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Problems We Found In Boynton Beach, Florida Drinking Water Quality

Analies Dyjak @ Tuesday, September 25, 2018 at 12:43 pm -0400

Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

For Hydroviv’s assessment of the city of Boynton Beach, Florida's drinking water, we collected water quality test data from the annual Boynton Beach Consumer Confidence Report and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced Boynton Beach water quality data with toxicity studies in scientific and medical literature. The water filters that we sell at Hydroviv are optimized to filter out contaminants that are found in Boynton Beach drinking water.

Disinfection Byproducts In Boynton Beach Drinking Water

Let’s start with Disinfection Byproducts or DBPs. DBPs are formed when chlorine-based disinfectants that are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria, react with organic matter. Boynton Beach water quality has some pretty high levels of disinfection byproducts. According to the most recent report, concentrations of haloacetic acids averaged 26 parts per billion but reached levels as high as 33.7 parts per billion and concentrations of trihalomethanes averaged 74.8 parts per billion but reached levels as high as 149 parts per billion. For a bit of perspective, EPA’s maximum contaminant level for haloacetic acids is 60 parts per billion and 80 parts per billion for trihalomethanes. Health and regulatory agencies have very little knowledge about the adverse health effects of DBPs, and their toxicity. EPA has stated that they have been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Chloramine In Boynton Beach Drinking Water

While most cities use chlorine, Boynton Beach uses chlorine and chloramine in the disinfection process. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Concentrations of chloramine averaged 3.01 parts per billion but reached concentrations as high as 4.8 parts per billion. Again for a bit of perspective, the maximum contaminant level for chloramine is 4 parts per billion.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Disinfection Byproducts: What You Need To Know
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Problems We Found In Miami's Drinking Water


Legionnaires' Disease In Flint Tap Water: What You Need To Know

Eric Roy @ Monday, February 5, 2018 at 7:20 pm -0500

Eric Roy, Ph.D. 

A new report was released which confirmed that an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Flint, Michigan that killed 12 people and sickened at least 87 during 2014 and 2015 was likely caused by low chlorine levels in the municipal water system. It's another example of Flint's broader water crisis that resulted from widespread incompetence and fraud. We will add to this article as more questions come in.

What Is Legionnaires' Disease?

Legionnaires is a pneumonia, caused the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. Legionella pneumophila grows in water, and can enter the lungs through tiny water droplets. If a person doesn't have a robust immune system, they can become very sick, or even die.

Where Is Legionella Found?

According to Marc Edwards (A professor at Virginia Tech), Legionella is found in about 25 percent of all water samples collected nationally. It's a common bacterium, but it's usually kept under control in municipal water.

How Is Legionella Typically Controlled In Municipal Tap Water

In properly treated municipal water, Legionella is kept under control by chlorine-based disinfectants, so the bacterium cannot reach dangerous levels. In Flint, it appears that not enough chlorine was added to the water to leave enough residual chlorine to keep the bacterium under control, which is what caused the Legionnaires' outbreak in Flint.

Is Flint Still At Risk Of Legionnaires Disease?

According to Edwards, chlorine in Flint's water is now at the correct level, so the likelihood of Legionnaires' disease popping back up is minimal. It is our opinion at Hydroviv that concerned Flint residents should take every piece of advice issued by Dr. Edwards. If he says that there is enough chlorine, there is enough chlorine.

Other Articles We Think You'll Enjoy:
3 Years Of Hell: Reflections of a Flint Water Crisis Victim
Largely Unreported Water Quality Crisis Underway In Flint Michigan
Tap Water Chlorination: What You Need To Know

Why Reverse Osmosis Water Filters Probably Don't Make Sense For You

Analies Dyjak @ Friday, October 21, 2016 at 12:54 am -0400

Editor's Note: With leadchromium 6, PFAS, and GenX contamination gaining a lot of press, a lot of people have been rushing to buy reverse osmosis (RO) systems to filter their water. While some RO systems are a good option for some people, we hear from a lot of people who weren't prepared for the downsides, and end up replacing it with a Hydroviv under sink water filter. This article lists the most common things that we hear from people who regret buying a reverse osmosis water filter.

