Water Quality InformationWritten By Actual Experts


Uranium in Drinking Water: What You Need to Know

Christina Liu @ Thursday, July 8, 2021 at 8:11 pm -0400
The US Geological Survey (USGS) recently released a study showing that private well water across Connecticut contained elevated levels of uranium and arsenic. While uranium is commonly found in well water, it can also be found in municipal water systems. Uranium is commonly detected in water systems that have groundwater as a source, especially ones with naturally occurring uranium in the bedrock. This article addresses some basic questions you may have about uranium in drinking water and what you can do about it.  

Problems We Found in Fairfax County, Virginia’s Drinking Water

Christina Liu @ Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 6:46 pm -0400
Contaminants of concern in Fairfax County’s drinking water include LeadPFASDisinfection ByproductsRadiumUraniumArsenic, and Chromium 6For Hydroviv’s assessment of drinking water issues in the Fairfax County, Virginia area, we aggregated water quality test data from Fairfax Water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Working Group, and the US Geological Survey. Our Water Nerds then cross referenced these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, as well as upcoming regulatory changes. The custom water filters that we build for our customers in the Fairfax County area are optimized with this research in mind.

Drinking Water Supplies Risk Contamination from Toxic Wastewater Ponds

Christina Liu @ Friday, June 18, 2021 at 2:55 pm -0400
The leaking phosphogypsum waste pond that nearly collapsed recently in Florida once again shines a spotlight on the dangers and near-disasters posed by wastewater ponds throughout the country and their impacts on drinking water. These toxic waste ponds are not only created from phosphate mining, but used at power plants (coal ash) and large-scale agricultural facilities (such as manure from hog farming).  

Drinking Water Problems in the Tampa Bay Region of Florida

Analies Dyjak @ Friday, May 14, 2021 at 12:34 am -0400

Christina Liu, B.S. | Hydroviv Science Team

Tampa Bay Water is an alliance between the six governments in west-central Florida: Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg and Tampa. These municipalities, in turn, provide drinking water to more than 2.5 million people in the Tampa Bay region. For Hydroviv’s assessment of Tampa Bay Region’s drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data from Tampa Bay Water, the 6 municipal suppliers listed above, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Environmental Working Group, and the US Geological Survey. Our Water Nerds then cross referenced these data with toxicity studies in the scientific and medical literature, as well as upcoming regulatory changes. The custom water filters that we build for our customers in the Tampa Bay Region are optimized with this research in mind.

Source of the Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Tampa Bay Water’s supply is a blend of treated groundwater, river water and desalinated seawater. Groundwater comes from 12 wellfields pumping water from the Floridan Aquifer. River water is withdrawn from the Alafia River, Hillsborough River and the Tampa Bypass Canal. Surplus river and canal water is stored in the C.W. Bill Young Regional Reservoir, which supplies the surface water treatment plant during dry times. Hillsborough Bay is the source of seawater for the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant.

What Are The Major Concerns in Tampa Bay Drinking Water?

Contaminants of concern in the Tampa Bay Region’s drinking water include Lead, PFAS, Disinfection Byproducts, Radium, and Uranium. Low amounts of Arsenic and Chromium 6 were also detected in the water. Chloramine is used to disinfect the water.

Lead In Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Lead enters into the consumer's tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. When corrosion control measures fail (as witnessed in Flint, Michigan), lead leaches into the drinking water, reaching toxic levels. 2020 lead sampling by Tampa Bay Water detected levels as high as 4 parts per billion. EPA, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. In addition, Federal regulations cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

PFAS or 'Forever Chemicals' in Tampa Bay Water

Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a category of emerging contaminants commonly used in firefighting foam, Teflon, non-stick surfaces, stain-resistant surfaces, and food packaging. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has determined that PFAS exposure is associated with various adverse health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, lowered fertility rates, and developmental issues in infants and young children. A new study out of The Yale School of Public Health recently found that exposure to PFAS increases the risk of miscarriage by 80-120% in pregnant women. The Centers for Disease Control also issued a disclosure regarding a potential intersection between PFAS and COVID-19.

Even small amounts of PFAS are extremely toxic. PFAS are measured in parts per trillion, and one part per trillion is equivalent to one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

PFAS have been detected in a growing number of municipalities across the United States. Most municipalities are not required to test for or remove PFAS from drinking water, including the Tampa Bay Region. Not all water filters are designed to remove PFAS from tap water. If you'd like to find water filters that remove PFAS from tap water, check out this Duke/NC State PFAS study.  Hydroviv filters are NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified for PFOA/PFOS removal.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Tampa Bay Drinking Water

DBPs are a category of emerging contaminants that form when chlorine-based disinfectants (added to the water supply to protect consumers) react with naturally-occurring organic matter. EPA regulates two categories of DBPs: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids (HAA5). The EPA has stated that DBPs have been associated with increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems. Haloacetic Acid levels in Hillsborough and Pinellas County ranged as high as 47.2 parts per billion, nearing the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 60 parts per billion.  Total Trihalomethane levels ranged as high as 107 parts per billion, exceeding the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 80 parts per billion.

