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  • Research Links BPA to Prostate Cancer in Men

    Researchers at the Cincinnati Cancer Center have discovered that concentrations of bisphenol A (BPA) in the urine of adult males could indicate prostate cancer, and that exposure to BPA, even at relatively low levels can bring about changes in the cellular structure of both malignant and non-malignant prostate cellular tissue.

    Results of the study, which were published in  PLOS ONE, 3rd March 2014,  provide the first indication that BPA concentrations in urine can be used as a marker for prostrate cancer and may assist with detecting prostrate cancer in men. It further shows that exposure to BPA at low doses can disrupt cellular duplication cycles causing prostrate cancer to develop.

    water bottles

     

    BPA is an environmental contaminant that is a known hormone disruptor which is used in the manufacture of rigid clear plastics commonly used in food and beverage containers, including plastic bottles that hold bottled mineral water. BPA has been associated with several health issues, including: neurological disorders; diabetes; as well as breast-, prostrate-, and other forms of cancer.

    According to chief researcher Shuk-mei Ho, director of the Cincinnati Cancer Center, and a professor at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, studies conducted on animals show that BPA can cause prostrate cancer to develop, and while data on human subjects is scarce, humans are commonly exposed to this known toxin.

    “Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in North America, and one in six men will develop it over their lifetime,” says Ho. “However, the cancer is rarely diagnosed in men under the age of 40 with almost two-thirds of cases reported in men at age 65.”

    According to Ho, more than 90% of US citizens are exposed to BPA, often on a daily basis. BPA is absorbed into the body via the skin, through inhalation, or from ingesting food or water contaminated with BPA toxins.

    BPA is a hormone disrupter that copies thyroid and estrogen hormones, and also disrupts the immune and metabolic systems in the body. Consequently the impact on health is extensive, as has been proven in animals.

    However, studies that link BPA exposure to increased cancer risk in humans are limited, says Ho. “Our study examined the association between urinary BPA levels and prostate cancer and assessed the effects of BPA on the initiation of centrosome abnormalities as an underlying mechanism promoting prostate cancer formation.”

    Abnormalities of the centrosome – an organelle that plays an essential role in cell division – are often seen in various forms of cancer.

    The researchers examined urine samples from sixty urology patients and found that BPA levels were four times higher in patients diagnosed with prostrate cancer than in patients that did not have prostrate cancer, and that this difference was higher still in patients under 65 years old.

    The researchers also examined prostrate cellular tissue visually by the process of immunofluorescence, which allowed them to observe abnormalities of the centrosome or any abnormal growth patterns.

    “Exposure to low doses of BPA increased the percentage of cells with centrosome amplification two- to eight-fold,” Ho says. “BPA is not a recognized carcinogen, and questions surrounding the mechanism behind the positive correlation of BPA exposure with prostate cancer have arisen.”

    “Several studies have shown that centrosome amplification is a major contributing factor to chromosomal mutation in human tumors. We examined the centrosome profile of prostate cancer cells treated with BPA and found that treatment with BPA increased the number of cells with abnormal centrosomes.”

    This research reveals a link between exposure to BPA and prostrate cancer that was unknown until now, and suggests that BPA could play a key role in cellular mutation and cancer progression.

    Bottled water is one of the potential sources of BPA as this chemical can leach from the plastic bottles into the water, especially when transported long distances or stored for long periods of time. Home water filters provide a healthier alternative to bottled water, as they remove contaminants that are present in the water, yet do not contain BPA that can leach into the water inside the canister.

  • Drought Compromises Drinking Water Quality

    Following a number of consecutive rainy seasons that have been drier than normal, the west coast is suffering what is considered to be its worst drought in 100 years, which could increase concentrations of contaminants in drinking water.

    Recent reports show that water levels in the majority of reservoirs in California are less than 50% full, prompting California’s governor, Jerry Brown, to call for a state of emergency. The chances of a rapid recovery seem slim, as weather forecasts by USDA'a National Water and Climate Center predict that water levels will continue to drop further still. With snowfall this season being one of the lowest ever recorded, the problem stems largely from lack of snowpack, as snowmelt keeps the reservoirs topped up, which in turn supply residents with drinking water. These water woes extend to Oregon too, where residents also depend on seasonal runoff from melting snow to supply their drinking water. Unfortunately, as the mountains are devoid of snow this season, they will not be able to provide this service effectively.

