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  • Road Salt a Major Contributor to Urban Stream Pollution

    Average concentrations of chloride levels measured in many northern American streams are very often much higher than toxic levels, and over the last twenty years these incidents have been occurring twice as frequently, largely as a result of widespread use of road salt to remove ice from urban roads and pavements during winter.

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    According to a study conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS) between 1960 - 2011, which was recently published in Science of the Total Environment, chloride levels have dramatically increased in 84% of the urban streams assessed. At sites in the north, including sites near Denver, Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and steams near other urban areas, chloride levels rose year-round over time, peaking over winter.

    "Some freshwater organisms are sensitive to chloride, and the high concentrations that we found could negatively affect a significant number of species," said Steve Corsi, USGS scientist and lead author of the study. "If urban development and road salt use continue to increase, chloride concentrations and associated toxicity are also likely to increase."

    For the study, the researchers analyzed water-quality records recorded at thirty water-quality monitoring sites along 19 urban streams situated near metropolitan areas in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

    The study reports a number of key findings, including:

    1. Between 2006 and 2011, levels of chloride at 29% of the sites exceeded water quality safety standards of 230 mg/L set by the EPA by more than 100 days a year (on average), nearly twice the number of days as recorded between 1990 and 1994. This increase was observed at sites along the Kinnickinnic and Menomonee Rivers situated near Milwaukee, and Poplar Creek, situated in close proximity to Chicago.
    2. Chloride levels were lowest in streams whose watersheds were not impacted by urban areas or where nearby cities received very little snowfall during winter (i.e Dallas, Texas).
    3. Winter chloride levels rose over the course of the study period in 16 of the urban streams monitored.
    4. Chloride levels rose over the course of the study period in non-winter months when no de-icing was taking place in 13 of the urban streams monitored, suggesting that chloride permeates through the soil to contaminate groundwater sources during winter, from where it is then fed to surface water systems year round, including during the summer months.
    5. Chloride concentrations in water rose more rapidly than urban development was taking place in cities situated near the monitoring sites.
    6. The rapid rise in chloride concentrations were most likely due to an increase in the rate of salt application, combined with an increase in baseline conditions experienced over the summer months when runoff was low, and higher snowfalls recorded in the Midwest throughout the latter years of the study.

    "De-icing operations help to provide safe winter transportation conditions, which is very important," said Corsi. "Findings from this study emphasize the need to consider de-icer management options that minimize the use of road salt while still maintaining safe conditions."

    The rising chloride levels in urban streams can be attributed to the use of road salt by municipalities, counties and state agencies across the nation to keep roads ice-free and safe to drive on in winter. and also by organizations (public and private) and individuals to remove ice from parking lots, driveways and walkways.

    However, these are not the only sources of chloride; other contributing sources include contaminated water from farming operations, wastewater treatment facilities and septic systems, as well as salt that occurs naturally in rocks. However, according to this study, road salt is the major contributor of chloride to urban streams situated near northern US cities.

    Journal Reference:

    Steven R Corsi, Laura A De Cicco, Michelle A Lutz, Robert M Hirsch. River chloride trends in snow-affected urban watersheds: increasing concentrations outpace urban growth rate and are common among all seasons. Science of the Total Environment. (2015) Vol.508, 488-497. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.12.012

  • Can Bottled Water Make Your Blood Boil?

    Consuming food & drinks from BPA-lined containers linked to high blood pressure says study

    Bisphenol A, or BPA as it is more commonly referred to, is a chemical that is widely used to line plastic bottles and cans, including those used as containers for food and beverages consumed by humans. However, studies have revealed that BPA can leach from these containers to contaminate the food and drinks stored within.

    BPA is known to cause a variety of health issues; earlier studies have shown that BPA is linked to infertility and cancer. Now, a study that recently appeared in the journal Hypertension, published by the American Heart Association, has found that consuming food or drinking beverages from plastic bottles or cans lined with BPA can cause high blood pressure, and is thus bad for your heart.

