Category Archives: Drinking Water

What Are Contaminants?

In water filtration, we use the word "contaminant" frequently. But what exactly does it mean? A contaminant is any one of a number of unwanted things in something. Food, drink, land, and filters are all things which can be contaminated.

Fresh tap water

 

Contaminants are vastly different which is why it is so difficult to make filters to remove all contaminants. There are also differing opinions regarding contaminants. Some people believe fluoride is a contaminant, while the EPA does not regard it as such. Because the opinions and beliefs are so varied, there are many filters available to help meet your needs.

 

When you learn about contaminants and the potential threats they pose, don't get scared of the tap water! Remember, America still has one of the best drinking water systems in the world and we are very lucky. First, you should have your water tested. You can get an at-home water test kit, or you can contact a local plumber to help you. You can also get easy to install point of use filters like refrigerator water filters, faucet filters, and shower filters to remove many common contaminants. You can also install a whole house filter system on your home's water line to filter all water coming into your home.

 

When in doubt, don't hesitate to contact our customer service team by phone at 800-683-8353 or by email at support@fridgefilters.com.

 

Is Your Yogurt Hurting the Environment?

The famous yogurt brand, Chobani, might be in some hot water. Recently, it was discovered that the huge factory in New York was pumping millions of gallons of water each day to keep up production. In addition to pumping so much, they never told any regulators about it.

Cows Grazing
Chobani never looked into getting water permits from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission before it started using such large quantities of water. The SRBC has to give express permissions to larger operations wishing to pump water from the river basin. Earlier this year, local residents complained that their drinking water wells were running dry.

Using nearly 1 million gallons of water per day, the SRBC requires businesses pumping more than 100,000 gallons per day to be reviewed. This would ensure the local water supply is not rendered useless, damaged, or causes stress on the environment.

Depending on how severe the SRBC deems the violation, Chobani may have to bay anywhere between $50 and $1000 per day it was in violation of the 100,000 gallon limit. Since massive pumping has been going on since 2007, the yogurt company could be doling out some serious cash.

A spokesperson for Chobani said, “As soon as we became aware that we were not in compiance, we notified [the SRBC] and began the permit application process immediately. We’ve been working extremely closely with [the SRBC] now for nearly 18 months on both developing the test plan to determine the aquifer capacity to supply the plant and surrounding communities, and obtaining the necessary permits.”

Chobani reported itself to the SRBC in August 2011 and the applications for permits filed in September 2011 are still pending. The company is still set to expand its operations in New York, as well as open up the world’s largest yogurt factory in Idaho.

*Read the full article here.

Food Allergies and Pesticides- Is There a Link?

By Megan Vick

You may have noticed lately that the number of people, especially children, with food allergies is increasing. With common allergens such as wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk (and milk products), fish, and shellfish, you may wonder why so many people have allergies.

Healthy-child-drinking-water

On December 3, 2012, the results of a study were released which tested the hypothesis that chemicals, specifically pesticides, in our drinking water may increase food allergies. The study did not find the two were linked. However, this same study did find (to no surprise) that both environmental pollution and food allergies are increasing in the USA.

The researchers found that while pesticides in water do not directly cause food allergies, the increase in chemicals in the water is associated with more food allergies. This study surveyed over 10,000 Americans regarding their health. Researchers analyzed the participants’ urine and determined that dichlorophenol, a chemical used in pesticides, weed-killers, and as a method of chlorinating water, was at measurable levels in over 2200 participants. Of those individuals, over half reported having either a food allergy or an environmental allergy (such as pollen). This information led the researchers to believe dichlorophenols may weaken food tolerance in some people, causing a food allergy. This could also explain why some children outgrow food allergies and why some adults develop them later in life.

Researchers did say that they cannot draw any specific conclusions on the link between pesticides in drinking water and food allergies, but there is enough evidence to warrant more research and more studies. Until we know for certain, it is recommended pregnant women, children, and those with a compromised immune system drink distilled or filtered water to help reduce the risk of developing or aggravating a food allergy.

*Read the whole article by Ryan Jaslow here

4396710 and 4396841 – Which Filter Do I Need?

By Megan Vick

 

Multiple times a day, our customer service team gets phone
calls regarding the PUR refrigerator water filter for Whirlpool/Kenmore. PUR
makes the filter for both Whirlpool and Kenmore brands and it does have many
product numbers. Both 4396710 and 4396841 will fit the same in your fridge, but
the performance may differ. Here is a quick way to help determine which filter
is right for you!