Not All Reverse Osmosis Water Are Effective

In recent years, reverse osmosis water filters have gained a great deal of popularity among homeowners because there's a feeling that they "filter everything." Unfortunately, this is simply not true, but this belief has created a "race to the bottom" for water filter companies to create the cheapest system that uses reverse osmosis, so they can cash in on Amazon. The term "reverse osmosis" describes the technology used, and does not tell you anything about performance. The truth is... some are rated to remove toxic things like lead/chromium 6 (like this one), some aren't rated to remove much of anything (this one is only rated to remove chlorine taste and TDS/ppm). 

If You Don't Change The Prefilters Religiously, You Will Ruin The Reverse Osmosis Membrane

The prefilters on an RO system actually protect the membrane in the reverse osmosis stage. If a reverse osmosis user doesn't change these prefilters in time, chlorine "breaks through" and flows into the RO membrane. Unfortunately, most RO membranes are irreversibly damaged by even low levels of free chlorine, and the entire reverse osmosis module will need to be replaced. Also, much to the surprise of users, there isn't really an easy way to know if this degradation has taken place. We've heard from hundreds of reverse osmosis users in DC, Pittsburgh, and NYC who were shocked to find high levels of lead coming out of their RO when they did a lead test. It turned out that they changed out their prefilters too late, which ruined their reverse osmosis membrane without any kind of notification.

You'll Need To Drill Your Counter Top And Drain Pipe During Installation

Most people who buy a reverse osmosis system assume that they’ll be able to handle the installation. Many quickly change their mind after learning that they’ll need to drill a hole in their home’s drain pipe (for the filtration system’s waste line) and another hole in their counter top or sink (for a dedicated faucet). Unless you are confident in your abilities, be sure to budget a couple hundred dollars for professional installation. You certainly don’t want to ruin a granite counter top or crack a drain pipe. If you have a stone counter top and you're having a plumber install a system for you, make sure their insurance will cover the event that they crack the stone. Contrast this with a Hydroviv system, which connects to to your existing faucet in 15 minutes, no drilling or plumbing experience needed.

Your Under Sink Storage Will Disappear

If you have a garbage disposal, you’ll want to take measurements to make sure that the filtration system will fit under the sink. In addition to the manifold that holds the prefilters and reverse osmosis components, you’ll need to allow space for the storage tank, which is larger than a basketball. There's a reason why most pictures of installed reverse osmosis systems do not show a garbage disposal. For some people, this isn’t a big deal, but for others (particularly in cities where space is limited), it’s a major problem.

Flow Rates Are Slower Than Expected

One of the most common problems that we hear from people who purchase reverse osmosis systems is that the water pressure is very bad and they end up not using the filtered water, which defeats the entire purpose of having a filtration system.

Your Water Usage Will Go Up

Reverse osmosis systems work by using pressure to force water through a membrane, which leaves behind impurities in a solution that many referred to as brine or backwash. This solution leaves flows through a waste line that connects to your home’s drain pipe, so the removed contaminants go right down the drain. People who draw their water from private wells are particularly troubled by this. Most consumer-grade systems generate 3-15 gallons of waste water per gallon of produced purified water. 

In Summary:

In a recent PFAS study by Duke University and NC State, Hydroviv water filtered out-performed major brands such as Brita, Samsung, Whirlpool, and Berkey. Our Undersink and Refrigerator filters had comparable PFAS removal as expensive reverse osmosis water filters. The bottom line is that if you're looking at reverse osmosis water filters, you want to make sure that you get one that works, and works for your family. We're obviously biased (as our products don't use reverse osmosis technology), but if you are determined on getting a reverse osmosis system, the only competitor that we recommend is APEC. We've tested this system (it works), and they also engineer and assemble their systems in the United States (like us). It's also important to point out that Hydroviv Undersink water filter is NSF certified. You can find a link to our listing here. 

If you have any questions about the advantages and disadvantages of a reverse osmosis system and whether or not a reverse osmosis system is the best way to filter your water, we encourage you to take advantage of Hydroviv’s “Help No Matter What” approach to technical support. We promise to help you select an effective water filter system, even if it’s not one that we sell. Reach out through live chat or by emailing us (hello@hydroviv.com). 

