Ask the doctors: How do I know about lead in water

Q: Ever since the news about lead in the drinking water in Flint, Mich., I’ve wondered about the water in my own home. I live in Oklahoma, and our house was built in 1988. Should I be worried?

A: You’ve asked a timely question that, unfortunately, has a complex answer. Let’s start with why the presence of lead in our environment — whether in the water, air or soil, or in the products we use or come into contact with — is of grave concern.

Lead is a highly toxic metal that has a detrimental effect on virtually every system in the human body. Children, with their developing brains and nervous systems, are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead. The amount of lead that an adult can tolerate with minimum ill effect can cause significant damage to a child. The challenge is that until it becomes acute, lead poisoning virtually has no symptoms.

Lead causes anemia, hypertension and damages the kidneys and the reproductive system. Even low blood levels of lead affect the development of the brain and nervous system. In children it can result in lower IQ, hearing problems and behavioral changes like reduced attention span. The neurological damage caused by lead is believed to be irreversible.

Exposure to lead is bio-accumulative. That means the lead you ingest stays in the body and, as exposure continues, blood levels increase.

As for your situation, there is some good news. In 1986, two years before your home was built, the Safe Drinking Water Act significantly reduced the amount of lead permitted for use in plumbing fixtures, including pipes and solder. However, it wasn’t until 2014 that the most stringent regulations regarding the use of lead in water delivery systems went into effect.

You will also want to find out whether your water supplier is in compliance with federal lead contamination regulations. Federal law requires regular testing for contaminants. The results are published in a document called the Consumer Confidence Report. Ask for a copy. Should you wish to test your own water, the Environmental Protection Agency has a list of certified labs on its website. Most home improvement stores also sell water-testing kits.

If you believe your water supply is contaminated with lead, the EPA suggests the following:

  • Flush your pipes for 30 seconds to two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking.
  • Use only cold water for drinking or cooking. Hot water may contain higher levels of lead.
  • According to the EPA, it is safe to bathe or shower in water that contains lead, as it is not absorbed through the skin.
  • Consider installing a water filtration device that is certified to remove lead.

We recommend a visit to www.epa.gov, where you’ll find a wealth of information and resources.

 Original Source: http://www.pantagraph.com/blogs/ask-the-doctors-how-do-i-know-about-lead-in/article_0b16dc37-1526-55df-9b20-52a3800e0b87.html
Original Author: Dr. Eve Glazier and Dr. Elizabeth Ko
Original Date: Dec 22 2017
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Over $10 million expected to be spent on lead removal

Kalamazoo wants all lead water pipes gone within two decades
A lead service line is removed in Flint on Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 717 E Alma Ave. in Flint, Mich. (Jake May | MLive.com)

A lead service line is removed in Flint on Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 717 E Alma Ave. in Flint, Mich. (Jake May | MLive.com)(Jake May | MLive.com)

KALAMAZOO, MI – An aggressive strategy to remove all lead pipes in Kalamazoo’s municipal water system within 20 years took a great leap forward in 2017.

Almost three times the number of water service lines containing lead were replaced in 2017 compared to its previous schedule. A total of 472 were disconnected as of Dec. 18, compared to 120 in 2016.

At least 2,835 still remain. Meanwhile, 7,195 lines connecting customers to city water mains are unidentified, meaning the city doesn’t know what they are made out of.

Replacement of lead water pipes accelerated in Kalamazoo

Replacement of lead water pipes accelerated in Kalamazoo

Water in Kalamazoo is relatively lead-free.

Proposed changes to the lead and copper rule in Michigan would lower the action level for lead in drinking water and require the removal of all lead service lines over the next 20 years. Public Services Director James Baker was one step ahead of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, setting the goal regardless of its decision.

Click the map to see lead service lines replaced in 2016 and 2017

The aggressive removal work this year earned Kalamazoo recognition from the Southwest Michigan chapter of the American Public Works Association.

Kalamazoo’s water system is the second-largest in Michigan, providing 17 million gallons each day to 123,000 customers within 10 jurisdictions.

Though there is no detectable lead in the city’s water supply system when it leaves 16 pumping stations, small amounts of lead can dissolve into drinking water if it sits for several hours in plumbing fixtures containing the toxic element.

According to tests of city drinking conducted in 2016, 90 percent of samples contained less than 4 parts per billion of lead. Copper was found to be at 900 ppb.

