Aug 16

Obama signs bill to help Camp Lejeune water victims

Obama signs bill to help Camp Lejeune water victims

Published: 12:15 AM, Tue Aug 07, 2012
Obama signs bill to help Camp Lejeune water victims
Story Photo
AP file photo
In this 2007 photo. Jerry Ensminger holds a portrait of his daughter, Janey, in White Lake. Janey Ensminger died at age 9. President Obama signed into law Monday the Janey Ensminger Act, which provides health benefits to Marines and family members exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987.

The Associated Press

RALEIGH – President Obama said the United States has a sacred duty to protect its men and women in uniform, even when the dangers lurk on the bases where they lived.

The president signed a bill into law Monday that provides health benefits to Marines and family members exposed to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune from 1957 to 1987.

“I think all Americans feel we have a moral, sacred duty toward our men and women in uniform,” Obama said in an Oval Office ceremony before signing the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. “They protect our freedom, and it’s our obligation to do right by them. This bill takes another important step in fulfilling that commitment.”

The law also bans protesting within 300 feet of military funerals.

The bill passed Congress last week with bipartisan support. Health officials believe as many as 1 million people may have been exposed to tainted groundwater at the base along the North Carolina coast.

Jerry Ensminger of Elizabethtown was one of those affected and attended Monday’s ceremony. He led the fight for information about the water problems at Camp Lejeune since his daughter, Janey, died in 1985 at the age of 9 of a rare form of childhood leukemia. Other soldiers, who suffered from a rare form of male breast cancer, also said the government spent years trying to hide the problem and the poor response by officials.

“Some of the veterans and their families who were based in Camp Lejeune in the years when the water was contaminated will now have access to extended medical care,” Obama said. “And, sadly, this act alone will not bring back those we’ve lost, including Jane Ensminger, but it will honor their memory by making a real difference for those who are still suffering.”

Documents show Marine leaders were slow to respond when tests in the early 1980s showed higher than normal levels of contaminants in groundwater and the base, likely caused by leaking fuel tanks and an off-base dry cleaner.

“The Marines affected by this tragedy have sacrificed to keep our country safe,” Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., said in a statement. “I am pleased that today, we are ensuring that our veterans and their family members are taken care of in their time of need.”

Apr 25

Multipure Aquaversa (MP750sb) As Reported By Reactual, Wins Title As The Best Under-Counter Drinking Water Filter For 2012!

Posted By: Pat Connor
Multipure Independent Distributor, ID#424548  http://MultipureUSA.com/koakley

The Best Water Filters For 2012

by  on JANUARY 2, 2012 · in HOME & GARDEN PRODUCTSKITCHEN PRODUCTS

In A Nutshell: The Best Under-Sink Water Filter

We recommend the Multi-Pure MP750SB under-sink water filter. It is Consumer Reports’ top rated under-sink filter, with a rating of 90 out of 100. It has a wide range of NSF Standard 53 contaminant reduction (NSF is an industry-standard filter certifier). The yearly maintenance costs are also low, making it good value for money in terms of the Cost Per Contaminant (CPC) Ratio. Another excellent filter is the Aqua-Pure by Cuno AP-DWS1000, scoring 88 out of 100 from Consumer Reports, also certified by NSF. It sells for around $100 less than the Multi-Pure filter.

Why Filter Your Water?

Bottled water is expensive, wasteful, and less regulated than tap water. In fact, most bottled water is simply filtered tap water. Filtering your water at home is the most effective and least expensive option overall. However, you will need a good quality water filter, because tap water commonly contains contaminants such as lead, chloroform, arsenic, nitrate, nitrite, radon, and E. coli. The good news is that the filters featured here will remove most of these impurities.

Experts recommend that you should find out which pollutants are in your local water supply. You can then customize your filtration by selecting filters that target those specific pollutants. One way to find out is to check your consumer confidence report, or CCR. The EPA requires utilities to provide a CCR to their customers every year, and they are often available on government websites. Consumer Reports had this to say about CCRs:

Our recent analysis of CCRs from the 13 largest U.S. cities revealed that few claimed to have no federal water-quality violations. Though none of the other water systems were consistently unhealthful, all had some samples containing significant quantities of contaminants. In New York City, for example, some samples had lead levels several times the federal limit.

Here’s the list of the types of contaminants you want to remove from tap water:

  1. Organic compounds (Pesticides, Herbicides, Pharmaceuticals, Fuels, etc.)
  2. Toxic metals (Lead, Mercury, Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, etc.)
  3. Bacterial and viruses (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.)
  4. Radioactive substances (Radon and Uranium, etc.)
  5. Additives (Chlorine and Chloramines, Fluoride, etc.)