    Drought

     

    According to Melissa Webb, a hydrologist based at  USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Oregon's chances of recovery over the short term are slim. “The chances of making up this deficit are so small that at this point we’re just hoping for a mediocre snowpack,”  she explained in a USDA statement. “We’d need months of record-breaking storms to return to normal. There’s a strong chance we’ll have water supply shortages across most of Oregon this summer.”

    With the drought not looking to let up anytime soon, medical experts are concerned that groundwater sources could become contaminated with silt and other pollutants. According to a report on CBS News,  10 California communities are in danger of running out of drinking water within the next two months. Rural communities are particularly vulnerable as they lack the infrastructure, as well as the financial resources to upgrade existing infrastructure, to cope with drought. Besides being in short supply, drinking water resources are also at risk of contamination, because when water levels drop, contaminants become more concentrated, posing a health risk to residents.

    Former state health official, Linda Rudolph, who is now co-director for the Center for Climate Change and Health in Oakland, says millions of Californian residents depend entirely on wells and other sources of groundwater that contain increasing concentrations of pollutants due to the dry conditions.

    “Many groundwater basins in California are contaminated, for example with nitrates from over application of nitrogen fertilizer or concentrated animal feeding operations, with industrial chemicals, with chemicals from oil extraction or due to natural contaminants with chemicals such as arsenic,” explains Rudolph in the CBS News report.

    Because drought conditions and reduced water levels can result in higher concentrations of contaminants in drinking water, both in reservoirs and in private wells, you would be well advised to take some precautions to safeguard your health. Home water purifiers, such as the range of Berkey water filter systems, offer a convenient method of removing a wide range of contaminants that are commonly found in drinking water sources, and are effective even when concentration levels are high.

  • Children Face 'Silent Epidemic' of Brain Disorders due to Exposure to Common Chemical Toxins

    Scientists are calling for a global transformation on the regulation of industrial chemicals due to concerns that chemical toxins contained in everyday products may be the cause of a 'silent epidemic' of brain developmental issues in children the world over.

    Their findings, which were published in The Lancet Neurology, reveal that over the past seven years, the number of toxins recognized to cause neurodevelopmental disorders in children has in fact doubled – rising from 6 to 12. In 2006 the toxic substances listed were: methylmercury, lead, arsenic, toluene, polychlorinated bipenyls (PCBs). In 2013, fluoride, manganese, tetrachloroethylene, flame retardants, as well as pesticides such as chlorpyrifos and DDT were added to this list. Furthermore, the number of toxic chemicals that are known to cause brain damage, yet are not regulated to offer children protection, has risen from 202 to 214, many of which are found in items used by children on a daily basis, including toys, clothing and furniture.

    child bubbles

    “Current chemical regulations are woefully inadequate to safeguard children whose developing brains are uniquely vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment”, explains Dr Philippe Grandjean from Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “Until a legal requirement is introduced for manufacturers to prove that all existing industrial chemicals and all new chemicals are non-toxic before they enter the marketplace, along the lines of the European Union's reformed chemicals law REACH, we are facing a pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity.”

    Neurodevelopmental disorders affect one out of every six children all across the world. These brain disorders include: attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism, cerebral palsy and dyslexia. The evidence is increasingly pointing towards a link between exposure to toxic chemical substances, such as lead, mercury, pesticides and industrial solvents, in the early childhood developmental stages to the growing incidences of brain developmental disorders, suggesting that stricter controls and regulations are needed in order to protect the health of our children. Stricter controls could also amount to huge savings, given that vast sums of money are spent annually to treat children who have been poisoned by chemical toxins – in the United States roughly fifty billion US dollars are spent every year to treat children for lead poisoning and a further five billion US dollars spent on treating children for methylmercury poisoning.

    The authors are concerned that this may only be the tip of the iceberg and that a large proportion of all the existing industrial chemicals that are widely used in the USA – amounting to more than 80,000 chemicals – have not been tested to ascertain their effects on a developing fetus or young child. Children in the early development stages are much more vulnerable than adults to brain injury, which only manifests itself later on. The impact of toxic chemicals on children's health has only recently become apparent, but the authors feel that there is grave cause for alarm.

