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heavy metals

  • Detroit Schools Turn Off Drinking Water Over Lead Contamination Concerns

    Public schools in Detroit are shutting off their drinking water due to concerns of copper and lead contamination, after high levels of these heavy metals were found in samples taken from several school buildings, Detroit Free Press recently reported.

    The district superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, has indicated that schools will make water coolers and bottled water available to students when they return to classes this week.

    Lead in Water

    Recent tests conducted on public water supplies in 24 schools in Detroit found at least one drinking water source, i.e. tap or water fountain, at 16 of the schools had elevated levels of lead and/or copper at concentrations deemed to be unsafe.

    african-american-boy-take-a-drink-of-cool-water-from-one-of-the-schools-water-fountains Lead in Drinking Water lead water filter Lead in Drinking Water

    According to Vitti, 18 other schools have already had their drinking water sources shut off due to water contamination issues identified prior to this latest scare. More than fifty other schools were also tested, but while there is no indication that the water supply at these schools is tainted with copper or lead, officials are erring on the side of caution as they await the results of tests conducted on water samples taken from these schools.

    "Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools," Vitti said in a public statement.

    There are more than 100 public schools within the Detroit district, but authorities have not released any details with regard to the water tests or given any indication as to what could have contributed to the high levels of lead and copper in the drinking water of affected schools.

    However, the Great Lakes Water Authority and the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, who are jointly responsible for supplying drinking water to the city, released a joint statement blaming the schools' aging water infrastructure for the water quality issues they are experiencing, saying they do not affect consumers across the city as the treated drinking water they supply surpasses all drinking water standards for safety and quality. According to the statement, there are no lead water pipes connected to the schools' plumbing; copper and lead can leach into drinking water if pipes that contain these metals corrode.

    Exposure to heavy metals such as lead and copper in drinking water can pose a number of serious health issues, the EPA regulates that water systems need to be fixed when concentrations of these heavy metals exceed safety levels, which is set at zero for lead.

    Children are particularly vulnerable to negative health effects of lead, as these occur at a much lower exposure level in children compared to adults. Even small doses can have a serious impact on the health of a child — exposure to lead at low levels can damage the nervous system, cause learning difficulties and impair hearing and formation and healthy functioning of blood cells in children, while higher levels can cause cognitive and behavioral disorders, and delayed puberty.

    This precautionary move to protect learners from potential contamination follows the ongoing water crisis in Flint, where residents have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water putting the broader community at risk.

    Lead Water Filter

    If you are concerned about the quality of water your child is exposed to while attending classed, you can take measures to ensure they remain safe. Invest in a portable water filter bottle or water purification kit that will remove lead, copper and other dangerous heavy metals as well as other harmful contaminants your child may be exposed to on a daily basis.

  • Heavy Metals in Drinking Water Linked to Morbidity

    Heavy metals can accumulate in lakes that supply drinking water to consumers, posing a serious health risk. A recent water quality study conducted by a team of Russian scientists in lakes in Russia's Murmansk region has linked heavy metal contamination with morbidity in the region. The study found that nickel, copper, lead and cadmium accumulate in lake water, and were also present in the livers and kidneys of residents who rely on this drinking water supply.

    Heavy Metals in Drinking Water

    The study, which was recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, was conducted in the industrialized cities of Apatity, Monchegorsk and Olenegorsk, as well as the more remote villages of Lovozero and Alakurtti, where residents depend on surface water for their drinking water supply.

    800px-Copper_mining_and_sulfuric_acid_plant1a34319v Copper mining and sulfuric acid plant, Copperhill], Tenn

    Using fish as an indicator of water contamination (since the way in which humans and fish accumulate and store heavy metals in the body is very similar), scientists assessed heavy metal accumulation in the kidneys and livers of fish.

    The scientists also looked at tissue samples taken from 110 deceased local residents aged between 35-60 who had lived in the affected areas for at least a decade, but had not been exposed to heavy metals through their occupations or suffered from viral hepatitis or chronic alcoholism. The authors point out that for 24 of the 110 deceased patients, no disease was diagnosed before the patient died.

