program’s most recent Report on Carcinogens identifies chromium-6 as a known human carcinogen. Scientists once thought stomach acids converted most chromium-6 into chromium-3 (or trivalent chromium), an essential nutrient. But studies have affirmed the chemical’s link to cancer in animal experiments.

In 1991, EPA established a standard of 100 parts per billion for total chromium, which includes both hexavalent and trivalent chromium. The Obama administration is finishing a scientific review, which may result in the first national standard for the toxic hexavalent variety.

EPA’s own memo came on the heels of a report published by the non-profit Environmental Working Group in December 2010. The report is a snapshot of chromium-6 levels in the water supplies of 35 U.S. cities.

Chicago is one of 25 cities identified in the report with concerning levels of chromium-6. The amount then was 0.18 ppb, over 20 percent less than more recent measurements.

Chromium-6 does occur naturally, but EPA identifies industrial chemical manufacturing and steelworks as major sources of the carcinogen. Lake Michigan’s southern shores in Northwest Indiana are home to several large steel mills, some of which dump wastewater into Chicago’s source of drinking water.

Reverse osmosis filters are a good precaution against water contaminants in general, but cheaper, more widely available carbon filters won’t reduce chromium levels. And no need to stock up on bottled water (again, Hawthorne):

Bottled water is no different. Food and Drug Administration regulations for bottled water limit most of the same contaminants monitored in tap water but are silent when it comes to hexavalent chromium, drug residues or other unregulated substances. Moreover, some brands of bottled water use municipal tap water supplies.

Tap water is still safe to drink in Chicago, city officials urge. Levels are even worse elsewhere. Environmental Working Group’s report found a chromium-6 level of 12.9 parts per billion in Oklahoma city — more than 70 times that found in Chicago.

Posted August 14, 2011 at the Chicagoist.com By Chris Bentley


Jul 10

Why do I need a water filter?

Never before has the need been greater for quality home water purification.

America’s tap water is contaminated with toxic heavy metals, synthetic organic chemicals, chlorination by-products, biological parasites and virtually thousands of harmful contaminants.

“E.P.A. reports show that U.S. water supplies contain over 2300 cancer causing chemicals…” — Ralph Nader Research Group

Studies also show that bottled water isn’t any purer than tap water, it simply costs more. Most quality home water purification products can provide water far superior to bottled water, at a fraction of the cost and in the convenience of your own home. The intention of this site is to promote the use of home water filtration, show what products are available and how to determine which ones are the best. Our goal is to also increase basic awareness of this critically important subject.

In America’s highly industrialized society we use over 80,000 toxic chemicals every day, and over 1000 new ones are being developed every year. We are learning the hard way that all of the chemicals we use, will ultimately show up in the water we drink. There is no “new water”, this planet keeps recycling the same water over and over. As we use more synthetic chemicals, the levels in our water supplies increases proportionately.

In contrast to popular belief, our water treatment facilities were not designed to take out synthetic organic chemicals and toxic heavy metals like lead. Municipal water treatment today is essentially the same as it was over 100 years ago, the water is flown through sand beds to remove visible particles and then bleach (chlorine) is added to kill most of the bacteria! We do not filter out the synthetic chemicals!

75 years ago, before all of these chemicals were present in our environment, 1 out of 50 Americans would get cancer in their lives… now, 1 in 3 Americans… 1 in 2 males, will become cancer victims! 1 in 8 women get breast cancer, childhood cancers have increased 300% in just the last 20 years… and much of this can be linked to the accumulation of man made chemicals in our body.

Cancer is not natural, it’s a man made disease, and for the most part… completely preventable. The purity of our water is one of the most critical factors in the prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases. Water is our body’s only means of purifying its self. If our water already contains chemical contaminants, our body is not able to use it to its full benefit. When the risk is so great and the solution is so simple… why chance it?

In-home water purification is the most effective, by far the most convenient and most economical means of providing clean, healthy water for you and your family.

“Healthy water” is the best health insurance we can get… and home water purification is the best way to get it… possibly the only way.

Click here to see which water filter reduces more contaminants than any other water filter on the market.

Jul 07

Feeling Sick? It May Be Your Tap Water

Public water supplies in 42 U.S. states are contaminated with 141 unregulated chemicals for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never established safety standards, according to an investigation by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Tainted Tap Water Used by Millions of Americans
Another 119 regulated chemicals—a total of 260 contaminants altogether—were found by the environmental group in a two-and-a-half-year analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests. The tests, which are required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, were conducted at nearly 40,000 utilities that supply water to 231 million people. If you are feeling ill, for no apparent reason, it really could be the water in your own home! Below are listed some contaminants found in your public water supply that truly could be making you sick!

