The computer giant that owned the land and had done so much ecological damage to the water table they had to supply the town with city water. Dead birds could be found all over the rooftops, no worms or insects were in any of the soil near the plant.
At the time I had no idea of the chemicals used to make chips but I do now, and it's TERRIFING. Here's a few off the top of my head: 100% ultra high purity Sulphuric acid, Hydrochloric Acid, Hydrofluoric Acid, Potassium Hydroxide, Arsine, Arsenic, Silane gas (my personal fav, it's deadly to breathe but that won't kill you because it typically explodes when it mixes with air), and also a patented chemical that the company named J1000... but we all called it 2 step because if you got even One drop on you--you'd take 2 steps and be dead.
I worked there for just a few months... I was involved with the testing of the gasses some inert most were deadly though and could fuck you up just by touching your skin; one night I had a dream that a valve cabinet failed, and I tasted pink bubble gum--I woke up before I died in that dream. The next day I quit.
Maybe robots can make both sides happy?
They are installing carbon filters which should help. I use a carbon filter for all our water.
The thing is we have a dixione plume approaching our water intake too.
The parts per trillion is kinda mind blowing too. Take a large pool, let’s say 40,000 gallons. There’s 90,000 drops per gallon. So your pool is made of 3.6 billion drops of water.
It takes .0036 drops of this stuff to raise your pools concentration to 1 part per trillion. That means a quarter of a drop of this stuff will turn the pool into something that is above EPA limits.
It’s insane and mind blowing.
I think that the mayor of every city should be required to eat a fish caught in the most polluted stream that runs through the city, and state governors should be required to eat a fish caught from the most polluted stream in the state.
To wash it down, each should be required to drink a glass of water from the tap of the area of their jurisdiction with the dirtiest tap water.
This should happen weekly so that the toxins create a real health concern for the officials ingesting them.
We live in a world where most officials allow our natural resources and infrastructure to fail with impunity. This has to change. That we don't see local "watchdog" groups staging these sorts of tastings for television illustrates that the corruption spreads beyond the officials and into the media as well.
You either have a problem with existing laws not being enforced or there not being laws to enforce concerning the issue. This happens in many other areas of concern too. It's going to require a citizenry that cares, though PR stunts always feel good on paper.
Not your parent but I took it seriously and I think "skin in the game" structures like this should be taken very seriously - they are likely the best mechanisms for aligning interests.
"This assumes everyone values personal health over financial health."
Very easy to solve this one - the elected official doesn't eat the fish and drink the water, their children do.
"This prevents anyone from wanting to get elected to fix an existing problem."
This is a good and important point - you would scare away potential candidates for office if existing systems are already broken/unsafe. I don't know how to arrange a neat solution to this.
One other point to add to rsync's comment:
One other point to mention is that rational choices cannot be made about things like pollution when measurement methods can be fudged and the health effects of specific pollutants are not necessarily well studied. Bottom line, putting it in one's own body is the best way to determine whether a sensible person would feel comfortable with the environmental exposure being forced upon citizens due to lax or imperfect regulation, or even imperfect science. Do I want to drink this discolored, foul smelling water just because it does not test positive for known carcinogens? Common sense is actually a surprisingly helpful guide here.
All that would happen is that regulations would begin to be enforced or modified to match the improved perception of reality informed by the tasting.
Think about it this way, climate change is a fairly abstract concept that is much easier to ignore than the fish dinner sitting in front of you that was caught in water your administration declared safe.
The article linked above describes a massive plume of cancer-causing pollution spreading through underground waterways. All we need to do to find and justify the budget is accurately quantify the human cost.
Are you trying to setup some breeding program for building a better psychopath? :)
"Here's this high-status high-paying job, that people with a sense of ethics aren't taking because of the Flint-like water that can't be fixed on budget in any reasonable amount of time. No problem, just adopt a few orphans, score political brownie points in the process by seeming caring, and have them drink all the pollution!"
Very easy to solve this one - the elected official doesn't eat the fish and drink the water, their children do."
Even that doesn't seem to work in a very large number of cases. Look at how many people choose to locate their families in polluted cities for the financial benefits when the deleterious effects on health are so well studied and documented. There's just not enough immediacy of the effects of breathing polluted air or eating a fish contaminated with carcinogens.