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    For this latest study, scientists conducted a trial on a sample of 60 adult women aged 60 and over who visited a Korean community center. The trial members visited the center three times, where they were randomly given soy milk either in cans or glass bottles. Two hours later, the women had their blood pressure and heart rates monitored, and urine samples were collected, which were then analyzed to assess BPA concentrations. According to the researchers, soy milk was chosen for the test as it contains no other ingredients that could potentially elevate blood pressure.

    BPA concentrations in the urine samples collected rose by as much as 1600% in women who had consumed soy milk in cans compared to consuming soy milk served in glass bottles. Blood pressures also rose after drinking the canned beverages, which according to the authors is concerning, as high blood pressure is associated with heart disease.

    "A 5 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure by drinking two canned beverages may cause clinically significant problems, particularly in patients with heart disease or hypertension," said study author, Yun-Chul Hong, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and director of the Environmental Health Center at Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea. "A 20 mm Hg increase in systolic blood pressure doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease."

    "Thanks to the crossover intervention trial design, we could control most of the potential confounders, such as population characteristics or past medical history," said Hong. "Time variables, such as daily temperatures, however, could still affect the results."

    This study highlights the cardiovascular health risks linked to BPA and hopefully will educate decision-makers, health professionals and the general public on the dangers posed by consuming food and beverages from containers lined with BPA.

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    Hong suggests that consumers choose fresh food products where possible, and that they opt for foods and beverages packaged in glass containers rather than cans or plastic bottles -- both of which typically contain BPA linings -- at least until manufacturers start using BPA-free alternative liners in the containers that they use to package their products.

    Water is considered to be a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks, and while this is true, bottled water packaged in plastic bottles may be just as harmful as fizzy drinks in cans. Our solution is simple, choose a good quality water filter to remove any harmful contaminants that may be present in your drinking water (including BPA) and you will have an endless supply of healthy BPA-free water at your disposal. Simply pour and drink, or dispense into a portable BPA-free water bottle to quench your thirst while on the road or out and about. Alternatively, opt for a portable sport bottle filter that will do the job while you are on the go.

    Journal Reference:

    Sanghyuk Bae & Yun-Chul Hong. Exposure to Bisphenol A From Drinking Canned Beverage Increases Blood Pressure: Randomized Crossover Trial. Hypertension. Dec 2014, doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.04261

  • Treated Fracking Wastewater Contains Potentially Hazardous Byproducts that can Contaminate Drinking Water

    There is growing concern regarding the threat that fracking fluids pose to drinking water sources, especially groundwater sources in aquifers deep below the surface. A recent study highlights a new threat to our drinking water, that of treated fracking wastewater that still may be contaminated. The study, published in the American Chemistry Society's journal Environmental Science & Technology, shows that discharging fracking wastewater into rivers, even after being treated at a wastewater treatment facility, could be contaminating the water, posing a risk to inhabitants of cities further downstream that are dependent on these rivers for their drinking water supply.

    wasterwater Fracking Wastewater Pond

    The researchers note that hydraulic fracturing by its very nature, is a process that utilizes vast quantities of water mixed with a variety of chemicals, which is injected underground under pressure to force out the oil and gas held within. The disposal of millions of gallons of this tainted wastewater presents a major challenge to oil companies that utilize this technique.

    Treatment of Fracking Wastewater

    Fracking wastewater contains high concentrations of heavy metals and halide salts, and it is also highly radioactive. As a result it poses a threat to drinking water supplies unless adequately treated. Consequently, fracking wastewater is often treated in commercial or municipal treatment plants before being released into rivers or surface water systems. However, these treatment facilities do not adequately remove halides (such as bromide, chloride and iodide), raising fears that halide-contaminated water can produce toxic byproducts when it is treated with conventional water treatment methods used to treat drinking water supplies. So the research team set about finding out whether these fears are well founded to ascertain whether or not there is indeed cause for concern.

