On Monday May 2, 2016, New Jersey State Governor Chris Christie held a press conference at which he announced the state will test all of its schools water outlets for lead. The announcement was in response to eye-opening joint press release by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Newark Public Schools, Wednesday March 9, 2016. The press release contained test results showing that 30 school buildings in Newark had lead levels well above the federal action limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb), the highest test level coming in at over 500 ppb. The startling results prompted further testing of the municipal water supplies showed no elevated lead levels; suggesting the school district’s aging infrastructure is to blame. Christie added that the State will adopt more rigorous lead monitoring standards consistent with the most recent recommendation of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Currently, New Jersey relies on the previous recommendation made by the CDC. Under the old recommendation an official investigation is initiated if a child’s blood is found to have a concentration of lead that is 10 micrograms (ug) per deciliter (dL) of blood; the new recommendation initiates an investigation at just 5 micrograms. This makes New Jersey the 29th state to adopt the CDC’s tougher recommendation. Finally, the governor announced that he had found ten million dollars in the State’s budget to cover the cost of the testing and urged the State’s Legislature to approve an additional ten million to cover more immediate infrastructure upgrades.
The issue of Lead in America is a complicated one, and Newark is not the only municipality with troubles. According to a USA Today network report excessive levels of lead can be found in nearly 2000 water spanning all 50 states. Furthermore, there is an estimated 7.3 million lead service lines currently in use throughout the country. However, even though there is a lot to be concerning news regarding lead, the United States has made significant progress in decreasing the the country’s environmental exposure. The two most important reforms to date are: the ban of lead paint for residential use in 1978 and the phasing out of leaded gasoline throughout the 1980’s. In fact, these measures were so effective that the average amount of lead found in a children’s blood fell from 15 ug/dL to 2.7ug/dL between 1978 and 1994(an 80% improvement over 16 years). While these results are very encouraging even the CDC states there is still a lot of work to be done. Lead is known to cause irreversible damage to: the kidneys, the nervous system, the reproductive system, the cardiovascular system, and the brains of fetuses and young children. There is no known lower threshold at which lead will affect a child, so it is critical that exposure be kept as low as possible.
The issue of lead in schools is an extremely serious one, and we at Clearly Filtered offer our prayers and support to all those affected by this developing situation. We also would like to applaud the state officials of New Jersey for their action on the issue. While there has been a lot of progress on this issue even the CDC admits that there is still along way to go. For example amounts of lead exposure below the federal action limit are still known to be dangerous, but no one is obligated to address presence of lead below that limit. So how can the public protect itself from this obvious gap in coverage? First, educate yourself about your water supply. (Does your water contain Lead or are you traveling to an area where Lead contamination is prevalent i.e. a foreign country) Next, evaluate your filtration needs. While the EPA and CDC do not test filter for their effectiveness against lead, according to Cornell University activated carbon is the easiest means of reducing and eliminating lead from drinking water (Read Cornell’s Activated Carbon Fact Sheet here). If you are worried that you or someone you know is drinking water contaminated with lead please feel free to browse our selection of tested premium activated carbon filters.
- Center for Disease Control
- Environmental Protection Agency
Beyond Flint: Excessive lead levels found in almost 2,000 water systems across all 50 states. (2016). Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/03/11/nearly-2000-water-systems-fail-lead-tests/81220466/
Susan K. Livio and Claude Brodesser-Akner | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. (2016). Christie: All N.J. school water fountains to be tested for lead. Retrieved June 09, 2016, from http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/05/christie_all_school_water_fountains_to_be_tested.html
- CDC Fact Sheet for the Reduction of Blood Lead Levels in Children
- EPA & HUD Fact Sheet on Lead in Homes
- Cornell University Fact Sheet Activated on Activated Carbon
Image: Firefighters Using PFC fire retardant foam.
On Thursday, June 2, 2016 the West Morgan-East Lawrence Water and Sewer Authority (WMEL) shocked residents when they recommended that over 100,000 residents not drink their tap water. In addition to 10,000 direct customers the water authority serves West Morgan County and East Lawrence County of Northern Alabama. The recommendation was made in response to a health advisory published by the (EPA) May 19, 2016. The new health advisory claims chemicals contaminating the water supply in Northern Alabama pose a significant human health risk at much lower levels than previously thought. The contaminants of concern belong to a class of chemicals called perflourinated compounds (PFC’s), specifically: perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The recommendation is expected to remain in effect until the water authority can implement a short-term solution in late September. In the interim, residents are figuratively left dry for the next 4 months. To make things worse the water authority also stated that it does not have the funds to provide bottled water while the solution is underway. According to the health advisory the water only poses a threat if it is consumed; water usage for showering and laundry are still deemed safe.