    There are two main hurdles that need to be overcome in order to ensure better control of chemicals that pose a health risk to children: Firstly, there are huge gaps when it comes to testing hazardous chemicals for their potential to cause neurodevelopmental damage; and secondly, a substantial amount of proof that confirms that chemicals are in fact toxic is warranted before chemical regulation is enforced.

    According to the authors, the only way that we can reduce the risk of children being exposed to hazardous chemical contaminants is by ensuring that developmental neurotoxicity tests become mandatory before chemicals are made freely available on the market. This precautionary approach would facilitate stricter regulation of products that exhibit a potentially severe toxic effect, which could later be relaxed if further evidence proves that these products are less harmful.

    The scientists recommend a new international prevention strategy that would put the onus on chemical manufacturers to prove that their chemical products pose little risk rather than it being governments responsibility to prove that they are hazardous before regulations are enforced. They further recommend that chemical products should undergo similar testing to pharmaceutical products, and that a new international regulatory body should be formed to coordinate and speed up  these precautionary measures.

    They conclude, “The total number of neurotoxic substances now recognized almost certainly represents an underestimate of the true number of developmental neurotoxicants that have been released into the global environment. Our very great concern is that children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements, and damaging societies, perhaps most seriously in developing countries.”

    Considering that many of the toxins that are recognized to cause neurological developmental disorders are commonly found as drinking water contaminants, it would be prudent to take precautions to protect the health of your children by filtering these potential hazards from your drinking water with a good quality drinking water filter that has the capacity to remove heavy metals and chemical toxins, including arsenic and fluoride.

    Journal Reference:

    Grandjean, P. & Landrigan, P.J. Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. The Lancet Neurology - 1 March 2014 (Vol. 13, Issue 3, Pages 330-338) DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70278-3

  • Sochi Water Woes

    Reports of bright orange contaminated water spewing from hotel taps in Sochi leaves us pondering whether this could have any adverse effects on the Olympians as well as spectators and press visiting the 2014 Winter Olympics.

    With a budget of over fifty billion US dollars for constructing the stadiums and sports facilities needed to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, one would have thought that the organizers would have focused more attention on issues surrounding the provision of safe drinking water to visiting athletes and tourists alike. Instead of taking the opportunity (and available funding) to clean up the local water supply, they have rather opted to provide visitors with a supply of bottled water to satisfy their thirst. But competitors, tourists and journalists alike all need clean water for bathing or showering, as well as for cooking, and bottled water just won't do the trick.

    sochi-2014

    The city of Sochi gets its water supply from the Mzymta River, which has become increasingly more polluted and contaminated as a result of runoff from landfills used to dispose construction and industrial waste that has accumulated during the construction of Sochi's Olympic Village.

    According to reports, officials have opted to pay heavy fines rather than making an effort to clean up Sochi's water supply. Clay fill has been used to cover debris and industrial waste in the landfill sites, including tires, foam, spray cans, chunks of cement, as well as other hazardous waste materials. While the authorities have been aware of the problem for years, they have not been forthcoming in sharing this with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

    Russian citizens rely heavily on bottled water supplies from local suppliers such Alibaba, Sochi Water, and KAY National Spring Water. But there is concern as to the safety of this 'natural spring water', which may be collected locally or from further afield, for example from springs at Uludag Mountain in Turkey.

    With visitors having been warned that they should not use the orange tainted water flowing from hotel taps for washing or bathing, it could be a nightmare for athletes and a very long holiday for tourists. With revelations that the hotel showers are monitored with cameras to prevent water shortages, most guests will be even more reluctant to wash while in Sochi, not that they are likely to want to take lengthy showers in bright orange water anyhow.

    The issues with showering and bathing aside, there is a bigger health threat associated with drinking or eating food that has been prepared or cooked with contaminated water. This is not only impacting visiting tourists and reporters, but will not doubt also have an impact on the visiting athletes too, and could in all probability affect their ability to perform at their optimal level.

