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Orthophosphate in Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

Orthophosphate became popularized by the public in the 2001, during the lead crisis in D.C. Lead contamination in many cities including D.C. and Flint, occurs when a public water utility provider switches disinfectants from Chlorine to Chloramine. This switch results in lead pipe corrosion, which then allows for lead to leach into the drinking water supply. When the lead problem initially occurred, cities such as Flint, Michigan, Durham and Greenville, North Carolina, and Jackson, Mississippi didn’t learn from D.C’s mistakes and all had lead outbreaks. This article discusses the common additive used to combat lead contamination in drinking water.

What is Orthophosphate?

One of the methods used by municipalities to prevent lead service pipes from leaching is by adding phosphate to the drinking water supply. Orthophosphate is the corrosion inhibitor most commonly used by water suppliers. When added to a water source, it reacts with lead to create a mineral-like crust inside of the lead pipe itself. This crust acts as a coating which prevents further lead corrosion. 

Does Orthophosphate Fix Lead Contamination?

In terms of eliminating lead contamination at the exposure point, Orthophosphate does remove it from tap water. Some areas have found a reduction in lead concentrations of up to 90%. However, Orthophosphate is somewhat of a bandaid to temporarily fix the presence of lead in drinking water. Lead service pipes still exist and drinking water still technically passes through them. Additionally, if the orthophosphate layer is removed or breaks, lead will begin to leach back into waterways. Maintenance of lead service pipes can disrupt the crust and create cracks in the Orthophosphate layer. Finally, not all municipalities are adding orthophosphate to drinking water because of its cost. If you have any questions regarding drinking water contamination in your area, send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

If you’re interested in learning more about water filters that have been optimized for your tap water, feel free to visit www.hydroviv.com, reach out by email (hello@hydroviv.com) or through our live chat.  We also frequently post water-related news on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Analies Dyjak

Wildfires and Water Quality

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

Wildfires are of growing concern in the Southwestern United States. We’ve seen a significant increase in both the frequency and magnitude of these destructive natural disasters since 1990. These areas are naturally susceptible to drought-like conditions, but the magnitude of wildfires becomes further heightened due to global warming trends and poor timber harvesting techniques. The overall threat of wildfires is also increasing due to urban sprawl and higher densities of people moving to drought-prone locations. In conclusion, wildfires can negatively impact water quality and here’s why:

How do Wildfires Affect Water Quality?

After a wildfire event, watersheds become vulnerable to erosion, sedimentation, runoff, and other freshwater impairments. 80% of freshwater resources originate or pass through some type of forested land. Forested watersheds naturally purify rainwater, slow the rate of storm water runoff, and contribute immensely to the health of surrounding tributaries. Once forested vegetation is destroyed, the rate and volume of runoff increases tremendously, which is influenced by topography of an area. Additionally, purifying capabilities become eliminated once forested vegetation is destroyed.


What Type of Water Quality Pollution?

Destruction from massive forest fires results in displaced debris, ash, and contamination. Loose detritus of any sorts gets picked up and swept into waterbodies after a subsequent rain event. Water treatment facilities try their best to provide clean drinking water to municipalities, but an influx of suspended solids can make this a very difficult task. Extreme weather events can increase the rate of incoming water containing high levels of suspended solids. Large deposits of sediment into a water treatment facility increases the levels of suspended material, specifically dissolved organic carbon (DOC), into your drinking water. It can also increase the turbidity or cloudiness of drinking water. Dissolved organic carbon molecules react with chlorine and chloramine, which are used to purify drinking water. This reaction creates disinfection byproducts which we are very familiar with here at Hydroviv.

Introduction of Chemicals Into Waterbodies

Fire retardant chemicals are necessary in containing wildfire destruction, but there are several negative consequences associated with their impact on freshwater resources. The typical "slurry" used to combat wildfires is a mixture of water, ammonium phosphate fertilizers, colorants, corrosion inhibitors, thickeners, stabilizers, and bactericides. Little is known about health effects to humans, but many of these contaminants are toxic to aquatic species.

If you live in a area prone to wildfires, we suggest purchasing a filter equipped to filter out these harmful contaminants and suspended solids. If you have questions about water quality in your area, don’t hesitate to email us at hello@hydroviv.com.
  • Analies Dyjak

Problems We Found In Milwaukee's Drinking Water

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.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Lead Contamination In Drinking Water 
5 Things To Know About Chromium 6 In Drinking Water
Perfluorinated Compounds In Drinking Water

 

Problems We Found In Nashville, Tennessee's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

For our 2018 Nashville water quality report, we collected water quality test data from the cities water utility (Metro Water Services) and the Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced these data with toxicity studies, scientific reports, and medical literature to determine information that we believe the public should be made aware of. The water filters that we offer in Nashville are optimized with this research in mind.

Where Does Nashville Source Its Drinking Water?

Nashville sources its drinking water from the Cumberland River. Water is treated at one of two treatment plants: K.R. Harrington or Omohundro before traveling to 204,000 customers.

