Monthly Archives: August 2012

Molecule Cafe & the Art of Water

By Megan
Vick

 

Not too long ago, in a galaxy far, far, away… Wait, wrong
story. 

 
Fresh tap water

Not too long ago, we heard about a café in New York’s East
Village selling tap water for $2.50 per bottle. 
When it comes to water quality, there seem to be two schools of
thought.  The first school of thought is
that water should be municipally treated with certain processes and chemicals
to remove bad things and add good things. 
The second school of thought is that water should be 100% pure and have
no minerals, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, or anything else in there other than
H2O.  There is also a good mix of people
who fall in the middle of these two schools of thought.  The folks at Molecule want
water better than what the city is offering, and now they are offering it to
you.

 

Molecule has a $25,000 reverse osmosis system with seven
stages of purification and treatment. 
According to The
Wall Street Journal
, their specialized filtration system delivers UV ray
treatment and ozone treatments in addition to the osmosis.  No wonder they have to charge so much for tap
water.

 

It’s well known that New York City has some of the
finest tap water in the world, so how is Molecule Café improving upon that? In
addition to “fluffy” and “smooth” water (have you ever had rough water?),
Molecule will help you create your own concoction of electrolytes, pH
infusions, vitamin “shots,” and herb, fruit, and vegetable “blasts” to add to
your water.  Some of these medleys have
uniquWater Moleculese names like “Immunity,” “Skin, hair, and nails,” and “Energy.”  The co-owners even have some ideas of
expanding their unique niche into sports drinks and possibly even a
cocktail-type bar for H2O lovers.  They
also will deliver water using BPA free jugs to homes and businesses in the area
using a tricycle for adults.

 

This might seem like a crazy, far-fetched,
never-going-to-work idea, but if you’ve ever been to NYC’s East Village, you’ll
know this might just be the one place it could work.  Next time you’re in the East Village, stop by
and check it out. In the meantime, don't forget to change your fridge filter so you can continue to enjoy your water for pennies per gallon.

Rocket Fuel in My Water?!

By Megan Vick

That’s right.  You may have heard about it on the news or seen it online- 26 states have found perchlorate (rocket fuel) in their public water supply. Now the EPA is investigating setting a standard for allowable levels of this chemical in the water supply.

What is Perchlorate?
Perchlorate is derived from perchloric acid and can be both natural and artificial. The most common perchlorate is ammonium perchlorate which is used in pyrotechnics, as well as a component of rocket fuel. Perchlorate can cause numerous health problems both in children and adults.

Rocket

Rocket Launch

Is Perchlorate in Other Things?
Undoubtedly!  Sadly, because it has been found in the water supply, it has been found in many foods.  Rocket fuel has been documented in as much as 93% of samples of both milk and lettuce and as much as 32% of organic produce.  In one FDA study, 97% of mothers tested had perchlorate in their breast milk!  Unfortunately, this seems to be an unavoidable toxin.  Because plants are often irrigated with perchlorate-polluted water the concentration found in produce may be found in higher concentrations than in drinking water.

What Does Perchlorate Do to People?
Perchlorate has been directly linked to hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Because perchlorate limits iodide absorption, it was used in the 1950s to treat hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). It has been suggested by the CDC that those individuals with hypothyroidism may be even more at risk. Any additional exposure to perchlorate may be enough to cause significant and substantial changes in thyroid hormones. These changes in hormones could lead to a host of medical disruptions and problems-including weight gain, fatigue, and depression-over a lifetime.

Can You Protect Yourself?
Perchlorate is a unique problem to have in the water. It’s not something water quality tests typically test for, so you may not know if you have it in your water. California and Texas have the highest instances of Water test
rocket fueled water; however it’s likely to be in the water near rocket testing or manufacturing facilities, military bases, and chemical plants. The only surefire way to remove rocket fuel from the water is to drink 100% pure water—either distilled water from the store, or through a system (reverse osmosis or distillation) installed in your home.

The Future
Luckily, there have already been major strides to reduce perchlorate in water supplies. The EPA is in the process of setting allowable levels of perchlorate in drinking water. Ideally this will create new ideas and technologies to remove perchlorate from the water supply to better protect people. However, it may take the EPA two years (or longer) to set an allowable level, and who knows how long it may take to develop a common and price-effective method of removing it from water.