If the 90th percentile of concentrations are at or exceed 15 ppb, or 1300 ppb for copper, the EPA requires several actions to be taken to control corrosion. Elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children.

Are your water pipes made of lead? Check a map and database for Kalamazoo

Are your water pipes made of lead? Check a map and database for Kalamazoo

Kalamazoo’s municipal water system has about 4,300 known lead service lines at about 2,800 addresses out of a total of more than 46,000 service lines in the system.

A total of around $10.5 million is expected to be spent on lead service removals in the next five years.

Funds for lead service removals are budgeted within the Water Capital Improvement Program. In 2016, $390,000 was budgeted, which more than doubled the amount spent in 2015.

This year, the city spent $2.6 million on lead service removal.

200+ lead water pipes to be removed in Kalamazoo Township

200+ lead water pipes to be removed in Kalamazoo Township

Kalamazoo’s Department of Public Services is tackling the problem head on.

Half a million dollars from the city’s Foundation for Excellence was allocated to lead service replacements.

Overall, the city plans to spend $2 million next year, and hopes to remove 500 pipes. Another $500,000 allocation from the foundation is anticipated in 2018.

An administrative coordinator of the lead program is a new position created last year, but remains unfilled.

117 lead water pipes to be replaced in city of Kalamazoo

117 lead water pipes to be replaced in city of Kalamazoo

A majority of lead pipes are located in Kalamazoo’s Vine and Edison neighborhoods.

It’s difficult to determine how many of unidentified lines are lead with any amount of accuracy, Baker said. The city does know that lead was used from approximately 1890 to 1950 and heavily — almost exclusively, he said — from about 1910 to 1940.

It’s possible that nearly 70 percent of the undefined services could be lead pipes. In terms of planning and future replacements, Baker his department is prepared to upgrade 10,000 non-copper services from the water main in the street all the way to the meter.

It costs approximately $2,800 to $3,200 to replace each line including street, sidewalk and yard restoration when the work is completed by city of Kalamazoo crews. Due to the amount of work this year, more costly bids were granted to contractors also performing the work.

Prices for outside contractual work exceeded $9,000 per service. The total program is averaging about $5,500 per lead service replacement.

Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Original Source: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2017/12/kalamazoo_wants_all_lead_pipes.html

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Hard Water May Contribute To Development Of Eczema

Hard water damages our protective skin barrier and could contribute to the development of eczema, a new study has shown.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield and King’s College London have discovered that exposing the skin to hard water damages the skin barrier – which is our defense against outside threats such as bacteria or sun burn – and increases the sensitivity of the skin to potential irritants found in everyday wash products such as soap or washing powder.

Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium ions that bind to surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES) – which act as detergents or wetting agents – making them insoluble, so they precipitate onto the skin.

Skin pH is normally acidic but hard water has high alkalinity which means it can raise the skin surface pH.  A shift towards alkaline pH disturbs the skin’s natural function as a physical barrier and leaves it prone to colonization by potentially pathogenic bacteria which can cause infection.

Lead author of the study, Dr Simon Danby from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, said:

By damaging the skin barrier, washing with hard water may contribute to the development of eczema – a chronic skin condition characterized by an intensely itchy red rash.

Patients with eczema are much more sensitive to the effects of hard water than people with healthy skin. This increase in sensitivity is associated with a genetic predisposition to a skin barrier defect brought about by mutations in the gene encoding filaggrin. Filaggrin is a structural protein important for the formation of our skin’s barrier to the outside environment. Up to half of all people with eczema carry a filaggrin gene.

This new study reveals the mechanism by which calcium and magnesium ions in hard water, surfactants, and filaggrin interact to damage the skin barrier unlocking new information about how exposure to hard water could potentially contribute to the development of eczema.

This week (16-24 September 2017) marks National Eczema Week.

Symptoms of eczema (also called ‘atopic eczema’ or ‘atopic dermatitis’) include inflamed, dry skin and often secondary skin infections, which can affect any part of the body and every aspect of a person’s life – both physically and emotionally.

The new study, which Harvey Water Softeners was asked to fund, was published this week (16 September 2017) in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The team of researchers examined whether removing the calcium and magnesium ions using an ion-exchange water softener could mitigate the negative effects of hard water on the skin. They found that using a water softener reduces the harmful effects of surfactants, potentially decreasing the risk of developing eczema.