    Wastewater Treatment Study

    The scientists diluted samples of river water where fracking wastewater is discharged from fracking operations in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, simulating environmental conditions experienced as wastewater enters the environment. Then, in the laboratory, they treated the water samples with conventional water treatment methods used to disinfect drinking water. They discovered that even at extremely low concentrations per volume of fracking wastewater, a number of toxic byproducts were produced.

    Based on these findings, the scientists recommend that either current fracking wastewater treatment methods should be updated to include the removal of halides, or fracking wastewater should not be discharged into rivers and other surface water systems at all.

    Up until now, there has been grave concern regarding contamination of drinking water wells situated near sites where fracking is occurring, but according to this latest study, the implications could be more widespread, affecting the drinking water of those downstream from fracking wastewater discharge sites -- including discharge sites of treated wastewater -- as well.

    Journal Reference:

    Kimberly M. Parker, Teng Zeng, Jennifer Harkness, Avner Vengosh, William A. Mitch. Enhanced Formation of Disinfection Byproducts in Shale Gas Wastewater-Impacted Drinking Water Supplies. Environmental Science & Technology, 2014; 140924125647003 DOI: 10.1021/es5028184

  • Chloramine: What Contaminants Linger After Water is Disinfected

    Chloramines are newer chemicals that water utility company's are increasingly using instead of chlorine to disinfect drinking water, but is it safer. These chemicals kill pathogens in the water such as bacteria and viruses that could potentially pose a threat to human health. Chloramines typically form when ammonia and chlorine are used in combination during the water treatment process in an effort to ensure long-lasting disinfection of water as it is pumped through the water network to our homes.

    Monochloramine is typically used during drinking water disinfection; while other forms, including dichloramine and organic chloramines -- and in rare circumstances trichloramine -- are formed during the treatment process, their levels are much lower than that of monochloramine.

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    Because chlorine is quick acting, but not long-lasting it is usually used as the primary method of disinfection. Chlorine is often added at several stages of the treatment process (i.e. it is also used as a secondary disinfectant) as the initial treatment becomes less effective over time. Because chlorine is prone to reacting with naturally occurring organic matter that may be present in the water, to form disinfection byproducts that could potentially pose a risk to human health, some water utilities that were previously using chlorine as their secondary method of disinfection have switched to chloramines, a longer-lasting alternative, as a secondary disinfectant in order to comply with regulations regarding disinfection byproducts.

    However, while monochloramine is more stable and consequently more long-lasting compared to chlorine, it can also react with naturally occurring organic matter that may be present in drinking water to form byproducts that could potentially harm humans, although the number of potentially harmful regulated disinfection products that it produces is less than that produced by chlorine.

    Chloramine treatment of drinking water is widespread; more than 20% of Americans drink water that has been disinfected with chloramines. However, the use of chloramines in water treatment is tightly regulated in order to meet the safety standard of 4 parts per million (ppm) for drinking water as set by the EPA.

    What are the Health Risks Associated with Disinfection Byproducts?

    Research has indicated that some water disinfection byproducts are potentially harmful to human health. Studies have shown that certain byproducts formed during water disinfection are associated with increased incidence of cancer -- notably bladder cancer. Studies have also shown a link between water disinfection byproducts and anemia, as well as a host of other health issues, including problems of the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, and reproductive system.

    According to the EPA, compared to drinking water treated with chlorine, drinking water that has been treated with monochloramine usually has lower concentrations of regulated disinfection byproducts, including regulated disinfection byproducts associated with bladder cancer. However, they also point out that drinking water that has been treated with monochloramine may contain higher concentrations of unregulated disinfection byproducts than water treated with chlorine.

    Regardless of which disinfectant is used to treat drinking water, disinfection byproducts will occur as a result of the treatment process; however the types and concentrations will vary between utilities, and may also fluctuate on a daily basis for each utility.

    Monochloramine also has the ability to change the chemistry of water, which may in turn lead to an increase in other harmful contaminants such as lead, and may affect biofilm activity and the levels of nitrites and nitrates.