Any company whether private or partially county/municipality owned such as power plants that gets a license to dump into nearby bodies of water should be forced to follow the same rules. I personally find it unlikely that flint would not have happened if local and state level officials had been forced to drink the water. The outbreak of legionaries disease after the fact was especially egregious.
I live in a decent middle class suburb and still pay $100 per month to have spring water delivered because known carcinogens have been found in the water supply for years now. I spoke to the city commissionaire about it and his brief response was well they keep raising the requirements so its not really his fault. They have been out of compliance for at least the 4+ years I have been here, likely far longer. What are the consequences for the families that cannot afford $100 per month extra or don't take the time to read the water reports?
Yes, elected officials should also be required to spend 24 consecutive hours each month in the inmate population of the local jail, prison, etc. to ensure that it offers safe and humane conditions.
On a side note the concept of private prisons is also insane. That a private company can hold you for profit is not right.
You might add other modern suggestions in that spirit:
No Meat until you slaughter an animal yourself.
No pepper spray unless you try it yourself.
Spend a week living in the 'retirement community' before dumping those you claim to love there.
Etc. Basically dogfooding as gatekeeping.
- I wonder if chemicals are the cause of the 50% drop in male sperm count in developed countries [over the last 30 years].
And I know I am going to be downvoted for not citing, maybe someone who agrees can help back me up, and also for saying "chemicals" and there are people here who cringe because everything is chemicals and most chemicals are good, I want to be clear I'm talking about the bad chemicals here- PFCs like the ones in the article, heavy metals, other petroleum-derived baddies, and some others.
[Edit: In general, I should say, but these chemicals in concentrations like those in the article are certainly cancer promoters.]
When one has a widespread, general rise in cancer and vascular disease, one should look for a systemic cause. The general perception is changing from 'cancer is genetic' to 'cancer is environmental', although oncologists have long known it. The California Prop 65 warnings are a start at raising awareness, though more risible than alarming.
I hope we start testing, treating & preventing causes, whether it's pathogens (HPV) or chemicals (benzene) causing cancer. Or other disease triggers like Alzheimer's (zoster) or ischemic event triggers (periodontal).
The legal fight against DuPont, 3M and others has been going on for decades, and their environmental abuses have been going on since the 1950s. PFAS are scary, and they're absolutely everywhere. And every time a much-maligned pollutant such as PFOA or PFOS gets phased out or banned, a new fluorochemical takes it place that has more or less the same properties; same story all over again.
Here's another that's in a very similar vein that had some solid research behind it. It'll probably leave you in the same state the NY Times article above will but it's a must-read. I don't think enough people will see it or your link unfortunately.
Generally speaking though, things like teflon and such and the chemicals that make them up are probably always going to be bad for the endocrine system. I'm hopeful I'm wrong and we can find alternatives that aren't but the human body doesn't seem to do well with chemicals that make things hydrophobic/slippery/nonstick.
So, if you take good care of your non-stick pans you'll mostly be ok. Basically just baby them and make sure they're in good condition and you should be fine.
Stainless steel doesn't have this problem but of course isn't as non-stick as teflon or the teflon-similar materials out there and can be much more expensive depending on quality levels.
I wouldn't throw them out if I were you, but would invest in some high quality utensils to use with them (silicon on the end and bamboo for the handle part) so you never scratch them. Oh, and of course when cleaning don't use anything metallic like steel wool/mesh on them. Even barkeepers friend has potential to be too abrasive and take off some of the layers. Soap and water when it's still hot is a great way to make cleaning the pots/pans easier.
Hope that helps!
Look for superfund sites, former dumps, former military facilities, etc and avoid them. Even things like army depots and train depots. If you’re in an area with well water, understand what’s upstream.
In an old city, test the soil if you grow vegetables in the yard, you may have coal ash or other nasties.
Sorry Bay Area....
Microplastics for example have been found in:
sea salt - https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/sea-sa...
water - https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/15/micropla...
air - https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/09/people-m...
poop - https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/microplastics-foun...
And of course thanks to all of the atomic/nuclear weapons we've detonated, everyone alive right now holds radioactive evidence from those detonations in their bodies https://www.businessinsider.com/bomb-pulse-radiation-decay-c...