 

What’s in That Sippy Cup? Water Contamination and America’s Children

kids

When it comes to chemical exposure, children aren't just miniature adults. Their developing bodies are especially vulnerable to toxic harm. Common water contaminants can cause a range of diseases in children, including cancer, learning disorders, and gastrointestinal illnesses.

 

Children are particularly sensitive to:

Pathogens

 A number of harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites can enter the drinking water supply from human sewage, animal feces (from both wild and farm animals) or rivers, lakes and streams. Water-borne illnesses include hepatitis (A, B, or C), giardiasis, and Legionnaire’s disease. Pathogens can cause higher miscarriage rates among pregnant women and also affect those with lowered immune systems, such as children.

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals like such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic exist in nature, but their industrial use and subsequent disposal in landfills and incinerators has increased levels in water. They can cross the placenta and cause neurological and reproductive damage to developing babies and children.

Of water-borne metal contaminants, lead (which can affect brain development) is the most serious. According to the EPA, more than 800 U.S. cities have water that exceeds the EPA’s "action level." 

Chemicals

  • Nitrates, a by-product of nitrogen fertilizers, can interfere with infants' ability to absorb oxygen and can lead to "blue-baby" syndrome (methemoglobinemia), which can result in death.
  • Pesticides, solvents, and industrial products known as SOCs (Synthetic Organic Compounds) can cause cancer, damage to the central nervous system, and reproductive and genetic damage.
  • Chlorine, widely used as a water disinfectant, can react with organic matter in the water to produce chemicals called THMs (trihalomethanes). THM exposure can cause rectal and bladder cancers, birth defects, and miscrriages.

Radioactive Substances

About 50 million people in the U.S. may be drinking water contaminated by uranium, radium, strontium and radon. We know that even small doses of radiation can cause genetic damage. Some of the radioactive materials found in water occur naturally, while human-made radioactive substances enter the water supply from nuclear power plant leaks, weapons testing, medical waste disposal and leaks at waste sites. 

The good news is that you can protect your children from water contamination with a simple water filter. Don’t be fooled into buying bottled water! Buying a water filter is the safest, most environmentally friendly, and cheapest option. (Bottled water is less regulated than tap, so there is no guarantee that it will be safer.)

 

Filters 202- More FAQs

By Megan Vick

After reading Filters 101, you understand the basics about filters, right? Or, maybe you've thought of more questions to ask! Here are some more answers to those questions.

How many filters are there?

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of filters available.  There are so many filters on the market today, but only a few will fit your refrigerator or filter system.  Even though the local hardware store may have an aisle devoted to filters, you can rest assured you only have a few to choose from.

Are there ways to tell when to change filters?

If you have a refrigerator with a filter, most have an indicator light on the dispenser.  This light is usually on a timer and estimates the amount of life you have left in your filter.  The indicator light is not connected to the filter at all.  Since there are so many different levels of water quality throughout the country, the manufacturer of the refrigerator and of the filter will have recommended guidlines about when to replace your filter.  Once you've changed the filter, you can reset the light timer for another 6 months. 

PRO TIP: Try to coordinate your filter change around Daylight Saving Time.  When you change your clocks, you change your filter.  Easy, right?

Are filters the same, or do they vary in quality?

Not all filters are created equally.  Refrigerator manufacturers often make filters to match the fridges (called OEM filters), however there are many other companies who make compatible filters.  Sometimes they are called "Off-brand" filters.  There is nothing wrong with the compatible filters or the OEM filters.  When you are searching for the right filter, make sure it's been tested and verified by NSF International.  NSF has many testing and regulating standards to make sure the filters deliver on their claims.

Which filter should I buy?

You should buy the best filter your budget will allow.  Certain filters, depending on size and contaminant reduction, will cost more than other filters.  Any filter which is NSF tested will cost more than one which is not NSF tested.  The NSF testing is extremely expensive and rigorous, but it ensures the result you desire.  If you can't decide which filter to buy, give us a call at 800-683-8353 or send us an email and we can recommend a filter to you. 

