Filter Material Transfers Heavy Metals to Wine and Beer
Wednesday, 06 March 2019 08:39

High levels of heavy metals have been reported in beer and wine, yet it is not understood how these contaminants are transferred to the beverages. A research team from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Food Safety, Division of Food Processing Science and Technology, U.S. FDA, theorized that the diatomaceous earth (DE) used to filter beer and wine could be introducing heavy metals, and that altering the filtering conditions might reduce the occurrence.

They analyzed three types of food-grade DE and found that all of them contained arsenic as well as smaller amounts of lead and cadmium. When used to filter beer or wine in the lab, one of the DE samples increased arsenic 3.7- to 7.9-fold compared with the unfiltered beverages, above the safe limit proposed by the FDA for apple juice (10 parts per billion; ppb). The amount of arsenic transferred to the drinks decreased when the beverage was exposed to less DE; the pH of the liquid was altered or the DE was washed beforehand. The researchers also measured levels of the heavy metals in commercial beer and wine samples. Although they detected arsenic in the beverages, levels were below 10 ppb, with the exception of two wine samples that contained 18 and 11 ppb arsenic.

This article was found in American Laboratory: 

For 10 years, a chemical not EPA approved was in their drinking water
Sunday, 11 November 2018 09:08

Click to read the original story on CNN.

(CNN) For 10 years, some residents in Denmark, South Carolina, have been suspicious of the rust-colored water coming from their taps. They've been collecting samples in jars and using bottled or spring water, even though the local and state government assured them it was safe.

But through a Freedom of Information Act request and a one-year investigation, CNN has found new information that may cast doubts on those assurances. The state government was adding a substance to one of the city's four wells, trying to regulate naturally occurring iron bacteria that can leave red stains or rust-like deposits in the water. The substance, known as HaloSan, was not approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency to disinfect drinking water.

'What did we do?' Families anxious about chemicals found in tap water

The city's mayor says that all of the city's wells flow into one system to be distributed throughout the city.
    The EPA and the state of South Carolina have confirmed to CNN that there is now an open investigation into how this happened, although neither would comment on the target of the probe or the scope.
    It's unclear what the effects of HaloSan might have been on the almost 3,000 people who live in this rural, tight-knit community, but a group of about 40 residents believe the water is to blame for illnesses and maladies they say they're suffering from. The chemical is typically used as a disinfectant for pools and spas, but several experts contacted by CNN said they could not find another instance where it was added to a drinking water system. One thing is clear -- the state of South Carolina approved its use, and it should not have. It was used for 10 years. CNN was told by the state that it has been adding HaloSan to the water in Denmark since 2008. A spokesman for South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control told CNN in an email that it believed HaloSan was EPA-approved for drinking water based on the way the system was "advertised."

    "The Berry Systems HaloSan treatment unit had been advertised as an effective treatment in the control of iron bacteria and was certified ... " said Tommy Crosby, director of media relations for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
    Berry Systems, the makers of HaloSan, has not responded to multiple phone calls and emails by CNN requesting comment.  "It was our thinking that it was an approved chemical to be used," said Gerald Wright, mayor of Denmark, South Carolina. "We rely totally on DHEC because they have the responsibility and expertise to test, monitor and advise." An EPA spokesperson tells CNN that HaloSan is not approved to be used to treat drinking water. "HaloSan has not undergone the necessary evaluations as part of the pesticide registration process and, therefore, EPA cannot confirm the safe use of this product for the disinfection of drinking water," according to the EPA.  An EPA risk assessment from 2007 shows that HaloSan can be a "significant eye and skin irritant." Other effects can include "burning, rash, itching, skin discoloration/redness, blistering, allergic type reactions including hives/welts, allergic contact dermatitis, and bleeding also have been reported. ... Eye pain and swelling of eyes also has been reported in some incidences." Disinfectants fall under the EPA pesticide program.  The EPA told CNN that HaloSan is not a registered pesticide product and has not been reviewed by EPA's pesticide program. By law, "a product intended to be used to disinfect drinking water must be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency," and have scientific data that demonstrates that the product "can perform its intended function without undue harm to people or the environment."

    An April 2018 presentation by South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control shows that one of Denmark's wells was treated with HaloSan.