Then there's the ozone damage we've done and the fact someone in China is still using, or has recently been anyway, CFCs - https://www.engadget.com/2018/06/27/investigators-china-ille...
And mercury from coal smoke - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S130910421...
Lead in soil from: leaded paints, past use of leaded gasoline, lead water-supply piping in the US until the 1920's, lead in in plumbing solder in the US until 1986...
Unfortunately remote is no guarantee of clean and in some cases might even mean the opposite because being out of the public eye allows companies to ignore externalities that they would otherwise have to take responsibility for.
You need to send it away for testing - it would be impractical to home test for all of the things you'd want to test for.
It's likely that your local municipality has a testing service that you can send water into for $50 or $100 and have rough testing done for lead and e-coli and crypto and so on.
A more extensive (and expensive) test will test for essentially everything, including VOCs and chemicals and all manner of manufacturing byproducts, plastics, phthalates, etc.
That would cost you $600 or $800 ...
I do have 65 ppt of PFAS in my well water (one of the gray dots in West Michigan, where Wolverine operated a tannery that dumped Scotchguard-treated leather scrap in local swamps). The test for that (and various other contaminants) ran $650. Yeah, Wolverine is paying for that and the carbon filters in my basement, but it kinda sucks to have been drinking it for 30 years. At least they caught it when my kid was onky exposed in the womb and his formula until he was 1...
A few hundred dollars will get you a lab test for common contaminants, but the cost rises exponentially for anything beyond that.
"Allaire found the amount of violations varied by year, affecting as many as 45 million people in some years, representing about 28% of the U.S. population."
"Tainted tap water isn’t just a problem in Flint, Michigan. In any given year from 1982 to 2015, somewhere between 9 million and 45 million Americans got their drinking water from a source that was in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to a new study"
> Wrong [...] 45 million [...] 28% of the U.S. population
I don't think it's fair to call the comment "Wrong". If anything, this supposed refutation is saying "Right".
Most people in the world have it far worse off than the US. We tend to easily fly into a panic and start drinking bottled water instead, which only pumps ever more plastic and carbon into the biosphere. That exact phenomenon happened in Austin recently. People went into a prepper panic and raided the grocery stores anyway, completely cleaning out all the bottled water in the city. Again. The water was perfectly fine, it turns out.
My travels through the third world have made me more aware of how much we take our highly reliable infrastructure for granted. Of course we still have some problems to work out, but acting like most tap water is unsafe is hyperbolic and just not helpful.
"The US had the highest contamination rate, at 94%, with plastic fibres found in tap water sampled at sites including Congress buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters, and Trump Tower in New York. Lebanon and India had the next highest rates."
Other studies indicating harm are available, while others have shown mixed results. For example, one where polystyrene microplastics depress and then appear to stimulate growth of algae: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004565351...
Vote to pass legislation that taxes synthetics and the money is used for mitigation.
Company’s make what consumers want.
Just regulate the items you don't want with rules. If you want it gradual, make the rules gradual. No need to build more money-collecting bureaucracy and keep asking people to pretend the gatekeepers/spenders are trustworthy.
While the synthetics and artificial fibers are bad as they pollute the environment downstream, cotton production requires roughly 20,000 liters to produce 1kg of fiber while polyester requires SEVENTEEN liters of water.
I thought the major, overwhelming source of microplastic pollution was from plastic beads in makeup and skin products.
Are synthetic fabrics, laundered, a significant source ?
Genuinely curious and would appreciate a citation.
> Multiple studies have shown synthetic fibers to make up the lion’s share of microplastics found in oceans, rivers and lakes, and clothes made from synthetics (polyester, nylon, and so on) are widely implicated as the source of that pollution.
You're right, it is pretty obvious
"The chronic biological effects in marine organisms results due to accumulation of microplastics in their cells and tissues. The potential hazardous effects on humans by alternate ingestion of microparticles can cause alteration in chromosomes which lead to infertility, obesity, and cancer."
"Not only is the potential migration of the plastics throughout our body a concern, but the additives in plastics may carry health risks. Many of these additives are known endocrine disrupters. According to Dr. Herbert Tilg, president of the Austrian Society of Gastroenterology and chair of the UEG Scientific Committee, microplastics could possibly be one of the factors contributing to inflammatory bowel syndrome or even colon cancer, which is on the rise among young adults."