    According to the study: "Based on the results of histological, clinical and postmortem examination of patients in the liver and kidneys, a high content of toxic metals, especially cadmium, was found. It is a well-known fact that exposure to highly toxic compounds can destroy the endocrine system, increase the frequency of congenital malformations and alter the hormonal environment of the parents."

    Previous studies on communities living in the Arctic have demonstrated that lower air temperatures can ramp up the harmful effects of exposure to toxins by as much as five times, even at levels considered safe.

    "It seems obvious that the permissible concentrations of harmful substances should not be the same in both subtropical Sochi and Arctic Norilsk, simply because of the massive differences in the processes of degradation and assimilation of these contaminants," say the authors. "However- they are indeed the same."

    While the impact of this contamination has not been fully assessed, some negative effects are already evident. Indigenous Arctic populations, for example, have seen a sharp rise in the ratio of newborn girls to newborn boys being born. There are also other disturbing statistics, said Boris Morgunov, Director of the Institute of Ecology at the Higher School of Economics and co-author of the study.

    800px-Karabash_plant - heavy metals in drinking water Copper melting plant in Karabash, Chelyabinsk region, Russia adding

    The main pollutants affecting water quality in the region are chromium and nickel, due to the presence of large copper-nickel smelting plants. Scientists found high concentrations of these pollutants within a 30 kilometer radius of the smelters, with background levels at distances of up to 100 kilometers, attributed to pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and dust particles carried further afield in smoke emissions. The study's results show that heavy metals were not removed during water treatment processes, and that some metals, particularly manganese and iron, were more concentrated in water pipes.

    The researchers also found that cadmium, nickel and chromium tended to accumulate mostly in the livers of fish, while nickel and cadmium also accumulates in the kidneys. The concentrations of these toxins, particularly nickel, are significantly lower in fish living in lakes that are located further away from industrial cities. Yet, despite this distance, cadmium concentrations in fish kidneys was extremely high.

    According to the study: "In areas of the Kola Peninsula which are contaminated by nickel-cobalt smelting, the most serious diseases (nephrocalcinosis and fibroelastosis) were detected in the kidneys of fish. In comparison to the lake water, the concentration of iron in water in the pipelines in Monchegorsk is more than three times higher, and in Apatity - more than five times. The concentrations of many elements in the water taken from the aqueduct were no lower than in the lake water, which indicates a poor water purification system."

    How Heavy Metals in Drinking Water Impact Human Health

    According to the study, residents living in the study areas had significantly higher concentrations of copper in their liver tissue compared to the control population. Post mortem results from one community showed that concentrations of heavy metals (cadmium, cobalt, copper and lead) found in liver samples were twice as high as those found in the control population, while cadmium levels in kidney tissue was more than five times greater.

    Morbidity was higher in cities that obtained drinking water from lakes that had the highest concentrations of heavy metals. The biggest health threat resulting from drinking contaminated water is the development of malignant tumors — the number of reported cases ranged between 10.4-18.1 per 1000 in three of the cities assessed.

    How to Remove Heavy Metals From Drinking Water?

    Considering that cities and regions around the world are becoming increasingly industrialized, and that heavy metal pollutants can be transported further afield with emissions, many more surface water supplies may be affected, and by extension, also the communities who depend on them for a source of drinking water. Investing in a good quality drinking water filter such as a berkey water filter, that can remove toxic heavy metals, as well as other pollutants can protect you and your family from these invisible, but potentially harmful, threats.

    Journal Reference

    T.I. Moiseenko eta al. Ecosystem and human health assessment in relation to aquatic environment pollution by heavy metals: case study of the Murmansk region, northwest of the Kola Peninsula, Russia. Environmental Research Letters, Vol 13:6, 2018. DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/aab5d29

  • Heavy Metals In Your Environment

    The discovery of heavy metals in drinking water is not a shocking one. What is shocking, is the high levels of heavy metals that are currently being found in the drinking water in some parts of the country.  Fortunately, the Berkey Water Filter removes heavy metals by more than 99.9%, and can protect you from their harm.

