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As ‘Yuck Factor’ Subsides, Treated Wastewater Flows From Taps
New York Times,2/9/2012-By Felicity Barringer. SAN DIEGO — Almost hidden in the northern hills, the pilot water treatment plant here does not seem a harbinger of revolution. It cost $13 million, uses long-established technologies and produces a million gallons a day.

But the plant’s very existence is a triumph over one of the most stubborn problems facing the nation’s water managers: if they make clean drinking water from wastewater, will the yuck factor keep people from accepting it?

With climate change threatening to diminish water supplies in the fast-growing Southwest, more cities are considering the potential of reclaimed water. A new report from the National Academy of Sciences said that if coastal communities used advanced treatment procedures on the effluent that is now sent out to sea, it could increase the amount of municipal water available by as much as 27 percent.

San Diego’s success, 12 years after its City Council recoiled from the toilet-to-tap concept, offers a blueprint for other districts considering wastewater reuse.

For most of the four decades beginning in 1970, the arid West was the fastest-growing region in the country; the population of Nevada quintupled in that period while Arizona’s nearly quadrupled. Continued population growth, unmatched by growth in water storage capacity, makes this a “new era in water management in the United States,” the science group’s report said.

“The pressures on water supplies are changing virtually every aspect of municipal, industrial, and agricultural water practice,” it said.

Back in 1998, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Research Council, issued a study finding that supplementing stream flows or reservoirs with this water, a process called indirect potable reuse, was acceptable, although only as a last resort. Now, acceptance of reclaimed water for drinking is spreading, if slowly.

Funneling reclaimed water into water supplies is being considered in a variety of communities like Miami and Denver (which has experimented with the technology), as well as in drought-ravaged municipalities in Texas like Big Spring. The tiny mountain resort town of Cloudcroft, N.M., mingles reclaimed water with local well water. In Northern Virginia, reclaimed water has flowed into the Occoquan Reservoir for three decades.

Still, just one-tenth of 1 percent of municipal wastewater nationally was recycled into local supplies in 2010. Only a handful of systems replenish their reservoirs or groundwater basins with treated wastewater.

The largest is in Orange County, Calif., about 100 miles north of San Diego, where a four-year-old system replenishes the groundwater basin with 70 million gallons of treated effluent daily — about 20 percent of the content of the aquifer. Other sites include El Paso and some areas around Los Angeles.

Edmund Archuleta, the president of El Paso Water Utilities, said in an interview that his city recycled all of its wastewater. Most is used for things like cooling industrial plants or watering playing fields, he said, but “it’s been accepted that we’re recharging some of that water into the aquifer” and into the Rio Grande.

Globally, the largest population center to adopt the technology is Singapore,home to five million people. Officials say about 15 percent of its water originates from treated effluent, marketed as “NEWater.” Most is used for irrigation or manufacturing; some for drinking.

The original technology for recycling wastewater was developed in the 1950s — involving chemical disinfection, carbon-filtration treatment or both — and is in use on the International Space Station. The bulk of recycled water is used on lawns or golf courses, in factories or as an underground barrier against seawater intrusion.
The newest iteration, in use in Orange County, is a three-step process involving fewer chemicals and more filtering.

First, wastewater is filtered through string-like microfibers with holes smaller than bacteria and protozoa. Then it goes through reverse osmosis, an energy-intensive process forcing the water through plastic membranes that remove most molecules that are not water. Finally, it is dosed with hydrogen peroxide and exposed to ultraviolet light, a double-disinfectant process. The result is roughly equivalent to distilled water, Orange County officials say.

After touring the $481 million plant in Orange County, visitors are offered a glass of the water. Is it safe? The new National Academy analysis suggests that the risk from potable reuse “does not appear to be any higher, and may be orders of magnitude lower” than any risk from conventional treatment. There are currently no national standards for water reuse processes, only for drinking-water quality.

Of course, the treatment process is much more expensive than tapping local groundwater — in Southern California, about 60 percent more, and in El Paso about four times more. But to remain sustainable, groundwater must be used sparingly. Orange County’s reclaimed water costs $1.80 per thousand gallons when regional water subsidies are factored in. This is similar to what it pays to import either Colorado River water or water from Northern California. Without the benefit of subsidies, reclaimed water’s cost was just 14 percent less than desalinated water’s, which experts say requires 3 to 10 times the energy output.

Tulsa Utility Panel Hears Mixed Messages on Use of Chloramine for Water Purification
Tulsa World,12/15/2011-By P.J. LASSEK World Staff Writer. Using chloramine to reduce a cancer-causing agent in the drinking water could be harmful even though the EPA approves of the practice, the city's Utility board was told Wednesday.

Tulsa is planning to join Oklahoma City and other cities already using chloramine as a disinfectant to ensure that it can meet new stricter Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

"As many cities as you are hearing are going toward chloramination, there are as many abandoning it," said Robert Bowcock, an environmental investigator who works with activist Erin Brockovich.

But Bowcock could not list those cities other than saying that Leesburg, Va. officials made the change.

But Leesburg never used chloramine. Instead, an update was given to officials on its use of adding sulfuric acid to the water, which began about a year ago to prepare for the new EPA rules.

Oklahoma City Utility Director Marsha Slaughter attended the board meeting and said that since the mid-1990s Oklahoma City has used chloramines with no harmful effects reported.

Afterwards, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Bruce Dart, who was present for the discussion, said he has sought input on chloramine use from colleagues in cities across the country who use it and received no data or feedback supporting a "mass issue" with it.

One-third of all U.S. water agencies use chloramine for residual disinfection. Austin, Denver, Boston, Minneapolis and Portland, Ore., have done so for more than 50 years.

Beginning in 2013, the stage 2 EPA disinfection by-product rule will take effect requiring the reduction of trihalomethane concentrations in the drinking water. Tri-halomethane is a carcinogen byproduct formed when organic matter in the water combines with chlorine.

Tulsa uses chlorine to disinfect the water in the distribution system. But the longer it takes the water to reach customers in the system, the higher the level of trihalomethanes are in those areas.

The use of chloramine would lower and maintain a steady level of the carcinogen throughout the entire system, allowing the city to meet the new EPA requirement, city staff said.

But Bowcock, who is working with former City Councilor Jim Mautino and a group of residents, contends that the health risks associated with chloramine disinfection byproducts are much more toxic than with chlorine byproducts. He noted that the EPA is very slow in its research of disinfectant by-products.

Mautino and about a half-dozen residents spoke to the board against the use of chloramine.

