Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is any Drinking water safe? (first draft)

Below is what i was working on when I had the so "alergic reaction"

I think this would give anyone a stroke.   Its all true and the purpose of this is to state a problem so that in another paper I can state a solution but damn. This is freaky! (NOTE - THERE ARE EXTENSIVE FOOTNOTES BUT THEY DIDN'T WANT TO COPY TO HTML CORRECTLY)

My paper for Argumentation and Research at the Art Institute of Portland
I am a first year Digital Film and Video Student
May 1, 2010
Is any Drinking water safe?

Would you be shocked to hear that there is no 100% pure drinking water in the entire world? What if I told you that all water on the planet Earth has chemicals, and harmful elements? When I first started researching drinking water my first assumption was that if you go to a remote enough location such as a remote mountain top spring, for example that you could find pure water and if you used a basic filtration system to take out diseases and microorganisms you would be fine. However, if you have any idea how acid rain works , you will find that even remote mountain top water will have the probability of dangerous chemicals in it.

Perhaps you might respond that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires municipal water sources to filter out harmful chemicals. I think you may be surprised to know that out of over 140,000 documented chemicals UK and 75,000 documented Toxic Substances – US, as well as the EPA’S estimate that there are 30,000 chemicals in wide commercial use ; the EPA only mandates removal of 88 contaminants from the US drinking water systems. There are another 15 recommended removed contaminates , but these are non-enforceable and only recommended by the EPA. Of these 88 chemicals that the EPA requires removed there are still allowable limits in parts per million that in laymans terms means vaguely 1 drop of the substance within an Olympic size swimming pool. My point is these chemicals are mandated removed yet they are still present in minuscule amounts. Would you be surprised to know that the same chemicals that water municipals use in waste water treatment are cancer causing agents or have other adverse health effects . You might respond to these chemicals being in our drinking water that those chemicals are better than the alternatives of dying from viruses and bacterial infections, and I agree, but I think the general public has a false sense of what our drinking water has in it. And a too vague idea of how we have affected our own drinking water which is the basis of mans survival as well as no idea of the effects of all the unknown chemicals that are undoubtedly in our drinking water.

Let’s look a little closer at Chemicals and how they are identified and the probability of whether there really are unknown chemicals in our water system that we are not testing for. To do that we have to first consider how chemicals are kept track of and how chemicals are considered dangerous to humans or not. The EPA has to start by categorizing types of chemicals, there are approximately 23 types of categories of chemicals, and these chemicals can overlap into 1 or more category. Then let’s consider what the current monitoring regulations are. In 1977 the EPA developed a chemical reporting rule called the IUR This inventory is composed of approximately 85,000 chemical substances. Originally this inventory was updated on a 4 year cycle but now is updated on a 5 year cycle. I read that and wondered why are they lowering standards for regulating chemicals. Then in the next paragraph I read that “Before 2006 the IUR list contained chemicals that were manufactured or distributed in the US in amounts in excess of 10,000 lbs. /year. The 2006 IUR regulation requires manufactures and importers of certain chemical substances to report site and manufacturing information for chemicals manufactured or imported in amounts in excess of 25,000 lb at a single site. “ What I don’t understand is why with the huge problems to our environment why are regulations being loosened. Then I read something else that seems particularly interesting to me it continues to say that “The full inventory, including both confidential and non confidential substances are maintained by US EPA and Chemical Abstracts service and is not available to the Public. “ What I am wondering is why is there a confidential list of chemicals that is not available to the public? Also on that page is something interesting that refers to our topic directly and it is The topic of chemicals as drinking water contaminants it says that “The U.S. EPA develops drinking water standards and identifies lists of potential drinking water contaminants because they are anticipated to occur in drinking water supplies and may have adverse health affects. This says that the EPA created a list of 6000 chemicals that could possibly cause adverse health effects which could be in our drinking water, they prioritized it to down to 528 chemicals that they did testing on and then they came up with the 88 contaminates that are currently screened for. So using simple logic there are over 140,000 chemicals, 30,000 that are in common use by companies, 6000 that the EPA decided might be a risk to the water system, but only 528 that the EPA actually tested for adverse health effects and only 88 that are being mandated to be removed. Do you think it is possible that all of our drinking water has more hazardous chemicals then we as a society are aware?