    Heavy metals occur in the environment naturally. The concern becomes when the level of metals gets so high that it actually contaminates our drinking water. If the drinking water is contaminated with high levels of heavy metals, then it impacts everything from your drinking, cleaning and cooking of food, cleaning of utensils, and hygiene.

    How Do Heavy Metals Get Into The Water Through Nature?

    Heavy metals are normally found in soil and rocks. The weathering of the soil and rocks breaks down and allows these metals to flow into lakes and rivers.

    How Do You Get Heavy Metals Into Your Body?

    Heavy metals are a normal occurrence in the environment and are only harmful to people when they accumulate above danger-threshold levels. The metals accumulate at these dangerous levels due to human activities such as mining; incineration of garbage, tobacco and fossil fuels. It can also occur as a result of forest fires. The heavy metals that typically create concern among environmental groups are lead, cadmium and mercury.

    Where Do Heavy Metals Come From and How Long Can They Exist?

    As you might imagine, heavy metals do not easily breakdown in the environment. In fact with the exception of radiation, these metals would last forever ands get spread over wide distances by water and air currents.  A good example would be factories in China outputting smoke that gets into the jet stream and eventually carries into the United States and Canada. This is also known as long-range particle transport.

    All Types of Animal and Plant Life Are Exposed

    Plants and animals absorb heavy metals through the food they eat, water they drink, and air they breathe. Some heavy metals are passed through biomagnification by natural selection in the food chain from prey to predator.

    Problems with Heavy Metals

    As stated earlier, some heavy metals are normal and actually healthy for people in small amounts like copper, chromium and iron. The problems occur when the body gets too much of a heavy metal like copper or gets any amount of metal like mercury or lead, which are harmful to the body.

    When the metals build up in the body, it can hurt all organ functions including the liver, spleen and kidneys . Once in the body, the metals don’t dissolve or completely pass through during digestion or respiration. Long-term exposure also affects internal organs, the brain and normal growth and development. The most sensitive group of people affected with heavy exposure is unborn babies and children.

    Awareness of Heavy Metals

    Since heavy metals occur naturally in the environment it would be impossible to control them in nature, but man-made causes are controllable and need to be addressed with countries entering into agreements to control the production of heavy metals pollutants. One such agreement calls for the use of latest manufacturing technologies to limit these emissions.

    What Can You Do?

    Some things the average person can do to avoid overexposure to heavy metals is to avoid fish that are high in mercury. Watch for lead paints especially in homes built before 1978. Let water run in pipes before drinking it. Check ingredients in medicines and cosmetics as they can contain heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic. Don’t use products containing mercury like thermometers or fluorescent light bulbs.

    You should also check art and painting supplies that may contain mercury. Avoiding herbicides and composite teeth fillings can also help from being exposed to heavy metals. Generally, having an overall awareness of what is in the foods you eat, liquids you drink and air you breathe should give you a better indication of heavy metals in the world you live.

    Finally, we'd recommend a high quality water filter like the Big Berkey to remove any heavy metals from your drinking water.

    References:

    Heavy Metals: Mercury, Arsenic and Lead. People in Pollution. Retrieved from:https://pollutioninpeople.org/toxics/metals

    The effects of heavy metal on the environment and on health. EPTA. Retrieved from: https://eptanetwork.org/projects.php?pid=313

  • The Dose Makes the Poison: Berkey Filters Keep Copper Out of Your Drinking Water

    Can an essential nutrient become a poison? Absolutely.

    Copper Exposure from Drinking Water

    Because copper is such a common element, deficiency is extremely rare, except in the case medical problems disrupting nutrient absorption. Most people get plenty of copper in a basic healthful diet.

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency: "Some people who drink water containing copper in excess of the action level may, with short term exposure, experience gastrointestinal distress, and with long-term exposure may experience liver or kidney damage. People with Wilson's Disease should consult their personal doctor if the amount of copper in their water exceeds the action level."

    How Does Copper Get Into Drinking Water

    In addition to naturally occurring copper, mining, farming, and manufacturing operations release copper into the environment, including rivers and lakes providing drinking water to millions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Lakes and rivers that have been treated with copper compounds to control algae, or that receive cooling water from power plants, can have high levels of copper. Soils can also contain high levels of copper, especially if they are near copper smelting plants."