Bowcock said the city can resolve its issue by increasing its use of granulated activated carbon filters at the plants. Water Director Clayton Edwards, however, said that method is neither cost effective nor ensures a resolution.

Since 1987 and as recent as 2008, the city has evaluated many treatment alternatives to address levels of trihalomethanes and concluded that the city should use chloramine to meet the EPA regulations.

Sampling of cities that use chloramine:
Sand Springs, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Norman, Altus, Ardmore, Duncan, Dallas, Austin, Denver, St. Louis, San Diego, Portland, Ore.,Philadelphia, San Francisco

Chloramine precautions:
Facilities must remove chloramine from the water used for dialysis treatment.
Fish owners also must remove the chloramines from the water in aquariums and ponds.


E.P.A. Plans First Rules Ever on Perchlorate in Drinking Water
N.Y. Times, February 2, 2011 - By John Broder. The Obama administration announced on Wednesday that it planned to regulate toxic substances in drinking water more strictly and would issue the first limits ever on perchlorate, a dangerous chemical found in rocket fuel that has seeped into groundwater in at least 400 locations. The move, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency's administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, is a major step toward modernizing the nation's clean water laws, which have lagged behind environmental and health science for decades.

Numerous studies have found that hundreds industrial and agricultural chemicals, including several known carcinogens, are present in municipal water systems around the country. The nation's laws and enforcement programs have not kept pace, posing significant health risks to residents.

Wednesday's decision to begin regulating perchlorate reversed a 2008 finding by the George W. Bush administration that a nationwide standard for the chemical was unnecessary and would do little to reduce risks to human health.

Ms. Jackson announced her intent to review the nation's drinking water standards a year ago, ordering an extensive review of the health effects of perchlorate and other toxins found in city water supplies. She said on Wednesday that the E.P.A. would set standards for as many as 16 toxic chemicals known to affect human health and development.

"E.P.A. is hard at work on innovative ways to improve protections for the water we drink and give to our children, and the development these improved standards is an important step forward," she said in a statement. "Our decisions are based on extensive review of the best available science and the health needs of the American people."

Perchlorate can occur naturally, but high concentrations have been found near military installations where it was used in the testing of rockets and missiles. Health researchers have found that it may impair the normal functioning of the thyroid, potentially stunting normal growth of fetuses, infants and children.

The military and defense contractors who use the chemical have balked at tighter regulation, saying that substitutes are more expensive. But officials of municipal water services have been calling for years for tighter rules on perchlorate and a number of other carcinogenic chemicals, including a number of substances used in dry cleaning.

The E.P.A. has found measurable amounts of perchlorate in 26 states and two United States territories that it says could contaminate the drinking water of anywhere from 5 million to 17 million Americans.

The Food and Drug Administration found the substance in more than half the foods it tested, and health researchers have found traces of it in samples of breast milk.

The agency did not establish an actual limit on the amount of perchlorate allowable in drinking water, but set in motion a rule-making process to set a standard.

"EPA's decision to regulate perchlorate will not only protect our health but reverses bad public policy that has put us at risk for years," said Mae Wu, a lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has been pushing for a standard for a decade.

The environmental agency also said it would develop a single rule governing a group of volatile organic compounds used as solvents, including trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, and some other unregulated contaminants. By grouping them together, the E.P.A. can move more quickly and provide simpler guidance to officials responsible for overseeing water supplies.

Haiti's cascading crises come down to lack of clean water
USA TODAY, November 19, 2010- By Donna Lienwand. Aid workers in Haiti say the government has done little to improve water and sanitation since a Jan. 12 earthquake, making it likely that the cholera epidemic there will continue to spread.

"The situation has deteriorated. We really need a massive push of political will," says Joia Mukherjee, medical director of Partners in Health, which is helping the Haitian government halt the outbreak that has killed more than 1,100 people. "This can't just be about handing out water purification tablets." Haiti's leaders must expand the country's treated water and sewer systems to prevent future outbreaks of waterborne diseases, Mukherjee says.

Oxfam, an aid group focused on water and sanitation, says it's still operating in emergency mode instead of creating permanent water and sewer systems. "The government does not have a plan," says Oxfam spokeswoman Julie Schindall. "We need them to make decisions." Installing permanent systems is less costly than delivering emergency water, Schindall says. A $5 million water system that Oxfam built recently in Cap-Haitien serves 100,000 people and will last decades, Schindall says. In contrast, Oxfam has spent $30 million in nine months providing emergency water from tanker trucks and water bladders to 316,000 people, she says.

EPA to Expand Chemicals Testing for Endocrine Disruption
EPA, November 16, 2010- By Latisha Petteway. WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified a list of 134 chemicals that will be screened for their potential to disrupt the endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interact with and possibly disrupt the hormones produced or secreted by the human or animal endocrine system, which regulates growth, metabolism and reproduction. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made it a top priority to ensure the safety of chemicals, and this is another step in this process.

Endocrine disruptors represent a serious health concern for the American people, especially children. Americans today are exposed to more chemicals in our products, our environment and our bodies than ever before, and it is essential that EPA takes every step to gather information and prevent risks, said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. We are using the best available science to examine a larger list of chemicals and ensure that they are not contaminating the water we drink and exposing adults and children to potential harm.

The list includes chemicals that have been identified as priorities under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and may be found in sources of drinking water where a substantial number of people may be exposed. The list also includes pesticide active ingredients that are being evaluated under EPA's registration review program to ensure they meet current scientific and regulatory standards. The data generated from the screens will provide robust and systematic scientific information to help EPA identify whether additional testing is necessary, or whether other steps are necessary to address potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The chemicals listed include those used in products such as solvents, gasoline, plastics, personal care products, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals, including benzene, perchlorate, urethane, ethylene glycol, and erythromycin.

Also being announced today are draft policies and procedures that EPA will follow to order testing, minimize duplicative testing, promote equitable cost-sharing, and to address issues that are unique to chemicals regulated under the SDWA.

After public comment and review, EPA will issue test orders to pesticide registrants and the manufacturers of these chemicals to compel them to generate data to determine whether their chemicals may disrupt the estrogen, androgen and thyroid pathways of the endocrine system.

EPA is already screening an initial group of 67 pesticide chemicals. In October 2009, the agency issued orders to companies requiring endocrine disruptor screening program data for these chemicals. EPA will begin issuing orders for this second group of 134 chemicals beginning in 2011.

EPA has the most comprehensive mandated testing program for hormone effects in the world. The program is the result of a multi-year effort that includes validation of the science through a transparent scientific review process.  


