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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

Lead Crisis: Newark, New Jersey

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

Newark, New Jersey is experiencing high levels of lead in their drinking water, as reported by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Recent water testing by the Newark Water Department and outside organizations have found elevated levels of lead in public drinking water systems.

Health Risks of Lead Exposure

Lead is a neurotoxin, which is a chemical agent that affects the transmission of chemical signals between neurons. Lead exposure in children can result in a lower IQ, delayed or impaired neurological development, decreased hearing, speech and language disabilities, poor attention span and learning disabilities. There is no safe level of lead for children.

Past, Present, and Future Lead Problems 

Newark, New Jersey has historically had issues with high lead concentrations in their drinking water. A 2015 study found lead levels in the 90th percentile of 10 parts of billion, with 4 sites exceeding the 15 parts per billion action level. While this still meets the loose EPA drinking water standards, it’s important to note that only 10% of service lines were tested in this study. Newark city employees seem to have a different opinion on the lead predicament. On April 27, 2018, the City of Newark released a statement declaring Newark city drinking water “absolutely safe to drink.” Just days prior to this headline, the City of Newark posted a public notice disclosing the health effects of lead and how to minimize exposure. These are two very contradictory approaches to addressing lead contamination. We were unable to see for ourselves the most recent water quality reports because they are NOT available on the city’s websites. We reached out to city officials to obtain data but have yet to hear back. Also, in 2016, Newark’s Director of Water and Sewer Utilities, Andrea Adebowale stated that “service lines connecting the homes with the city water system are the responsibility of homeowners.” So even if Newark were to acknowledge the lead crisis, it’s likely that homeowners would receive little to no remediation assistance from the city.


That being said, we do not recommend allowing children to consume Newark city drinking water at this time. As Hydroviv has stated numerous times, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water that is suitable for children. Adults, particularly pregnant women, should take proper steps to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.


Other Articles We Think You Might Enjoy:
Everything You Need To Know About Lead
Things To Know Before Replacing Your Home's Lead Service Pipes
How To Tell If Your Home Has Lead Plumbing

  • Analies Dyjak

Problems We Found With Orono/Veazie's Drinking Water

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   

For Hydroviv’s assessment of drinking water quality in Orono, Maine, we collected water quality test data from the most recent Consumer Confidence Report and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We cross referenced 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 both Orono and Veazie drinking water.

Where Does Orono Source Its Drinking Water?

Orono and Veazie source its drinking water from four groundwater wells located just off of Bennoch Road. Orono-Veazie Water District treats its drinking water with chlorine, fluoride, and sodium hydroxide.

Lead In Orono/Veazie Drinking Water

In recent years, both municipalities have had a major problem with Orono-Veazie water quality, including 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 3.7 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. Treated water leaving the plant may be in compliance with the loose EPA threshold of 15 parts per billion, but could become contaminated once exposed to older infrastructure. Additionally, municipalities are only required to test a handful of homes every few years, so the levels reported in the most recent annual water quality report might not reflect the lead levels in your tap water. Houses built before 1986 were most likely built with lead plumbing and lead fixtures. This is a huge problem for water quality in Orono, Maine because lead exposure can cause developmental issues, lowered IQ, and damages to the kidneys and brain. Orono has historically had high levels of lead in drinking water. For example, in 2012, 10% of samples tested for lead had concentrations over 13 parts per billion.

Disinfection Byproducts In Orono/Veazie Drinking Water

Orono/Veazie municipal water is contaminated with disinfection byproducts or DBPs. DBPs are formed when the chlorine-based disinfectants that are routinely added to the water supply, react with organic material. They are split into two categories: Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs) and Haloacetic Acids-5 (HAA5). Water samples were collected and tested for DBPs from 1215 State Street and the University of Maine Student Union. Concentrations of HAA5 averaged 9 parts per billion at the State Street location and 33 parts per billion at the UMaine Student Union. Concentrations of TTHMs averaged 64 parts per billion at the State Street location and 36 parts per billion at the UMaine. For a bit of perspective, EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level is 60 parts per billion for HAA5 and 80 parts per billion for TTHMs. 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. 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.