Water Disinfection Byproducts

  • What are water disinfection byproducts?
    The term refers not to one chemical compound but a group of chemicals that are formed as byproducts of water treatment. Up to 600 disinfection byproducts have been identified but only a fraction of them — including bromate, total trihalomethanes (chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane and bromoform) and haloacetic acids (dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid and dibromoacetic acid) — are monitored by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • How often do they occur in drinking water?
    According to the Environmental Working Group’s analysis of about 20 million drinking water tests conducted by water suppliers between 2004 and 2009, disinfection byproducts, many of which are unregulated, were the most common water pollutants found in US water supplies.
  • How did the water pollutants end up in water supplies?
    Chemical byproducts are formed when disinfectants used to treat water, such as chlorine, react with organic pollution washed off from cities, suburbs and agricultural farms.
  • What are the possible health effects of water disinfection byproducts?
    Disinfection byproducts can cause gene mutation, induce birth defects, accelerate the aging process, sets off an inflammatory response in the body, and even induce cancer after long-term exposures.
Associations have also been made between exposure to certain trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids at concentrations above the maximum contaminant level and injury to the liver, kidney, eyes, nerves and the reproductive system.
  • How to remove water disinfection byproducts from water?
    Water filtration systems using activated carbon filters can reduce levels of disinfection byproducts (such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids) as can a reverse osmosis unit. Look out for certification, or confirm with the manufacturer before making your purchase.

Nitrate and Nitrite

·What are nitrate and nitrite?
Nitrates and nitrites are common inorganic compounds that are found contaminating drinking water.
·How often do they occur in drinking water?
Nitrate ranks number five in EWG’s list of frequently detected water pollutants. Nitrate and/or nitrite contamination is also not uncommon in drinking water drawn from private wells in the US.
·How did the water pollutants end up in water supplies?
The major sources of nitrates and nitrites in drinking water are excessive use of nitrogen-containing fertilizers (e.g. potassium nitrate and ammonium nitrate) by farmers and homeowners, leaching from septic sewer systems, discharge by chemical, petrochemical and metal-finishing industries, human and animal organic wastes, as well as erosion of natural deposits.
·What are the possible health effects of nitrate and nitrite?
Infants are susceptible to ‘blue baby syndrome’, or methemoglobinemia, after drinking water containing excess nitrate. This potentially dangerous condition occurs when hemoglobins in the red blood cells are converted into methemoglobin in the presence of nitrate and/or nitrite and loses their ability to carry oxygen.
Although older children and adults can tolerate higher levels of nitrates, little is known about the possible long-term effects of nitrate ingestion. Some evidence suggests that nitrate exposure above safety limits may be carcinogenic.
·How to remove nitrate and nitrite from water?
Unfortunately, nitrate and nitrite cannot be removed by carbon-only water filters. Technologies that can reduce the water pollutants effectively include reverse osmosis and atmospheric water generation.
But these technologies have their drawbacks too.
Although reverse osmosis filters are effective in eliminating most disease causing organisms and chemical contaminants, they generally use about three times as much water as they treat. They also remove most of the minerals in the water and may worsen mineral deficiency in those who are already getting insufficient minerals from their diet.
Atmospheric water generator, which extracts water from humid ambient air, is slow, huge (almost the size of a medium refrigerator), and requires an environment with a relatively high humidity to generate water at an acceptable rate. Though you can connect it to a water supply and use it as a regular purifier, its water filtration capabilities may not be sufficient to remove the types of contaminants in your water.

Pharmaceuticals

·What are pharmaceutical contaminants?
Pharmaceutical contaminants refer to a cocktail of dissolved prescription pills, over-the-counter drugs as well as ingredients used for making drugs that are found in drinking water.
According to the 2008-2009 annual report presented by the President’s Cancer Panel, some medications found in water supplies include antidepressants, chemotherapy drugs, medications for hypertension and diabetes, steroid medications, oral contraceptives, non-prescription pain relievers, hormone replacement therapy medications, anti-convulsants, heart medications and antibiotics.
·How often do they occur in drinking water?
A shocking Associated Press report in 2009 revealed that at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals have been poured into US waterways that often provide drinking water.
Unlike nitrate and other regulated contaminants, the presence of pharmaceuticals in drinking water is not monitored by government in most countries and hence, water suppliers are not required to test for them. To make things worse, conventional water treatment plants are also incapable of removing dissolved medications that have entered the water systems.
·How did the water pollutants end up in water supplies?
Dumping of active pharmaceutical ingredients by manufacturers into waterways, as well as improper disposal of medications by consumers into household drains and toilets. Drugs of all types also enter the water supply when they are excreted.
(If you’ve the habit of flushing expired drugs down the toilet, please stop!)
·What are the possible health effects of pharmaceuticals?
Currently, there is no study looking into the long-term effects of drinking water containing low doses of multiple drugs for extended period of time. However, considering that a number of medications are formulated to work at relatively low dosage, their long-term unintended effects cannot be ruled out completely.
· How to remove pharmaceuticals from water?
Water filters that use only basic carbon blocker are unlikely to remove pharmaceutical contaminants. Reverse osmosis system, however, is able to remove dissolved drugs, so is atmospheric water generator which skips contaminated water altogether and generates water from air.