E. Coli Found in Fern Ridge Middle School Water
ABC News, November 3, 2010- By Siovhan Bolton. ELMIRA, Ore: Fern Ridge Middle School found E. coli in their well water. Required water samples, taken every month since April, found the bacteria in the last sampling. The school shut the drinking fountains off, notified the cooking staff and district personnel about the bacteria and bottled water was provided. Additional samples were sent to a state certified lab to confirm the finding. Meanwhile, the chlorination system filtered out the bacteria before water was delivered inside the school. The school's water supply has since been turned back on and bottled water is no longer being used.

Pharmaceuticals contaminate Delaware's drinking water
WaterTechOnline Wednesday, August 04, 2010 NEW CASTLE, DEL. A recent study of Delaware's drinking water revealed the presence of prescription drugs and personal care products in the supplies of every major water utility tested, The News Journal reported. The results showed traces of pharmaceuticals including analgesics, antibiotics, anti-convulsives and hormones in water used both by public and private companies, the article stated. more

EPA Takes Action on Gender-Bending BPA greenbiz.com March 29, 2010 Washington, DC Almost three months after the Food and Drug Administration took a stance on bisphenol A (BPA) by stating it had some concerns about the widely-used chemical's impacts on human health, another government agency has laid out an action plan to better understand and regulate BPA. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will list BPA as a chemical of concern, require manufacturers to provide test data and help create substitute chemicals. BPA is a chemical found in some hard plastic bottles, can liners, receipt paper, CDs and numerous other items. Some countries, states and cities have banned its use in baby bottles and other kids' products, and many product makers and retailers have either switched to alternative materials or asked suppliers to stop using it.

Water and What Else?
N.Y.Times, October 18, 2008 - Editorial : As consumers hunker down to cope with hard economic times, an environmental group in Washington has offered a suggestion for saving money: Get your water from the faucet not a bottle. The Environmental Working Group released a report Wednesday that charged that some bottled waters were no different than tap water. And it found fertilizer residue, pain medication and other chemicals in some major brands. more

Bottled Water Quality Investigation: 10 Major Brands, 38 Pollutants
EWG RESEARCH October 15, 2008 - Authors: Olga Naidenko, PhD, Senior Scientist; Nneka Leiba, MPH, Researcher; Renee Sharp, MS, Senior Scientist; Jane Houlihan, MSCE, Vice President for Research - (excerpt) Bottled water contains disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication. more

Probe Finds Drugs in Drinking Water
AP, March 9, 2008 - By Matt Rourke - A vast array of pharmaceuticals  including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones  have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans. more

Informed Public Debate Needed On Water Fluoridationl
Medical News Today, Oct. 10, 2007 - By Christian Nordqvist - While some people are strongly in favor of adding fluoride to water to prevent tooth decay, others argue clearly against. more

A Battle Between the Bottle and the Faucet
New York Times, July 15, 2007 - By Bill Marsh - (excerpt) THOSE eight daily glasses of water you're supposed to drink for good health? They will cost you $0.00135 - about 49 cents a year -if you take it from a New York City tap. Or, city officials suggest, you could spend 2,900 times as much, roughly $1,400 yearly, by drinking bottled water. more

L.I. Suit Saying Gas Stations Threaten Water Goes to Trial
PLAINVIEW, N.Y., May 21, 2007 - By Bruce Lambert - When Paul Granger, the water district superintendent here, came to work one morning in 2000, he spotted a rig test-drilling for pollution at a gasoline station across the road from two wells that pump up to 1.7 million gallons of drinking water a day. more

Many Buildings Lack Required Water Valve, City Records Show
New York Times May 19, 2007 - By Anthony DePalma - (excerpt) As many as 85,000 large residential and commercial buildings in New York City lack special valves on their water connections that could prevent hazardous substances from being sucked into the public water system, according to city records. more

Contaminated Water in Queens Is a Repeat Performance
New York Times May 11, 2007 - By Anthony DePalma - (excerpt) The area in Queens where city officials found an industrial chemical in the drinking water last week has had problems with contamination by the same chemical for several years. more

Lead taints school water
Albany Times Union March 23, 2007 - By Michelle Morgan Bolton & Bryan Chu - Fountains shut at 6 elementary buildings in Albany after high levels of poison found. Tests uncovered elevated lead levels in the drinking water of six Albany elementary schools. more

Residents fight for safe drinking water
Vermont Guardian March 22, 2007 - By Justin Dragos - Nearly one year ago, the Champlain Water District became the first municipal water provider in Vermont to add an additional disinfectant called chloramine to its potable water system. more

Monochloramine Treatment Not As Effective In Protecting Drinking Water
Chemical Online March 2, 2007 Washington, DC - The results of what may be the most extensive comparison of two common disinfectants used by municipal water systems suggest that, from a security standpoint, traditional chlorination may be more effective than treatment with monochloramine. more

3-D seismic model of vast water reservoir revealed
Washington University in St. Louis Feb. 9, 2007 - By Tony Fitzpatrick - The first 3-D model of seismic wave damping - diminishing - deep in the Earth's mantle has revealed an underground water reservoir at least the volume of the Arctic Ocean. more

Water main break disrupts services, causes 60 evacuations
West New York, N.J. (AP) February 9, 2007 - Firefighters used inflatable rafts to rescue a dozen people whose basements were inundated with water early Friday when a major water main broke before dawn, flooding streets and chasing at least 60 people from their homes. more

Above-normal levels of lead found in Seattle schools' water
Seattle Times November 9, 2006 - By Emily Heffter and Warren King (excerpt)- Routine tests have found higher-than-normal levels of lead in the water in at least 35 Seattle public schools, the school district announced Wednesday. more

U.S. EPA issues order to Hanford to reduce arsenic in drinking water
U.S.E.P.A San Francisco Sept 18, 2006 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week issued an order to the City of Hanford, Calif. requiring the municipality to adhere to a compliance schedule for removing arsenic from its drinking water to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. more

In the West, a Water Fight Over Quality, Not Quantity
N.Y. Times September 10, 2006 - By Jim Robbins - It is a strange fight, Montana ranchers say. Raising cattle here in the parched American outback of eastern Montana and Wyoming has always been a battle to find enough water. more

Mayer Bros. says it fixed problems with bottled water
The Buffalo News August 30 2006 - by Matt Glynn - Mayer Bros., a West Seneca bottled water and cider company, says it has adopted a federal agency's recommendations to safeguard its products, after bottled water it supplied to Wegmans was voluntarily recalled by the supermarket chain. more