Why Choose An Under-Sink Water Filter?

Under-sink water filters are the most convenient and less expensive type of water filter. Pitcher-based filters and faucet-mounted filters are not as effective as under-sink filters. In The Drinking Water Book, water filter expert Colin Ingram rates all pitcher filters and and faucet mounted filters as  “Acceptable” (the lowest rating). Good under-sink water filters get a rating of “Very Good” from him. Water distillers get a rating of “Excellent” but distillers are slow, expensive and time-consuming to operate. Reverse Osmosis filters work well and they are the only type certified to remove arsenic. But you must sanitize them with bleach periodically. Eventually the membrane must be replaced. They can also be extremely slow, rob cabinet space, and create 3 to 5 gallons of waste water for every gallon filtered.

Top Rated: The Multi-Pure MP750SB Water Filter

 

The Multi-Pure MP750SB is a three-stage carbon filter, certified to remove a range of important water contaminants — herbicides, heavy metals, industrial chemicals and volatile organic compounds.

This filter is certified by NSF International, which means it has been tested that it does in fact remove contaminants, and does not re-contaminate the water with bacteria. Many commonly available filters will let quite a few contaminants through. For example, in-fridge or faucet-mount filters may not filter VOCs and chlorination by-products like Trihalomethanes (THMs).

Besides the NSF certification, several states  such as California, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts have certified this filter. The Multi-Pure MP750SB was also Consumer Reports’ top rated under-sink filter, with a rating of 90 out of 100.

 

The filter life is approximately 750 gallons, which translates into a year worth of filtration for most households. Replacement filters cost about $120 per year, making this filter inexpensive solution in the long-term.

See also the MP750SB filter’s home page.

You can find the Multi-Pure MP750SB  for around $429.

 

*Or visit  http://MultipureUSA.com/koakley

Call for more information:

Katrina Oakley
Multipure Independent Distributor
I.D. Number 424548

Dec 14

The Problem With Bottled Water & Its Effects On Our Environment

Individual use of plastic water bottles has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Not only is bottled water much more expensive than tap water, but there is also a serious cost to our planet:

  • 1.5 million barrels of oil are used annually to manufacture plastic water bottles. (Earth Policy Institute)
  • 2 million tons of plastic bottles are land filled every year. (Worldwatch Institute)
  • Only 1 out of every 10 plastic bottles is recycled.
  • Bottled water has to either be pumped out of the ground or treated. Up to 1500 gallons of water are wasted during this process.
  • Bottled water uses fossil fuels in the making, filling, transporting, and recycling of plastic water bottles…up to 187 gallons of oil are spent! To learn more about this process, check out “The Story of Bottled Water” at www.storyofstuff.org/bottledwater.php
  • 1 billion pounds of CO2 is emitted in the transportation of bottled water in the United States alone.
  • 40% of PET bottles recycled in the United States in 2004 were exported – adding to the resources used.

Bottled water is drinking water packaged in plastic or glass containers. The dominant form is water packaged in new Polyethylene terephthalate bottles and sold retail. Another method of packaging is in larger high-density polyethylene plastic bottles, or polycarbonate plastic bottles, often used with water coolers.

Wasted material

The major criticism of bottled water concerns the bottles themselves. Individual use bottled water is generally packaged in Polyethylene terephthalate (PET). According to a NAPCOR study, PET water bottles account for 50% of all the PET bottles and containers collected by curbside recycling, and the recycling rate for water bottles is 23.4%, an increase over the 2006 rate of 20.1%. PET bottled water containers make up one-third of 1 percent of the waste stream in the United States.An estimated 50 billion bottles of water are consumed per annum in the US and around 200 billion bottles globally.

Health effects

Bottled water does not imply a specific treatment process or better process than tap water or another water source. Some bottled water is simply tap water bottled and sold. In the United States, the FDA regulates bottled water whilst the EPA regulates the quality of tap water and has created 90 maximum contaminant levels for drinking water and 15 secondary maximum contaminant levels.

According to a 1999 NRDC study, in which roughly 22 percent of brands were tested, at least one sample contained chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. Some of the contaminants found in the study could pose health risks if consumed over a long period of time. However, the NRDC report conceded that “most waters contained no detectable bacteria, and the levels of synthetic organic chemicals and inorganic chemicals of concern for which were tested were either below detection limits or well below all applicable standards.” Meanwhile, a report by the Drinking Water Research Foundation found that of all samples tested by NRDC, “federal FDA or EPA limits were allegedly exceeded only four times, twice for total coliforms and twice for fluorides.”

The rate of total dissolved solids is sometimes 4 times higher in bottled mineral waters than in bottled tap ones.