    Copper is also commonly used in plumbing supplies, where it can leach into the water sitting in household pipes. A water utility may deliver water with copper at safe levels which then becomes contaminated by corrosion of the plumbing materials belonging to the water system customers.

    Copper Pipe Joint Corrosion

    You cannot see, taste, or smell copper dissolved in water. The only way to know for sure if you have a contamination problem is by having your water tested. EPA warms: "You should be particularly suspicious if your home has copper pipes. if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water, stained dishes or laundry, or if your non-plastic plumbing is less than five years old."

    Copper Pipe Cross Section Corrosion

    How Much Copper is Safe to Drink?

    The Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for copper is 1.3 mg/L or 1.3 ppm.

    What Does the EPA Do About Copper in Drinking Water?

    EPA requires water utilities to collect tap water samples from sites served by the system. If more than 10 percent of samples exceed the copper action level of 1.3 milligrams per Liter (mg/L), water utlilites must take additional steps to reduce the corrosivity of the water.

    Berkey Water Filters Remove 95% of Detectible Copper from Drinking Water

    Because even people who are served by water supplies with safe levels of copper can have a contamination problem within their homes, point of service water filters are a smart defense. The Black Berkey Filter Elements that come standard with all the Berkey systems remove 95% and higher of detectible copper and other heavy metals.

  • Are you Drinking Aluminum?

    Water contamination by industrial metals such as aluminum is becoming a serious problem. Considered a heavy metal, ingestion should be avoided at all costs and is the reason why many citizens have opted for home water filters as a reliable means to protect themselves and their families.  And yes, the berkey removes aluminum from the water.

    Aluminum was first discovered in the early 1800’s, but was very expensive to use at $90/pound. In 1886, Charles Martin Hall developed an inexpensive method of extracting the metal from the ore resulting in  a price drop to $2/pound. What ensued was an explosive increase in aluminum utilization across all industries becoming the third most produced metal today.

    However, aluminum has brought with it some problems. A study by D.R.C. McLachlan showed a disturbing relationship between the amount of aluminum in drinking water and Alzheimer’s cases. He concluded that if the aluminum level in the public water had been kept below 100 micrograms/liter, 25 percent or more of the cases could have been prevented.  Other studies make similar claims, yet there seems to be a continuing scientific debate as research into the aluminum-Alzheimer connection and its associated risk degrees goes deeper.

    The negative affect of industry on our health has been know for decades, but as time passes, knowledge continues to be gleaned as to just how much risk we've placed our bodies at.  Studies are revealing that most heavy metals, when ingested over longer periods of time, will adversely affect our health. Especially susceptible and damaged by these metals are the nervous system and organs. Small levels of exposure can be tolerated, but as heavy metals accumulate in the body, a disharmony begins to develop. This disharmony can turn into disease, body disorders, and cancer.

    Aluminum solubility has relative dependency with the PH of the water, becoming more soluble at high and low PH levels. For instance, when the PH is less than 4.5, solubility rapidly increases and can be absorbed by the body much easier. The most common compounds of aluminum, aluminum oxide and aluminum hydroxide, are both insoluble, but other compounds such as aluminum sulfate is water soluble and is considered more dangerous as it leeches into our water supplies.

    The connection between aluminum in the water and Alzheimer’s is alarming enough to motivate each of us to act.  Step one for the general population should be to find a quality water filter to filter their drinking water. Whether you get your water from a well or a municipal supply, aluminum will surely be present but will hopefully be at very low concentrations. Most cities set a maximum allowable level of 50 and 200 g/L but the only way to guarantee protection is pursue further water filtration at the point of use, your home.

    One technique is to distill your drinking water but this removes valuable minerals such as potassium and magnesium while also stripping out the taste. We recommend a comprehensive water filter like the Berkey Water Filter that uses a combination of various filtration media that are able to remove 99.1% of the aluminum in the water. The Black Berkey filters that come standard with each counter top water filter system do this for a very low cost averaging approximately 2 cents per gallon.  Since concentrations of this metal have not been shown to have any benefit for the body, the more we remove, the better off we are!

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