Lead In Nashville’s Drinking Water

Lead enters tap water through old lead service pipes and lead-containing plumbing. Although Metro Water Services is in compliance with loose federal standards, we believe that any level of lead is harmful to human health. Metro Water Services detected an average level of lead of 1 part per billion, which is in compliance with the federal Action Level of 15 parts per billion. The water tested by the utilities is the source water itself and water after treatment. These measurements are not a true indication of community and household infrastructure. Houses built after 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. EPA and CDC both recognize that there is no safe level of lead, especially for children. That being said, any threshold of lead concentration is not safe for infants and young children. A lead concentration as low as 1 part per billion is not considered safe for this age group.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) In Nashville’s Drinking Water

Disinfection Byproducts are a category of emerging contaminants which means they have been detected in drinking water but the risk to human health is unknown. DBPs are formed when chlorine-based disinfectants are routinely added to the water supply to kill bacteria. DBPs are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Nashville’s concentrations of THM was 53 parts per trillion, which is relatively close to the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 80 parts per trillion. Additionally, the concentration of HAA5 was 48.1 which is also close to the MCL of 60 parts per trillion. 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 increased risk of bladder cancer, as well as kidney, liver, and central nervous system problems.

Chromium 6 in Nashville's Drinking Water

Chromium 6 is a highly toxic metal that is not regulated by the EPA. In recent years, tap water in Nashville has averaged 60 parts per trillion for chromium 6, with concentrations reaching as high as 170 parts per trillion.  For the sake of perspective, these levels are 4-8 times higher than the concentration determined to have negligible impact on cancer risk. The state of California set their own health advisory level of 20 parts per trillion because Chromium 6 is not regulated by the federal government. 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.


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 Nashville’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.
  • Analies Dyjak

Superfund: Spencer, Indiana

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

This week, Hydroviv is highlighting the six new National Priorities List (NPL) sites under the EPA Superfund program. Superfund sites are home to high levels of hazardous soil and groundwater contamination from years of improper disposal techniques. If you’d like to learn more about the ins and out of Superfund, check out our recap HERE. The next Superfund site that we’ll be discussing is located in Spencer, Indiana. 

Spencer, Indiana is home to another newly designated Superfund site. The municipal well field is a contaminated chlorinated solvent plume, with levels exceeding federal standards for Tetrachloroethylene or PCE. In a 2012 carcinogenicity assessment, EPA set a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 5 parts per billion for drinking water. Long term exposure of PCE can cause adverse effects to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has yet to identify a responsible party for the contamination, but they have recognized 9 active and closed facilities that could be major contributors.

If you live near a Superfund site and are concerned about your water, drop us an email at hello@hydroviv.com or visit hydroviv.com and use our live chat feature. Hydroviv is staffed with scientists and policy experts that can help you make sense of your water and find an effective filter, even if it isn’t one we sell.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Newly Designated Superfund Sites 
What is Superfund? 
Superfund: San Antonio

 

Atlantic Coast Pipeline: What You Need to Know

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd

Dominion Energy Transmission is beginning to construct a 600-mile underground natural gas pipeline that will cut through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Construction of the pipeline began in late May, but several environmental groups have expressed their concerns for the project. The pipeline itself is proposed to be anywhere from 16 to 42 inches in diameter. The project will also include three new compressor stations and nine metering stations spanning across the three states. Natural gas, crude oil, and any type of pipeline poses a major threat to the environment and drinking water resources.  

Timeline

In June of 2017, the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. FERC has primary authority to approve or reject interstate natural gas pipelines. An EIS is the final step before the construction of a major federal project. It essentially protects Dominion from legal prosecution if all impacts and alternatives are considered. On January 26th, 2018, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection issued general permits and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality issued necessary water-quality permits. Construction of the project began May 23rd, 2018 at the compressor station in Jane Lew, West Virginia.

What Does This Mean for Drinking Water?

Techniques used when constructing underground pipelines have historically threatened surrounding surface water and groundwater reserves. Not to mention, undetected spills and leakages throughout the lifetime of a pipeline account for a high degree of water contamination. Methane is the primary component of natural gas. This is a non-toxic, odorless contaminant, but at high concentrations can be fatal. Additionally, land topography is completely altered during construction and after the completion of a pipeline. In order to build this particular pipeline, construction equipment must be made accessible for all 600 miles. This means that bulldozers, large trucks, and excavators must drive through sensitive watersheds for drinking water resources. Top soil can become loose which then exacerbates erosion potential. This could affect the volume and rate of runoff into surrounding water bodies, and an influx of contaminants from construction.

Private Wells

Surface spills can occur during the operation of a natural gas pipeline which can create a host of problems. Spills can runoff directly into groundwater aquifers and into drinking water wells. If you have a private well, there is no way to detect contamination without expensive testing that can take months to receive results. Once a municipality is notified of a spill, well water has most likely been contaminating an aquifer for a while. Additionally, tailpipe effluent from construction equipment is likely to find its way to groundwater aquifers. Private well users are most at risk from groundwater contamination because they are not regulated by the Federal Government. If you get your water supply from a private well, we recommend using a filtration system to remove potential contaminants.
If you have questions regarding pipeline construction, groundwater contamination, or purchasing a filtration system, send us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.

Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
What You Need To Know About Groundwater
Problems With Whole House Filters
What Does EPA Allow "Allowable Amounts" of Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water?

 

  • Analies Dyjak