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.”

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 16

Water, Water Everywhere…But Not a Drop to Drink?

Published July 18, 2011 By Rev. Amy Butler on her blog, Talk with the Preacher.

One of the best parts of international travel is the way it can submerge you in a context totally different from your own, an experience that is usually really uncomfortable but offers some great perspective if you let it.

Among my recent adventures in Southeast Asia I had the opportunity to visit the country of Cambodia.  There are oh-so-many things I could write about that experience; my visit to Cambodia was definitely a high point of the trip.  One thing that struck me was just the experience of meeting Cambodian people.  They seemed so affable and cheerful, even living in a country that is clearly still reeling from the horrors of genocide under the Khmer Rouge.

Given the tattered state of Cambodian society still, it wasn’t surprising to me to see quite a lot of poverty and extreme rural living right in the middle of the country’s second largest city, Siem Reap.  In other words, while I can certainly understand the convenience of keeping your cows on the ground floor of your house, this Cambodian tradition would qualify as “an experience totally different from my own.”  Geez, I personally think the dog is bad enough.

Anyway, among my Cambodian adventures was a visit to a floating village.  The floating village I visited was on the Tonle Sap lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.  I hate to publicly claim such ignorance, but my mental image of a “floating village” was a little different than what I encountered on Tonle Sap.  Seriously, when I imagined a “floating village” I was thinking something really beautiful and maybe a bit mysterious—you know, with lots of bamboo and probably some mist floating up from still waters filled with koi fish. 

Uh, not so much.

A floating village is more like a large group of people trying desperately to piece together some kind of existence, all the while trying to stay afloat on a large body of water.  Families of ten, for example, live together in a little tiny houseboat, with no electricity and no plumbing system of any kind.  The poverty in the floating village was staggering.

I kept looking around at all the water…water everywhere.  The people who live on Tonle Sap use the water to get around in any manner of floating vessels—many of them not boats at all.  They also use the water to bathe, to cook, to deposit sewage, to drink.  For someone coming from my comparatively sterile environment, witnessing all of this was rather shocking.

After what I saw I have no idea how these folks eek out an existence and stay relatively healthy.  With my limited perspective I kept wondering: do they know there’s a way to have clean drinking water?  Don’t they want that?  Why don’t they set up a sewage system so they don’t have to use the lake water for everything?  I felt almost panicky about it.

The guide telling me about the village said the government has tried to offer village residents options of resettlement, education, etc., in the city, but without fail those who are resettled return to the floating villages within a matter of months.  There’s something about the community that they love, something about living all together in one place and having the water under your feet all the time.

I’m still processing this experience, for sure.  I can’t get the image of the water out of my mind.  Maybe it’s because a side effect of growing up in Hawaii is my strong association of God with all the water that was always around me.  In the ocean in particular I always felt a sense of God’s immensity and power, but also the gift of life that is readily apparent wherever you see the water.

The water I saw at Tonle Sap, though, stunk of poverty and desperation…and sewage.  I wondered about a lot of things as I looked out over that brown water.  I wondered if sometimes the church feels like Tonle Sap lake to some people…with trappings of God all around, but no God really.

I thought about that as I sat, that afternoon, water all around me…and I was so thirsty.

 

 

 

amydec08Rev. Amy Butler has served as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. since 2003.  She grew up in Hawaii, where she recently spent an amazing sabbatical working with the translation team of the Hawaiian Bible.  Amy graduated from Baylor Universityin Waco, Texas, with degrees in religion and political science, received her seminary training in Europe, and recently completed her Doctor of Ministry degree in preaching at Wesley Theological Seminary.  She lives with her family in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland.

Aug 14

Minority Families Targeted By Bottled Water Marketers

Published By Nadia Arumugam Aug. 11 2011 — Forbes 

Why Minorities Reach for Bottled Water Over Tap & How Marketers Persuade Them

A large pile of half-pint Poland Spring bottles

Image via Wikipedia

Research has shown that minorities consume bottled water more often than white Americans, and spend a greater proportion of their income (about 1%, compared to the 0.4% white Americans dole out) on this superfluous commodity every year. A recentstudy in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine confirmed this trend – finding that Latino and black parents were three times more likely to sate their children’s thirst with bottled water, compared with white parents. What sets this study apart from previous ones, is that it pinpoints the reasons why minority parents perceive bottled water to be superior, and thus a necessary expense. They genuinely believe it to be cleaner, safer, healthier, and more convenient than the stuff that pours out of the spigot (virtually) gratis. Health experts and tap water advocates heartily disagree and will produce reams of data revealing tap water  to be pure, healthful, and entirely sanitary. In fact, authors of the recent study note that the reliance on bottled water may contribute to dental issues in minority children who don’t benefit from the fluoride purposefully added to tap water to maintain the nation’s oral health. What’s more, a National Resources Defense Council investigation discovered the 17% of bottled waters contained unsafe levels of bacterial loads, and 22% were contaminated with chemicals, including arsenic.