    This is a stark reminder that even when visiting developed countries some precautions need to be taken to ensure that you will have access to safe drinking water. Big Berkey Water Filters supply a variety of water filters that could be useful in this and other situations, including a shower filter that screws into the shower head, a Travel Berkey water filter, and a portable Go Berkey Kit that could prove handy when traveling around a foreign country with a questionable water supply.

  • Plastic Microbeads: Tiny Plastics that Pose a Big Problem

    Discarded plastics – in the form of plastic bags, plastic packaging, and plastic consumer goods –  are notorious environmental pollutants that degrade natural systems, kill wildlife, and ultimately pose a health risk to humans too. While plastic bags and other plastics are widely acknowledged as being extremely important environmental pollutants, tiny plastic microbeads are a lesser known evil, that are now being acknowledged as problematic.

    plastic beads



    Plastic microbeads are minute plastic particles that are added to hundreds, if not thousands, of beauty products sold all over the world, including certain shower gels, facial and body scrubs, and even some brands of toothpaste. These microscopic plastic beads flow down the plughole of your shower, bath or bathroom basin, and enter the sewage system. While drinking water treatment facilities are equipped with specialized filtration systems that can remove microbeads, wastewater treatment facilities do not have the capacity to filter these tiny particulates from the wastewater as it enters the plant, and being plastics, by their very nature they persist in the treated effluent when it is discharged into a river. These microbeads are carried suspended in the river water and are finally released into the ocean, where they are contributing to an ever growing problem of plastic marine debris. Wildlife in both freshwater and marine ecosystems absorb or consume microbeads, which are then passed up the food chain when a predator consumes prey that has ingested or absorbed these tiny plastic particles. Considering that humans ultimately sit at the top of marine and freshwater food pyramids, it stands to reason that we too are more than likely absorbing plastic microbeads when we consume contaminated fish, shellfish or waterfowl.

    Plastic microbeads do not break down in the environment and consequently persist in both freshwater lakes and the oceans. Now that this problem has been acknowledged, environmental groups are putting pressure on manufacturers of personal care products to remove plastic microbeads from their products. While many manufacturers have taken steps to replace microbeads with environmentally friendly alternatives consisting of natural materials that are readily biodegradable, such as ground peach pips or walnut shells, the phasing out process is somewhat slow. Consequently, there are still personal care products on store shelves that contain plastic microbeads, which are adding to the plastic soup in our waterways and oceans.

    Now, if like me, you are concerned that you are contributing to the problem by using your favorite exfoliating shower gel or facial scrub, you can now download a smartphone App that can alert you to whether a product contains plastic microbeads or not, via a simple traffic light interface that allows you to see the products eco-friendly status at a glance. The App was originally developed by two Dutch NGOs – the North Sea Foundation and the Plastic Soup Foundation – to allow consumers in Holland to check whether personal care products contained plastic microbeads by scanning the barcodes. In 2013 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) together with Fauna & Flora, an environmental NGO based in the UK, got onboard to develop the App further so that it could be used internationally to help address the problem.

    How to use the App


    1. Download the Beat the Microbead App
    2. Once you have downloaded the App, you need to select your country.
    3. Use your smartphone to scan the barcode of the selected personal care product.
    4. The App reads the product's barcode, and will indicate whether the product contains microbeads via a color coded output as follows:


    • Red: The product contains plastic microbeads.
    • Orange: The product does still contain plastic microbeads, however the supplier has pledged to replace these with an eco-friendly alternative within a specified period.
    • Green: The product does not contain plastic microbeads.



    The Beat the Microbead App gives consumers the power to make environmentally sound choices when purchasing personal care products. Consumer boycotting of products that contain plastic microbeads will force manufacturers that are unwilling to replace microbeads with biodegradable alternatives to think otherwise.

    Source: Surfrider Foundation

  • Fracking Chemicals Interfere with Normal Hormone Functioning

    Endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to infertility, birth defects and cancer detected in water near fracking sites

    Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil trapped in layers of rock deep beneath the surface. This method of drilling employs a toxic potion of chemicals, many of which are known hormone disrupters according to a scientific study that was recently published in The Endocrine Society's journal Endocrinology.

    Endocrine-disrupting chemicals – also known as EDCs – are hazardous chemicals that have the ability to disrupt the normal functioning of the endocrine system. EDCs may be present in manufactured goods, including certain food products, soil, water and air. Studies have shown that exposure to EDCs can cause cancer, infertility or birth defects.