Forget legroom. What about More Water?
New York Times August 27 2006 - by Michelle Higgins (excerpt) - Airlines insist that running out of bottled water is a rare occurrence, but flight attendants say it isn't that uncommon. more

Yucky water? Not in Dallas.
Ozone treatment removes foul flavor of algae found elsewhere
The Dallas Morning News--July 29, 2006--Your tap water may taste nasty, but if it's any consolation, it won't kill you. Millions of North Texans are lamenting the return of the harmless but foul flavor of algae that taints their summer tap water. Whether you have reason to complain depends on where you live. more

Publix Issues Voluntary Recall on Purified Drinking Water
MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 28, 2006--Publix Super Markets is issuing a voluntary recall on Publix 1-gallon (3.78L) purified drinking water with the manufacturing plant code PLT 12-595 and the following code dates: 1 gallon: PRD May 01, 2006 - PDR June 03, 2006 (the code can be found on the back of the container). more

Indoor Pools May Pose Danger for Young Lungs
New York Times July 25 2006 - by Eric Nagourney - Could indoor pools be contributing to the increase in asthma among children? The idea has been around for a while, but new research that compared the number of pools in different parts of Europe with the incidence of the disease has found that this may well be the case. more
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New York City's tap water is getting increasingly muddier and may have to be filtered at a cost of millions of dollars.
New York Times July 23 2006 - New York's water has long had a reputation as being better than bottled. But that reputation has been sullied in recent years, as clay and other particles washed into upstate reservoirs has made the water murkier. more

Warner schools forced to turn off drinking fountains
North County Times July 19 2006 - San Diego County health officials ordered Warner Springs schools to shut down all the drinking fountains on campus this week after discovering that a bacteria has contaminated the water supply, the county announced Wednesday. more
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Nassau Warns 4 Communities About Water New York Times June 29 2006 - by Bruce Lampert - Nassau County warned the residents of four communities yesterday to use bottled water after a possibly carcinogenic gasoline additive was discovered in their water system. more

Extra Chlorine Added to Farmington's Water
The Journal Star June 2 2006 - by Brenda Rothert - Extra chlorine was added to the city's water system Thursday, but residents will have to keep boiling their water until Tuesday at the earliest. more

Lead found in water at Durham complex; child poisoned
Associated Press May 19 2006 - DURHAM, N.C. - Lead contamination that sickened a Durham child was confined to the housing complex where the child once lived, city officials said Friday. more

Families Sue Exxon For $1 Billion. More Than 50 Lawsuits Filed For Gas Leak
WBALTV May 11, 2006 - JACKSONVILLE, Md. -- Exxon-Mobil faces more than 50 separate lawsuits in which families are seeking $1 billion. The families live near the Jacksonville Exxon station in Baltimore County where, in January, state environmental officials said as much as 26,000 gallons of fuel leaked for more than 30 days.







































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Now there is more than enough water, but the wrong kind, they say, and they are fighting to keep it out of the river.

Mark Fix is a family rancher whose cattle operation depends on water from the Tongue River. Mr. Fix diverts about 2,000 gallons per minute of clear water in the summer to transform a dry river bottom into several emerald green fields of alfalfa, an oasis on dry rangeland. Three crops of hay each year enable him to cut it, bale it and feed it to his cattle during the long winter.

"Water means a guaranteed hay crop, " Mr. Fix said. But the search for a type of natural gas called coal bed methane has come to this part of the world in a big way. The gas is found in subterranean coal, and companies are pumping water out of the coal and stripping the gas mixed with it. Once the gas is out, the huge volumes of water become waste in a region that gets less than 12 inches of rain a year.

In some cases, the water has benefited ranchers, who use it to water their livestock. But there is far more than cows can drink, and it needs to be dumped. The companies have been pumping the wastewater into drainages that flow into the Tongue River, as well as two other small rivers that flow north into Montana, the Powder and Little Powder Rivers. Ranchers say the water contains high levels of sodium and if it is spread on a field, it can destroy the ability to grow anything.

"It makes the soil impervious," said Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who is a soil scientist. "It changes it from a living, breathing thing into concrete. " Ranchers like Mr. Fix say sodium in the water could render their hayfields unusable and drive them out of business.

The companies say that sodium is not the problem ranchers have made it out to be and that the Montana environmental standards cannot be met without great difficulty. They have filed suit in federal and Montana court to overturn the regulations. return




















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"The supplies are limited and they can run out," said Pat Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. "And there's not a place to stop for refills." When the bottled water does run out, airlines say they turn to the taps onboard the aircraft. Though the Air Transport Association, a trade group representing the major United Sates airlines, insists it is safe for passengers to drink and brush their teeth with aircraft water, using it is still controversial. "Most flight attendants will not drink it," Mrs. Friend said.

In 2004, 15 percent of aircraft water in random sampling by the Environmental Protection Agency tested positive for total coliform bacteria. The presence of total coliform, though not indicative of a health risk in and of itself, is a sign that disease causing organisms could also be in the water. In June, Health Canada, the Canadian government's health department, cautioned travelers with compromised immune systems to avoid drinking any tap water on Canadian airlines after random tests revealed both total coliform and E. coli bacteria.

Even though the E.P.A. has stopped short of advising all passengers not to drink aircraft water, it also tells passengers with suppressed immune systems to stick to bottled or canned drinks and also warns that airline tea or coffee is often made with tap water insufficiently heated to ensure safety. return


































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Dallas: water tasty. Frisco, Rockwall, Mesquite, Richardson: yuck.

"It's terrible. It tastes dirty. It smells almost like sewage," said Rockwall resident Toni Elliston, 45. "We don't drink it with anything."

The water district that serves Dallas recently switched the last of its three water-treatment plants from a chlorine and ammonia disinfection system to ozone, which produces better-tasting and cleaner tap water.

The North Texas Municipal Water District, which serves more than 1.5 million customers in much of Collin County, Rockwall, Mesquite, Richardson and other cities, considered ozone but was dissuaded by the cost, said Denise Hickey, a spokeswoman for the district.

A more pressing problem for the district, she said, has been the severe drought, which led to mandatory water-conservation rules in June. "We need some rain," Ms. Hickey said. "All I see out my window are blue skies."

As temperatures and algal counts at area lakes soared three weeks ago, causing some customers to complain, the North Texas Municipal Water District started dumping carbon and potassium permanganate into its drinking water to cut the taste and odor.

"It is a natural occurrence in surface water supplies," Ms. Hickey said. "It is strictly a palatability issue. The quality of the water does not change, and it is still safe for you to use with no health effects."