 

Filters 101- FAQs

 By Megan Vick

Over the years, we've gotten a lot of questions about water and air filters over the phone, through email, and through social media.  Most of these questions are common, so we've compiled a list of them for you. 

 1. Do I have a filter? How do I tell?

You most definitely have a filter somewhere in your home.  Most homes have an air filter for the air conditioning unit.  Depending on the type of refrigerator you have, you may have a built in filter for your ice and water dispenser. 

The easiest way to tell if you have a refrigerator filter is to take a look around your fridge.

  Refrigerator Filter Locations

If you can't find the filter by looking, you can also search your refrigerator’s model number in our database.

 

2. What needs a filter?

Many things need filters- ice makers, faucets, showers, and air handlers.  You can also find filters for your pool and spa, aquarium, car (both oil and air), coffee maker, vacuums, and lots of other things too.  The important thing to remember is if you are dealing with water or air, there is probably a filter for it.  Many refrigerators have now included air filters inside the fridge to remove any smells or odors caused by food. 

 

3. Why does it need a filter?

Filters are needed when you want to remove something from the air or water.  Your fridge needs a water filter to remove particulates, chemicals, and/or bacteria from the water coming into your home.  Water is often treated with chlorine, which can cause a very noticiable smell in the water.  A carbon water filter can easily remove up to 99% of the chlorine in the water and mostly (if not entirely) eliminate the smell. 

Other items need a filter to remove dirt, bacteria, and particulates from the air.  The air circulated in your home can contain dust, mites, bacteria, pet dander, skin, and many other microscopic ickies.  High quality air filters can remove much of that from the air, so you and your family can breathe comfortably.

E-coli bacteria 

 

4. Why is an old filter bad? What happens if you don't change the filter?

If you don't change your water filter, it will eventually stop catching the things you want removed.  With carbon based water filters, you'll want to change them approximately every 4-6 months.  Because carbon collects things like bacteria, the bacteria can begin to collect and multiply over time.  If you go for too long (8 months or longer), the filter may have grown a little (or big) colony of nasty stuff.  When water goes through the old filter, the bacteria can be deposited back into your drinking water. 

 

If you go too long without changing your air filter, your air flow throughout your home may diminsh.  This can cause an increase in energy bills because the unit is working harder to get air through the house.  Also, if an air filter goes too long without being changed, there is an increased chance mold or fungi can grow and enter the circulating air.  Breathing in things like that can cause respiratory infections, headaches, bronchitis, and escalate asthsma symptoms.  Regularly changing your filter will help keep your energy costs low and it will help keep the air clean for you and your family. 

 

5. What are all the benefits of changing filters?  Will I be healthier?

There are many benefits of changing your filters.  The most imporant benefit you'll get is better health.  When you keep the nasties out of your water and your air, your health can, and will, improve.  When you cook, shower, brush your teeth with filtered water, there are fewer contaminants going into your body.  When your body doesn't have to spend time removing unnecessary contaminants, it can spend time giving you energy, focus, and health. 


The Safe Drinking Water Act-What It Means for You

Tap waterLet's be honest-most of us give little thought to the source of our tap water, how safe it is, and who regulates it. We simply rely on the federal government and various state and local agencies to protect our drinking water. We trust that our water is safe and clean.

Thanks to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), we here in the US have some of the safest tap water in the world. Originally passed by Congress in 1974, it protects public health by regulating the nation's public drinking water supply.  In fact, the SDWA is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water. Under SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards.

So what does this mean for you? Your water is safe and you never have to think about it, right?

Wrong.

  • Since 2004 testing by water utilities has found over 300 pollutants in the tap water we drink-including arsenic, lead, murcury, BPA, asbestos, and Teflon..
  • More than half of the chemicals detected are not subject to SDWA and can legally be present in any amount.
  • The federal government does have health guidelines for others, but 49 of these contaminants have been found in one place or another at levels above those guidelines, polluting the tap water for 53.6 million Americans and increasing their risk for birth defects, cancer, organ toxicity, hormone disruption, fertility problems, allergies, and other health effects. 
  • The government has not set a single new drinking water standard since 2001.