Managing director of Harvey Water Softeners, Martin Hurworth, said:

The link between hard water and eczema has been reported anecdotally for years – now for the first time there’s academic proof. We were pleased to provide industry support to this study in the form of hard water samples and the twin-cylinder water softeners that provided the softened water that was needed.

Co-senior author of the study, Dr Carsten Flohr from the St John’s Institute of Dermatology at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, said:

One in five children and one in 12 adults in the UK suffer from eczema, costing the NHS well over £500 million annually.

It is during the first few days and months of life that our skin is most susceptible to damage and most at risk of developing eczema.

For that reason we are now embarking on a pilot trial to investigate whether installation of a domestic water softener around the time of birth can prevent skin barrier breakdown and eczema in those living in hard water areas.

The Softened Water for Eczema Prevention (SOFTER) trial will be undertaken by Dr Flohr and his team from King’s College London and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with the University of Sheffield team and colleagues from the University of Dundee, the Center of Evidence-Based Dermatology at Nottingham University, Imperial College London, the National Institute for Health (Bethesda, USA), and Amsterdam Medical Center.

Original Source: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20170922/Hard-water-may-contribute-to-development-of-eczema-by-damaging-skin-barrier.aspx

Original Date:  Sept 22 2017

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New Project Could Ensure Cleaner Water For Millions

Scientists at the University of Leeds are to work on a project which could help ensure cleaner drinking water for millions of people in the developing world.
The £1m project led by G2O Water Technologies to develop new, graphene-based water filters has teamed up with the interdisciplinary team at water@leeds, part of the University of Leeds.
G2O Water Technologies, a Manchester-based company has now taken its innovative, patented graphene oxide technology for comprehensive testing and evaluation by the Leeds tream.
This collaboration adds further weight to the company’s two Innovate UK-supported projects focused initially on oil/water separation and domestic water filters, totalling almost £2m in research and development expenditure. The ultimate aim is to develop the capability to treat water at a much lower cost and make it more affordable worldwide.
G2O will be working with the Public Health Laboratories within the School of Civil Engineering at the university to address real issues relating to water treatment in the water industry, including sieving of molecules or ions, removal of salts, oil, nuclear waste, dyes and other chemicals.
A pilot water treatment plant designed to test and develop the graphene water filters is scheduled for operation next year. If successful the filters could mean that all water on the planet could effectively be made drinkable.
Tim Harper, chief executive and founder of G2O Water Technologies, said: “We believe we are currently the only company transferring its graphene water filter technology from an R&D laboratory to an industrial setting to prove how it could help solve real-world water problems.
“This will involve working directly with water industry experts to understand their challenges in detail and evaluate how our graphene oxide membranes would complement their operations and help deliver what consumers need from their water supply.
“Our work with water@leeds, along with having highly-experienced water industry professionals on our advisory board, means we are using the latest science and knowledge to address the right applications for the industry; helping treat water at a much lower cost and making it more affordable worldwide.”
Professor Martin Tillotson from the University of Leeds said: “water@leeds is one of the world’s leading interdisciplinary centres looking at various aspects of water treatment and we are happy to share our expertise with G2O. The university is committed to making a real and telling difference to the world around us by supporting industry in developing innovative products, tackling the challenges which society faces.” Professor Tillotson said the joint project would involve developing commercially-viable water filtration membranes derived from G2O’s graphene technology that can be scaled-up for industrial application. The company is also exploring a number of partnerships with major consumer product manufacturers and energy companies in order to accelerate the process of bringing a graphene water filter product to market.
G2O’s patented technology works by creating low-cost printed graphene filters or by applying a graphene coating to existing membranes used in water filtration processes. This technique reduces the amount of energy needed to filter the water passing through the membrane by up to 50 per cent, increasing throughput of purified water while combating contamination and lowering the cost.
This new technology allows more water to pass through a membrane, therefore removing the need for, and expense of, electricity needed to run pumps and controls in existing water treatment plants. The technology wants to reduce the size and complexity of the plants, thereby potentially opening up the technology to less developed areas of the world.
Independent market research suggests that the global market for membranes used in water filtration to be worth more than $25bn.

Original Author: Mark Casci

Original Date: Dec 13 2017
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Manganese In The Water: What It Means For You

When you turn on the faucet, you want your water to be clear, but several folks around the Triad reported their water being a brown or golden color Tuesday.

