Archive for Water

In order to ensure that the tap water in your local area is safe to drink, you need to find out whether the contamination exceeds the normal levels. In most cases, the authorities will tell you they have performed several tests on the water and have found nothing wrong with it. However, their statement has often been found conflicting with the information provided by research institutes. Moreover, there are several cases of illnesses related to the contamination of the water supporting this theory.

Does the level of water contamination vary for every region?

Scientists have often warned the population regarding the risks they are exposed to by consuming tap water in certain states. You may or may not be aware that the ground water of every area comes from different sources, thus the contamination levels vary quite a bit. Underwater streams are affected by the level of pollution in the soil. At the same time, air pollution has a great impact on the rainwater. Therefore, if you are living in highly polluted region of the country, then there is a pretty big chance that the toxicity levels of the water deem it unsafe for consumption.

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WASHINGTON — The new PBS Frontline documentary “Poisoned Waters” reported on April 21st that a new wave of chemical compounds that scientists describe as raising dangers for human health have been found in drinking water systems of cities across the country by the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Poisoned Waters,” airing nationwide on PBS, (check local listings) reveals new evidence that today’s growing environmental threat comes not from the giant industrial polluters of old, but from chemicals in consumers’ face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains, and eventually into America’s waterways and drinking water.

“The long-term, slow-motion risk is already being spelled out in large population studies,” Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health tells correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winner Hedrick Smith. Those studies correlate health risks with exposure to chemicals in the environment known as endocrine disrupters because they disrupt the body’s normal functioning.

“We can show that people with higher levels of some of these chemicals may have a higher incidence” of disease and such harmful effects such as lower male sperm count, asserts Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “In most cases, we don’t know what the safe levels are.”

Tests by the U.S. Geological Survey of source waters for urban drinking water systems, have documented new contaminants coast to coast. Other scientists say these chemicals are causing fish kills, frogs with six legs, male fish with female eggs in their gonads and other mutations. They see these mutations as warnings to humans.

Millions of people are being exposed to endocrine disruptors, Lawrence explains, “and we don’t know precisely how many of them are going to develop premature breast cancer, going to have problems with reproduction, going to have all kinds of congenital anomalies of the male genitalia — things that are happening at a broad low level so that they don’t raise the alarm in the general public.”

Using Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound as case studies, “Poisoned Waters” examines how these emerging pollutants along with old industrial contaminants like PCBs, lead and mercury and agricultural pollution from concentrated hog, cattle and chicken growing operations, have kept America from making many of the nation’s waterways fishable and swimmable again — a goal set by Congress nearly four decades ago.

“The environment has slipped off our radar screen because it’s not a hot crisis like the financial meltdown,” says Smith. “But pollution is a ticking time bomb. It’s a chronic cancer that is slowly eating away the natural resources that are vital to our very lives.”

“Poisoned Waters” is a FRONTLINE co-production with Hedrick Smith Productions, Inc. Hedrick Smith is correspondent and senior producer. FRONTLINE is produced by WGBH Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. For more info go to

SOURCE Hedrick Smith Productions

Southern Research Institute is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 scientific research organization that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development and advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, environment and energy. Their more than 600 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., with facilities also located in Wilsonville, Ala., Anniston, Ala., Frederick, Md., and Durham, NC. For more information about Southern Research and its capabilities and accomplishments, visit

Led by Dr. Derek Eggert, Southern Research will now begin developing approaches to remediate problematic constituents contained in commercial and industrial effluents

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 11 — Southern Research Institute today announced that it is adding a new research capability focusing on the remediation of problematic constituents in water and wastewater sources. Environmental toxicologist Derek Eggert, Ph.D. will lead the new program that is located on Southern Research’s main campus in Birmingham.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Eggert has joined Southern Research, enabling us to expand our environmental services to industry,” said Michael D. Johns, vice-president of Engineering at Southern Research. “The remediation of industrial water is important to the quality of our water systems. Because of Derek’s expertise, Southern Research can now help develop environmentally and economically sound solutions to treat those problems.”

By creating the Water and Wastewater Treatment team, Southern Research will help remediate contaminants — such as arsenic, mercury, selenium, aluminum, copper, lead, zinc and oil and grease — from various waste streams in order to reuse or discharge into a local waterway.

Before joining Southern Research, Dr. Eggert was a research assistant in Environmental Toxicology at Clemson University. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biology from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from Clemson University. He is a member of The Wildlife Society, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sigma Xi.