We're still learning a lot about the hormonal effects of consuming microplastics and plasticizers (among other things) but it's all pointing in some pretty nasty directions, and until recently we didn't have much awareness of how much of the stuff we were consuming. We have to decide how much of the stuff we're going to try and prevent from entering the environment and our water supply, and I wouldn't want the people making that determination to be informed by ideas like "well, it's not as dangerous as uranium or lead so let's just not worry about it."
Microplastics aren't necessarily dangerous like those things, but they've been shown to be potentially dangerous in different ways. Really acute problems of the sort you're thinking of, like long-term cancer risk and short-term infection risk, can be considered alongside reduced fertility in men and developmental problems in infants and children.
E. coli, arsenic and heavy metals don't really have the same economic and lobbying power the plastic industry does.
Tobacco and climate change give us better models for how easy it is to suppress or cast doubt on pretty solid evidence if there's a profit to be made in doing so.
You're deluding yourself if you believe Flint is the only location in the US where you need to be worried about contaminated or otherwise unsafe water
Not being snarky. If there's another position consistent with the article I'm interested to hear it.
And in practice it probably doesn't make sense for the individual in america to worry too much. There aren't really any places on earth you wouldn't have an effect from less dangerous/harder to diagnose chemicals.
But as a society we should still investigate it. A lot of small things summed together can add to something large.
For instance, why has fertility dropped so much? No one knows. Why are lab animals getting fatter? We don't know that either.
Slow burns are harder to sort out, but they can certainly exist.
That's 60k cases of cancer in the US. Not worth worrying about on a personal level, perhaps, but on a public policy one?
HN tends to glorify self-driving vehicles because they might put a dent into that statistic. I wonder why that concern doesn't apply to drinking water.
The valid stuff in the article is the stuff where the Minnesota department of health altered their allowable limits based on published scientific concerns, and the town was over the limit. The other stuff... I can't tell the wheat from the chaff.
( We now need to paid extra money to get drinking water, in many ways I think this is backward as a society )
Its also worth mentioning that there good chance that a water filter won't actually filter this out. Water treatment plants will often treat the water through multiple levels of filtration, reverse osmosis, UV treatment, ozone treatment, etc.
How do you figure that? They're the same carbon filters as found in the faucet systems.
I got concerned about water quality (specifically lead) right before the Flint after doing some plumbing work in my apartment. After some digging I found a report detailing PPM before and after filtration. Brita's generally filtered less than 20 percent of containment with the exception of things like chlorine which naturally off gas. The faucet systems generally removed 80-90%.
Looks like they are preparing some new tests: http://www.waterfilterlabs.com/Index.html
However, of the pitcher filters, ZEROWATER is the only one certified to remove lead. It's what I use.
Or eat food.
Firstly, there are a number of different chemicals you might test for. Secondly, for chemicals that are dangerous at 1ppb only gas-chemotography / mass-spectrometry can detect that, which would cost upward of $500 per test per chemical and be done at a university lab.
Might be more practical to only drink filtered or distilled water. Normal water filters do a shockingly good job with most chemicals, not sure about PFAs.
i don't think anyone uses GC/MS to find heavy metals. that would tend to be more of an ICP/MS sort of thing.
$500/compound seems pretty steep for GC/MS work, when it can generally see multiple compounds in the same run (that's the whole point of doing the chromatographic separation).
> be done at a university lab.
plenty of non-universities run GC/MSes, and other fancier instrumentation.
you probably need to look into this a little more, i think you probably stumbled across some places that didn't do the sort of work you want on a regular basis, so they were quoting you rather expensive prices to make you go away.
The filtering really should be done by the city / government on an industrial scale (like CG did in the article) where it's not only more cost efficient, but also their responsibility.
(I don't mean to shill, but before someone asks, I have an earlier version of this one: https://waterwise.com/product/waterwise-3200-countertop-dist... )
They fail either from the chlorine degrading the membrane film which will start allowing larger dissolved solids through (your TDS will increase) or by having the pores scale and plug over time which will slowly decrease the output.