The EPA itself admits that the government can do more to protect the public water supply. They recommend that citizens:

  • reading our annual water quality reports
  • reviewing our communities' drinking water test results
  • press public and local officials for increased enforcement of regulations and improvements to water quality and infrastructure.

You can easily take the matter of safe water into your own hands, though. Yes, you should educate yourself; yes, you should be mindful of if not active in water quality issues. 

Yes, you should filter the water that comes from your tap-a simple water filter can reduce and even remove contaminants from your tap water. 

Have questions about the contaminants in your drinking water? Check out ewg.org, keep reading the fridgefilters.com blog, or give us a call at 800-683-8353. (We LOVE talking about this stuff. Seriously.)

We’re Brewing with Water: Filtered Water and the Perfect Cup of Joe

Does filtering water before brewing coffee or tea really improve the taste and quality? You bet it does.

A connoiser will tell you that everything, from the temperature of the water to the method of roasting the coffee beans or tea leaves, will affect the finished pot of coffee or tea.

But even seemingly minor alterations like the quality of the water you use for brewing can have a major impact on brewed beverages. Chemicals commonly used to disinfect water–chlorine is one–can make your cup of Ethipian Harrar taste like you used pool water for coffee creamer.

If you live in a house with old iron or coffee pipes, you might experience a sharp, metallic aftertaste in your cup of Earl Grey.

And sulfur-an otherwise relatively harmless bacteria-can leave your cup of Joe tasting like a cup of Joe's dirty sock juice.

But while you'd probably notice these objectionable tastes in your drinking water, you might never notice them in your brewed beverage. Why? For one, the cream and sugar you add to your coffee might mask the taste of water contaminants. For two, you're probably getting your drinking water from your refrigerator's filtered water dispenser-but brewing you coffee or tea with water straight from the tap.  

But if you're not a connoiser and your palette's not all that refined, can you really tell a difference between a beverage brewed with tap water and a beverage brewed with filtered water? Try this experiment: brew two pots of coffee-one with filtered water, one with tap-and see which tastes better. You'll find that purer water makes a noticeable difference in your beverage's taste-so much so that you might just trade that pricey coffee subscription for a trip to your grocery store coffee aisle. 

My Water Smells Like… (An Exercise in Ick)

Fill in the blank: my water smells like_____________. Hopefully you answered "nothing," or maybe "chlorine." 

A quick Google search yielded some far more interesting results:

Water_smells_like
(Poop? Really?)

Unfortunately, most contaminantsgive no off-putting scent or taste to your water. (Wouldn't it be more convenient if we could taste lead in our water? Then we'd know we had a problem!) If you do smell something in your water, though, you might have a problem.

So what does your water smell like? If you answered:

Rotten eggs or sewage. You likely have sulfur in your water.  The presence of sulphur, or rather hydrogen sulfide, in even the smallest amount can make your water smell like sewage and can negatively affect taste. Small concentrations of  hydrogen sulfide in your water usually pose no health risks. However, higher concentrations can cause nausea and illness. 

Gasoline. You might have sulfur or iron bacteria in your water, neither of which poses a health threat. The more worrisome problem would be VOCs in your water. VOCs are a group of common industrial and household chemicals and are emitted by gasoline, fuel oil, paint strippers, and thousands of other products. Some VOCs are quite toxic, while others pose very little risk.  

Bleach. You're smelling the chlorine your public utility uses to disinfect your water. A simple water filter will remove up to 99% of this stuff, ensuring that you have clean water that doesn't taste like a swimming pool.

Garlic. Once again, sulphur bacteria is your likely culprit. 

Fish or dirt. A fishy or earthy smell in your tap water is probably the result of algae growth in the water reservoir that supplies your public utility. Any filter that removes or reduces VOCs will help keep your water from smelling like a fish tank.

Metal. Copper piping, magnesium in your water source, and iron piping can all make your water smell like metal. You're more likely to notice this smell if you live an an older house. You might also consider that the metallic smell is coming from the anode in your hot water heater.  (The purpose of this thing is to prevent corrosion in your hot water pipes, since most corrosion is increased by heat.  What happens is that the water literally eats this thing up so that it won't eat your pipes up.)