    Damage Done By Fracking - Credit: Toban B


    “More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function,” said Susan Nagel, an author of the study based at the University of Missouri School of Medicine, who is concerned that as fracking operations expand, communities may face increasing health risks due to increased exposure to endocrine-disrupting substances.

    The researchers assessed twelve potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in fracking operations, measuring their power to block or mimic the functions of both male and female human reproductive hormones.

    To assess whether fracking operations led to increased endocrine-disrupting activity, the research team analyzed and compared water samples collected from sites in a densely drilled area in Garfield County, CO, containing over 10,000 active gas wells where spills have been reported, to water samples collected from sites in Garfield County, CO and Boone County, MO that are not densely drilled and where no spills have occurred.

    The results of the tests showed that water samples collected from densely drilled sites contained higher concentrations of EDCs that could disrupt hormone functioning in the human body, interfering with how the body responds to androgens – hormones that include testosterone and estrogen, both of which play an essential role in reproduction. EDC levels in water samples collected from drilling sites ranged from moderate to high, while samples collected from the Colorado River – which is essentially the drainage basin of the fracking sites – contained moderate levels of EDC activity. By comparison, samples collected from sites with low drilling activity contained low levels of EDC activity.

    Most concerning, is the fact that spills which occur during natural gas drilling operations can contaminate water resources, including surface water, groundwater and drinking water sources, yet fracking is exempt from federal regulations that protect water quality. “We found more endocrine-disrupting activity in the water close to drilling locations that had experienced spills than at control sites. This could raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed to EDCs,” cautions Nagel.

    The study, “Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region”, was published online, ahead of print.

    Journal Reference:

    Christopher D. Kassotis, Donald E. Tillitt, J. Wade Davis, Annette M. Hormann, and Susan C. Nagel. Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region. Endocrinology, December 2013.

  • Using Acid Mine Wastewater to Reduce Radioactivity of Fracking Wastewater

    A new study led by scientists from Duke University has revealed that radioactivity of fracking wastewater may be reduced by blending it with wastewater recovered from acid mine drainage. Wastewater from both fracking and acid mine drainage are known to pose a potential health risk both to the environment and to humans. However, laboratory test results from the study, which was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology in December 2013, have shown that when wastewater from these two sources are blended in the correct proportions it is possible to bind some of the contaminants found in fracking water into solids that facilitates their removal prior to the water being discharged into rivers.

    “This could be an effective way to treat Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing wastewater, while providing a beneficial use for acid mine drainage that currently is contaminating waterways in much of the northeastern United States,” said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment. “It's a win-win for the industry and the environment.”


    Oil and Gas Drilling



    The above picture is of an oil and gas wastewater facility. Blending wastewater from fracking operations with wastewater from acid mine drainage could also provide a usable source of recycled water that can be used during hydro-fracking operations, which would in turn reduce the pressure on freshwater resources that are currently being unsustainably utilized and rapidly depleted.

    The hydraulic fracturing process involves pumping millions of tons of water into drilled gas wells under high pressure, which forces open fissures in the shale deposits, releasing the natural gas contained within so that it can be extracted. However, some of the water that is pumped into the well returns to the surface together with the natural gas being extracted. This fluid, commonly referred to as 'flowback fluid', typically consists of high concentrations of naturally occurring salts, metals (such as strontium and barium), and radioactive substances such as radium.

    A previous study conducted by the Duke research team revealed that the standard methods used to treat fracking wastewater only partially remove these potentially hazardous pollutants from fracking waste, resulting in radioactive wastewater being released into freshwater systems where they tend to accumulate in sediments of rivers and streams near the point of discharge.

    Acid mine drainage, which is potentially extremely toxic to fauna and flora as well as humans, seeps out old disused coal mines, contaminating many freshwater systems within the Appalachian Basin, negatively impacting the quality of water in hundreds of rivers and streams throughout West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

    As a large portion of Marcellus shale gas exploration is occurring in areas that were historically used to mine coal, experts proposed that acid mine drainage could offer an alternative and  more sustainable water source to use in fracking operations and reduce the pressure on limited freshwater sources, which are currently under strain.