But in the neighboring water district – the largest in the region – the musty smell and fetid flavor of algae in Dallas' drinking water may be gone for good. return
























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This water may not meet Publix quality specifications for taste and odor. The product was distributed in Publix stores in the following counties: Broward, Miami-Dade, Indian River, Martin, Monroe, Okeechobee, St. Lucie and Palm Beach, Florida.

"We have received notification from customers as to the odor and taste of the purified drinking water. Therefore, we're issuing a voluntary recall because customer satisfaction and safety are our first priorities," said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations. "Customers who have purchased the recalled product may return it to their store for a full refund or replacement. If customers have further inquiries they may contact Publix Consumer Relations at http://www.publix.com or 1-800-242-1227."

Publix is owned and operated by its 138,000 employees, with 2005 sales of $20.6 billion. Currently Publix has 883 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. The company has been named one of Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For in America" for nine consecutive years. In addition, Publix's dedication to superior quality and customer service is recognized as tops in the grocery business, most recently by an American Customer Satisfaction Index survey. return






































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Writing in the current journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the researchers said that the more indoor pools per capita there were, the greater the prevalence of childhood asthma and wheezing.

The researchers, from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, noted that as asthma and allergies have become more common in the developed world over the last 30 years, some people have suggested that increased exposure to chlorination byproducts in the air at indoor pools may play a role.

Chlorine products are regularly used in pools to fight disease. But they give off strong gases — giving pools their distinctive smell — when the water is disturbed or when the chlorine destroys organic matter from swimmers.

“The discovery that this chlorine-laden atmosphere can be deleterious to the lungs of young children exercising in it is not surprising,” the researchers wrote. The study suggested that pools might need to be better ventilated.

For the study, the researchers looked at the incidence of asthma, allergies and eczema among almost 190,000 children in 21 countries. They then looked at the number of pools per 100,000 residents, a figure that varied considerably by region. Western Europe, for example, has many more pools than Eastern Europe.

The strongest association was found between indoor pools and asthma. It remained, the researchers said, even after other factors like climate and altitude were taken into account. return




























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As a stopgap measure, the city has been using 16 tons of chemicals a day to purify the water so that it meets federal standards. But the Environmental Protection Agency says a full-scale filtration plant, which could cost about $8 billion, may be necessary. return





















































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Routine test results ---- confirmed by retesting done Tuesday ---- revealed that coliform bacteria was present in the water that supplies the district's campus, which is home to both an elementary school and a middle/high school.

The county issued an order Wednesday requiring that the district's well water be boiled before anyone is allowed to drink it, said Mark McPherson, the chief of land and water quality for the county's Department of Environmental Health.

The district will have to cure the problem and disinfect the system before the order to boil water is lifted. McPherson said it is likely that the soonest the county could give the all-clear to the school is Saturday.

Officials with Warner Unified School District, which has about 330 students, did not return a call for comment late Wednesday afternoon.

There are 32 students and about 10 staffers on campus attending summer classes in the district, McPherson said.

McPherson said coliforms occur naturally in the environment and aren't generally a pathogenic bacteria. Pathogenic forms of it could cause gastrointestinal discomfort; McPherson said it was unlikely anyone would fall ill from the water. return
































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While urging the precautions, health officials said there should be no immediate harm from the limited exposure to the additive, methyl tertiary butyl ether, known as MTBE. And water district officials said they hoped to have clean water by today.

The contaminated water system, part of the West Hempstead Gardens water district, serves 36,000 people in West Hempstead and parts of Franklin Square, Garden City South and Cathedral Gardens. Notices of the problems were delivered door-to-door early yesterday. return
















































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The latest test results of tap water in this Fulton County city with about 2,600 residents showed four of six samples had total coliform bacteria. Health officials say the bacteria isn't dangerous but can be an indicator of other bacteria that are.

City officials have been testing the water every day since results of a routine test May 26 showed four of six water samples were contaminated with E. coli bacteria, caused by fecal contamination. The boil order was issued that day.

Samples are now testing negative for E. coli, and city officials are working to get the samples free from total coliform.

The city's water, drawn from two 1,600-foot wells, began running through the new reverse osmosis treatment plant on April 14 to address sporadic elevated radium levels not always within Environmental Protection Agency standards.

City Administrator Roger Woodcock said the water plant's chlorinator was replaced Wednesday because it wasn't always working properly. On Thursday city workers infused extra chlorine into the system.

"We've got some pretty heavy chlorine in the system now," Woodcock said. "It's pretty noticeable ... Right now we have some areas that if you got into your shower, it would smell like a swimming pool."

Dave Cook, an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency official, came to Farmington on Thursday to take water samples and look at the city's water infrastructure.

Cook, regional office manager of the IEPA's Division of Public Water Supply, said he thinks the new chlorinator will help the city's water pass quality tests from here on out. return
























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The case of lead poisoning, traced to a kitchen tap, represents just the second case in North Carolina of lead poisoning tied to public drinking water.

Tests found elevated lead levels in tap water in the child's former residence and at least four other units of the 332-unit townhouse and apartment complex near Research Triangle Park.

An analysis of recent samples showed that the high lead level "is an isolated incident and confined to the pipes/plumbing in the Penrith Apartment Complex where the child formerly lived," according to a statement issued Friday by Durham's city government.

"City staff has conducted additional sampling and has inspected plumbing connections to the city's distribution within the complex and determined that the city's drinking water supply and distribution system is safe," the statement said.

Durham County health officials also plan to test water at scores of units at the complex. Tests are also planned for single-family homes nearby.

"We don't want something that can be corrected to go on," Durham County environmental health director Robert Brown said.

Lead in the child's former apartment was detected quickly after the child was diagnosed, under a new state policy requiring water tests in lead poisoning probes.

Durham County officials, citing federal privacy rules, would say only that the victim is younger than 6. Lead poisoning can cause brain and emotional damage in children that young.

Such exposures usually result from lead from plumbing parts or pipes rather than from tainted water circulating throughout a city's water system. Health officials have found no other source of likely lead contamination. return





















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Testing that ran during the school's winter break Feb. 19 to 23 was conducted with the help of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and state and county health departments, school officials said Thursday.

The water in the district's elementary schools was tested because high lead levels pose the greatest threat to children age 6 and younger, according to the EPA, state and county health departments. Results showed 32 of the 400 devices in the district's dozen elementary schools registered lead levels above the EPA's accepted threshold of 20 parts per billion.

Affected schools include Giffen Memorial Elementary, Pine Hills Elementary, Arbor Hill Elementary, North Albany Academy, School 19 and the Thomas O'Brien Academy of Science and Technology.

