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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 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 River water is withdrawn from the Alafia River, Hillsborough River and the Tampa Bypass Canal.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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Drinking Water Issues in the East Bay Region of California

Analies Dyjak @ Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 2:37 pm -0400

Christina Liu, B.S. | Hydroviv's Science Team

For Hydroviv’s assessment of East Bay MUD’s drinking water, we aggregated water quality test data from EBMUD, 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 East Bay Region of California are optimized with this research in mind.

Who Gets Drinking Water From The East Bay Municipal Utility District?

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) serves 1.4 Million customers in the East Bay Region of California, including the cities of Crockett, Rodeo, Hercules, Pinole, El Sobrante, San Pablo, Richmond, El Cerrito, Kensington, Orinda, Moraga, Piedmont, Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley,  Hayward,  Albany,  Berkeley,  Emeryville, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, and San Ramon.   

Source Water for EBMUD

The 577-square mile Mokelumne River watershed on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada is the major source of the water used by the East Bay customers. Snowmelt from Alpine, Amador, and Calaveras counties flows into Pardee Reservoir near Valley Springs. Three large aqueducts transport water 90 miles from Pardee Reservoir into EBMUD’s water distribution system. 

Lead In East Bay’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. EBMUD conducted lead sampling of schools in their service area between 2017 and 2020. EBMUD reported results of less than 5 ppb in 95 percent of the samples and less than 1 ppb in 77 percent of the samples. Please bear in mind that EPA, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. In addition, Federal regulations also cannot take into account levels measured at an individual tap.

PFAS in East Bay’s Drinking 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. Several years ago, the USEPA required large water systems (including EBMUD) to collect and analyze samples for a limited set of PFAS, and the CA State Water Board has issued monitoring orders to hundreds of water systems most vulnerable to PFAS contamination due to their proximity to airports with fire training and response areas and municipal solid waste landfills. While EBMUD was not required to monitor due to the protected nature of their watersheds, but they performed a voluntary collection and analyzed samples from their treatment plants during 2020.  Low levels were detected in the water -- 5.1 parts per trillion for PFOA and 6.5 parts per trillion for PFOS.  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 East Bay’s 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 ranged as high as 51 parts per billion, nearing the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 60 parts per billion.  Total Trihalomethane levels ranged as high as 57 parts per billion, as compared to the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 80 parts per billion.

Chromium 6 Levels In East Bay’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. EBMUD was measured to have Chromium 6 levels measuring as high as 220 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 East Bay’s Water were as high as 11 times the level generally accepted as safe.

Use Of Chloramine In East Bay’s Tap Water

While most cities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, all of the municipalities within EBMUD 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 EBMUD was 2.4 parts per million, with samples ranging as high as 4 ppm, which is the maximum residual disinfectant level. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that don’t adequately remove chloramine, but the filters that Hydroviv builds for water provided by EBMUD use special filtration media that are purpose-built to remove chloramine as well.

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 East Bay’s 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 East 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. Please Share This East Bay Water Quality Article With Anyone You Think Would Benefit From The Information!

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Please Stop Using TDS (or ppm) Testers To Evaluate Water Quality

Analies Dyjak @ Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at 2:42 am -0400
Eric Roy, Ph.D.|  Scientific Founder

***Updated on February 5, 2020***

We get quite a few questions about TDS/ppm meters (like this one) and TDS measurements. While we love when people take steps to learn more about their water, some people (including journalists from reputable publications- Example #1 & Example #2) have used TDS/ppm meters to draw false conclusions about water quality, which incited fear in people already in the midst of a terrible water quality crisis. In this article, we answer the questions that we get asked the most about TDS measurements and TDS meters. If you're curious about water filters that address meaningful contaminants in tap water, check out this recent water filter study by Duke/NC State. 

What is TDS? What Does A TDS/ppm Meter Measure?

TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids which is related to the total charged mineral content of water. TDS can be easily determined by measuring the conductivity of a water sample, which is exactly what inexpensive TDS probes do. TDS meters typically display the total amount of dissolved solids in parts per million or ppm. If you start with deionized water (which has a TDS of zero), and expose it to minerals that contain sodium, calcium, and magnesium... the water's TDS or ppm rises. This is why there's no such thing as deionized water in nature. Depending on a region’s geology, natural TDS/ppm levels can vary across the US, and this variability has nothing to do with the water quality (except in extreme cases when the water is too salty to drink).

What Does a TDS/ppm Meter Not Measure?

Because TDS/ppm is an aggregate measure of charged compounds in water, uncharged things like motor oil, gasoline, many pharmaceuticals, and pesticides do not contribute to a TDS/ppm measurement. Most relevant to current nationwide water quality problems, TDS/ppm meters do not detect PFAS in drinking water. For example, the glass on the left in this article's header image contains deionized water with Malathion (an organophosphate pesticide) dissolved into it at 100 times higher concentration than allowed by the EPA for drinking water, and the TDS/ppm probe reads 000.

Even though these toxic metals are charged when dissolved in water, a TDS/ppm meter does not give meaningful information about their presence or concentration in water. There are two main reasons for this:

  • A TDS/ppm meter is a nonselective measurement and cannot differentiate among different ions. A more sophisticated piece of equipment is needed to perform those types of measurements. The value of 184 that was measured using a TDS meter in a prominent Huffington Post Article was not the lead concentration… it was the water's natural TDS level (which is dominated by minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sodium).
  • A TDS tester is not sensitive enough to measure toxic levels of lead, chromium-6, or arsenic, even if they are present in a sample. This is because the reading displayed on an inexpensive TDS meter is in parts per million, while things like lead, chromium-6, and arsenic are toxic at part per billion concentrations (1000 times lower). Using a TDS meter to measure ppb lead concentrations in tap water is like trying to use a car’s odometer to measure a child's height…. It's the wrong tool. For example, the water sample shown on the right hand side of this article's header image has lead levels that are 100x the EPA limit, and the TDS reading teetered between 000 and 001.

