Archive for May, 2012

Clean it Up

Filed Under Category Water Contaminant by Annie Barbour

In restaurants, water is quickly on the rise as the preferred drink – perhaps because of the price, for health reasons, or for the palate’s sake – as water has a way of simply pairing with a meal. Clean water hydrates, keeps us active, clears up our skin and does so many more things for our bodies – it’s amazing! But what about when the water isn’t clean? What happens when people drink contaminated water, and what can be done about it?

Contamination in water comes from a whole slew of man-made and naturally occurring things: industrial waste, hazardous sediments, household chemicals, bacteria, viruses and parasites to name a few. We’ve previously discussed some ground and surface water contaminants, but what do parasites have to do with water?

The most notable parasitic water outbreak in the United States occurred in Milwaukee in 1993. Cryptosporidium, a parasite, had unknowingly contaminated Milwaukee Water Works’ (MWW) source water: Lake Michigan. The source water flowed to MWW as it always did, and after being treated, was provided to the homes of Milwaukee residents.

Although the turbidity readings had been unusually high, which can signal microbial contamination, the MWW employees did not catch the problem until after the fact, as all of the water quality standards were met. The municipality became alerted of the problem when people throughout the city began calling about diarrhea, and increased absences from school and work were reported. A boil alert was put into effect, the water plant was shut down, and in a week’s time, the incidence of sickness tapered off. When all was said and done, this specific parasite, in a single occurrence, caused 400,000 people in Milwaukee to become sick, and resulted in 100 deaths of people with weak immune systems.

So how did this happen? For starters, cryptosporidium contaminated the water source through infected stools of animals or people. Secondly, Cryptosporidium cysts have tough walls that can withstand many environmental stresses and are resistant to chlorine which many municipalities use to disinfect water.

Of course since the 1993 outbreak, more measures to keep water safe are being taken. The EPA’s Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule regulates that 99% of Cryptosporidium be removed if a municipality serves 10,000 people or more.  Since then, no more large-scale outbreaks have occurred. However, if you are served by a smaller scale source for your water or looking for an added factor of safety, consider a home filtration system like the Zuvo Water Filtration System. The Zuvo system is tested to NSF/ANSI standards for the reduction of protozoan cysts including Cryptosporidium.

We’d like to hear from you, what potential drinking water contaminants are of most concern to you?

Bottled Water Industry Exposed

Filed Under Category Health, Water by Annie Barbour

Have you ever drunk bottled water? If you’re like most Americans or Canadians, of course you have. Bottled water is a healthy alternative to soft drinks, and has been marketed in a way that suggests it’s also safer and more pure than tap water. As stated in the previous post, that’s simply not the case. Bottled water is less regulated, unsustainable, and expensive and consumes a great deal of precious natural resources. Thanks in part to truthful, informative media coverage like “The Story of Bottled Water,” the public’s positive attitude about the once beloved beverage has rapidly decreased. Watch this telling clip about the full life cycle of a one-time-use plastic water bottle, from production to consumption.

To recap, bottled water is wasteful and unnecessary, to say the least. It depletes the oil supply, requires more water to produce the bottle than goes into it, can contain illness-causing contaminants, and unless the plastic bottle is recycled pollutes the earth with each bottle consumed. An alternative exists, and it’s good for you, your wallet and the planet: use a refillable, reusable water bottle. If you’re not happy with the taste of your tap water, consider filtering your water for a pure, clean glass of water.

So, after knowing the facts, why would you buy and drink from the plastic bottle?

Give Thanks for Water

Filed Under Category Health, Water by Annie Barbour

Water is absolutely essential for life. Think plants, think animals, think humanity, think whatever you want – it’s vital, isn’t it?  Its uses abound – hydration of course, but also hygiene, cooking, recreation and the manufacturing of so many goods.  So it’s only fitting that this week, we give thanks for this naturally reproducing thing called H2O.

To function properly, we must drink water.  Our bodies and the vast majority of our vital organs are composed of water.  Without consuming about half of our body weight in ounces on a daily basis, we may experience dehydration symptoms including lethargy, lightheadedness, headaches, dry skin, achy joints and low blood pressure.  Consider a dry, withering plant. What is the first thing it needs for life? Water of course!  Regardless of which wonder-grow solution you add to the plant, it will not thrive without water. The same is true for the human body.  We need pure water to function as we should, and thankfully – most people have access to it.

About seven out of eight people have access to clean drinking water, which leaves 884 million people lacking that basic right.  Without clean water, individuals of all ages are more susceptible to disease, infections, diarrhea and even death.  Children are denied education in impoverished countries due to the lack of sanitation facilities and because of their, or the women’s duty to fetch water daily.

Along with many other organizations, Pump Aid demonstrates how important clean water is by the work they do.  They build self-sustainable wells for poor, rural African communities who can then draw the water, as opposed to walking miles to get their daily supply.  Pump Aid also helps communities build a sanitary toilet, and teaches them how to irrigate nutrition gardens.  It is by these actions, that we realize how vital water really is.

We are blessed with the easy access to clean water, which is life giving in so many ways. Take advantage of it!

“Well” Water

Filed Under Category Water, Water Supply by Annie Barbour

One hundred years from now, history books and museums may tell the tale of water-pumping wells. Today, an estimated 15 million US households, or 60 million people, rely on private wells for their main source of water.  With 15 percent of the US population using wells, it’s important to know not only how they work, but also, what the quality of the water is that wells supply.

Private wells pump groundwater to the surface for a plethora of purposes. People pump well water into their home for hydration, cooking, cleaning, showering, and to run appliances.  The majority of this water is used for agriculture; specifically irrigating crops, and a smaller percentage for feeding livestock. Wells are most typically found in rural areas on private plots of land, and are not regulated by the EPA.

The contaminants affecting the water supply depend largely on geographic location and the prevalent industries surrounding the well.  Mining and construction can release heavy metals into the ground, resulting in arsenic in the groundwater, which can cause cancer after long-term exposure.  Nitrates and bacteria are released into the water through septic tanks and factory farms, which both contain large amounts of human and animal waste.  People with weak immune systems, including infants, the elderly and AIDS-afflicted individuals are especially vulnerable to nitrate and bacteria contaminants. Pesticides, fertilizers, household waste like cleaning products and used motor oil, and industrial discharges are also a potential threat to the water that comes from private wells.

It is important to test your well water periodically because unlike water that goes through a municipal source, no one is ensuring the quality and safety of your water. Each state has different requirements, so check with local agencies for the proper testing procedures. If and when you notice a difference in taste, odor and/or color, be sure to test your water and determine the best course of action to maintain quality, drinkable water. If your water has been deemed safe to drink and you’re still not happy with the taste and odor, consider a Zuvo Water Filtration System, as it offers a pure, clean glass of water, every time.