Once the results were received, Superintendent Eva Joseph said the fountains were shut down and are being replaced.
In a letter Wednesday to parents, Joseph said the water levels are not a system-wide problem, but likely due to standing water in older pipes or coolers that aren't used often enough to flush out the metal.

"Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students and staff," Joseph said. "Maintenance staff are now replacing faucet fixtures, or in some cases, faucet screens, which may have caused the elevated lead levels. Some water fountains will simply be removed. Each of the faucets will be retested before being, once again, allowed for drinking use."

Albany County Commissioner of Health Dr. James Crucetti said the gravest cause of lead poisoning in children is not from water, but ingesting lead paint chips and dust. While he said the current situation doesn't warrant getting a blood test, he reminded parents that all children in New York must have their blood tested for lead at some point. return





















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Now there is more than enough water, but the wrong kind, they say, and they are fighting to keep it out of the river.

Mark Fix is a family rancher whose cattle operation depends on water from the Tongue River. Mr. Fix diverts about 2,000 gallons per minute of clear water in the summer to transform a dry river bottom into several emerald green fields of alfalfa, an oasis on dry rangeland. Three crops of hay each year enable him to cut it, bale it and feed it to his cattle during the long winter.

"Water means a guaranteed hay crop, " Mr. Fix said. But the search for a type of natural gas called coal bed methane has come to this part of the world in a big way. The gas is found in subterranean coal, and companies are pumping water out of the coal and stripping the gas mixed with it. Once the gas is out, the huge volumes of water become waste in a region that gets less than 12 inches of rain a year.

In some cases, the water has benefited ranchers, who use it to water their livestock. But there is far more than cows can drink, and it needs to be dumped. The companies have been pumping the wastewater into drainages that flow into the Tongue River, as well as two other small rivers that flow north into Montana, the Powder and Little Powder Rivers. Ranchers say the water contains high levels of sodium and if it is spread on a field, it can destroy the ability to grow anything.

"It makes the soil impervious," said Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who is a soil scientist. "It changes it from a living, breathing thing into concrete. " Ranchers like Mr. Fix say sodium in the water could render their hayfields unusable and drive them out of business.

The companies say that sodium is not the problem ranchers have made it out to be and that the Montana environmental standards cannot be met without great difficulty. They have filed suit in federal and Montana court to overturn the regulations. return























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Wegmans earlier this month pulled from its shelves all sizes of its "Food You Feel Good About"-brand water, supplied by Mayer Bros. The supermarket chain also issued a recall of that brand of water with "use-by" dates of Aug. 8, 2008 or earlier.

Other brands of bottled water sold on Wegmans' store shelves were not affected by the recall.

Garrett Mayer, vice president of the family-owned company, declined to comment extensively, but he said Mayer Bros. has fixed the problems that surfaced.

"Only a very small percentage of the product we make was affected," Mayer said. "The product was dealt with according to the (Food and Drug Administration).

The Wegmans-brand water was found to contain elevated levels of bromate, which is formed during the disinfection process before bottling, Wegmans said. The levels detected in testing were higher than those permitted by the FDA.

Wegmans said there are no imminent health risks from those elevated levels. The chain will eventually bring back the product, but won't do so until it sure the product meets FDA guidelines and Wegmans' own standards, said Jo Natale, a Wegmans spokeswoman. return


































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Arsenic in Hanford's drinking water ranges from less than 10 to 50 parts per billion. The new federal standard for arsenic in drinking water from municipal systems is 10 ppb or less.

"The city has taken the initiative to begin addressing the new standard," said Alexis Strauss, water director for the Pacific Southwest. "We encourage other water systems which may exceed the arsenic standard to follow Hanford's example and take the steps needed to protect the public health."

The order requires the city to meet a schedule of well rehabilitation and development that will result in the first well coming into compliance with the arsenic standard late this year. The rest of the city's wells will each be brought into compliance over the next several years with full compliance by all of the city's 18 wells by December 2009.

The city of Hanford has already developed a proposed draft schedule and an arsenic reduction plan for their municipal wells that supply drinking water to its 48,000 residents. Rehabilitation of the first well began this year.

In January 2001 the EPA adopted a new standard for arsenic in drinking water at 10 ppb, replacing the old standard of 50 ppb. Systems were required to comply with the new standard by January 2006.

Although a naturally occurring mineral, arsenic is a poison. It is naturally found in groundwater. Drinking high levels of arsenic increases the chance of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes and neurological damage. Arsenic inhibits the body's ability to fight off cancer and other diseases. return




























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"We have found something that is not necessarily a surprise but has important implications. These are considerations that water quality professionals should take into account if they have switched or are considering switching to a monochloramine disinfection system," says Dan Kroll, Chief Scientist at Hach Homeland Security in Loveland, Colorado, and lead researcher on the study, presented recently at the ASM Biodefense and Emerging Disease Research Meeting.

As part of a recent endeavor to develop a system for online, continuous monitoring of drinking water distribution networks, Kroll and his colleagues, in coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers, studied the interactions of a wide variety of potential waterborne threat agents (both biological and chemical) with different levels of either free chlorine or monochloramine present. They tested dozens of potential hazards, from pesticides to disease-causing bacteria to chemical warfare agents. The researchers discovered that not only is monochloramine less reactive than free chlorine against a number of chemical threats, it also is a slightly less efficient disinfectant, requiring a longer time to kill bacterial contaminants.

Scientists have long known that monochloramine is a more stable compound, and that is part of the reason it is becoming more popular as an alternative to chlorine in municipal water systems. Free chlorine has traditionally been the disinfectant of choice for municipal water systems throughout the 20th century, but it has some drawbacks. It can react with organic materials in drinking water to produce chlorine by-products. Some of these by-products are considered carcinogenic and their levels in drinking water are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But Kroll and his colleagues have confirmed in their study that the stability of the monochloramine may have its drawbacks as well. Treatment with free chlorine, because it is more reactive, can lead to rapid degradation of chemical threats as well as early detection of contamination. As it reacts with a contaminant, chlorine levels in the water drop. Many municipalities use chlorine levels as indicators of possible contamination. return






















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More than 300 drinking fountains and sinks turned up lead levels above the district's standard in the September tests. The district tested fixtures at about 40 schools.

All the affected fixtures will be taped over and marked with warning signs, and the schools will be using bottled water until an investigation is complete, district officials said.

However, experts said the higher-than-normal levels should not cause parents to worry. "I would not be concerned that [the reported levels] would be a problem," said Dr. William Robertson, medical director of the Washington Poison Center. "I would tell them to keep on drinking the water.