Arsenic

·What is arsenic?
Arsenic is a natural occurring element found in soil, rocks, air, food and water. It’s also used for producing electronic parts, automotive batteries, wood preservatives, glass, pesticides and more.
·How often does it occur in drinking water?
Arsenic contamination of water is a global problem. According to the Wikipedia, over 137 million people in more than 70 countries, including America, are probably affected by arsenic poisoning of drinking water.
· How did the water pollutant end up in water supplies?
Arsenic leaches into water when water flows pass arsenic-rich soils and rocks. Mining activities, discharges from industries that use arsenic compounds, and runoffs from farms and homes that use arsenic-containing pesticides also add to the amount of the pollutant in water supplies.
·What are the possible health effects of arsenic?
Arsenic is a highly toxic substance and is classified as a carcinogen which can cause cancers of the skin, lung, and bladder as well as heart disease.
·How to remove arsenic from water?
Reverse osmosis is currently the most effective way to remove arsenic. Generating water through air is also another way to avoid arsenic. But take note of the cons highlighted earlier for each of them before purchasing to make sure you can live with the drawbacks.

Hexavalent Chromium

·What is hexavalent chromium?
Hexavalent chromium, or chromium-6, is a common industrial chemical used for the production of textile dyes, pigments, stainless steel, wood preservation, leather tanning, anti-corrosion coatings and other niche uses.
It was made famous by the film “Erin Brockovich”, starring Julia Roberts, that tells the real-life story of cancer-stricken residents of Hinkley who in 1996 won a $333 million settlement from Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for contaminating their tap water with hexavalent chromium.
· How often does it occur in drinking water?
A 2010 study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group found that water from 31 out of 35 US cities was polluted with hexavalent chromium. Of those, 25 had levels that exceeded the safety limits proposed by California regulators.
·How did the water pollutant end up in water supplies?
Discharge by irresponsible industries that produce or use hexavalent chromium, such as metal-plating and leather-tanning facilities as well as steel and pulp mills.
Other forms of chromium, such as chromium-3, also occur naturally in soil, rocks, rivers, plants and animals.
·What are the possible health effects of hexavalent chromium?
Hexavalent chromium has long been known to cause lung cancer when inhaled. There are also increasing scientific evidence linking the pollutant to liver and kidney damage as well as leukemia, stomach cancer and other cancers in lab animals.
·How to remove hexavalent chromium from water?
Use a water filter that is certified to remove hexavalent chromium (chromium-6). MultiPure’s Reverse Osmosis water filter unit is NSF certified to remove all or most of these contaminants.
Jun 25

How to Read Your Water Quality Report – EPA

Reading Your Water Quality Report

From coast to coast, the news has been awash with reports of consumers kicking the bottled water habit and taking back the tap. People are catching on to the industry‚ marketing con job. They now know that bottled water is an overpriced rip-off that‚ no more pure or healthful than tap water. Furthermore, its production and transportation gobbles energy and spews pollution and climate-changing gases into our atmosphere.

If youre among the growing mass of people making the move to tap water, perhaps you have questions about the quality of your city or town‚ water supply. Although most municipal water beats the stuff in the bottle, learning more about it makes sense.

We all have the right to know what‚ in our drinking water. Congress codified this principle in 1996 with amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The changes greatly improve public access to information about drinking water quality.

The Safe Drinking Water Act, passed in 1976, authorized EPA to set drinking water standards for all public water systems. Water utilities monitor and treat drinking water to abide by these federal standards. The 1996 amendments added a requirement for utilities to notify the public about any detected regulated contaminant and any water quality violation.

The centerpiece of these right-to-know provisions is the annual water quality report. Although these reports are intended to help consumers make informed choices about their drinking water, they can be confusing and full of jargon. This guide is intended to help you understand what your water quality report is and how to interpret what it tells you.

What Is a Water Quality Report?

A water quality report, also called a consumer confidence report, lets you know what contaminants, if any, are in your drinking water and how these contaminants may affect your health. It lists all the regulated toxicants that were detected in your water over the preceding calendar year.