Another study, conducted by the Goethe University at Frankfurt found that a high percentage of the bottled water, contained in plastic containers were polluted with estrogenic chemicals. Although some of the bottled water contained in glass were found polluted with chemicals as well, the researchers believe some of the contamination in the plastic containers may have come from the plastic containers themselves.

Bottled water vs tap water

In the United States, bottled water costs between $0.25 and $2 per bottle while tap water costs less than US$0.01.In 1999, according to a NRDC study, U.S. consumers paid between 240 and 10,000 times more per unit volume for bottled water than for tap water.Typically 90 percent or more of the cost paid by bottled water consumers goes to things other than the water itself—bottling, packaging, shipping, marketing, retailing, other expenses, and profit.

In some areas, tap water may contain added fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay and cavities, but may also produce negative toxicological side-effects.

Bottled water has reduced amounts of copper, lead, and other metal contaminants since it does not run through the plumbing pipes where tap water is exposed to metal corrosion. However, this varies by the household and plumbing system.

In a study with 57 bottled water samples and tap water samples, all of the tap water samples had a bacterial content under 3 CFUs/mL and the bottled water samples’ bacterial content ranged from 0.01-4900 CFUs/mL(colony-forming unit). Most of the water bottle samples were under 1 CFU/mL, though there were 15 water bottle samples containing 6-4900 CFUs/mL.

In another study comparing 25 different bottled waters, most of the samples resulted exceeding the contaminant level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎ (EPA) for mercury, thallium, and thorium. Being exposed to these contaminants in high concentration for long periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage, and increase risk for lung and pancreas disease.

In much of the developed world chlorine is often added as a disinfectant. If the water contains organic matter, this can produce other products in the water such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. The level of residual chlorine found is small at around 00.2g per litre which is too small to directly cause any health problems.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and World Wildlife Fund have all urged their supporters to consume less bottled water. Anti-bottled water campaigns and organizations, such as Corporate Accountability International, typically argue that bottled water is no better than tap water, and emphasize the environmental side-effects of disposable plastic bottles.

The Showtime series Penn & Teller: Bullshit! demonstrated, in a 2007 episode, that in a controlled setting, diners could not discern between bottled water and water from a garden hose behind the restaurant.

Privatization of water

The United Church of Christ, United Church of Canada, National Council of Churches, National Coalition of American Nuns and Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are among some of the religious organizations that have raised questions about whether or not the “privatization” of water is ethical. They regard the industrial purchase and repackaging at a much higher resale price of a basic resource as an unethical trend.

The recent documentary Tapped argues against the bottled water industry, asserting that tap water is healthier, more environmentally sustainable and more ecologically just than bottled water. The film focuses on the bottled water industry in the United States. The film has largely seen positive reviews, and has spawned college campus groups such as Beyond the Bottle.

Tapped is a film that examines the role of the bottled water industry and its effects on our health, climate change, pollution, and our reliance on oil. visit: http://www.tappedthefilm.com/

The Answer?

Home Water Filter Systems. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive and reliable alternative to tap water and bottled water. Home water filter systems are a far better option than bottled water in every way. A quality home water filter system filters out the dangerous contaminants found in tap water, including lead, chlorine, herbicides and pesticides. The home water filter industry has developed a wide variety of filter options, from drinking water filters to attach to your kitchen faucet, to under sink filters to shower filters to whole house water filters.

For pennies per gallon, a quality home water filter system turns your tap water into clean, healthy and safe water. No more bottles to deal with, no more bad taste or smell to your water, and no more concern about the water you and your family are drinking every day. For your health, for your budget and for our environment, a MultiPure home water filter is the best choice by far.

Sep 03

How Much Chlorine is in your water – Multipure OTO Chlorine Test

Kenton Jones from Multipure takes us on a demonstration with OTO, a swimming pool chemical that measures chlorine in water. Check out this demonstration on dry foods such as pasta, jasmine rice and pinto beans when added to chlorinated water. OTO can be purchased at any pool suppy store. Do the following tests and see what happens for yourself. For more info visit us at http://multipureusa.com/koakley

Sep 01

Dangers Of Manganese In Drinking Water

Children’s Intellectual Abilities Affected By Manganese In Drinking Water

Montreal – A study that looked at manganese in drinking water in eight different Quebec communities found that increased levels of the mineral resulted in a measurable decrease in the intellect of children who drank the water.

Key researcher, Dr. Maryse Bouchard, and eight other Canadian colleagues who worked on the project, are calling on the government of Canada to set new guidelines for manganese in drinking water because the levels of manganese they measured in groundwater during the study were below the maximum levels currently allowed. The authors also say the study should be duplicated in other communities.