Rhonda Jung, 205-337-9634

Cleaning up the dangerous contaminants — dry-cleaning fluids, solvents and petroleum hydrocarbons — found in underground water presents one of the most urgent challenges facing environmental science. A report issued January 30 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sheds light on a new way to monitor and improve the success of clean-up efforts using a technique developed at the University of Toronto.

“The most common method to clean-up groundwater is biodegradation — using microbes to consume the contaminants and break them down into more benign end products that are not harmful to the environment,” says U of T geochemist Barbara Sherwood Lollar, the scientist who initiated the concept and goals for the EPA report and is one of its five international authors.

The report outlines how this can be done using a novel technique called Compound Specific Isotope Analysis, developed in U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory. The elements of carbon that form the basis for the hydrocarbon contaminants actually come in two types called isotopes, explains Sherwood Lollar. “When microbes degrade contaminants, they prefer the lighter isotope carbon 12 over the heavier isotope carbon 13. The resulting change in the ratio of these isotopes in the contaminant itself is a dramatic and definitive indicator that the biodegradation is successfully taking place.”

Beginning in the 1990s, U of T’s Stable Isotope Laboratory has been an international pioneer in discovering how different carbon isotopes can be used to identify whether or not biodegradation is taking place. “Today, dozens of students in Canada have been trained in this method, drawn in by the fascinating combination of fundamental research that has important applications such as the clean-up of drinking water,” says Sherwood Lollar. Over the past decade, as the new technique has become more widespread, centres for research and education —- and even private companies — have blossomed worldwide.

“Much of the research on new methods of analyzing groundwater contamination has been published in scientific and professional journals but this report — written specifically for the practitioners in accessible language with clear procedural information and decision-making strategies — is a milestone,” says Sherwood Lollar.

“It is particularly gratifying to be able to take a technique out of the lab and to put it into the hands of the people working on this issue every day around the world,” she says.

The report can be found on the EPA website. It was funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, the EPA and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

University of Toronto. “New Way To Monitor And Improve Clean-up Of Contaminated Groundwater.” ScienceDaily 1 February 2009. 3 February 2009 <­ /releases/2009/01/090130093405.htm>

Article from: The Australian

AUTHORITIES in Queensland have dismissed as obsolete a state government study that concluded there was likely to be a high risk of viruses, bacteria and other contaminants entering the drinking water supply through a recycled waste-water scheme.

The scoping study was commissioned in 2000 by the Queensland Natural Resources Department, when the Beattie government first began considering the recycling option as a solution to the future water needs of the state’s heavily populated southeast.

The Bligh Government has been on the defensive this week over plans to begin pumping recycled industrial effluent and sewage from the Western Corridor Recycled Water Project to Brisbane’s Wivenhoe Dam from early next year.

The Government has said advanced water treatment plants similar to those built in southeast Queensland have been in use overseas for up to 40 years.

The 2000 scoping study, prepared by Queensland Health Scientific Services and the National Centre for Environment Toxicology, was able to draw on the experience overseas.

The study said there would probably be a high risk of people contracting viruses from drinking recycled water. It said 15 genera of bacteria and two genera of fungi were most commonly associated with waste water.

There were also risks in drinking recycled water from parasitic invertebrates, and from hepatotoxins and neurotoxins, which could produce symptoms ranging from mild gastroenteritis to death.

Other potential contaminants included radioactive elements and organic chemicals. Pesticides, including organochlorines that had been banned for health reasons but were environmentally persistent, were another hazard. The study cautioned that little was known about the health implications of drinking recycled water.

“The lack of information in some areas reflects that little is understood of the health impacts without further extensive literature review and scientific study,” it said.

But Queensland Health population health director Linda Selvey said the report was obsolete.

“It should be emphasised that this was a scoping report done eight years ago and referred to potential issues and not to any particular recycling technology,” Dr Selvey said.

“It was not based on technology that became available subsequently that will be used in the western corridor project.”

Dr Selvey said the direct recycling referred to in the report did not have the benefits of the sixth and seventh barriers in the seven-stage treatment process being used in Queensland.

“Bacteria and viruses are effectively eliminated by this process,” she said.

Queensland Water Commission chief executive John Bradley said chemicals and other industrial contaminants would be removed during treatment.

“This technology is used in a number of other places around the world and has been the subject of extensive testing, which confirms its effectiveness in the removal of both biological and chemical contaminants,” Mr Bradley said.