So what are PFC’s and why are they so dangerous? PFC’s synthetic class of chemicals made popular by the manufacturing company 3M. PFC’s were heavily relied upon their water repellant (Scotchguard) and fire retardant properties (Fire Fighting Foam). However, 3M and the industry discontinued their manufacturing and use of the chemicals in 2002 due to political pressure and eventual regulation. While there is currently no reported danger from casual contact with PFC’s, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ingestion certain PFC’s have been shown to cause: developmental delays in the fetus and child, decreased fertility, increased cholesterol, changes in liver function, changes to the immune system, increased uric acid, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, and testicular cancer. While some may question the strength of this evidence; it was strong enough for the WMEL to issue its recommendation.
So what can be done about PFC’s? The first thing anyone should do is get their water tested on a regular basis for the presence of contaminants. Once the water is test and the presence of contaminants are confirmed it is time to choose the most appropriate water treatment for the contaminants in your water. According to the EPA, CDC, ASTDR, WMEL, and others the use of an activated carbon filter is recommended for reduction and removal of PFC’s. In fact, the short term solution the WMEL is hoping to implement will be a series of six railcar sized activated carbon filters. The Filters are expected to last until 2019 when they will need to be replaced. It is also possible to filter PFC’s from water using reverse osmosis, however, the cost along with the work that goes into maintaining the various membranes can often be a barrier to proper use of these systems.
We at Clearly Filtered would like to offer our prayers to all those affected by this horrible situation. Unfortunately, PFC contamination seems to be a widespread and the scariest part is that until May 19th the water in Alabama (and many other municipalities) was “safe” to drink. However, unlike in Flint, Michigan public official have been very proactive in trying to remove PFC’s from their water; the WMEL even filed a lawsuit against 3M for the cost of the contamination over a year before the EPA’s announcement. Even with the all these great plans in place, the residents of Northern Alabama still have to procure their own safe drinking water or keep drinking their contaminated water.
If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be drinking water containing PFC’s please browse our selection of premium activated carbon filters.
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Dennis Pillion (2016). North Alabama drinking water contamination: What you need to know. Retrieved June 06, 2016
- Dennis Pillion (2016). 100,000 north Alabama customers advised not to drink water due to chemical contamination. Retrieved June 06, 2016
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- Health Effects of PFAS. (n.d.). Retrieved June 06, 2016
Since the major news coverage of the Flint, Michigan tap water crisis, many other cities have been coming up in the news questioning their own municipal water supply. With many of the US municipal water systems "coming of age" we will likely be hearing much more news about issues about the health of our drinking water. Because of the outpour of frustration behind Flint many other cities are trying their best to not seek the same fate in the publics eyes. Their solution . . . underreport and systematically downplay the levels of contaminants such as lead and copper in the water.
Scientists have come forward stating that they are seeing blatant "distortion of test data" to make the water in their cities perceive to be healthier than it really is.
The controversial approach to water testing is so widespread that it occurs in “every major US city east of the Mississippi” according to an anonymous source with extensive knowledge of the lead and copper regulations. “By word of mouth, this has become the thing to do in the water industry. The logical conclusion is that millions of people’s drinking water is potentially unsafe.”
It is hard to believe that Flint, Michigan is a one-off case. With many of the major cities east of the Mississippi all under-reporting their levels of dangerous contaminants in the water, its only a matter of time before these reports hit the news stands. There comes a time in the very near future that our cities municipal water systems have run their course and will need to be updated. Original lead piping systems are planned to last between 60-95 years and many of those systems are overdue for an upgrade. We still have many questions to be answered, but its looking as if we will be hearing many more accounts of issues with municipal tap water systems.
In Sebring, Ohio in August of 2015 showed extreme levels of lead in their water because workers stopped adding chemicals that were leading to the pipes corroding faster. It took the city 5 months to recognize the problem and inform the local pregnant women and children to stop drinking the water and turn off public consumption of the water at local schools.
Just last week the city of Los Angeles had to provide bottled water to 5 schools which "mysteriously" were found to have murky water likely linked to the lead piping system.
We posted a blog post last week highlighting the State of Emergency declared in Newburgh, New York because high levels of PFOS in their water supply. http://www.clearlyfiltered.com/blogs/blog/116666884-water-contamination-in-new-york-water-supply
Rules and science are outdated. The E.P.A.’s trigger level for addressing lead in drinking water — 15 parts per billion — is not based on any health threat; rather, it reflects a calculation that water in at least nine in 10 homes susceptible to lead contamination will fall below that standard.
Is it time to hold the EPA accountable for testing and limit standards across the country? Shouldn't these standards be tied to the best interest of the health of the people paying for and consuming the water?
Our pitcher is one of the few filtered water pitchers that truly removes many of the unhealthy contaminants that we are starting to see pop up in the news. Where Brita just masks the idea that its actually giving you healthier water by merely providing you with "better tasting" water, we remove up 99.99% of harmful contaminants including copper, lead, arsenic, PFOS, as well more than 70 others. Make sure you have the best pitcher on the market because there is a good chance you will be needing to use it before your city tells you to do so.
