Archives : 2013 : August

The Importance of Clean Drinking Water

August 30th, 2013

clean water

Image via Jinx (flickr)

I grew up around water. I love water. I got my degree in Environmental Science because I was tired of seeing people pollute our water. I want to educate people about water. I want them to understand the importance of clean drinking water. You won’t see the heinous effects of polluted drinking water suffered by those in third-world countries here in the U.S. We do have our own set of problems when it comes to clean drinking water, however.

Clean drinking water is new to the U.S. We suffered from polluted water until congress enacted water safety legislation. You would think this wouldn’t be necessary. It’s common sense that if you pollute your water, you suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, many have yet to grasp this concept. Without clean drinking water, facts speak for themselves. Looking at worldwide statistics helps us better understand the importance of clean drinking water here at home.

Some Clean Drinking Water Statistics

It boggles my mind when I read these statistics. When considering clean drinking water, facts clearly demonstrate the importance of access to a sanitary water supply. Without it, people die, plain and simple. But hey, it wasn’t always so great here either. Congress didn’t implement protections against water pollution until 1972.

Senator Edmund “Ed” Muskie introduced the Clean Water Act in 1971, which included sub-acts for drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act – although most people think of it as the clean drinking water act. The cool thing about the Safe Water Act is it protects all of America’s water, including recreational water for those of us who dive in and pretend we’re fish! Since our topic is clean drinking water, however, let’s focus on what the clean drinking water act portion entails.

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Beware of the Bottle: Why Bottled Water isn’t Always Better

August 26th, 2013

Stop the madness, the pollution, and the greed! Filter your water – don’t buy bottled!

Plastic bottles and garbage on the bank of a river

Image via Horia Varlan (Flickr)

Beware of the Bottle: Why Bottled Water isn’t Always Better

Everyone does it, right? I certainly do. Grabs that bottled water out of the fridge on their way out the door. This is good! We need to drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated, alert, and healthy, and a case of the stuff is super-cheap at my local mega-market. Plus, bottled water is filtered, so it’s much better than tap water. We recycle the bottles, so it’s no problemo to the environment… Okay, I’m going to stop right here and spare you further empty justification. These are just many of the myths surrounding bottled water, so please read on to find out the truth about why bottled water is bad.

It’s hard to fathom these three words: bottled, water-bad, as being interrelated. After all, we are taught that bottled water is good for us, healthier, and safer than tap water. Heck! Some ads suggest that bottled water will basically turn us into the Six Million Dollar Man and make us “better, stronger, faster”!

Believe me, I wish it were true – if it were, there’d be a ton of healthier people out there. Truth is; however, there are a lot of bad things about bottled water consumers like you and I need to know.

Bad bottled water doesn’t necessarily mean bottled water that has extended beyond the sell-by date printed on the plastic, although I don’t recommend drinking anything that has expired. No, bad bottled water can mean anything from tap water placed into a bottle and sold as bottled water, to the health risks associated with the plastic bottles from which we drink the water, to how these plastic bottles are destroying the environment. Oh yeah, there’s a LOT to consider when researching why bottled water is bad.

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Know Your H2O: Chlorine in Drinking Water

August 20th, 2013

Chlorine protects you in the swimming pool, but has no place in your drinking water!

chlorine in water

Image via Pavel Ryben (Flickr)

Know Your H2O: Chlorine in Drinking Water

It’s the first hot day of summer, and you’ve worked out all winter to sport that new swimsuit. You dive into the pool, the water cool and refreshing, and, of course, chlorinated. It’s natural to have chlorinated water in a swimming pool. Pools are breeding grounds for bacterium and algae. What’s not expected is grabbing a glass and tasting chlorine in drinking water you just dispensed from your tap; not only repugnant to the taste buds, but not so healthy either. This begs to ask an important question: Why is there chlorine in water pumped into our homes?

As with most environmental issues, there are two sides to the discussion of the chlorinated water running from our taps. Those supporting the use of chlorine in water say that the chemical is an effective and inexpensive way to control microbes from polluting public water supplies. Chlorine disinfects the water and keeps it safe for public use and consumption. There are three forms of chlorine used to disinfect public water supplies, each with its own Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number. They are: Chloramine, Chlorine, and Chlorine Dioxide, or CI2, CL2, and CIO2, respectively.

Chlorinated water supporters do have a leg to stand on, as much as I hate to admit it. In some cases, particularly in third-world countries, water supplies are dangerously polluted with deadly microbes. This water must be disinfected to prevent waterborne illnesses, such as bacterial, protozoal, viral, or parasitic infection and/or death. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates 1.8 million die annually from a waterborne illness.

But, we don’t live in a third-world country, so do we really need to chlorinate our drinking water? Well, we don’t suffer from the waterborne illnesses people who consume polluted water suffer from, so, arguably, the chlorine in water we drink is protecting us from dangerous infection, illness, and possible death. This is a fact that nobody, even those of us against chlorine in drinking water, can deny. But what price are we paying for using chlorine in drinking water to disinfect it? In some cases, a big one.

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Don’t Lead Time Pass You By: Learn How to Test for Lead and Remove it From Your Drinking Water

August 15th, 2013

Lead seeps into your drinking water via older lead pipes.

lead-pipes

Image via simonov (flickr)

Everyone is quite familiar with the dangers of lead paint; we all know that if you live in an older house, you must strip your walls of all lead-based paint and repaint them with a safer water-based paint. What you might not realize is the same dangers inherent in lead paint are also inherent if you have older pipes running the water into your home. Lead in drinking water is a common, yet vitally misunderstood, health risk. We worry about the paint and ignore the pipes. The good news is you can conduct a lead water test to determine whether your tap water is contaminated and then filter your water accordingly.