Other Articles We Think You'll Enjoy:
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Why TDS Meters Don't Tell You Anything About Lead
Lead Contamination In Pittsburgh's Tap Water

The Musk Foundation Has Donated To Help Schools in Flint Get Water Filters. But Will They Actually Remove Lead?

Analies Dyjak @ Tuesday, October 9, 2018 at 4:02 pm -0400

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd

October 4, 2018- Elon Musk and The Musk Foundation confirmed a donation of $480,350 to Flint, Michigan Community Schools in hopes of addressing lead contamination in drinking water. Flint is one of many school districts across the country that has been working hard to generate long-term solutions for lead contamination in drinking water. This article examines whether the proposed filtration technology will effectively remove lead from drinking water. 

How Will The Funding Be Used?

Musk initially announced the filters would comply with FDA’s 5 parts per billion standard (which is actually the standard for lead in bottled water), instead of EPA’s 15 part per billion Action Level. While definitely lower than EPA's threshold, the American Academy of Pediatrics and Center for Disease Control have both acknowledged that there is no safe level of lead for children. The Musk Foundation has not released the exact type of water filters Flint, Michigan Community Schools plans to use. Press releases have indicated some type of ultraviolet filtration system. 

What Is UV Water Filtration?

Ultraviolet filtration eliminates biological contamination from drinking water. This includes bacteria, viruses, and harmful microorganisms like E.coli. The idea behind UV filtration is it prevents microorganisms from reproducing, by striking each individual cell. It’s comparable to and often more effective than using chlorine to kill bacterial contamination.

Does UV Filtration Filter Lead?

No. While UV filters are great at removing biological contamination from drinking water, they have several limitations. UV filters by themselves are not able to remove chemical contaminants including Volatile Organic Compounds, chlorine, lead, mercury and other heavy metals. To remove chemical contaminants (including lead), a UV-based system would need to be paired with lead removal media or reverse osmosis.

Our Take

Contrary to a lot of media reports, UV filters do not remove lead from water, so we're hoping that the UV is paired with a system that removes lead. We also hope that the filters are installed at the point of use, because water treated by a point of entry filter can accumulate lead in any pipe "downstream" of the filtration unit. 

Other Article We Think You Might Enjoy:
Why Are So Many Schools Testing Positive For Lead In Drinking Water?
Volatile Organic Compounds: What You Need To Know
Lead In Drinking Water
Heavy Metal Toxicity and Contamination

Why Does Washington, DC's Water Taste Bad?

Analies Dyjak @ Friday, March 24, 2017 at 4:34 pm -0400
Updated March 26, 2018 with 2018 dates and the 2018 video.
Starting today (March 26), we have had lots of questions about a noticeable chance in Washington DC's tap water taste. While we've heard lots of interesting hypotheses, what's really happening is that the Washington Aqueduct (where DC Water purchases water from) has recently switched over from chloramine to chlorine for an annual "Spring Cleaning" of the distribution lines.
 

How Are Chloramine and Chlorine Different?

We answer this question in much more detail in a different post, but here's the skinny on chlorine in drinking water: Like a growing number of US cities, Washington, DC uses chloramine as the primary disinfectant for a couple of reasons:

  1. It persists longer in the distribution system, so it does a better job killing bacteria in areas of the water distribution system that are near the end of the pipes, or don't have as high of flow as other areas. 
  2. It doesn't form disinfection by products in the presence of organic matter.
  3. Chloramine-treated water doesn't have as strong of a taste as chlorine-treated water

While these are all great reasons to use chloramine, most cities that use chloramine undergo a more aggressive disinfection cycle for a few weeks each year (aka Spring Cleaning).

What Are The Impacts of Switching to Chlorine?

During this time, some people find that the water tastes and smells tastes bad, and the bathroom smells a bit like a swimming pool's locker room after showering. If you want to fix this problem... you have a couple of options that don't involve bottled water (horrible for the environment).

  1. Filter your water 
  2. If you let chlorinated tap water sit in a pitcher overnight, a good amount of the chlorine taste will go away.

When Will Washington, DC's Water Switch Back Over to Chloramine?

May 7 is the day that DC Water plans to switch back over to chloramine. Until then... non-Hydroviv users will just have to hold their noses!

 

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