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A State of Emergency was declared in Newburgh, New York on Monday May 2, 2016, as the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC) announced that it found elevated levels of the contaminant known as Petroflourooctanesulfonic acid or (PFOS). In response to the report, the Water Department has already changed its water supply until the source of the contamination is eliminated. Thankfully, public officials managed to identify the crisis quickly and begin amelioration of the problem. Upon changing the water sources, officials also instituted emergency water conservation measures to compensate for the decrease in clean drinking water. The conservation measure will likely remain in place until the source of the PFOS is eliminated and the restorative efforts are completed.
For those less familiar with the chemical in question, PFOS became popular in the early 1950’s for it’s use as a consumer water repellent like Scotch-guard. Use of this substance became so ubiquitous that by 1997 it was found to be present in nearly every blood sample and individual available for testing. In light of this troublesome news the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began performing studies on PFOS and PFOS-related compounds. The conclusions were damning to say the least. In both human and animal studies, PFOS has been linked to maladies such as: cancer, delays in physical development, stunted growth, endocrine (hormonal) disruption, neonatal mortality, and most recently immunosuppression. While there is a lot of bad news regarding PFOS, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. In May 2000, 3M, the largest producer of PFOS in the United States, voluntarily began a complete phase-out of the product here in America. In addition, a study performed in 2006 indicated that the average blood level of PFOS in American adults to have decreased by 60% in just seven years (1999-2006).
We at Clearly Filtered would like to extend our prayers and best wishes to those affected by this frightening emergency that is far too common today. We would also like to commend all the public agencies involved for their swift and proactive response to discovery of the contamination. This emergency highlights how important it is to be prepared and vigilant. While PFOS is on the decline here in America, it's use in countries such as China is actually increasing. In addition, there is no ban on industrial use of PFOS, which means there is still a likelihood of accidental contamination in the future. Currently, the EPA’s provisional health advisory is set at 0.2 ug/L(*As of May 19th the EPA’s health advisory was lowered to 0.07ug/L). However, it is important to remember that health advisories are NOT enforceable. In other words these are industry goals; not mandates. There is no acceptable or safe level of PFOS.
So how can you protect yourself and your family from PFOS?
- Educate Yourself about your water supply. (Does your water contain PFOS or are you traveling to an area where PFOS contamination is prevalent i.e. China.)
- Determine your Filtration needs. (In the EPA’s Fact Sheet, the EPA recommends use of an activated carbon filter to treat water containing PFOS.)
Feel free to browse our selection of premium activated carbon filters.
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Renner, R. (2008). PFOS phaseout pays off. Environmental Science & Technology Environ. Sci. Technol., 42 (13), 4618-4618. doi:10.1021/es0871715
- Grandjean, P., Andersen, E. W., Budtz-Jørgensen, E., Nielsen, F., Mølbak, K., Weihe, P., & Heilmann, C. (2012). Serum Vaccine Antibody Concentrations in Children Exposed to Perfluorinated Compounds. Jama, 307(4). doi:10.1001/jama.2011.2034
- Fei, C., Mclaughlin, J. K., Lipworth, L., & Olsen, J. (2009). Maternal levels of perfluorinated chemicals and subfecundity. Human Reproduction, 24(5), 1200-1205. doi:10.1093/humrep/den490
- Bonefeld-Jorgensen, E. C., Long, M., Bossi, R., Ayotte, P., Asmund, G., Krüger, T., . . . Dewailly, E. (2011). Perfluorinated compounds are related to breast cancer risk in greenlandic inuit: A case control study. Environmental Health Environ Health,10(1), 88. doi:10.1186/1476-069x-10-88
- Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisories
In January, we launched a campaign to help the citizens of Flint, Michigan gain access to clean and safe water in their homes and community.
According to CCN, “Flint, Michigan, lies about 70 miles from the shores of the largest group of fresh water bodies in the world: the Great Lakes. Yet its residents can't get clean water from their taps. Nearly two years ago, the state decided to save money by switching Flint's water supply from Lake Huron (which they were paying the city of Detroit for), to the Flint River, a notorious tributary that runs through town known to locals for its filth.
"We thought it was a joke," said Rhonda Kelso, a long-time Flint resident. "People my age and older, thought 'They're not going to do that.' "
The switch was made during a financial state of emergency for the ever-struggling industrial town. It was supposed to be temporary while a new state-run supply line to Lake Huron was ready for connection. The project was estimated to take about two years.” http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/
Since Clearly Filtered’s pitcher and bottle filters remove 97.5% of lead, we knew our filters had to be placed in the hands of the Flint community. Our loyal customers wanted to join Clearly Filtered and together we were able to donate over $25,000 worth of Clearly Filtered product.
The products were sent to a local church. The donations were distributed to three senior living centers, along with distributing the pitchers and bottles during a monthly food give away to Flint residents. According to the local church, “the kids loved the bottles and everyone was so appreciative!”.
Thank you to our Clearly Filtered family for making a difference in others’ lives through clean and safe water!