The Piedmont Triad Regional Reservoir Authority attributes the discolored water to higher levels of manganese in Randleman Lake Reservoir. They’re already working to correct the problem by flushing in water with lower levels of the element. They expect impacted water supplies to return to normal Tuesday evening.

But what exactly is manganese? It’s a natural element found in the earth’s crust, soil and water. Water plants will test manganese levels everyday.

“Generally speaking manganese is not an issue,” explains Joe Johnson, an Environmental Health Manager with the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services. “If it is, it’s usually at a low enough level that it is an aesthetics problem.”

That’s where water will get the golden or brown tint, but despite the looks, it’s actually safe to consume.

“Municipal supplies are tested on a daily basis and so if there was a health risk, if they had high enough levels then it would be put out there to the citizens that there was a problem and they would be put on a notice to not drink the water,” Johnson says.

The discoloration could impact your clothes, though. The discolored water could stain laundry or your pipes. So if higher levels of manganese ever impact your water supply, you might want to wait on that next load of laundry.

If you want to avoid manganese in the water all together, you can always invest in a water filter or water softener. Both will work to rid water of certain minerals, but the systems could cost you anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000.

Original Source: http://www.wfmynews2.com/news/local/manganese-in-the-water-what-it-means-for-you/491800065

Original Date: Nov 14 2017

Original Author: Erica Stapleton

 

 

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Your Basic Water Softener Questions and Concerns

More and more people are choosing to install water softeners in their homes and offices.  There are many questions that we get asked regularly regarding our water softeners.  Are there actual health benefits that are derived from soft water?  How does the softener work so that it improves the quality of the water?  What are the drawbacks of not installing one?

What Does A Water Softener Do?

Water softeners are designed to remove calcium and magnesium from the water supply where is enters the home by process of reverse osmosis.  This is often referred to as ion exchange.  The hard water enters a series of the resin filters in the system containing tiny polymeric beads which are specially formulated to enable them to be charges with sodium ions.

As the hard water filters through the water softener, the ions of calcium and magnesium are exchanged for sodium ions.  Sodium, more commonly known as salt, is highly soluble, unlike calcium, and can remain in solution while your home water systems and not be deposited in the form of lime scale and scum as is the case with untreated hard water.  Once the resin filters have exchanged all their sodium charged ions for calcium and magnesium ions, it is a simple matter to recharge the water filter by flushing it through with a salt water solution.  Water softeners for the home come in a variety of sizes.  With the help our water conditioning experts it is simple to have a water softener that meets your capacity needs installed.

How Does A Water Conditioner Work?

Another alternative to water softeners is to install a water conditioner.  These are usually electrostatic or electromagnetic devices that work by introducing an electric charge to the water supply as it enters the home.  This encourages the formation of crystals within the water to which, when heated, the calcium particles will attach themselves instead of the pipe work or other metal work.  While lower in price and simpler to install they are not always the right choice for homeowners.  With extremely hard water a conditioner over a softener may not be as efficient and may lack the health benefits found with softened water.

One of the first things that most people notice after installing a water softening systems is the reduction in cleaning time spent on taps, showers, basins, just about everywhere that is touched by water.  Not only will you spend a fraction of your previous amount on cleaning products and other harsh chemicals, your new soft water will lather up much more than before allowing you to also save on household soaps, shampoo, and detergent.

By eliminating the buildup of lime scale in your pipe work, radiators and central heating boiler, enabling them to operate more efficiently, you will unintentionally save money on heating bills and prolong the lifespan of these units within your home.

Water Treatments and Health Benefits

Water treatments can also have health benefits.  By using fewer chemicals to clean yourself you will notice softer skin and hair without the need to purchase expensive moisturizers and conditioners.  Many customers have seen beneficial effects on skin conditions such as Eczema and Psoriasis.  Hard water, in recent studies, has shown to increase incidents of these conditions upwards of fifty percent.

Less obvious is the beneficial effects the fitting of a water softener installed at your home or business can have on the environment.  By drastically reducing the number of chemicals homeowners use in both personal hygiene and cleaning products not only will you save money but you will be producing far less wastewater that contains harmful materials.

At Reynolds Water Conditioning Company we are here to help make sure our clients don’t buy water treatment systems that they don’t need.  We are here to make sure you find a water softening system that gives you the results you are looking for, whether it is to remove iron or odor from you water; we have a solution that will help!  For more information contact our experts at 800.572.9575 or at our website https://reynoldswater.com.

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