As you can see, many different factors can contribute to your water's smelling less than appealing. Ultimately, you solution will depend on what's causing your water to smell-which means water testing and sufficient water filters or water treatment systems if necessary-particularly if you get your water from a well and not a municipal water supply.

How Clean Is the Water from My Tap?

Glass of water
While the US has one some of the safest drinking water in the world, drinking water sources are still subject to contamination. Bacteria, industrial pollutants, disinfection byproducts, and even pharmaceuticals can all find their way into the public water supply and ultimately, into the water that flows from your tap. In fact, US water utilities have identified over 300 pollutants in the tap water Americans drink! More than half of these chemicals aren't regulated by the government and can legally be present in any amount. And the chemicals the EPA does regulate? They can still end up in your water supply. In 2010 (the latest data available), 10% of all community water systems sold water to consumers that violated at least one EPA standard for safe drinking water.

In truth, prescription drugs, parasites, and pesticides could be flowing from your faucet. The good news is that a simple water filter installed in your refrigerator or water line removes up to 99% of common contaminants. When changed every six months (or more often depending on your usage), your refrigerator filter protects you and your family from contaminants in the public water supply.  

If you're concerned about contaminants in your tap water, you might want to test your water for lead, bacteria, and other common contaminants with an easy to use drinking water test kit. Once you know what's in your tap water you'll be armed with the information you need to choose the right filter for your fridge. 

Not sure what filter you need? Just shoot us an email from our support page or give us a call at 800-683-8353. 

 

 

What’s in Your Water? Common Contaminants in US Drinking Water

Hands in clear waterPure water is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. But because water becomes contaminated by every substance it comes into contact with, by the time it reaches your tap it’s no longer pure H20.

While the US has one of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world, drinking water sources are still subject to contamination. There are many sources of water contamination, including :

Chlorine and Chlorination By-Products
Chlorine is a type of disinfectant, not a contaminant, that’s added to drinking water to control microbes. In addition to the objectionable taste and odor that can be caused by chlorine, chlorination by-products, such as total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), can form in the water. TTHMs can cause anemia in infants, young children, and fetuses of pregnant women.

Heavy Metals
Heavy metals like lead and mercury can get into your water from the pipes and plumbing coming into your home. The health effects of excessive exposure to these heavy metals can be serious, especially for young children and babies. It can cause delays in physical and mental development. Also, adults may suffer kidney problems and high blood pressure when exposed to levels above the EPA maximum contaminant level for extended periods of time.

Microbial Cysts
Microbial cysts can enter the water from human or animal fecal waste. Both giardia and cryptosporidium are microbial cysts—and they are tough to disinfect. What makes them tough is the way they operate. These microbes grow a cyst wall around themselves for protection in unfavorable conditions. When giardia and cryptosporidium reach more favorable environments like your stomach, their cyst walls break down and the microbes inside them release to potentially cause gastrointestinal illness like diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps.

Industrial Pollutants
Industrial pollutants in your drinking water can come from discharge from different kinds of factories and chemical plants-solvents, fertilizers, dry cleaning chemicals, dyes, insecticides, petroleum, and fuel additives are among the chemicals you might find in your drinking water.  Long-term exposure to excessive amounts of these chemicals can cause anemia, decrease in blood platelets, liver problems and even increased risk of cancer.

Naturally occurring chemicals and minerals
Chemicals like arsenic, radon, and uranium may occur naturally in the environment, but ingesting them in your drinking water can cause serious health concerns.

Pharmaceuticals
Trace levels of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, mood stabilizers, hormones, and painkillers have been identified in the tap water serving over 51 million Americans. In fact, many water treatment facilities may not be able to remove all of these types of manufactured compounds or substances.

Want to know how your water quality rates? Check out this drinking water quality analysis conducted by the eco-nonprofit Environmental Working Group and see what’s in your city’s drinking water.

The good news? A simple water filter installed in your refrigerator or water line removes up to 99% of common contaminants. When changed every six months (or more often depending on your usage), your refrigerator filter protects you and your family from harmful chemicals in the public water supply. 

By Becky Powell