Published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives on Monday, the study, Intellectual Impairment in School-Age Children Exposed to Manganese from Drinking Water examined the link between manganese, groundwater and children’s intellect; finding a very strong correlation. The research results are free to access and are available as a pdf.

In a press release announcing the report, the researchers stated

“… children exposed to high concentrations of manganese in drinking water performed less well in tests of intellectual skills that children are less exposed.

… The neurotoxic effects of manganese exposure are well known in the workplace. Present in the soil, this metal is also found naturally in groundwater. Several regions in Quebec, Canada and around the world have naturally high levels of manganese in the groundwater. Are there dangers? What may be its effect on children’s health? This is the first study to focus on potential risks of exposure to manganese in drinking water in North America.”

After accounting for manganese from food, the ingestion of other metals found in the drinking water, and many other factors that might impact findings, such as maternal depression and smoking; the researchers noted the association between levels of manganese from groundwater and intellect held. Most alarmingly, the study found

“… a very significant reduction of intelligence quotient (IQ) of children has been observed in connection with the presence of manganese in drinking water, and that at concentrations of manganese currently considered low, and without risk to health.”

The impacts of those low levels of maganese were quite striking.

“The children in whom the concentration of manganese in water was 20% in the highest had an average IQ of 6 points lower than children whose water does not contain manganese.”

The researchers also concluded that humans metabolize manganese from water differently than from food.

Small amounts of manganese, like many other metals, are needed for human health, but too much manganese can create a host of health problems. Too much manganese becomes a neurotoxin for the human brain.

Some municipalities already filter out metals from drinking water. For those living in communities that do not filter out metals, study co-author Benoit Barbeau recommends

“… the use of filtering pitchers that contain a mixture of resin and activated carbon. Such devices can reduce the concentration of manganese 60-100% depending on the level of filter usage and characteristics of the water to be treated.”

The research project used hair clippings and water testing to determine how much manganese the 362 children, aged between 6 and 13 years, had taken in over time through drinking water.

Health Canada has estimated the average Canadian ingests, through a variety of sources, about 4.7 mg of manganese daily. Health Canada goes on to state

“… The Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of manganese for Canadians has yet to be established. In a recent comprehensive literature survey of studies of manganese metabolism in humans, it was concluded that previous estimates for a safe and adequate daily dietary allowance for manganese (2.5-5.0 mg/d) were too low, and a new range of 3.5-7.0 mg/d was recommended for adults.(31) A statistical analysis of the metabolic studies showed that a daily manganese intake of approximately 5 mg is required to consistently maintain a positive balance.”

However, the Quebec study demonstrated that lower levels of manganese ingested through drinking water provided sufficient accumulation in children so as to impair with brain functioning. The researchers also noted that Canada has no guidelines for manganese levels in drinking water, and manganese levels are thus not regulated.

The report concludes

“Because of the common occurrence of this metal in drinking water and the observed effects at low manganese concentration in water, we believe that national and international guidelines for safe manganese in water should be revisited.”


 

 

Aug 31

Kermit, TX Residents Seeing Dirty Water Pouring Out of Their Faucets

by Anayeli Ruiz
NewsWest 9

KERMIT – It’s freaking some people out in Kermit. Dark and dirty water pouring out of their faucets. It looks so nasty people are afraid to use it. Some of our viewers wanted to know what was going on.  So we decided to track down the problem. As NewsWest 9 found out, the city says it’s not only normal, it’s clean.

“Dirty water. If I’m drinking that water, I don’t know what I’m drinking,” Resident, Rita Dominguez, said.

Fear is what many residents in Kermit are experiencing when they turn on their faucet. They are scared of what will come out.

“My neighbor across the way came over one morning asked me if my water was brown. When she draws out bath water or it comes out of the toilet, it’ brown and really dirty,” Resident, Anita Gloege, said.

City officials say the water is safe and clean, even though it may look dirty, it isn’t.

“Sure the water is aesthetically pleasing to look at, there is no health issues,” John Shepherd, Director of Public Works, said.

Believe it or not, the City of Kermit doesn’t have a filtration system. They only use chlorine to flush out the chemicals.

The water they have been getting lately has high levels of manganese and iron and when those are mixed with chlorine and it comes out as brown pigmented water.

“We have got iron and manganese in our water. We have always had it, it’s a common element for this area. You can’t see it until the chlorine hits the water to disinfect it. As soon as we disinfect it, they show up and precipitate and become visible,” Shepherd said.

Officials say the more water that you use, the more likely you’ll be to see the dirty looking water.

“Where the demand goes, usually more affluent neighborhoods, you pull harder on systems and pull that dirty water towards them,” Shepherd said.