"The pipes in most of the schools tested are fewer than 10 years old, and neither they nor the fixtures or solders are made of lead. The schools had tested within the allowable levels for lead in 2004.

In the latest tests, about 60 percent of the faucets and fountains exceeded the federal government's limit for lead in water, which is 20 parts per billion. The district's standard is 10 parts per billion, and one sink at Madrona K-8 had more than 90 times that standard.

The district has been coping with one water-quality problem after another since 2004, when it spent $13 million to replace pipes and install 1,000 new fixtures because of high levels of lead and iron.

The district now tests for lead, other metals and bacteria every three years, said English. Low levels of arsenic were found last spring in some of the new fixtures. District officials discovered some of the fixtures were improperly installed and created a chemical reaction that produced arsenic. return

























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"We have found something that is not necessarily a surprise but has important implications. These are considerations that water quality professionals should take into account if they have switched or are considering switching to a monochloramine disinfection system," says Dan Kroll, Chief Scientist at Hach Homeland Security in Loveland, Colorado, and lead researcher on the study, presented recently at the ASM Biodefense and Emerging Disease Research Meeting.

As part of a recent endeavor to develop a system for online, continuous monitoring of drinking water distribution networks, Kroll and his colleagues, in coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers, studied the interactions of a wide variety of potential waterborne threat agents (both biological and chemical) with different levels of either free chlorine or monochloramine present. They tested dozens of potential hazards, from pesticides to disease-causing bacteria to chemical warfare agents. The researchers discovered that not only is monochloramine less reactive than free chlorine against a number of chemical threats, it also is a slightly less efficient disinfectant, requiring a longer time to kill bacterial contaminants.

Scientists have long known that monochloramine is a more stable compound, and that is part of the reason it is becoming more popular as an alternative to chlorine in municipal water systems. Free chlorine has traditionally been the disinfectant of choice for municipal water systems throughout the 20th century, but it has some drawbacks. It can react with organic materials in drinking water to produce chlorine by-products. Some of these by-products are considered carcinogenic and their levels in drinking water are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But Kroll and his colleagues have confirmed in their study that the stability of the monochloramine may have its drawbacks as well. Treatment with free chlorine, because it is more reactive, can lead to rapid degradation of chemical threats as well as early detection of contamination. As it reacts with a contaminant, chlorine levels in the water drop. Many municipalities use chlorine levels as indicators of possible contamination. return






















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The following day, Ellen Powell of South Burlington, one of the nine towns served by Champlain Water District (CWD), started experiencing irritations in her eyes and on her skin, as well as problems breathing.

Suspecting that chloramine might be responsible, since nothing else was new to her water supply, she immediately sent a letter to the editor of newspapers throughout Chittenden County. The responses she received confirmed her fears. Other residents were claiming to have experienced similar symptoms.

Local concern over the chloramination of the tap water led Powell to help form a group called People Concerned about Chloramine (PCAC). More than 130 people have since come forward with reports of what they believe to be chloramine-related problems.

The CWD maintains that monochloramine which is formed by chemically bonding chorine with ammonia is entirely safe for human consumption and use. It is one of three disinfectants sanctioned by the EPA for use in potable water systems along with chlorine and chlorine dioxide.

PCAC, however, asserts that there are a number of reasons why chloramine should not be used. Among the many concerns we have about chloramine, there are eight key points, says Rebecca Reno, a PCAC member. One is that there has been no adequate testing on the skin or respiratory effects of chloramine on human beings.

Dale Kemery, a spokesman for the regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said such tests have been conducted. They are contained in a 155-page public report.

However, the report clearly states that information on the human health effects of chloramines are limited to a few clinical reports and epidemiologic studies. There are no epidemiologic studies that have been designed to address specifically the potential adverse effects of exposure to chloramines on human health. return






















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The chemical - tetrachloroethylene, which is commonly used by dry cleaners and auto repair shops - has been detected sporadically in the water in Cambria heights, Hollis and St. Albans every year since at least 2003, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's annual reports of drinking water quality.

Anne Canty, the department's deputy commissioner, said that testing yesterday detected continuing contamination, though at somewhat lower concentrations. Ten of 26 recent samples still contained traces of the colorless chemical, which has a sharp sweet odor and is also known as perc.

According to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, people who drink water containing tetrachloroethylene over many years can develop liver problems and may have an increased risk of cancer. In New York City, the chemical is also considered an airborne hazard because many dry cleaners are inside residential buildings where fumes can seep through ceilings and walls.

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygene does not consider the amount of tetrachloroethylene in the water a serious health problem. People who remain concerned have been told to use bottled water and to take shorter showers. return



































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He expressed concern that pollution might be threatening the water supply, and eventually his district sued three filling stations, affiliated with Exxon, Shell and Gulf.

As the trial in that case opened in Garden City on Monday, the nation's water supply industry and major oil companies were watching closely.

The outcome of the case could set a national precedent on who will pay the estimated tens of billions of dollars to clean up contamination caused by MTBE, a potentially carcinogenic fuel additive, now widely banned, that seeped into the ground as gasoline leaked from fuel storage tanks across the country.

More than 150 other lawsuits involving MTBE from 15 states have been consolidated in United States District Court in Manhattan, with the first trial set for next spring. But because the Plainview case predated them, it is proceeding on its own in State Supreme Court.

The case has a David-and-Goliath flavor, pitting a community of 32,000 residents against major oil companies. The litigation also features some of the leading lawyers involved in the consolidated federal cases. While the Plainview case is not binding on the 15 consolidated cases, the judge in the federal case, Shira A. Scheindlin, has already taken note of some of the preliminary rulings in the Plainview suit.

About half the population of the United States drinks water pumped from the ground, according to the American Water Works Association, which represents 5,000 municipal and commercial suppliers. Its director of legislative affairs, Albert E. Warburton, said, "We're concerned that the oil companies pick up their share of their liabilities for contaminating the aquifers.

Fearing costly litigation, the gasoline industry lobbied Congress intensely for an exemption from lawsuits over MTBE, but the effort failed. return






















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In investigating the presence of a chemical, tetrachloroethylene, in the drinking water supply in parts of Queens last week, city officials identified a car wash as having contributed to the contamination at least partly because it did not have the valve installed on one of its water supply lines. The amount of the contaminant was considered too low to pose a serious health threat.

The records also show that about 26,000 buildings in the city represent an especially high risk because factories, gasoline stations or businesses that handle hazardous materials housed in those buildings have not installed the device, called a backflow prevention valve.

State law has required that the device be installed on certain catagories of buildings since 1981.