It’s important to note that only a handful of contaminants are required to be included in annual Water Quality 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 Orono-Veazie 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 
Disinfection Byproducts In Drinking Water: What You Need To Know

Polluted Tech Campuses: The History of Silicon Valley

Analies Dyjak | Policy Nerd   


Silicon Valley, California is the hub for some of the largest tech companies in the world. Apple, Google and Facebook are just some of the tech giants with headquarters located there. The name originates from the production of semiconductors, which uses a silicon chip in the manufacturing and production process. Silicon Valley is now home to several Fortune 500 companies and booming in economic success. What many people don’t know about this tech Mecca is that it’s also home to the highest number of Superfund sites in the United States.

Industrial History

In the early 1950’s, Silicon Valley was the premiere destination for modern day electrical engineering. The progressive and “modern” aesthetic of the Valley drew young engineers from all over the country. Aside from the possibility of prosperity, there was another major reason that people were flocking to the area: the absence of smokestacks. In fact, incoming tech companies had to follow strict zoning restrictions to ensure that smokestacks wouldn’t cloud the streets of Santa Clara. Young developers thought that prohibiting smokestacks would make the Valley all that more appealing to potential employees, and it did. Just because the effluent wasn’t visible to passersby, didn’t mean that Silicon Valley was a pure, pollutant-free destination. What I always like to say is “what can’t go up, must go down”. Discharge from industrial manufacturing of electrical equipment was being pumped underground where it eventually entered into groundwater. Environmental regulations were nonexistent, so dumping was the practical waste removal norm. There were also several solvent leaks between the years of 1950-1970 from defective infrastructure, the most famous being the Fairchild Spill of 1981. An estimated 14,000 gallons of trichloroethane (TCE) and 44,000 gallons of other solvents leaked into the groundwater supply of Santa Clara County. Several remediation efforts took place over the course of the next 30 years, such as underground vapor extraction wells (pump and treat), but volatile material is still very much present in the soil and groundwater of Silicon Valley.

What is TCE?

Trichloroethane (TCE) is a chemical solvent used in the manufacturing process of semiconductors. It’s an colorless, nonflammable liquid that is typically used as a solvent to remove grease from metals. According to a risk assessment done by the EPA in 2005, TCE is considered to be carcinogenic to humans by all exposure routes. TCE is linked with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Renal cell carcinoma, and liver cancer.

What is Superfund?

The Superfund program, also known as CERCLA, was created in the 1980’s to assist with the cleanup and mitigation of toxic contaminated sites. If a responsible party or partly responsible party cannot be identified, the Environmental Protection Agency has jurisdiction over funding and site remediation. Currently, there are 23 Superfund sites located in the Silicon Valley, the highest concentration of designated toxic waste sites in the country.

Vapor Plumes

For the most part, drinking water is properly treated by municipal utility providers, with the exception of private wells. The largest concern to human health are volatile vapor plumes. These are chemicals that are trapped underground that rise to the surface and are released into the atmosphere. Vapor plumes are often sucked into ventilation systems in buildings and homes. This highly concentrated exposure of a known carcinogen in a confined space is extremely dangerous to human health. In 2013, the Google headquarters in Silicon Valley experienced a toxic exposure to TCE. Google was not involved in manufacturing of the silicon chips and arrived in Silicon Valley after the spill. They were however a Bone Fide Prospective Purchaser, which means they were aware of the contamination at the time of acquisition.

 

Other articles we think you might enjoy: 
Why Does EPA Allow "Acceptable Amounts" of Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water?
Volatile Organic Compounds in Drinking Water 
Endocrine Disruptors in Drinking Water 

 

  • Analies Dyjak