    "I did a thorough search, and I've never seen it approved for a public water supply before," he said. "And the EPA approvals that I saw, none of them were for municipal potable water." In addition, Edwards noted that he sees no evidence in any reports that the dosage was being regulated. "You have to make sure you don't put too much of it in the water. And there was no way that they could prove that they weren't exceeding the recommended dose," he said. "There's a maximum allowed amount, even for industrial applications. And they have no way of proving that, that level is not being exceeded." Wilma Subra, a chemist and environmental health scientist, told CNN that HaloSan appears to be sold with a kit that regulates dosage. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control says it required daily monitoring, "performed by the certified system operator," of "any chemical" added to the drinking water, ensuring that the maximum dosage is not exceeded. Joe Charbonnet, science and policy associate at the Green Science Policy Institute, said without knowing the concentration levels in the water, it's hard to know the health effects. He said he is concerned about HaloSan being used as a water disinfectant because it could produce compounds that are toxic. Like many small towns, Denmark's water bills have been rising since its population dropped, along with its revenue. Maintenance of old water lines has fallen victim, leaving pipes to rust and turn the water brown. It's unappealing to look at, even if the discolored water isn't violating the law.  A $2 million federal grant to repair and upgrade water pipes here just wasn't enough, according to Wright, Denmark's mayor. "[O]ne grant itself is not adequate to replace all of the necessary pipes. We prioritize the ones that should be replaced first," he told CNN. "At no time have we not responded to a need that was urgent. We've done that. So what we've done is all we know we can do."
    Water is a problem in thousands of towns across the United States. But in Denmark, it's not just the water pipes that are eroding -- so has trust in government officials who claimed the water was properly treated when it apparently was not. Denmark residents Paula Brown and Eugene Smith have been calling for more government oversight since their water tested high for lead in 2010. Subsequent tests were below the legal limit for lead. But, the couple says there have been concerns about skin rashes and kidney problems among residents for years, although a link has not been made directly to the water. Brown calls into the local radio station almost every day in an attempt to warn her neighbors that she doesn't believe the water is safe to drink. "How can they say it's good to drink?," Smith told CNN. "I'm not gonna drink it, and I know other people drink it, but a lot of people are drinking it because they have no other choice." The couple drives 20 miles roundtrip each month to collect local spring water in cases of gallon jugs and uses that to cook, drink and brush their teeth.

    In 2016, Brown saw Virginia Tech's Edwards on television, talking about the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan. Edwards has spent nearly two decades testing water and challenging federal, state and local governments on water quality, and his work helped to reveal high levels of lead in Flint's water. Brown picked up the phone and asked him to sample the water in Denmark, too. Edwards took samples at 44 homes and six other locations and found lead levels were at the legal limit. It wasn't enough to sound alarm bells.
    However, medical experts say there is no safe level of lead in the body. South Carolina's DHEC tested Brown and Smith's home in 2010, and found about twice the legal level of lead in the water. When it returned to test a few months later, it found levels had dropped below the legal limit. But, in 2011, Eugene Smith, was told by his doctor that the level of lead in his blood was high, and he should avoid his own water. "They are not to be exposed either by ingesting nor skin exposure," reads a medical report that Smith shared with CNN.
    "I was shocked," Smith said. "Because I hadn't felt like I had it in me. I got kind of upset and very angry at the time." Documents from his doctor show his blood lead levels were elevated and he says he was diagnosed with partial kidney function. Although he can't say his health problem was caused by the water, he suspects it.

    Marc Edwards and student William Rhoads in Flint, Michigan.

    Wright wavered, and eventually, Edwards says he was denied access to the wells. Wright said he had no reason to prevent Edwards from sampling. He said the state was required to do its own testing. "I told him I thought it would be a waste of his time and resources to get the same samples," he told CNN. "I guess you have to decide if you gonna believe him or believe me." Instead, the mayor allowed a team from the University of South Carolina to accompany state testers at the well sites, and the resulting report revealed that HaloSan was being added to the drinking water supply at one of the four wells. After Edwards began asking questions, the state was ordered by Clemson University, which oversees pesticide registration in South Carolina, to stop adding HaloSan to the water. The well remains offline and is not in use. "I mean it has stopped, but what the effects that did to people who been using this water through and through?" Eugene Smith said. "I'm real kind of upset. People won't know until they go get tested and find what's happened to your body. Oh my god."