    It is possible to remove these potentially harmful contaminants from your drinking water. Berkey water filters have been shown to remove chloramines to greater than 99.9%, assuring you of a safe healthy supply of drinking water that is free of these and other contaminants.

  • Groundwater Warming in Sync with Atmosphere

    Using a long-term data set of groundwater temperature measurements recorded around the European cities of Karlsruhe and Cologne, hydro-geologists have shown that groundwater is getting warmer, mirroring that of atmospheric warming. Their findings were recently published in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.

    "Global warming is reflected directly in the groundwater, albeit damped and with a certain time lag," says Peter Bayer, a co-author of the paper.

    The records also show that groundwater found closer to the surface, i.e. from a depth of about 60 meters upwards, has warmed significantly over the past 40 years in line with global warming. The pattern of groundwater warming follows a similar pattern to local and regional climate, which also mirrors temperature increases associated with global warming.

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    The groundwater reflects the sporadic leaps or "regime shifts" in atmospheric temperature recorded over the last few decades. The authors were surprised at how quickly the groundwater responded to climate change.

    Atmospheric temperatures have risen by 0.13°C (32.23°F) per decade over the last 50 years, but these temperature increases don't stop just below the Earth's surface. Soil samples examined in other studies conducted over the past twenty years have echoed this, however, these studies did not assess soils that contained groundwater, which makes this study unique. This study is the first to examine groundwater that has not been influenced to any extent by humans.

    The fact that groundwater is warming in line with climate change is quite plausible, says Bayer.

    "The difference in temperature between the atmosphere and the subsoil balances out naturally", he says. "The energy transfer takes place via thermal conduction and the groundwater flow, much like a heat exchanger, which enables the heat transported to spread in the subsoil and level out."

    At this stage it may still be a bit early to gauge what the consequences of groundwater warming will be. Warmer groundwater temperatures may affect subterranean ecosystems or biospheres that are dependent on groundwater, such as cold areas in river systems where the groundwater bubbles up. Groundwater heating could have a negative impact on certain aquatic organisms, including some species of fish, that thrive in low temperatures, which could threaten their survival.

    Warmer temperatures will also affect the chemical composition of the water, particularly the concentrations of carbonate and nitrate, as chemical reactions occur more readily when temperatures are warmer. Warmer water may also increase bacterial activity; the more favorable conditions may allow disease causing pathogens to multiply rapidly, increasing the risk on public health.

    However, the researchers acknowledge that there may also be some positive outcomes. For example, the excess heat could be used for geothermal heating, says lead author, Kathrin Menberg.

    Journal Reference:

    K. Menberg, P. Blum, B. L. Kurylyk, P. Bayer. Observed groundwater temperature response to recent climate change. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 2014; 18 (11): 4453 DOI: 10.5194/hess-18-4453-2014

  • Atrazine Fingered as Number One Drinking Water Contaminant in the US

    According to a video report by Global News, farmers across the US have been using atrazine, a toxic herbicide, extensively to control weeds in corn fields and other agricultural row crops for over 50 years now. This widespread use has allowed atrazine to leach through soils to contaminate groundwater systems or enter surface water systems through runoff, ultimately winding up in drinking water, where it is now a common drinking water contaminant.

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    According to Tyrone Hayes, a University of California Berkeley scientist: “Atrazine is the number one contaminant found in drinking water in the U.S. and probably globally.”

    Due to its known health effects, which after long term exposure include cardiovascular and reproductive problems, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the drinking water standard for atrazine to 0.003 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or three parts per billion (ppb).

    The levels of atrazine in drinking water differ depending on where you are in the country and also according to seasonal fluctuations. In regions where corn is extensively grown, the use of atrazine tends to be more widespread, and thus there is potentially higher concentrations of the toxin present in runoff.

    Atrazine was removed from the European market in 2004 due to health concerns, yet in the US and Canada it is still one of the most common pesticides found in underground and surface water systems. In 2012, Syngenta, the company that manufactures atrazine, paid a $105 million court settlement to over 1000 US municipal water treatment facilities to help foot the bill for removing atrazine from municipal drinking water supplies.