The city normally flushes their systems once in April and once in October. This is to help clean and get rid of all the elements. In the meantime, residents will have to wait it out a little longer before they get the pipes flushed out.

“If I flush now, I will be flushing it again. Economics and the demand on the water system, I will be doing it again in 30 days. We’re still in a high demand, we have about 30 more days,” Shepherd said.

Some residents are not happy with the wait.

“It’s not normal. We pay for the water, they need to do something about it,” Dominguez said.

City officials say if you get dirty water, let it run for 15-20 minutes. If you continue to see the dirty water, call the city in Kermit.

Aug 28

Water Contamination at Camp Lejeune

Semper Fi: Always Faithful – Documenting a Fight for Environmental Justice.

 

NYC writer focusing on women’s issues; co-founder, cultID
Posted: 8/28/11 04:35 PM ET in Huffington Post

“There are over 130 contaminated military sites in the United states. This makes the Department of Defense the nation’s largest polluter.”

These words stand as the most salient message of the documentary Semper Fi: Always Faithful, a film that encompasses the worlds of environmental justice, the military, politics and science.

The protagonist of the narrative is Ret. Master Sergeant Jerry Ensminger — a formidable presence. When framed against the backdrop of the United States Capitol, his physical demeanor telegraphs that he is a man to be reckoned with. For Ensminger, the narrative begins with his daughter, Janey, who died at the age of 9 from a rare form of childhood leukemia. Trying to understand the reason behind her illness is the subtext of Ensminger’s quest, as well as the connective tissue for the ensuing narrative about water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Ensminger’s relentless search for truth is driven by the need to get answers not only for himself, but also for the nearly one million people who were unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals at the base.

The backstory gets set in motion in 1941, when a fuel depot in operation at Camp Lejeune had leaks that were seeping into the ground — 1,500 feet from a drinking water supply well. The estimated start date of the water contamination was 1957, when other improperly disposed of solvents additionally entered the mix. In 1975, Ensminger was living at Camp Lejeune. His wife was pregnant with Janey. In 1983, his daughter received her diagnosis. Ironically, unbeknownst to Ensminger, between 1980-1984, the water was being tested at the base with results consistently finding contaminants and “health concerns.”

In 1985, the Commanding General at Camp Lejeune notified residents to conserve water because of well closures, but neglected to mention that 11 wells were closed due to contamination –referencing only “minute [traces] of several organic chemicals” present in the water. In actuality, the chemical levels were 20 to 280 times the safety standards of today. The last contaminated well was closed in 1987, without notification to any of the residents of Camp Lejeune, either past or present.

It wasn’t until 1997 that Ensminger had a clue about the situation. He heard a report on the local news about a “proposed health study on adults and babies” exposed to carcinogens in the water supply at Camp Lejeune. Then it all started to click.

When Ensminger found out that the Marines were not taking care of their own, he felt totally betrayed. Yet his close to 25 years of military service as a drill sergeant had comprehensively prepared him to become a forceful opponent to the Department of Defense (DOD). He applied the Marine mindset — “Don’t give up ground; No person left behind” — to the task at hand. It gave him the tenacity and grit to take his case all the way to the halls of Congress. The juxtaposition between hardnosed non-com and grieving parent presents Ensminger as a multidimensional anchor for the action around him. The film captures Ensminger’s righteous anger in a sequence when he visits a cemetery near Camp Lejeune, pointing out a series of headstones marking the graves of babies. Later, while detailing the pain his daughter endured from her illness, it comes as no surprise when he states emotionally, “You understand my resolve.”

Ensminger came to realize that he was dealing with a cover-up, and that the government regulations “were a burden that was unwelcome” by the DOD. An interaction between those who have been harmed and Marine Corps representatives is telling. “A very difficult and laborious task” is how the Marines qualify notifying those who have been impacted, adding feebly, “We could try.” One of the key characters fighting cancer, former Marine Denita McCall, is overwhelmed by frustration. She states, “If I die tomorrow, my family gets nothing.”

The movie, which began shooting in mid-2007 and wrapped at the end of 2010, is able to encapsulate Ensminger’s journey through the political maze. He graduates from consistently unreturned phone calls to finding support from Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). Miller has reintroduced the Janey Ensminger Act, which would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide health care to veterans and their families who have been impacted from their exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune. Burr has sponsored a bill in the Senate, the Caring for Camp Lejeune Veterans Act of 2011.

With approximately 1 in 10 Americans living within 10 miles of a contaminated military site, Ensminger comments, “Camp Lejeune is just the tip of the iceberg.” His verbal asides lend color and a down to earth voice amidst the technical jargon of science, military, and law material. A meeting at the National Academy of Sciences to review the classification of the chemical PCE, is an opportunity for Ensminger to weigh in on the testifying suits. “These people come flying in on jets… Why is the benefit of the doubt going to the chemicals?… It’s all about money.”