    Denmark's mayor told CNN he believes he has done everything to make sure the water is safe. "I live here," he said. "I use water every day. Drink it. Washing in it. I would be extremely foolish if I didn't make certain it was safe. I care about myself as much as anybody cares about themselves. We have not been derelict or negligent with anything related to water. Those persons complaining, you will find out they are bogus complaints. We don't have any reason at all to provide anything less than quality water." A group of about 40 residents, including Smith and Brown, are now considering litigation, claiming they've been harmed by the water. They've hired Charleston, South Carolina, attorney John Harrell to represent them.  Harrell tells CNN one of his clients, a 12-year-old, had to have her gall bladder removed because she had 4,000 stones in it, and another 15-year-old client had so many bladder-related illnesses that she had to have her bladder removed.
      "There are so many residents that have been diagnosed with kidney dysfunction. I am convinced that there is some serious contamination," he said. South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control, when asked about the potential litigation, said it would be "inappropriate" to comment.
      In Echo of Flint, Mich., Water Crisis Now Hits Newark
      Wednesday, 31 October 2018 08:46

      Click here to read the original article in the NY Times.

      Liz Leyden

      Oct. 30, 2018

      NEWARK — For nearly a year and a half, top officials in Newark denied that their water system had a widespread lead problem, despite ample evidence that the city was facing a public health crisis that had echoes of the one in Flint, Mich.

      Even as the risk persisted in the spring, the officials in Newark, New Jersey’s most populous city, took few precautionary measures, instead declaring on their website, “NEWARK’S WATER IS ABSOLUTELY SAFE TO DRINK.”

      But this month, facing results from a new study, the officials abruptly changed course, beginning an urgent giveaway of 40,000 water filters across the city of 285,000 people, targeting tens of thousands of residences.

      The revelation that Newark is facing a potentially widening public health crisis over tap water has angered many residents and raised questions about whether the city’s negligence has placed young children at risk.

      Officials were finally compelled to act after an engineering study commissioned by the city found that measures to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water were failing at one of Newark’s two treatment plants.

      State officials are warning that children under 6 in homes with lead pipes served by the plant should not drink unfiltered tap water.

      Concerns over lead in tap water have been heightened since the crisis in Flint, where dangerous levels of lead in improperly treated water led to criminal indictments against local and state officials and left residents relying on free bottled water. Like Flint, Newark has a large black population and a high poverty rate.

      “The parallels to Flint are fairly clear: The city was denying a problem even though its own data was showing problems,” said Erik Olson, a top official at the Natural Resources Defense Council, which filed a lawsuit against Newark in the summer, accusing it of violating federal safe drinking water laws. “Newark is not as extreme as Flint but still a serious problem.”

      Newark residents pick up filters at the church. Worries over lead in tap water have been heightened since the crisis in Flint, Mich.CreditSarah Blesener for The New York Times

      But Newark’s mayor, Ras Baraka, has defended the city’s response even as the issue of lead in the water has attracted intense local media attention. “When you make a statement that the drinking water is not safe, it is yelling fire in a crowded room,” he told reporters at a recent news conference. “In fact, Newark has some of the best drinking water. The problem is that our infrastructure is not safe.”

      Some residents are frustrated at how long it took the city to admit the problem. “I applaud the city for now, finally, acknowledging the issue, but they first denied it,” said Bishop Jethro C. James Jr., the senior pastor at Paradise Baptist Church. “The denial was an insult to the citizenry.”

      Candice Grant, 25, an administrative assistant, did not even know there was a lead issue until she got an alert on her cellphone about the filter giveaway.

      “Whoa, there’s lead in the water?” Ms. Grant remembered thinking.

      Her mind flashed to her 7-month-old son, and she immediately called her husband. “I said, ‘Get more bottled water because we’re not giving the baby any more from the house.’”

      No amount of lead exposure is known to be safe for children, whose mental and physical development can be impaired, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In adults, lead can increase risks of high blood pressure and kidney disease; it can cause complications, including miscarriage, for pregnant women.

      In Newark, about a quarter of the more than 14,000 children under 6 who were tested in 2016 had measurable levels of lead in their blood, according to an analysis by Advocates for Children of New Jersey of the most recent publicly available state data.

      “This suggests a pervasive problem throughout the city coming from a variety of sources, and water could easily be one of them,” said Peter Chen, policy counsel at A.C.N.J.