    Health Effects of Atrazine

    According to Jason Rohr, a professor at the University of South Florida: “Atrazine is probably the most well studied pesticide on the planet, perhaps only rivaled by DDT.”

    Yet, while there have been extensive studies conducted on the effect of atrazine on amphibians and other wildlife, very little information in available on the effects of atrazine to human health. However, studies have shown a possible link between atrazine exposure and breast, ovarian and prostrate cancers; as well as low fertility and birth defects.

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    Removing Atrazine from Drinking Water

    If you are concerned that your water is contaminated with atrazine, you can check with your water utility to ascertain whether they monitor for atrazine, and how regularly do they test the water supply. To make certain that you and your family are not exposed to atrazine and other common drinking water contaminants, you can purchase a good quality home water filter like the berkeys equipped with the black berkey filters.  The black berkeys are capable of removing atrazine and other commonly used pesticides from the water to below detectable limits.

    Watch the video 'Pesticide Peril?' to learn more about the serious perils of pesticides on our health.

  • Coastal Mussels Contaminated with Pathogens Originating from Land-based Sources

    Mussels along the shore of California are found to be contaminated with Giardia duodenalis, a pathogen that originates from land-based freshwater sources as well as coastal beaches frequented by California Sea Lions.  This is according to a new study conducted by scientists from the University of California, Davis, which was recently published online in the scientific journal, Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

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    At least one of the Giardia strains found poses a health risk to humans, with two other strains present posing a risk to dogs who come into contact with it. The presence of these pathogens thus poses a health risk to people and their canine pets should they ingest contaminated water or consume uncooked shellfish, said Woutrina Smith, a co-author of the paper.

    According to lead author, Aiko Adell, the researchers hypothesized that if pathogens were entering the sea from land, then the genetic structure of Giardia and Cryptosporidium parasites found in the mussels would be the same as the genetic structure of these parasites found in animals living on land.

    For their analysis, the researchers collected marine mussels from coastal mussel beds surrounding river mouths and from haul-out sites frequented by sea lions along the central Californian coastline, together with samples of sea lion feces. Using genetic PCR techniques -- where DNA is amplified by making multiple copies of the DNA structure -- and DNA sequencing, they examined the samples collected for the presence of Giardia pathogens.

    The researchers sampled mussels, not just to determine if they were contaminated by Giardia pathogens, but because they are filter-feeders they process large volumes of water, and thus pathogens tend to become concentrated within their tissue.

    "Testing the mussels enabled us to more quickly find the pathogens, rather like using a magnet to find needles in a haystack, instead of sifting through all that straw," says coauthor Patricia Conrad.

    Fluorescent microscopy revealed oocysts and cysts in the sea lion fecal samples that resembled that of both Cryptosporidia and Giardia, however the researchers were not able detect DNA for these pathogens after running PCR, which according to Smith, is likely due to low levels of parasites present in the fecal samples.
    For the mussels, however, the picture was somewhat different. While no oocytes or cysts were visible, the research team were able to detect Giardia DNA in some of the mussel tissue samples.

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    This research illustrates how useful filter-feeding organisms that accumulate parasites and pathogens can be for testing for the presence of pathogens in both freshwater and marine aquatic environments. If water samples were tested, the pathogens would be diluted and thus would not likely be visible in water samples collected. Similarly, testing fecal samples has limitations, because oocysts and cysts are typically only shed once infection is acute. The findings also enable us to better understand the fate of land-based fecal-transmitted waterborne pathogens once they enter the ocean.

    According to Smith, the public health risk to beach-goers and surfers is higher during seasons with high rainfall, when river outflow is higher. The increase in freshwater runoff during the rainy season can wash fecal material from land-based surfaces into freshwater systems, which then flow to the sea. Smith also points out that the Giardia strains that typically infect canines have also been known to infect humans on rare occasions.

    If these contaminants are flowing into the sea from land-based freshwater sources, it stands to reason that these freshwater sources are also contaminated, and thus pose a threat to people who swim in them or rely on them for their drinking water.