Semper Fi: Always Faithful had its world premiere at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, and is rolling out in theaters on August 26. At a time when the Environmental Protection Agency is coming under attack for “over-regulation,” the film stands as a testimony to what happens when the public’s health is neither protected nor considered.

I spoke with Rachel Libert (who co-directed the film with Tony Hardmon), to discuss the political ramifications of the documentary, and her commitment to creating films that “raise awareness and effect social change.” Libert characterized the information they encountered as similar to “layers of an onion peeling away.” She never expected to learn how “broken” the public health and environment regulatory systems were. Libert expanded on the enforcement issues the EPA was having with the DOD, clarifying that as a government agency — the DOD has been able to circumvent standards that would be strictly applied to private companies.

As Libert explained it, Ensminger’s search for the truth rippled out into an examination beyond water contamination and illness. It entered the spheres of the clout of special interests and how to determine guidelines on regulating toxic chemicals. She said, “When you make a film like this, it doesn’t just exist in the entertainment world. Our first question was, ‘What can we do?’ Film is a very powerful tool to reach people you wouldn’t normally reach. It has the ability to do that. It’s a pathway to action.”

To that end, the film’s website has a “Take Action” link which encourages the public to write their representatives in support of the pending legislation. Community screenings have been set up across the country, and partnerships have been forged with environmental groups.

For Libert, the fact that the film could push forward an agenda was a “dream” for her as a filmmaker. It also left her with a new sense of optimism. Despite the fact she knew that Ensminger was a man of “relentless determination,” she was cynical about how much he could actually accomplish.

Liebert pointed to the ultimately “hopeful message” — Individuals can make a difference through the power of one.

This article originally appeared on the website cultureID

 

Aug 25

Green Water Is Not Always A Good Thing!

Unchecked pollution chokes Lebanon’s rivers

August 26, 2011 01:44 AM By Niamh Fleming-Farrell

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: “Let me tell you one thing,” Raghida Haddad, the executive editor of Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia, a Lebanese environment and development magazine, says. “There are 12 rivers in Lebanon that go into the sea, and you can call them sewers.

”Poisoned with effluent and often strewn with garbage, Lebanon’s rivers are grotty and unwell. They should be both a source of usable water and recreation, but a report published by the United Nations Development Program and the Environment Ministry in 2010 compiled data showing that rivers, both coastal and inland, contain unacceptable levels of raw sewage. In many, E-coli and coliform are not only above acceptable levels for drinking water, they are also above levels acceptable for bathing water as set by the Environment Ministry.

Blessed among its neighbors in terms of water potential, Lebanon’s contaminated rivers are both a source of sickness and disease and a contributor to the pollution of the country’s coast and marine life.

Haddad points out that the high concentration of heavy metals in river water can accumulate in the human body, affecting the nervous and digestive systems and damaging the heart and kidneys. Meanwhile Mark Saadeh, PhD, a hydrogeology specialist, recites a phrase well known in his profession: “The health of a marine environment is determined by the state of rivers.”

The interconnection of aquifers, rivers, seas and oceans means that pollutants added to any one of these will inevitably affect the others.

Saadeh pulls up a file on his computer and opens a series of images of the Litani river, Lebanon’s longest waterway. The pictures show a bright green, algae-covered channel. “It’s turned into a sewer system,” Saadeh says. “It’s not even moving; it’s stagnant.”

He explains how older people living along the river describe a time when it was clear and fast flowing, and they would happily use it for swimming and as a source of drinking water.

But since Saadeh first studied the waterway as a consultant with the Litani River Authority some five or six years ago, it has looked just as it does in his photographs. “It cannot get any worse than this,” he says.

What has happened can be explained with a short science lesson, which Saadeh provides. The high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus found in fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture and in raw sewage and detergents seep into the country’s rivers and ultimately groundwater sources. Once in the rivers, these nutrients set off the process of eutrophication, whereby their addition induces an excessive growth of algae and plankton, clogging up the waterway, greatly reducing water quality and bringing about the collapse of the river’s natural ecosystem.

The solutions to this problem appear obvious: regulate use of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides and treat wastewater to avoid the seepage of raw sewage into rivers. But, Saadeh says, “precious little” is being done to address river pollution.

“There’s a huge black hole between legislation and execution [in Lebanon],” he says in explanation for the seemingly unregulated use of fertilizers. However, where a significant impact may be made – in the treatment of raw sewage – Lebanon fails on a grand scale. It is the “only country in the Middle East not treating its wastewater, save Yemen, I believe,” Saadeh says.