      In 2016, months after lead was discovered in the city’s schools and with the water crisis in Flint in the spotlight, the state announced that large water systems, including Newark’s, would have to test drinking water for lead every six months.

      For Newark, the results were poor. In 2017, more than 22 percent of the samples from its water system tested during the first half of the year exceeded 15 parts per billion of lead, the federal threshold requiring action. Elevated levels have remained in the system for each of the ensuing six-month monitoring periods.

      “We already have mold. We don’t need lead,” said Rashell Walker, right, standing with Brian Bordeaux and their children, Christian, 6, and Isaiah and Elijah, who are 11 months.CreditSarah Blesener for The New York Times

      This summer, the tap water at one house tested at 250 parts per billion.

      The city relies on two reservoirs for its water, but only one of its two treatment plants was found to have problems with its treatment methods.

      When the state first alerted Newark about its high lead levels, city officials said the cause was about 15,000 lead service lines — pipes that connect the city’s water main to plumbing systems in houses and buildings.

      The city said it was helping residents replace such lines, a process that could take as long as eight years.

      Even after the city announced the filter giveaway, some officials continued to play down the problem.“The city’s water coming out of the reservoir is safe,” said Kareem Adeem, the assistant director of Newark’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities. “The city’s water leaving the treatment plant is safe; the city’s water entering the city’s distribution system, the city’s water main, is safe. The only problem is when the city’s water enters into those lead lines.”

      But the Natural Resources Defense Council argued that Newark failed to properly treat its water with chemical additives that prevent lead from leaching into the water once it enters the pipes. The city said it would now change how it treats water at the plant where the problem was identified.

      “If we don’t have corrosion control measures that effectively reduce the amount of lead that’s going into people’s water before we change their lead service lines, we need to act,” Mr. Baraka told reporters.

      Even as the city is mobilizing, community leaders and residents remain skeptical about its performance. Once the city’s water exceeded the federal limit for lead, officials were required to notify the public. While the city mailed letters and held a town-hall-style event on Facebook, officials kept minimizing the problem.

      A robocall in April promoting the city’s pipe replacement program claimed that the water was “safe” and that the issue was “confined to a limited number of homes.”

      City officials have begun giving away 40,000 water filters, while the Natural Resources Defense Council has filed a lawsuit accusing Newark of violating federal safe drinking water laws.CreditSarah Blesener for The New York Times

      “The robocall incensed me,” said Yvette Jordan, a Newark teacher and a member of the Newark Education Workers Caucus, which joined the Natural Resources Defense Council in suing the city. “The gist of it was that everything was fine.”

      Ms. Jordan said she waited weeks for the Water Department to test the water at her home, which was found to have lead levels of 42.2 parts per billion — nearly three times the federal action threshold.

      Residents are left making the best of the situation. Before the city took action, the Natural Resources Defense Council donated filters to community groups for distribution. Rashell Walker took advantage of a giveaway at Paradise Baptist Church after hearing about it from a neighbor in her building.

      Her apartment has mold, and recently, she said, the water has smelled funky, too. So, she stopped letting her three young children drink it.

      She did not know if her building’s water has lead, but planned to install the filter anyway.

      “We already have mold, we don’t need lead,” she said. “I’m afraid we’re getting sick. Nobody seems to care about us out here.”

      Ms. Grant had used only bottled water for her son’s formula until his most recent checkup, when the doctor said he needed fluoride, which is often added to tap water.

      So, she started mixing a small amount with the formula.

      She said that she never received any notification by mail or phone about lead levels in the water, and that it was never mentioned during visits to a health clinic over the past year. After the city announced the filter giveaway, she picked one up.

      As she kissed the top of her son’s head, Ms. Grant expressed relief that she had not used the tap for long before learning her water might have lead.

      “Luckily, it was only three weeks,” she said.

      Detroit shutting off drinking water in all schools because of lead, copper contamination
      Wednesday, 31 October 2018 08:40

      Click here for the original article in USA Today

      DETROIT – Detroit's city school district is shutting off drinking water to all of its schools after test results found elevated levels of lead or copper in 16 of 24 schools recently tested.

      In a statement Wednesday, Superintendent Nikolai Vitti of the Detroit Public Schools Community District said he had initiated water testing in all 106 school buildings in the spring to ensure the safety of students and employees. Water at 18 schools previously had been shut off because of high levels of the heavy metals.