Who Gets a Water Quality Report?

A water quality report is available for every customer of a community water system, which is one that provides year-round service to more than 15 households or more than 25 people.

When Is a Water Quality Report Issued?

You should receive your water quality report by July 1 of each year.

What Does a Water Quality Report Tell You?

Every water quality report must contain certain information:

  • The source of the drinking water, be it a river, lake, groundwater aquifer or some other body of water;
  • A brief summary of the state‚ source water assessment of the susceptibility of the source water to contamination and how to get a copy of the complete assessment;
  • EPA regulations and health goals for drinking water contaminants;
  • A list of all detected contaminants and their levels;
  • Potential health effects of any contaminant detected at a level that violates EPA‚ health standard;
  • An educational statement for people with weakened immune systems about cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants;1
  • Contact information for the water system and EPA‚ Safe Drinking Water Hotline

Why Is a Water Quality Report Important?

Your water system must tell you about any violation of EPA water quality standards at the time it occurs and again in the annual report. You should not drink water that fails to meet EPA standards because it may be unsafe. Thankfully, public utilities have worked hard to improve water quality, and today, more than 90 percent of water systems meet all EPA regulations.

Another important part of the report is the list of all detected regulated contaminants. EPA sets the maximum level of contaminants — the MCL — that it will allow in drinking water based on the filtering and treatment capabilities of today‚ technology. The water quality report also tells you about potentially harmful substances found in your water at levels below their legal limit, which often is or approaches the agency‚ more stringent, optimum human health goal for the maximum level of contaminants, the MCLG.

How Is a Water Quality Report Distributed?

This depends on the size of the water system. All large water systems mail out the reports, often as an insert in the bill, and very large systems must both mail and post them online. Small systems serving fewer than 10,000 people can have the mailing requirement waived. In this case, however, they must publish the report in at least one local newspaper and make it available to the public upon request.

Water systems also must make a “good faith effort” to reach renters, workers and other consumers who do not receive water bills. These systems should use a combination of different outreach methods, such as posting the reports online, mailing them and advertising in local newspapers.

More information is available online at www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.html. For general queries about water quality reports and other safe drinking water issues, you can contact EPA‚ Safe Drinking Water Hotline toll-free at 1-800-426-4791.

Printable Guide

Download the printable How to Read Your Water Quality Report for this easy to read chart:

_________
Endnotes

1 This section does not indicate if these microbes are in your drinking water. EPA requires that utilities remove 99 percent of cryptosporidium.

2 Most types of coliform bacteria are harmless, but they indicate possible fecal contamination, which can carry disease-causing viruses and organisms.

Source: foodandwaterwatch.org

Jun 23

Nuclear plant workers release unknown amount of radioactive tritium into Mississippi River

tritium(NaturalNews) Workers at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Port Gibson, Miss., last Thursday released a large amount of radioactive tritium directly into the Mississippi River, according to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and experts are currently trying to sort out the situation. An investigation is currently underway to determine why the tritium was even present in standing water found in an abandoned unit of the plant, as well as how much of this dangerous nuclear byproduct ended up getting dumped into the river. Many also want to know why workers released the toxic tritium before conducting proper tests.

The Mississippi Natchez Democrat reports that crews first discovered the radioactive water in the plant’s Unit 2 turbine building after heavy rains began hitting the area last week. Unit 2 was a partially-constructed, abandoned structure that should not have contained any radioactive materials, let alone tritium, which is commonly used to manufacture nuclear weapons and test atomic bombs (http://www.nirs.org/radiation/triti…).

According to reports, alarms began to go off as workers were releasing the radioactive storm water into the river, which engaged the stop flow on the release pump. Neither NRC nor plant officials know how much tritium was released into the river during this release.

“Although concentrations of tritium exceeded EPA drinking water limits, the release should not represent a hazard to public health because of its dilution in the river,” insisted Lara Uselding, public affairs officer at NRC Region IV, to reporters.

Such a statement, of course, is a health concern because precise levels of released tritium are unknown. Just because the radioactive substance has been diluted does not necessarily mean it is harmless, nor does it verify the substance’s source or whether or not it is still being unknowingly released. Without this crucial information, there is no telling where else tritium might be lurking around the plant and river.

A beta radioactive substance, tritium bombards cells and damages DNA when inhaled or swallowed, and can persist in the body for more than ten years upon exposure. Its perpetual effect on cells can lead to all sorts of serious diseases, including, but not limited to, gene mutations, birth defects, and cancer.

Sources for this story include:

http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/2011…

http://www2.wjtv.com/news/2011/may/…