How Lead Enters Water

If your home was built before 1986 and the plumbing has never been replaced, it is pretty much a given that your pipes and plumbing fixtures are lead. Even if your house is newer or you’ve had your plumbing replaced, the EPA reports that plumbing declared “lead-free” is still composed of up to 8 percent lead. Over the years, as your water flows through the pipes they corrode, and the lead seeps into your tap water. Lead in water can cause health problems in both children and adults. Children exposed to lead in drinking water might experience developmental, decreased attention span, and learning disabilities. Long-term lead exposure to adults can cause kidney disease and high blood pressure.

How to Test for Lead

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In More than Just Toothpaste, Flouride in Water and How to Remove it

August 12th, 2013

We have fluoride in our toothpaste… do we really need it in our water?

Flouride-for-Clean-Teeth

Image via Kenneth Lu (Flickr)

In More than Just Toothpaste, Fluoride in Water and How to Remove It

Water fluoridation is an extremely controversial topic. European countries have argued that putting fluoride in water supplies violates the Nuremberg Code, because it is a form of mass medication. The United Kingdom’s Green Party asserts that adding fluoride to public water violates three fundamental and human rights acts, and is banned by the U.K.’s Poisons Act of 1972. Here in the United States, several groups have sued municipalities, arguing that people’s hands should not be forced by mandatory water fluoridation, as it is a non-consensual medical treatment and excessive amounts of fluoride is dangerous. It is clear fluoride in water is a contentious ethical battle, so how did we get here in the first place, and what can we do about it?

What Is It, Exactly?

Water fluoridation is the practice of adding regulated amounts of fluoride chemicals – the stuff you find in your toothpaste – to public drinking water supplies. The purpose is simple: To prevent tooth decay, or at least aid in its prevention. Most water sources contain a small amount of naturally occurring fluoride, but many countries, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States put additional fluoride in drinking water. Many countries have also stopped the practice of adding fluoride in water, including Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Japan, and the Soviet Union.

How It All Started

In 1909, Dr. Frederick McKay examined 2,945 children who suffered from what was dubbed “Colorado Brown Stain.” These children lived in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado, and had naturally occurring stained, pitted, and cracked teeth. What was initially thought to be malnutrition, ended up being excess fluoride in the area’s natural water supply, and despite the cracked teeth, the children had fewer cavities than other kids did. The idea of adding fluoride to water was born, and Grand Rapids, Michigan was the first major U.S. city to enact the practice in 1945.

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Water Controversy: Is Fracking Safe & What do Fracking Chemicals do to Your Drinking Water?

August 9th, 2013

Fracking releases flammable chemicals into our water supplies.

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Image via JMR Photography (Flickr)

Water Controversy: Is Fracking Safe and What Do Fracking Chemicals Do to Your Drinking Water?

In popular culture, “frack” is a swear word uttered by the characters of the science fiction franchise “Battlestar Galactica.” “Eureka” fans also heard Fargo use it a time or two. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out the actual expletive the word represents. In the real world, however, fracking isn’t the granddaddy of all curse words, but it is just as serious. And when it comes to water controversy, fracking water – with good reason – is at the top of the list. Is fracking safe? No. And this blog post will ask and answer some of the most important questions about fracking water and the fracking chemicals polluting our water supplies.

Q: If it isn’t a swear word in outer space, what is the origin of the word “fracking”?

A: “Fracking” is a linguistic blend of the phrase “hydraulic fracturing.” Hydraulic fracturing is also called “hydrofracking.”

Q: What is hydraulic fracturing?

A: Literally, hydraulic fracturing means breaking something apart with water. In this case, hydraulic fracturing means pumping water underground to destroy bedrock and release the natural gas encased within the rock.

Q: Who uses fracking?

A: The gas industry uses fracking to access the earth’s natural gas source found underground. Fracking is allowed at both the state and federal government levels.

Q: How many states allow fracking?

A: As of 2012, it was reported that 34 states allow fracking. This number is expected to increase, however, as the federal government recently authorized fracking in Texas in an effort to increase its position in the worldwide exportation of natural gas.

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Hidden Dangers: Prescription Drugs Contaminated the Drinking Water

August 5th, 2013

In your medicine cabinet? Yes! In your water supply? Frighteningly – Yes!!

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Image via Flickr by RambergMediaImages

Hidden Dangers: Prescription Drugs Contaminated the Drinking Water

One of the reasons why I majored in Environmental Studies is because I love the earth’s oceans and lakes. I have always sought recreation and refuge in them, and I am never lacking in surprise or dismay when I see them disrespected and polluted. I cannot understand why anyone would feel it appropriate to pollute our earth’s precious water sources. After all, we as a species cannot survive without water. Pollution goes beyond trashing our natural water resources, however, and one of the most dangerous forms of pollution is drinking water contamination.

I could write a 100-page blog on contaminated drinking water; there are so many contaminants to discuss, as well as innumerable illnesses resulting from drinking contaminated water, so I’m going to narrow this down. In this blog post, I want to discuss the dangers of prescription drugs entering our water supply, which is a form of drinking water contamination that many do not think about. In fact, I dare say, many might not even be aware that their drinking water is contaminated by prescription drug residue.

According to an investigation by the Associate Press, prescription drugs were found in the water supply of numerous cities throughout the U.S. The types of prescription drug residue found in the drinking water included antibiotics, antidepressants, and hormones. This is quite frightening, and might explain why many people suffer from prescription medication-related side effects, such as intolerance to antibiotics and hormonal imbalances, even when they aren’t taking prescription medications. Did you know that the Potomac River is home to fish that are intersexed, and it is believed that these fish are both male and female because of excess estrogen found in river’s water?

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