Critics say the city's lax enforcement of rules on backflow valves endangers the water system and encourages owners to ignore the law. They also say the city does little to insure that owners have the valves tested once a year to make sure they are not clogged, as required by the state sanitary code.

Last year, only 2,085 such tests on the valves were conducte in the city, according to a 20006 report by the Department of Environmental Protection, which operates the city's water system. But fewer than 2,000 violations were issued for the thousands of property owners who failed to conduct the tests, according to the report.

City officials admit that compliance goals set by a city industry task force in 2000 have not been met. But they insist that the city's water supply is safe. return




























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For the extra money, they say, you get the added responsibility for piling on to the nation' s waste heap and encouraging more of the industrial emissions that are heating up the planet.

But trends in American thirst quenching favor the 2,900-fold premium, as the overflowing trash cans of Central Park attest. In fact, bottled water is growing at the expense of every other beverage category except sports drinks. It has overtaken coffee and milk, and it is closing in on beer. Tap, if trends continue, would be next.

Now New York City officials - like the mayors of Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and San Francisco - are campaigning to get people to reverse course and open their faucets instead of their wallets. The city Health Department, mindful of high obesity rates, says water is more healthful than many other, sugar-filled drinks. The city's Department of Environmental Protection touts its low environmental impact. Both note that it's practically free (leaving aside those New Yorkers for whom paying extra is a lifestyle choice). return







































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While a lot of bottled water may be as pure as promised in those alluring commercials, the real problem is telling which is which. Public water supplies are regulated by the federal government. Not so for bottled water. The Food and Drug Administration does have some oversight, but bottled water is not very high on their long list of priorities.

The International Bottled Water Association, which represents most of the industry, has voluntary standards to make sure there are no contaminants. The association encourages (but does not require) bottlers to release pertinent information about what's in their water when consumers call and ask.

Among the states, so far only California has set strict standards to make sure carcinogens and other contaminants are not being sold as something purer than that mountain stream usually pictured on the labels.

Some metropolitan water is better than others, of course, and New Yorkers are proudly unafraid to ask for their four-star tap water at the fanciest restaurants. The federal government requires all public water works to tell consumers once a year what is in their water and whether it meets federal standards.

Those public reports are not always as helpful as they should be. Some are printed in ant-size type and best understood by chemists. But at least they are readily available, and the same detail should be publicly available for bottled water.

For the extra cost and the promise of added purity and the mound of plastic in landfills that bottled water should be as good or even better than the less-expensive stuff that comes out of a tap. And consumers should be able to see certified data that prove it. return


























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The bottled water industry promotes an image of purity, but comprehensive testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed, including toxic byproducts of chlorination in Walmart's Sam's Choice and Giant Supermarket's Acadia brands, at levels no different than routinely found in tap water.

Several Sam's Choice samples purchased in California exceeded legal limits for bottled water contaminants in that state. Cancer-causing contaminants in bottled water purchased in 5 states (North Carolina, California, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland) and the District of Columbia substantially exceeded the voluntary standards established by the bottled water industry.

Unlike tap water, where consumers are provided with test results every year, the bottled water industry does not disclose the results of any contaminant testing that it conducts. Instead, the industry hides behind the claim that bottled water is held to the same safety standards as tap water. But with promotional campaigns saturated with images of mountain springs, and prices 1,900 times the price of tap water, consumers are clearly led to believe that they are buying a product that has been purified to a level beyond the water that comes out of the garden hose. To the contrary, our tests strongly indicate that the purity of bottled water cannot be trusted. Given the industry's refusal to make available data to support their claims of superiority, consumer confidence in the purity of bottled water is simply not justified.

Laboratory tests conducted for EWG at one of the country’s leading water quality laboratories found that 10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, contained 38 chemical pollutants altogether, with an average of 8 contaminants in each brand. More than one-third of the chemicals found are not regulated in bottled water. In the Sam's Choice and Acadia brands levels of some chemicals exceeded legal limits in California as well as industry-sponsored voluntary safety standards. Four brands were also contaminated with bacteria. return






















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To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, Ky.

Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major California suppliers said the public "doesn't know how to interpret the information" and might be unduly alarmed.

How do the drugs get into the water? People take pills. Their bodies absorb some of the medication, but the rest of it passes through and is flushed down the toilet. The wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes. Then, some of the water is cleansed again at drinking water treatment plants and piped to consumers. But most treatments do not remove all drug residue.

And while researchers do not yet understand the exact risks from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of low levels of pharmaceuticals, recent studies which have gone virtually unnoticed by the general public have found alarming effects on human cells and wildlife.

"We recognize it is a growing concern and we're taking it very seriously," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. return






















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An article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) wonders whether it is possible for people to take part in consultations on an informed bases as evidence is often misrepresented and uncertainties glossed over.

Approximately nearly 6% of global water supplies contain fluoride to around 1mg/l, according to Sir Iain Chalmers and team. In England and Wales approximately 9-10% of water supplies contain 0.5-1mg/l fluoride - this is either added or is present naturally.

The subject of water fluoridation is a contentious one. Identifying the benefits and harms, deciding on whether fluoride is a medicine, and the ethics of mass intervention, are all controversial topics.

The UK Department of Health, in 1999, commissioned the Centre for Reviews and Disseminations at York to carry out a systematic evaluation of the potential harms and benefits of fluoridating water. The researchers identified 3,200 papers. However, they were surprised to find that the quality of the evidence (either way) was mediocre.

The authors stress that an absolute certainty on the safety of anything does not exist. However, as far as the fluoridation of water is concerned, people should be aware of the limitations of evidence about its potential harm. The majority of studies are not designed well enough and they are not large enough to identify small but important risks, especially in the case of chronic conditions, after fluoride is introduced into water supplies.

The writers also stress that the evidence for finding other ways of preventing tooth decay, such as adding fluoride to toothpaste, is strong. However, relying on toothpaste introduces a degree of inequality as it depends on individual behavior. return


























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Overall, 17 different drugs were found in 101 samples of treated and untreated water from public systems and tests of 95 shallow farm irrigation wells detected 14 compounds, the story reported. The concentrations were far below levels that could cause immediate health effects, but there is concern about the unexamined risks and cumulative effects from such pollutants. "I would consider it to be very significant potential impact," said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist in the Washington, D.C., office of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "Especially for things like endocrine disruptors, mood stabilizers, hormones. These drugs work naturally in the body at very low levels." Researchers claim most of the contaminants likely come from treatment plants, septic systems, fertilizers and unused prescription drugs that consumers flush down the toilet, according to the story. return