    In order to test this theory, Vengosh and his fellow researchers blended various mixtures of Marcellus Shale hydro-fracking wastewater together with acid mine drainage – all samples where provided to them by operators drilling for gas in the western Pennsylvania area.

    After two days, the researchers assessed the chemical and radiological make-up of 26 of the blended mixtures, using geochemical modeling techniques to simulate both the physical and chemical reactions that took place after the fracking and acid mine drainage waste-waters were blended. The scientists then verified their results with x-ray diffraction and by taking radioactivity measurements from the solids that formed as a result of the mixing.

    “Our analysis suggested that several ions, including sulfate, iron, barium and strontium, as well as between 60 and 100 percent of the radium, had precipitated within the first 10 hours into newly formed solids composed mainly of strontium barite,” Vengosh said.



    It was now possible to separate the radioactive solids from the fluids so that they could be disposed of at an appropriate hazardous waste disposal site, and with the radioactive material safely removed, the water would pose less of an environmental and health risk if discharged when discharged into waterways. Moreover, because the blending process also removed salts, salinity levels were also reduced, making the wastewater now suitable to be recycled for use in the hydro-fracking process.

    “The next step is to test this in the field. While our laboratory tests show that is it technically possible to generate recycled, treated water suitable for hydraulic fracturing, field-scale tests are still necessary to confirm its feasibility under operational conditions,” Vengosh said.

    This sounds almost too good to be true - could two wrongs possibly make a right?

    NOTE: While the above research holds some promise for removing radioactive contaminants from the wastewater, it cannot remove pollutants from water that is not returned to the surface – i.e. frac-water full of chemicals and radioactive material that leaches through the ground to contaminate groundwater and drinking water in wells. If your water comes from a source that could be contaminated, rather take the necessary precautions to remove these potentially harmful pollutants by filtering your drinking water with a good quality water filter.

    Journal Reference:

    "Radium and Barium Removal through Blending Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids with Acid Mine Drainage," Andrew J. Kondash, Nathaniel R. Warner, Ori Lahav, Avner Vengosh. Environmental Science & Technology, Dec. 24, 2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es403852h

  • West Virginia Water Ban Leaves 300,000 Residents Without Water

    With more than 300,000 West Virginia residents left without drinking water since a week ago today, after a chemical spill contaminated their drinking water supply. Environmental assessors have now estimated that approximately 7,500 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol – a hazardous chemical that is used during the processing of coal – leaked into the Elk River from a ruptured storage tank. This is substantially higher than the original estimates of between 2,000 – 5,000 gallons, and no doubt will take longer to contain and flush out of the water supply.

    The chemical spill occurred at the premises of Freedom Industries – a producer of specialty chemicals used in the mining, cement and steel industries – located on the Elk River, a mere 1.5 miles upstream from an intake that supplies water to West Virginia American Water – the state's largest water supplier, which supplies residents in Charleston and nine surrounding counties with drinking water.

    Carrying bottle water

     

    Residents have been cautioned not to drink the water from their taps, nor to use the water for bathing or showering or for any other use except flushing their toilets.

    FEMA has already trucked in over a million liters of water to supply stricken residents, and this figure is expected to rise to around 3 million liters.

    According to a report in The New York Times on Saturday, over one hundred people have visited local hospitals with health issues ranging from skin and eye irritations to feeling nauseous or vomiting.

    A team of chemical safety experts aligned with the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), a federal agency whose mandate is to investigate chemical spills, will visit the stricken areas in West Virginia today to assess the cause of the chemical spill and to make safety recommendations in order to prevent a similar accident in the future.

    This spill, as unfortunate as it is, highlights why it is so important for us to prepare for any situation that will leave us without safe drinking water. Water can become contaminated due to natural causes, natural or man-made disasters, or from accidental spills or intentional acts of sabotage or terrorism. When hundreds of thousands of people are affected, it becomes a logistical nightmare to distribute sufficient water to cater for everyone's needs simultaneously, especially when affected people are spread over a large area. While aid may be sent swiftly, it may still take some time to get through, and can result in pandemonium as people desperately scramble for limited supplies of essential items, particularly a vital resource such as drinking water.