Here is an example of that logic check out this article from National Geographic Magazine - Would you be surprised to find out that “A team of researchers in Washington State has found traces of cocaine and cooking spices and flavorings in the waters of Puget Sound. ” … “Of all the flavors trickling downstream, artificial vanilla dominates the sound, Keil said. For instance, the team found an average of about six milligrams of artificial vanilla per liter of water sampled. The region's sewage runoff contains more than 14 milligrams of vanilla per liter. This would be like spiking an Olympic-size swimming pool with approximately ten 4-ounce (113.4-gram) bottles of artificial vanilla.” After reading that I believe that they found that vanilla in the water because they tested for it specifically. But as you can see when the EPA is only testing for 88 types of contaminates, how do we really know that there are not thousands of hazardous chemicals we are not aware that cause health problems present in our drinking water. The answer is we don’t! It is entirely possible remember the ratio 88/140,000 88 we test for of over 140,000 documented non confidential chemicals.

You might hear all of this and then say, well, that’s it, that’s why I drink bottled water. But would you really say that if you knew that there are less regulations on bottled water than there is on tap water . Not only that but according to the ABC Network article referenced at the end of this article that when 188 of bottled water brands were tested only 2 brands listed their sources for water. All bottled water could very well be the same water you get from your tap. In addition to this there is the added dangers of the chemicals that plastics release into the water. The chemical is known as BPA and affects your endocrine system, causes cancer, and fertility problems. Though experts are trying to link BPA to a particular type of plastic it seems evident that studies are not conclusive and who knows if so called “Safe” Plastics are actually safe.

Fine you say, you will drink filtered tap water, but did you know in recent years, due to the growing costs of copper piping building codes have changed so that our drinking water is brought to us in PVC pipes. PVC is one of the most toxic and carcinogenic plastics out there. You say, oh you heard about that, that is why the PVC pipes are lined with another material. What happens when that material is broken or breaks down, then the water will have contact with PVC pipe. It appears that our water problems are at an epidemic. Humans have to have water to survive, this is a serious issue that requires serious action. We may not see the effects of these chemicals immediately but as a society we need to start paying attention to what goes down the drain, and what goes into our water system, because contrary to popular belief there is no avoiding this issue.


REACH 2008). Environmental Health Perspectives – Volume 117, Number 5, May 2009, The Toxicity Data Landscape for Environmental Chemicals
Page 685. “The size of the Chemical Universe in excess of 75,000 chemicals , which is the estimated number in the Toxic Substances Control act, (TSCA 1976) inventory (US EPA2004b)”. Environmental Health Perspectives – Volume 117, Number 5, May 2009, The Toxicity Data Landscape for Environmental Chemicals
Page 685, “In the United States and Canada, an estimated 30,000 chemicals are in wide commercial use, based on U.S. EPA and Environment Canada Data (Muir and Howard 2006). Environmental Health Perspectives – Volume 117, Number 5, May 2009, The Toxicity Data Landscape for Environmental Chemicals
Page 1-4, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, EPA Document number 816-F-09-004 May 2009 http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/pdf/mcl.pdf
Page 6, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, EPA Document number 816-F-09-004 May 2009 http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/pdf/mcl.pdf
See Acrylamide, Bromatc, Chloramincs (asC12), Chlorine (asC12), Chlorine diaoxide (C1O2), Floride, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, Page 1-4, , EPA Document number 816-F-09-004 May 2009 http://www.epa.gov/safewater/consumer/pdf/mcl.pdf
Page 688 Table 1. Environmental Health Perspectives – Volume 117, Number 5, May 2009, The Toxicity Data Landscape for Environmental Chemicals
Page 686-687, The TSCA Inventory and Inventory Update reporting (IUR) Environmental Health Perspectives – Volume 117, Number 5, May 2009, The Toxicity Data Landscape for Environmental Chemicals
Cocaine, Spices, Hormones found in drinking water, by Christine Dell'Amore, for National Geographic News, Published February 26, 2010 - http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/11/091112-drinking-water-cocaine/
See water Wars: Is Bottled Water Better Than Tap? By Devin Dwyer, July 8, 2009. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Health/story?id=8031551&page=1
Brochure from the EPA – Water Health Series – http://www.epa.gov/safewater/faq/pdfs/fs_healthseries_bottlewater.pdf
CNN article about how the FDA has little authority to regulate bottled water “Is your bottled water safe?” by: Kate Stinchfield http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/07/13/bottled.water.safety/index.html
Plastic (Not) Fantastic: Food Containers Leach a Potentiall Harmful Chemical, February 19, 2008. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=plastic-not-fantastic-with-bisphenol-a
Harvard study back bottle concern, says plastic used leaches bisphenal A, By Beth Daley, Globe Staff, May 22, 2009 http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/green/articles/2009/05/22/harvard_study_backs_bottle_concern/