Still, with 10 billion gallons of bottled water imbibed annually in the US, bottled water brands have been actively courting the minority market.

Here are four strategies they’ve used to convince black and Latino consumers to swig from their bottles. 

Latino-specific Bottled Water Brands
What better way to attract the attention of a minority group than by putting out a product that is aimed directly, if not almost exclusively, at them. Paul Kurkulis founder and president of Las Oleadas, an Aspen-based company, has been hawking a brand of mineral -enhanced bottled water called Oleada in Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and California, with his focus being the Hispanic market. Loosely translated Las Oleadas means “the momentum that drives a wave.” The text on the labels were originally only in Spanish, but they now also feature English, since Kurkulis found he had inadvertently garnered some non-Spanish speaking customers. In 2006, Ravinia Partners, launched AguaBlue. After years of research, they put out the bottled water that sought to pull at the emotional heartstrings of the Latino consumer. The striking, full color label features the flags of Latin American countries, and bilingual production information. Perusing the water aisle, the Guatamalan, Columbian or Puerto Rican shopper spots his or her flag, and swells with pride and warm feelings. Naturally, this makes him or him opt for a bottle of AguaBlue over another generic brand.

Targeting Minority Moms
Over the last two years ago, Coca Cola and Nestle have both rolled out campaigns aimed at minority moms. According to Miriam Muley,  author of The 85% Niche: The Power of Women of All Colors—Latina, Black and Asian, 46% of all mothers in the US are Latina, Black or Asian. In April, 2009, Dasani enlisted R&B star Chilli from the Grammy award winning group TLC to deliver its message of health and hydration to African American mothers in a special Mother’s Day program. Via radio, print and in-store advertising, black women were sold on how drinking Dasani was just one step to a happier, more beautiful, more fulfilled, and more balanced them. By visiting the Dasani website, moms could see the latest fashion trends, elicit health and beauty tips and enter contests to win spa-cations. “Among African American consumers, African American moms are the gatekeeper to the household,” said Yolanda White, assistant vice president, African American Marketing, Coca-Cola North America, in an Ad Age interview. “We over-index in single-family households, and so reaching Mom is critical.”

Summer and fall of 2010 saw Nestle’s Pure Life water campaign, “Better Habits for a Better Life”, played out with a vengeance. This time it was Latina moms who were being canvassed, and this time, the campaign wasn’t so much about their health and well-being, but rather those of their families. At the heart of the campaign was a challenge titled “La Promesa Nestle Pure Life,” and it basically called upon mothers to pledge to replace one sugary drink in their family’s day with water, or rather, a bottle of Pure Life. Once her pledge was registered, mom was in the running to win over $20,000 worth of prizes, and a trip for four to Miami.

Celebrity Endorsements
Brands have long since recognized the value of celebrity endorsements to increase sales. But, it wasn’t until the mid-90′s that advertisers really started to take the African American market seriously and realized the profits to be cultivated if they started to use black stars. Remember what Tina Turner  did for Hanes hosiery? Well, the bottled water industry certainly does. Coca Cola’s enlisting of TLC’s Chili, a 38 year-old-old actress, singer, and single mother to promote Dasani’s Mother’s Day campaign, was perfectly executed. The star embraces independence, strong family principles and a commitment to health, and, well, looking good – values integral to today’s black mother. “Chilli embodies the struggles and the balance we see in our target audience,” said Yolanda White of Coca Cola, as reported in Adweek.com. “She gives reassurance to moms that you can still be a great mom, take care of yourself and look beautiful.” Nestle had their own superstar mom in Hispanic TV host Cristina Saralegui to serve as the brand’s spokeswoman, as well as to appear in TV commercials. In one such ad, a mother is seen in a supermarket deciding between a sugary drink or water as she runs into Saralegui, who conveys to her the importance of water. Between 2008 and 2010 when Hispanic commericals featuring Salalegui were aired on TV, the awareness of Pure Life water, and purchase intent levels quadrupled among Hispanics.

All this isn’t to suggest that the boys are neglected. Black comedian and actor Daman Wayans, once endorsed PepsiCo’s Aquafina in the early noughties, now the brand is endorsed by Domenican football player Luis Castillo of the San Diego Chargers.

 

 

 


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

2011_8_10_tapwater.jpg

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


Jun 20

Do I Need A Water Filter?

Do I need a water filter?

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

dirty-water
Water pollution remains one of the most visible and persistent signs of our impact on the natural world. Cleanup of some older pollutants has been offset by new contaminants that threaten freshwater ecosystems and foul our drinking water.

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.