Haddad is of a similar view. The “authorities are not doing anything,” she says. “There is not one functioning wastewater treatment plant [in Lebanon].” Wastewater treatment plants have been built in the country. As he goes through his photographs, Saadeh points out one located next to the Qaraoun dam on the Litani. “It isn’t functional,” he says.

Former Environment Minister Mohammad Rahal says that many international organizations, the UNDP, USAID and EU among them, have helped Lebanon build works to treat its wastewater, but these WWTPs have not been maintained by the government. He believes there are two possible causes for WWTPs falling into disoperation in Lebanon: perhaps the budget for their maintenance is insufficient or unavailable, or perhaps a lack of coordination between the ministries responsible for them (the Environment Ministry and the Water and Energy Ministry), the Council for Development and Reconstruction and the municipalities leads to confusion over who is tasked with maintaining the plants.

Saadeh adds to this that projects like WWTPs are high-tech and require not only money but also expertise to remain operational.

Haddad does point out though that there are plans to build a number of WWTPs both on the coast and inland. The Energy and Water Ministry although contacted to verify use and construction of WWTPs had not responded at time of print.

The pollution of Lebanon’s rivers also impacts the country’s economy. Beyond the obvious negative repercussions of pollution on tourism, pollution also harms the agricultural and industrial sectors’ potential.

Farmers tap contaminated river water to irrigate their crops, and Rahal says this has resulted in the country’s exported produce being returned.

“The EU sends vegetables back because of pollution,” he says. “We can only sell in Lebanon.”

Meanwhile the decreased water quantity available due to pollution curtails opportunities to establish industry. “Limited water resources make some industries impossible,” Saadeh says. “There’ll be no Levi’s factory in Lebanon.” (Tony Allan, a British geographer, estimates that a pair of jeans takes 11,000 liters of water to produce.)

Saadeh argues that the best thing Lebanon can do to deal with water pollution aside from building wastewater treatment plants is educate its citizens about water conservation.

“Water quantity is inextricably linked to pollution because water efficiency and conservation would lead to reduction in effluent volumes,” he says.

As an initial step, he suggests metering water use and charging people on the basis of the volume used rather than a flat rate for an annual water connection. He also recommends revision of the irrigation systems used in agriculture – the furrow, flood, and sprinkler irrigation systems favored in Lebanon use larger quantities of water and are much less efficient than drip irrigation systems. Finally, he recommends the installation of more discerning household plumbing – toilet flush systems that give the option of both a smaller and a larger flush would be a good starting point, Saadeh says.

But, he concludes, “change is going to require a shock to the system.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 26, 2011, on page 12.

Aug 22

Atlantic Garbage Patch Getting Smaller Or Just Smaller Pieces?

Eating Garbage: Plastic In Ocean Is A Bad Deal – And Meal – For Fish

(SEA) ATLANTIC OCEAN — The garbage patch may not be growing, but the plastic ends up somewhere. Plastic waste is either disintegrating and floating to the ocean floor or eaten by unsuspecting fish. Researchers explain why either scenario is hard to digest. – Global Animal  – August 22, 2011

National Geographic News, Rachel Kaufman

At first, it seemed like good news: Measurements of the “garbage patch” in the Atlantic Ocean showed that the amount of plastic trash there hasn’t increased over the past two decades.

Similar to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the North Atlantic garbage patch is somewhat like a region of plastic soup, although “soup implies you can see the vegetables,” said study leader Kara Lavender Law, an oceanographer at the Sea Education Association (SEA) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Instead, most of the Atlantic trash is in the form of tiny plastic bits—from bags and bottles blown off landfills or tossed into the sea—swirling in a still undefined region of open ocean hundreds of miles off the North American coast.

Law and colleagues recently analyzed data from the Atlantic garbage patch collected over the past 22 years and found that the concentration of stuff in the patch hasn’t grown over time.

But even taking increased recycling rates into account, humans’ plastic use over the past two decades has increased. So where has all the plastic gone?

It’s possible some of the trash is just too small for researchers to catalog, study leader Law said: “Our net only captures pieces larger than [a third of a millimeter] in size, and it’s certain that the plastic breaks down into pieces smaller than that.”

Some of the fragments might have been eaten by sea creatures that mistook the plastic for plankton—tiny, free-floating marine plants and animals. The plastic pieces could also be sinking, weighed down by colonies of marine bacteria.

Another expedition to study the patch earlier this year—led by Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen of theAlgalita Marine Research Foundation—had intended to stop and deploy a sediment sampler to test for plastic that might have sunk to the ocean floor. But that trip was cut short by bad weather, Cummins said.