      "Although we have no evidence that there are elevated levels of copper or lead in our other schools where we are awaiting test results, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools," Vitti said.

      The school district serves almost 50,000 students.

      ► April 9: Up to 30,000 Flint kids to be screened for effects of lead in drinking water
      ► August 2017: 63 million Americans exposed to unsafe drinking water
      ► December 2016: What the EPA says it's doing about lead in tap water

      Both lead and copper leach into drinking water primarily through corroded pipes and other plumbing fixtures, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Health problems can range from stomachaches to brain damage.

      The EPA ceiling for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion, and even 5 ppb can be a cause for concern. For copper, the limit is 1.3 parts per million. 

      The human body needs a trace amount of copper to function, but no amount of lead is safe, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That's especially true for childrenbecause a smaller amount can be potent in a small body and because their bodies and brains are developing rapidly.

      "This was not required by federal, state or city law or mandate," Vitti said. "This testing, unlike previous testing, evaluated all water sources from sinks to drinking fountains."

      The Detroit Free Press was shadowing Vitti on a day in May when the issue of water quality in the schools came up during a Cabinet meeting. Earlier that day, Vitti had learned that test results at several schools had come back showing elevated lead levels.

      The district's building problems have been a constant source of frustration for Vitti. Earlier this summer, Vitti released details from a facilities review that found the district would need to spend $500 million now to fix the poor conditions in its schools.

      That price tag would rise to $1.4 billion in five years if the district did nothing.

      ► September 2016: N.Y. governor signs law mandating lead testing in schools
      ► June 2016: Lawmakers urge EPA to reduce standard for lead in drinking water

      In May, Vitti said the district didn't make the right investments in facilities while it was under the control of state-appointed emergency managers from 2009 to 2016. Vitti became superintendent in May 2017.

      "It’s sending the message to students, parents and employees that we really don’t care about public education in Detroit, that we allow for second-class citizenry in Detroit," Vitti said then. "And that hurts my heart and it angers me and it frustrates me that I can’t fix it right now."

      At the 16 schools with elevated copper and/or lead levels discovered last year, the district took immediate action.

      "I immediately turned off the drinking water at those schools and provided water bottles until water coolers arrive," Vitti said.

      Now, nearly a third of the city's school building have tested positive for excessive lead and copper levels. Not all of the sites have been tested yet.

      Water fountains and other drinking-water sources likely will be shut off at all schools by the end of this week and certainly before the school year begins Tuesday, said Chrystal Wilson, school district spokeswoman.

      Vitti said he had notified Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan of his decision.

      "The mayor’s office plans to partner with us to determine challenges with water quality in our schools and solutions to them," Vitti said.

      The mayor is fully supportive of Vitti's approach and has offered to help through the city's health and water departments, said John Roach, a spokesman for Duggan.

      "We also will be reaching out to charter (school) operators in the coming days to work with them on a possible similar testing strategy to the voluntary one Dr. Vitti has implemented," Roach said in a statement. Detroit has 15 charter schools, independently run public schools, and some of them use buildings that had been traditional public schools.

      ► April 2016: Lawmakers target lead contamination in drinking water
      ► March 2016: Excessive lead levels found in 2,000 water systems across all states

      Detroit's water department and the regional water and sewer agency for southeast Michigan, the Great Lakes Water Authority, also issued a statement to assure residents that the lead and copper contamination with water in the school buildings do not extend to the pipes that deliver water to customers' homes.

      "Aging school infrastructure, i.e. plumbing, is the reason for the precautionary measure of providing bottled water," the joint statement said. 

      Water that the authority treats surpasses all federal and state standards, according to the statement. Water at the agency's treatment plants is tested hourly, and Detroit's water district has no lead pipes connected to any Detroit school buildings.

      ► March 2016: Lead taints drinking water in hundreds of schools, day cares
      ► January 2016: Students band together to bring safe water to Flint

      Engineering and water-quality experts will help the school district understand the cause of the water problems and help solve them, Wilson said.

      This isn't the first time the district has tested school buildings for elevated levels of lead and copper. In 2016, at the height of the controversy over lead in home water pipes in Flint, Michigan, testing in Detroit found 19 schools with elevated lead levels in drinking water.