    A good quality home water filter not only provides a source of healthy drinking water on a daily basis, it offers a safety net in the event of a water crisis. However, even the water filtration industry was caught off-guard by this chemical. 4-methylcyclohexane methanol is not on the EPA monitored list, and not surprisingly, there are no labs currently equipped to test for it. It is why last week we released our statement regarding us simply not knowing whether the Berkey can remove this chemical or not. If you know of a lab in the WV area that becomes equipped to test for this chemical, please let us know in the comment section below.

  • Filtering Drinking Water for Improved Health

    If, like me, your New Year's resolution is to live a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine, you will want to start by flushing all the toxins that have accumulated in your system after the festive season's overindulgence of fine foods and party fare. Right up at the top of your health 'to do' list, along with healthy eating and regular exercise, should be 'drink plenty of water'. This will not only help flush toxins from your system, but offers many additional health benefits too.

    drink water

    Every living thing on this earth requires water to survive, humans are no exception. Like other living organisms, we are made up of trillions of cells, and each and every cell in our body is made up of 70% water. Water is essential for our health and well being. It is also an essential component of our body fluids. Water transports nutrients to the cells in our body, and eliminates waste products from the body. It is released as perspiration to keep us cool and prevent the body from overheating. Without water, we would die. Doctors recommend drinking eight classes of water a day for good health. This is to keep the cells that make up our body rehydrated, and to flush out toxins from the body, for optimal health.

    However, it is all very well flushing out toxins by drinking lots of water, but if the water you drink contains pollutants, you are simply adding more toxins to your body to replenish the toxins you are eliminating. For optimal health your body requires pure, uncontaminated water, free of toxins and impurities. The safest way to guarantee that your body is being rehydrated and cleansed with toxin-free water is to use a home water filter to remove any impurities that may be lurking.

    Private wells and boreholes usually contain untreated water, therefore drinking water from these sources may contain both naturally occurring pollutants leached from the soil, and contaminants that have entered the water through runoff. Drinking water supplied by public systems has to adhere to strict safety guidelines as set by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and consequently drinking water from public sources is treated to remove pollutants. However, this water only has to have contaminants removed to meet the required standards set for human health, and while this typically reduces pollutants to within acceptable levels, some contaminants still remain. Furthermore, very often the chemical disinfectants that are used to treat the water, present health problems of their own.

    People with compromised immune systems – aids and cancer patients, and people with immunodeficiencies – are especially at risk from exposure to even low levels of drinking water contaminants, and drinking regular tap water may cause serious illness. In these cases filtered water should not be considered an option, but rather a necessity. The elderly; and infants, who do not yet have a fully developed immune system, are also vulnerable to illnesses caused by bacteria, microbes, and viruses in drinking water. Other drinking water contaminants such as heavy metals (lead, mercury), pesticides, and other chemicals can cause long-term health issues when exposed to consistently over a long period, with some pollutants known to cause developmental problems and learning disorders in children.

    There are various types of drinking water filters available, and your choice will depend on the impurities that you need to remove from your drinking water. Carbon filters are suitable for many applications, but when choosing a carbon filter you will need to take special note of the quality of testing results. The better the testing results, the more effective the filter will be at removing tiny pollutants, invisible to the naked eye, which can very often be the most damaging to our health.

  • West Virginia Chemical Spill and Berkey Removal

    The chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol that was leaked in West Virginia is an organic chemical. This is a relatively unknown chemical that is not on the EPA’s organic chemical list to test for and for this reason we have not specifically tested this organic chemical compound. Therefore, we are unable to positively state that the Berkey system will remove 4-methylcyclohexane methanol.

    What we do know is that the EPA organic compounds that Berkey has tested for show the lowest removal rate was 86% removal, and that the majority tested greater than 99% removal. However, we reiterate that without specific testing we cannot make any claim of removal of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. We can only state that the data suggests that the black berkey filters would likely be very efficient at removing the chemical, given that it is an organic chemical/compound.

    The manufacturer of Berkey ALWAYS recommends that you use the cleanest source of water available for filtering; however we understand that during emergencies a clean source of water may not be available.

    Summary of Accident

    Chemical that was leaked

    Compound Summary

    Compound Synonyms

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