    Journal Reference:

    A. D. Adell, W. A. Smith, K. Shapiro, A. Melli, P. A. Conrad. Molecular epidemiology of Cryptosporidium spp. and Giardia spp. in mussels (Mytilus californianus) and California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) from central California. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2014; DOI: 10.1128/AEM.02922-14

  • Water Contamination a Grave Concern Amongst Consumers

    If you feel happy quenching your thirst by drinking a glass of water poured straight from your kitchen faucet, you are one of the few Americans who do. According to a recent study conducted by NSF International, most people living in the US, as well as globally, harbor concerns about the pollutants that could potentially be contaminating their drinking water. This concern is one of the reasons why purified bottled water is currently one of the most popular beverages in the US, topped only by soda.

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    Eighty-two percent of consumers interviewed reported they have concerns regarding the presence of emerging contaminants, in the water they drink. New forms of pesticides and herbicides are of highest concern to consumers, with 87% reporting concerns over these pollutants, followed by prescription drugs (34%) and detergents (24%), while other contaminants such as flame retardants (18%) and over-the-counter medications (14%) that have been consistently found in tap water are also of concern. While the health risks posed by the presence of these emerging contaminants at trace levels in drinking water is not fully understood, the fact that they are present at all has clearly left many consumers worried.

    Pesticide contamination of groundwater sources is not a new phenomenon, but because the use of pesticides has grown exponentially in order to grow sufficient food to feed an ever growing population, it stands to reason that more and more of these chemicals are leaching through soils to contaminate water in underground aquifers which provide drinking water to 50% of the American population.

    The study also showed that despite their concerns, only 28% of consumers return unused medications to their pharmacy or clinic to dispose of responsibly; the majority of consumers dispose of these emerging contaminants inappropriately, either by discarding unused prescription drugs and over-the-counter medication out with their trash (34%) or by flushing these contaminants down the toilet (19%).

    “NSF International’s survey results clearly show that consumers are very aware of and concerned about emerging contaminants in drinking water. While the industry isn’t currently aware of negative health effects associated with trace levels of these contaminants, many consumers understandably want to have the highest quality drinking water possible for themselves and their family. NSF International has developed a standard that tests the ability of home water treatment devices to reduce some of these emerging contaminants in drinking water,” said Rick Andrew, NSF International Drinking Water Treatment Expert.

    Previously drinking water contaminants fell into one of two groups: 1) aesthetic effects, consisting of contaminants that don't adversely affect health, but affect the taste, odor or appearance of water; and 2) health effects, consisting of contaminants that pose a health risk to consumers exposed to these pollutants in drinking water. Emerging contaminants is a new group of drinking water contaminants consisting of pollutants that are classified as contaminants whose impact on human health after long-term exposure is not well understood.

    Berkey water filters fitted with Black Berkey filter elements meet the NSF Standard 53 and NSF Standard 42 for chemical reduction. Berkey filters remove pesticides, pharmaceuticals and many other contaminants that are commonly found in drinking water, rendering your tap water safe to drink.

  • Black Berkeys Receive New Testing Results

    We are proud to announce brand new black berkey testing results that show the Berkey removes Chloramines, Pharmaceuticals, BPA, and much more from your water. This highly anticipated round of testing was just completed, and can be found here.

    Berkey Lineup Photo

    Black Berkey Testing Highlights:

    1) Bisphenol-A - Removed to greater than 99.9%. Many customers had the desire to pour their bottled water into their berkey, and had wondered if the system would remove this endocrine disruptor.

    2) Chloramines - Removed to greater than 99.9%. With many water municipalities switching to chloramine disinfection instead of chlorine, there was a growing chorus of existing and potential Berkey customers wanting the answer to this question.

    3) Pharmaceuticals - Removed to greater than 99.5%. This has been a hot button also. Many studies and articles have come out over the past 5 years showing how these pharmaceuticals are washing down our toilets and not being removed from our water supply by the local municipal filtration plant. The filters were tested for 17 different types of pharmaceuticals and they were all removed. No additional types of pharmaceuticals were available for testing at this lab, however the results should be similar for others.