      Contributing: Katrease Stafford, Detroit Free Press. Follow Lori Higgins on Twitter: @LoriAHiggins

      Is there a new water crisis in Michigan?
      Wednesday, 08 August 2018 11:19

      Environmental Express offers a full line of PFAS Analysis supplies

      Link to the CNN article: 

      Is there a new water crisis in Michigan?

      Officials in Michigan warned more than 3,000 residents against drinking their water.

      (CNN) - On Sunday, Michigan's lieutenant governor called a state of emergency for Kalamazoo County due to water contaminated with chemicals at more 20 times the threshold set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

      It's yet another site on a growing list of those around the state contaminated with the chemicals PFAS or PFOA.

      Last week, test results from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found water in municipal water system in the city of Parchment, which is located in Kalamazoo County, had levels of PFAS as high as 1,410 parts per trillion. The EPA's recommended limit is 70 parts per trillion.
        The industrial chemicals, known as polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances or PFASs, have been linked to a variety of adverse health effects, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.

        Thousands shouldn't drink their water

        On Friday, county officials warned the approximately 3,100 residents of Parchment and nearby Cooper Township that are served by the municipal water system to stop using the water for drinking, cooking, or to mix baby formula. Local officials said the water can be used for showering, laundry and flushing toilets.

        Parchment's water supply will be drained and continue to be flushed "until test results come back that shows the PFAS levels are below the health advisory level," according to a news release from the Kalamazoo County government.

        The state declaration of emergency allows for the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts with local and county officials.

        "This declaration will allow the state to supply additional resources to help with response efforts and ensure the health and safety of residents in Parchment and Cooper Township," Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley said in a statement.

        Kalamazoo County is one of 34 PFAS-contaminated sites identified since statewide testing of water systems began in March, according to state officials. Other sites include the municipal water system of Ann Arbor, as well as the Battle Creek area.

        'People should be concerned'

        PFAS belongs to a family of chemicals that also include PFOA and GenX. Introduced more than 60 years ago, PFASs are a category of manmade chemicals that degrade very slowly, if at all, in the environment. The chemicals have been used for decades on military bases and in industrial areas in the manufacturing of thousands of consumer items, such as food packaging materials, fabrics, nonstick cooking pans and firefighting foams. While PFOA and PFAS are no longer manufactured in the US, they continue to be found in the environment.

        "I think that people should be concerned about the amount of PFOA and PFOS that is in our environment," Susan M. Pinney, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health at the University of Cincinnati, wrote in an email. "These are chemicals with long half-lives," meaning they persist in the environment as well as the body.

        "Exposure in utero may have the greatest effect on developing children ... and effects may last into adulthood," she said, adding that the science is still early.

        Pinney said there are immediate things that can be done, including "granular activated charcoal filtration systems which will remove much (although not all) of the PFOA." More research and information on the potential health effects of these chemicals, as well as improved detection systems, are needed, she said.

        In June, the the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, released a draft report that recommended that PFAS and the related family of chemicals, be much lower. The 800-plus page report determined that current EPA suggested limits are are up to 10 times higher than they should be. The report is open to public comment until August 20.

        Threshold for harmful chemicals in drinking water lower than thought
        Monday, 25 June 2018 08:15

        A government study found that chemicals found in drinking water around the country could pose risks to human health at lower levels than the government currently recognizes, potentially opening the door for more states to begin cleaning up or regulating the chemical.

        The report released Wednesday by a branch of the Office of Health and Human Services examined a category of chemicals commonly called PFAS that have been used to make non-stick products, firefighting foam and water-repellant coatings.

        They've been found in water systems and soil around the country. The most researched types of these chemicals are referred to as PFOA and PFOS, both of which remain in the environment for a long time after they're introduced, raising concerns about the health effects to people living near areas contaminated by the chemicals.

        The report found that PFOA and PFOS caused negative health effects in rodents at a lower equivalent level in humans than previously recognized by the EPA. The finding could cause a ripple effect, possibly requiring new rules or laws as states work on cleaning up areas with high levels of the chemicals.

        The study reported that the EPA's advisory level of 70 parts per trillion is seven to 10 times higher than when HHS first said it noticed health effects in animals.

        The agency that evaluates potentially toxic chemicals also said that drinking fluids or eating food contaminated with the chemicals could potentially increase the risk of cancer, interfere with hormones and the immune system, and affect growth and development of children and infants. But, overall, more research is needed to understand the impacts of all type of chemicals in the PFAS category on human health.