Atlantic Plastic Patch Full of Mystery

Researchers can’t tell the ages of individual plastic bits, since there are no chemical techniques for dating petroleum-based products, SEA’s Law said. That makes it nearly impossible to tell if the seemingly stable amount of trash is actually due to turnover.

There’s also currently no way to track the origins of the plastic: “We’re not seeing Coke bottles stamped with ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’” Law said. A computer model of ocean circulation suggests the fastest route to the patch begins at the U.S. East Coast.

Meanwhile, even though the SEA expedition traveled a thousand miles (1,609 kilometers) east of Bermuda, “we still can’t find the eastern edge” of the patch, Law said.

The Algalita mission traveled much farther east, all the way to the Azores islands off Portugal (map), the foundation’s Eriksen said, and “we had plastics in our samples from Bermuda to the Azores.”

Overall, the results tell “a depressing story, to be honest,” SEA’s Law added. “You’re like, Great, [the patch] is not increasing! But I’m sure it is.”

Aug 22

Make Back-To-School A “Green” Event

Photograph courtesy of tncountryfan/Flickr, Creative Commons license

Photograph courtesy of tncountryfan/Flickr, Creative Commons license

What motivates people to save energy? This year, the Great Energy Challenge launched a project, the 360º Energy Diet, designed in part to tackle this very question. (Another round of the diet begins this fall.) For some people who joined, it was the idea of living a simpler, less wasteful lifestyle. Others liked the idea of losing weight, whether it was literally shedding pounds by switching to less energy-intensive eating habits, or lightening their monthly bills by saving on electricity and other expenses.

survey released earlier this year by the consulting firms Deloitte and the Harrison Group confirms that financial incentives can motivate changes in energy use. Sixty-eight percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I/Our family took several extra steps to reduce our electric bill as a result of the recession.” Even more striking, 95 percent of those consumers have no plans to go back to their pre-recession spending habits, even if the economy improves.

Operating on this same “green” (i.e. monetary) concept, the company Recyclebank offers consumers in the United States and the United Kingdom discounts and deals in exchange for everyday planet-friendly actions such as recycling electronics or cutting energy use at home. Looking ahead to the school year, when many families are making lots of new purchases and preparing students to participate in many new activities, Recyclebank offers these tips for a less resource-intensive back-to-school season:

Pack waste-free lunches: It’s estimated that Americans go through 100 billion plastic bags a year- this averages to 360 bags per person. Purchase a reusable lunch bag or box for your child, and fill reusable bottles with water or juice. If you do use plastic bags, reuse and recycle them. Clean and dry Ziploc® bags can be recycled at most grocery stores where you drop off plastic shopping bags.

Encourage school cafeterias to buy local:
 At the next PTA meeting, discuss the topic with other parents and consider connecting with school administrators about bringing local food to the cafeteria for sustainable and healthy lunches. Contact the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service for resources and information on farm-to-school programs.

Conserve paper:
 Remind your family to only print when truly necessary. If you must print, do it on 100-percent recycled paper, which is often cheaper than paper made from trees. Consider investing in eReaders and tablet computers; your children can use them for school assignments and you forgo buying paper books, newspapers and magazines.

Choose sustainable school supplies:
 In the United States alone, approximately 11,600 incense-cedar trees are cut down to create the 2 billion pencils made each year. To minimize your environmental footprint, opt for school supplies wrapped in limited packaging and recycle what you can. Seek out greener supplies like recycled or mechanical pencils, refillable pens and paper clips made from recycled steel.

“Upcycle” last year’s supplies: Three-ring binders that are still in great working order can be refurbished at home. Cover the entire exterior of the binder with a sheet of cork contact paper, then trim to size for a clean, modern looking folder.

Recycle old electronics: If you’re upgrading your family’s electronics this year, be mindful of recycling old models (Recyclebank offers rewards for this). Don’t forget to recycle the batteries too.

Green your wardrobe: Shop in vintage or thrift stores to suspend the life of clothing, or even arrange a clothing swap with friends or relatives. When buying new clothes, look for those made with sustainable fabrics like organic cotton and bamboo.

Streamline transportation:
 Use school or public buses when at all possible to reduce emissions. If you must drive, arrange a carpool. Getting bikes (and helmets) for the whole family is the most efficient way to go – and fun and healthy too.

In order to up the ante on many of these actions, Recyclebank is holding a Green Your School Year Challenge that begins Wednesday and goes through Sept. 30. The highest scorers can win prizes including $2,500 gift cards to Macy’s, electric bicycles and e-readers. No matter what your motivation, the fall season offers a good opportunity to reevaluate some of the choices we make every year, and possibly get some “green” in the process.