    4) Petroleum Contaminants - Removed to greater than 99.9%. With the unfortunately too common event of oil spills and petroleum contamination of waterways and water sources, this has been on the mind of customers for some time, especially since the gulf oil spill.  The black berkeys would protect them from these contaminants.

    5) Methylcycohexane-methane - Removed to greater than 99.9%. This was the contaminant that was involved in the March 2014 West Virginia oil spill.

    6) Pesticides - Removed to greater than 99.9%. These had already been tested for before, however more pesticides were included in this round of testing.

    7) Heavy Metals - Removed to greater than 99.1%. These had already been tested for before, however a couple more heavy metals were included in this round of testing.

    8) Coliform and e-Coli - Removed to greater than 99.9%. These had already been tested for before and shown to be removed to over 99.9999%.  This could be considered as confirmation testing.

    Some additional testing notes:

    NMCL set the limit of 99.9% or Log 3 reduction with the lab before testing began. Each Log level (percent) reduction costs significantly more for testing and is typically not needed.  It boils down to a function of cost vs what levels they believed would be acceptable to customers & dealers. Log 3 (99.9%) reduction is significant and the testing costs are reasonable; that's why they settled on this level.

    You will notice in the test results that most all of the contaminates measured after running through the Black Berkey element, show "less than" as the measured contaminate level left in the water. This means that the actual reduction levels are "greater than" 99.9% - exceeding the target reduction level tested for.

  • Canine Contaminants in our Water: How big a problem is it?

    America is home to many dog lovers, and although they adore their dogs, they often don't love to clean up behind them quite as much. This poses a problem, as dog feces that is not disposed of correctly can get washed into our freshwater systems or leach through soils and contaminate groundwater sources. Dog waste often contains bacteria, some of which are antibiotic-resistant, that can cause people to become ill. Scientists have recently developed a genetic test that will ascertain just how much of the fecal contamination present in our waterways originates from our canine friends.

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    According to an article that was recently published in the American Chemical Society's journal, Environment Science & Technology, our freshwater systems are vulnerable to contamination from many fecal sources, including leaking sewage systems; agricultural sources, such as waste from livestock and manure added to crops to enrich growth; and wildlife droppings. While these sources all contribute an unsavory source of contamination, dog feces poses a particular concern, as it may harbor antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria such as E. coli, as well as parasites that pose a public health risk. Considering that the US is home to around 70 million pet dogs, the threat is substantial.

    Until now, scientists have had limited resources available to determine how much of the pathogens present in freshwater and coastal systems actually originates from domesticated dogs.

    "Current methods look for certain genes from gut bacteria that end up in dog feces", explains Orin Shanks, a co-author of the paper. "However, this is not foolproof — the microbiota of humans and the canine pets they live with often overlap, making the analysis complicated."

    To work around this, the research team set about creating a test that would be more specific and robust, and which would be able to detect fecal contamination originating from canines.

    By identifying 11 genetic markers that were present in most of the canine samples but absent in the human samples, the scientists developed a genetic technique that is able to test water specifically for the presence of canine fecal contaminants. In order to ascertain whether their genetic technique would be viable for monitoring water quality in a real-world situation, they tested water samples that originated from storm water collected from a rain-garden adjacent to an area that is frequented by dog-lovers walking their canine companions. Using this method the scientists successfully detected the same canine markers they identified in the lab as evidence for canine fecal contamination.

    Canine and other sources of fecal contamination in water can contain pathogens that can pose a health risk to you and your family. By filtering your drinking water with a good quality water filter you can successfully remove parasites such as E. coli that could cause you and your loved-ones harm.

    Journal Reference:

    Hyatt C. Green, Karen M. White, Cathy A. Kelty, and Orin C. Shanks. Development of Rapid Canine Fecal Source Identification PCR-Based Assays. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 (19), pp 11453–11461. DOI: 10.1021/es502637b

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