        The study did not specifically recommend a new level that is safe for humans but advocacy groups working on this issue said the new data show states and the federal government should act to clean up the chemicals.

        "This study confirms that the EPA’s guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water woefully underestimate risks to human health," Olga Naidenko, senior science advisor at the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. "We urge EPA to collect and publish all water results showing PFAS contamination at any level, so Americans across the country can take immediate steps to protect themselves and their families."

        The Environmental Working Group has estimated that drinking water for 16 million Americans has levels of the chemicals higher than the EPA's recommended limit and that some amount of it has been found in more than 1,500 water systems serving more than 110 million people.

        The study was the center of a controversy earlier this year after Politico reported that officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, Pentagon and White House talked about delaying the public release of the report, writing in an email that it would be a "public relations nightmare." Those emails were obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists through a public records request.

        EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in May that the EPA will move to label PFAS chemicals "hazardous" and will look into a maximum level at which the chemicals are safe and provide recommendations to states looking to clean up contaminated sites. The agency held a summit with state officials that generated further controversy after reporters and a member of Congress reported they weren't allowed to attend some of the sessions.

        Dealing with PFAS "is one of EPA's top priorities and the agency is committed to continuing to participate in and contribute to a coordinated approach across the federal government," the director of the agency's water office, Peter Grevatt, said in a statement. "Federal agencies are developing a variety of tools, including toxicity values, analytical methods, and treatment options, that can work together to provide states, tribes, local governments, health professionals, and communities with information and solutions to address these chemicals."

        Michigan is one state that has been testing for PFAS substances in water systems. The director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said at the EPA summit that the only reason her state has found so much PFAS contamination is that the state is "actively and aggressively looking," according to

        An official with Michigan's environmental agency said the state is pleased the report was released and wants EPA to work with state and local governments to set standards for PFAS.

        PHOTO: Rum Creek, a Rogue River tributary, flows through the former Wolverine World Wide tannery property in Rockford, Mich., Aug. 14, 2017.
        Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press/AP
        Rum Creek, a Rogue River tributary, flows through the former Wolverine World Wide tannery property in Rockford, Mich., Aug. 14, 2017.more +

        In one site near the airport in Grand Rapids, officials have identified levels of PFAS chemicals in wells between 54 and 461 parts per trillion. The state has also been working with the EPA to test a site of a former tannery where very high levels of PFOS were found in the groundwater.

        Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee represents Flint, Michigan, and called for the federal government to release the CDC study earlier and take more action to limit exposure to the chemicals.

        "This federal study is deeply concerning because it demonstrates that PFAS chemicals are more dangerous to human health than the EPA has previously acknowledged. The Trump Administration must address PFAS contamination with more urgency. We must ensure that families and veterans exposed to these dangerous chemicals receive the health care and clean-up resources they need," Kildee said in a statement.

        Innovations in Metals Digestions Article
        Monday, 29 January 2018 07:35

        Check out an article by our very own David Smith on the many innovative products for metals digestions that Environmental Express has to offer. These products help make metals digestions safer, more efficient, more accurate, and save you valuable time and money.

        You can read the article in Labcompare.

        ProWeigh® filters – A Novel Approach to Solids Testing

        Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater requires that the 1.5 µm, glass fiber filter used for solids determinations be prepared by rinsing with distilled or deionized water, oven drying, cooling, and then weighing to the nearest 0.1 milligram. ProWeigh® filters. a product designed to eliminate the labor and time involved in the preparation of the filter, meet all the method requirements found in Standard Methods 2540D and 2540E.

        This product is novel in that it is simply a machine-produced duplication of the tasks necessary for Total Suspended Solids (TSS) testing, and not a new test method. Since the product is a replication of present laboratory efforts, only routine blank testing is required and no equivalency testing needs to be done. ProWeigh® meets all of the EPA requirements for a TSS filter, thereby meeting with EPA approval.