To reiterate: Meaningful lead and arsenic measurements cannot be made using a TDS/ppm meter (or any other handheld device). They must be measured by trained staff in analytical laboratories that use much more sophisticated scientific equipment. Hydroviv Undersink filters are NSF/ANSI 53 certified to remove lead from drinking water.

Do Hydroviv Filters Lower TDS/ppm?

No. Hydroviv’s filters selectively filter harmful things from your water (like lead, chromium-6, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, disinfection byproducts), and things that make water taste and smell bad (chlorine, chloramine, sulfur). Hydroviv’s home water filtration systems don’t remove minerals like calcium and magnesium because there’s no reason to. In fact, we use some types of filtration media that actually add minerals to the water, so TDS/ppm levels in water filtered through a Hydroviv system are sometimes slightly higher than unfiltered water.

Should I Buy a TDS/ppm Meter To Test My Drinking Water For High TDS Levels?

No. There is absolutely no reason to drink low TDS/ppm or deionized water. If you are concerned about water quality, put the money toward the purchase of an effective drinking water filter that removes harmful contaminants from your water.

What If I Already Have a TDS/ppm Meter?

If you have a TDS/ppm meter (like this one), we recommend giving it to a curious child who has an interest in science! Use this opportunity to teach them about dissolved minerals by encouraging them to test different types of water (e.g. distilled, rain, river, lake) and try to explain their findings! Feel free to reach out to us at (info@hydroviv.com for educational ideas involving TDS meters).

Other Great Articles That We Think You'll Enjoy:

How EPA Regulations For Lead Are Protecting Municipalities, Not Citizens
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Problems We Found In Milwaukee's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak @ Thursday, July 19, 2018 at 1:31 pm -0400

Analies Dyjak  |  Policy Nerd

For Hydroviv’s assessment of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s drinking water, we collected water quality test data from the city and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced their 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 Milwaukee’s drinking water.

Where Does Milwaukee Source Its Drinking Water?

Milwaukee sources its drinking water from Lake Michigan. This surface water source has had a long history of pollution, including recent lawsuits involving Chromium 6 releases from an abutting steel facility.

Chromium 6 In Milwaukee’s Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is currently unregulated by the EPA. In recent years, Milwaukee has had a major problem with this dangerous contaminant. Chromium 6 pollution is associated with metal processing, tannery facilities, chromate production, stainless steel welding, and pigment production. This years water quality report for Milwaukee detected levels of Chromium 6 as high as 0.2 parts per billion. This concentration is 10 times higher than the concentration determined to have a negligible impact on cancer risk. EPA has acknowledged that Chromium 6 is a known human carcinogen through inhalation, but is still determining its cancer potential through ingestion of drinking water. Lung, nasal and sinus cancers are associated with Chromium 6 exposure. Ingestion of extremely high doses of chromium 6 compounds can cause acute respiratory disease, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, hematological, hepatic, renal, and neurological distress which may result in death.

Lead In Milwaukee's Drinking Water 

In recent years, Milwaukee has had a problem with lead in drinking water. Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. 10% of sites that were tested for lead had concentrations over 7.2 parts per billion. The highest concentration detected in 2017 was 130 parts per billion, which is a whopping 8.6 times higher that the Federal Action Level of 15 parts per billion. Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics all recognize that there is no safe level of lead for children. These health and regulatory organizations are trying to reduce the allowable limit to 1 part per billion, so a concentration of 130 parts per billion is of serious concern. Additionally, these measurements may not be a true indication of your tap water if your home has lead plumbing or lead fixtures. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with loose EPA standards, but could become contaminated once it enters older infrastructure. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. Lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain.

Perfluorinated Compounds In Milwaukee's Drinking Water 

This years water quality report for Milwaukee included test data from six Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs). Perfluorinated Compounds are associated with firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, Scotchguard and other solvents from manufacturing. The two PFCs that are the most well known and the most researched are Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which was detected at 2.1 parts per trillion and Perfluorooctane-sulfonic acid (PFOS) which was detected at 2 parts per trillion. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry recently recommended setting a Minimum Risk Level of 20 parts per trillion for both of these chemicals. These data are preliminary and the effects to human health are still unknown. This category of chemicals are “emerging contaminants” which means they are thought to pose a potential threat to human health and the environment, but haven't yet been regulated. Perfluorinated Compounds contribute to environmental contamination largely due to the fact that they are highly resistant to degradation processes, and thus persist for many years in water, air and can enter the food chain via bioaccumulation in certain animal species.

Chloramine In Norman’s Drinking Water

While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary drinking water disinfectant, Milwaukee’s drinking water is disinfected with chloramine. Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” or “pool smell” of tap water. Unlike chlorine, chloramine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for Milwaukee use a special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Consumer Confidence Reports, and that there are hundreds of potentially harmful unregulated contaminants that aren’t accounted for. If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for Milwaukee’s tap water quality, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com to talk to a Water Nerd on our live chat feature or send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

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