Radium and Uranium in Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Radium is formed when uranium and thorium undergo radioactive decay in the environment. Two of the main radium isotopes found in the environment are radium-226 and radium-228. Radium in drinking water is of primary concern because this radiation may cause cancer, kidney damage and birth defects.  Radium levels in Hillsborough County were as high as 2.04 ppb with the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal 5 ppb. Uranium levels in Pasco County water measured at 0.54 ppb in 2019, with the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level Goal set at 30 ppb.

Use Of Chloramine In Tampa Bay Region’s Tap Water

While most cities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, all of the municipalities within Tampa Bay Water use chloramine, which is made by combining chlorine and ammonia. Chloramine is frequently the issue when customers report a “bad taste” in their tap water, and unlike chlorine will not fade away if left in the fridge overnight. The 2020 chloramine running annual average for the City of Tampa Bay was 3.5 parts per million, with samples ranging as high as 5.3 ppm; the maximum residual disinfectant level, in comparison, is only 4.0 ppm. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that don’t adequately remove chloramine, but the filters that Hydroviv builds for Tampa Bay Area water use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.

Arsenic in Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Arsenic is a hazardous heavy metal that can cause cancer and other health problems. Arsenic originates in source water naturally. In the Tampa Bay Water region, low amounts of arsenic were detected in the different areas, ranging from 0.11 ppb to 0.43 ppb. While Tampa Bay Region’s Arsenic levels were comparatively low when measured to EPA water quality standards, consumers should know that the U.S. EPA's standard balances toxicity against the costs of removing arsenic from drinking water. 

Chromium 6 Levels In Tampa Bay Region’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. Tampa Bay Water was measured to have Chromium 6 levels ranging from 47 parts per trillion to 140 parts per trillion. California has determined that 20 parts per trillion is the contaminant level below which there is minimal health risk. The Chromium 6 levels in the Tampa Bay water system range from about 2 to 7 times the level generally accepted as safe.

How Can Hydroviv Help Me?

Hydroviv is a water filtration company that uses water quality data to optimize water filters for each customer's water. The contaminants that we list above are what we consider to be major “points of emphasis” that we use to build water filters that are built specifically for Tampa Bay Area water, but all of our filters also include broad protection against a wide range of contaminants.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Tampa Bay tap water, or just have questions about water quality in general, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat. We post water-related news on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

Hydroviv's drinking water filters carry NSF certifications to Standard 42 (aesthetic effects--Chlorine Removal) and Standard 53 (health effects--Lead, VOCs, and PFOA/PFOS removal), and are independently tested to remove hundreds of contaminants.

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New Legislation Aims to Tackle Coal Ash Pollution

Water Nerd @ Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2:00 pm -0400

Emma Johnson | Scientific Contributor   

After a drainage pipe burst at a Duke Energy coal ash containment basin in North Carolina in 2014, the nearby Dan River turned black. 39,000 tons of coal ash – the waste created in the process of burning coal to make electricity – poured into the river for a week, coating the banks in sludge and infusing the water with toxic pollutants like arsenic, iron, and lead. The river was a source of drinking water for communities in North Carolina and Virginia, who were worried about the effect of the spill on their health. Duke was still working on cleanup and restoration projects five years after.

Coal ash spills remain a worry today as coal power plants remain in operation around the country. To begin rectifying this enormous problem, Rep. Steve Cohen (D) from Tennessee introduced a bill to the U.S. House of Representatives on April 8 to “amend the Solid Waste Disposal Act to ensure the safe disposal of coal combustion residuals.” 

The bill would put back coal ash protections that the Trump administration had removed. Some of these include requiring power plants to pay for cleanup costs, prohibiting unlined waste ponds, and requiring regulatory oversight of coal ash facilities. The bill would also prevent coal ash ponds from being located near groundwater and increase public participation and protection for disadvantaged communities.

A 2019 study from the Environmental Integrity Project listed ten sites with the worst coal ash-contaminated groundwater, which spanned nine states. Using public industry data, the study found that the coal ash at 242 of 265 power plants examined contained unsafe levels of one or more toxic pollutants. In addition, more than 95% of coal ash storage ponds are unlined and 59% are built either beneath the water table or within 5 feet of it.

Coal ash also disproportionately affects poor communities and communities of color. 70% of coal ash ponds are located in low-income communities and more then 200 are known to have contaminated waterways, according to Appalachian Voices. People who live near these ponds can have elevated risks of cancer, lung and heart problems, and other serious health concerns.

In a statement about the bill, Cohen remarked on the danger that these spills pose, saying: “The measure I am introducing strengthens protections outlined in the 2015 Coal Ash Rule and protects communities by mandating safer and faster disposal of this dangerous waste product of electricity production.”

Cohen’s bill is waiting to be heard by the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change and must make it through both the House and the Senate before it goes to the President’s desk for a signature and turned into law.

For advocates working to clean up coal ash around the country, this bill represents a big step in the right direction for addressing this long-standing pollutant. Christine Santillana, Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice, said, “This legislation aims to correct decades of coal ash mismanagement that has left communities around the country exposed to the toxic chemicals in our waterways.”

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