        ProWeigh® filters are laser cut to ensure accuracy and smooth edges. Traditionally, filters have been cut using a click press. This can fray the filter material which can be lost during testing, thereby affecting the final weight. The 1.5µm, borosilicate glass fiber filters are vacuum rinsed with three aliquots of deionized water, which removes any loose fibers to provide consistent blanks. After washing, the filters are oven dried at 105°C for 90 minutes in a horizontal flow mechanical convection oven, and then transferred to a desiccating cabinet to cool for 24 hours. After preparation, the filters are weighed robotically to the nearest 0.1 mg using a certified, computer-interfaced balance. Each filter is placed in an aluminum dish that has the weight of the filter and the filter identification number printed on a heat-resistant Mylar® label which are automatically affixed to the aluminum planchet. As a continuing quality check, 8 percent of all filters are redried and reweighed, assuring filter weight stability and reproducibility.


        To perform a TSS sample evaluation, the analyst takes the filter from its aluminum dish and places it in a vacuum filtration apparatus. The sample is filtered across the ProWeigh® and the filter is then returned to its aluminum weigh pan. The pan is placed in a 105°C oven for one hour and then cooled to balance temperature in a desiccator. The filter is weighed and then returned to its pan. The pan is returned to the 105°C oven for one hour and then cooled to balance temperature in a desiccator once more. The filter is weighed a second time and the two final weights must be within a 0.5 mg of each other. If not, the cycle of heating, cooling, and weighing must be repeated until two, consecutive weights are within the specified tolerance of 0.5 mg.

        To address a frequently voiced concern regarding this product, the initial recorded weight indicated on the pan label is not affected by absorbed moisture. The filter tare weight is captured when the filter is completely dried and desiccated. The testing laboratory's final weighing is performed after drying and desiccating. Therefore, all interim air moisture absorbed by the filter while in transit or on the stock shelf of the laboratory is a nonfactor and will be removed before the final filter weight is measured.

        In addition, the use of different balances should not affect accuracy. Balances must be calibrated routinely to ensure correct results. Environmental Express balances are repeatedly certified with NIST weights and are calibrated internally several times during each working day.


        Current users of the fully-prepared ProWeigh® filters enjoy the improved accuracy, time and cost savings, and convenience that this product provides. Laboratories enjoy the benefit of half the turnaround time on a TSS sample. Also, because TSS analysis routinely sells for $8.00 to $16.00 and is, therefore, generally of low value to the laboratory, the technician can perform additional and more revenue generating tasks.

        When the filter cost was added to actual labor cost, one customer found that by switching to ProWeigh® filters, they were able to save about 10 percent in the total cost of performing a single TSS. With over 20 TSS sample tests performed each day in this busy municipal lab, an extra 30 minutes per day is now productively redirected to the performance of other pressing requirements.

        ProWeigh® is a standard 47 mm filter that is used with any common 47 mm filter funnel. Crucible users who do not use a filter funnel for TSS have found three distinct advantages in changing to this product:

        • Most crucible filters measure less than 25 mm in diameter, so thick, sludgy samples filter 3-4 times quicker because of the vastly increased surface area.
        • Solids routinely adhere to the sides of crucibles and are then baked on. Great difficulty is encountered in scouring and scrubbing afterwards. With ProWeigh®, little washing is required because solids adhering to the sides of the filter funnel are washed onto the filter using a squirt bottle of deionized water.
        • Finally, 99 percent of all labs using crucibles already possess at least one 47mm filter funnel of some design. Therefore, new equipment does not need to be purchased to switch over to this product. It is important, however, for crucible users to fully understand that only the filter will be weighed when using ProWeigh® as the crucible method requires that both the filter and crucible be weighed in tandem.


        ProWeigh® filters are also available for fixed or volatile solids. After washing the filter, these filters are heated in a muffle furnace to 550°C to drive off any potential volatiles present on the glass fiber. As with all ProWeigh® products, they are desiccated to balance temperature, weighed to the nearest 0.1 mg and quality checked for accuracy.


        We all know how auditors can be very meticulous in their findings. Standard Methods 2540D states that during the filter preparation, the filter must be weighed twice and these two weights must be consistent and within the 0.5 mg tolerance. Our ProWeigh® filters meet these requirements but only the first weight is recorded. Some auditors and regulatory bodies require that the second weight is documented to prove method compliance. Environmental Express has a solution to this requirement, The ProWeigh® DoubleWeigh filter. The DoubleWeigh filters are prepared the same way as the ProWeigh® filters except that both weights are recorded.

        In summation, the ProWeigh filter family of products saves you valuable time, money, and resources by eliminating the need for TSS/VSS filter prep. On average, you can save up to 3+ hours of prep time that can be utilized on more productive, revenue-generating tasks.

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