 

4396710

This is the “Advanced” filter for your model refrigerator.
This filter is slightly slower than its “Deluxe” counterpart, but it removes
more contaminants. It is also NSF tested and certified to meet or exceed NSF
standards 42 and 53.

 

The 4396710 filter is great if you have heavy metals,
pesticides, chlorine, and particulates in your water. We particularly recommend
this filter over the Deluxe filter if you have well water, live in a more rural
area, or if pesticides are used frequently in your community for landscaping.

 

PRO TIP: If your
refrigerator has “Fast Fill” or “PUR Measure” on the water dispenser, do not use this filter. Your water
dispenser’s performance will decrease significantly.

 
4396710/4396841

4396841

This is the “Deluxe” filter for your model fridge. This
filter is also known as the “Fast Fill” filter or “PUR Measure” filter due to
its higher gallon per minute output. If your water dispenser has either of the
two phrases on it, make certain you use this filter instead of the “Advanced” because
your water dispenser’s performance will suffer.

 

The 4396841 filter is excellent if you have lead, mercury,
chlorine, or particulates in your water. It is also NSF tested and certified to
meet or exceed NSF standards 42 and 53. We recommend this filter to customers
who have municipal water and want a little extra filtering of their drinking
water.

 

If you have any questions about which filter to use, don’t
hesitate to contact our customer service team by phone 800-683-8353 or by email
at support@fridgefilters.com. We
are more than happy to assist you!

Happy Filtering!

 

Friendly Fracking? Companies Embrace Solar Energy

By Megan Vick

In an odd twist of fate, many fracking companies are looking
to the clean energy sector to provide solar energy options for hydraulic
fracturing. Halliburton Co (yes, the same people responsible for the BP oil
spill in 2010) has a machine which relies on solar generated electricity in
combination with Earth’s gravity to shoot sand into underground rock. This rock
contains the ever-precious natural gas or oil. This little machine is called
the SandCastle.

Hydraulic fracturing plant

 

Fracking has generated tons of controversy because of the
threat to the environment. Specifically, fracking has come under fire for using
“proprietary chemicals” used to release the natural gas. These chemicals do
not have to be released to the public; therefore many people do not know when
the groundwater supply is contaminated. This also causes problems because common household
filters
don’t remove such potent contaminants from the water.

 

Halliburton, along with other companies, is working to build
its fracking clean-up business to continue its “environment-friendly” spin. Now,
Halliburton is promoting a product called CleanStim. CleanStim is a fracking
fluid that is made “almost entirely of enzymes from fruit and vegetable
compounds.” But, like most things involving fracking, we do not know what
CleanStim actually contains since the ingredients are proprietary.  As a symbol of faith, the CEO of Halliburton
drank CleanStim from a jar at an October conference to prove there is nothing
harmful in the fracking fluid.

 

What do you think about friendly fracking? Share your
thoughts in the comments!

 

*See the full article by David Wethe at Bloomberg
Businessweek

What a Wonderful, Watery World

This article is
adapted from the original.

By Megan
Vick

 

Similar to Howard Wolowitz from TV’s The Big Bang Theory, former NASA employee and environmental
engineer, John Feighery, designed the bathroom for the International Space
Station. Feighery and his team needed to focus on efficiency, waste management,
and air and water quality to have a successful system aboard the ISS.

 
Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz

In 2003, Feighery changed his focus to helping the global
water crisis. When he spoke to AlertNet, he said, “I’d been working on supplying
clean water to three or four people in space, and meanwhile there are a billion
here on Earth that don’t have it.” This profound change in thought led him to
work in Bangladesh with a group from the US Health and Human Services Department testing
well water. While he was there, he lugged around heavy equipment and had to
take notes and chart locations by hand. Because of his other physically taxing
duties, Feighery decided this process could be, and should be, easier.

 

mWater App for Android

Feighery developed mWater. mWater is an Android app which
records vital information about any given water source. This amazing app allows
a user to input the results of water quality tests and map them. Users can also
notate the appearance of the water, scent, flow, and other defining features. Photographs
can even be uploaded to give more information.

 

 

mWater is an accessible and functional tool to help people
affected by the growing global water crisis. Feighery will be working with UN
Habitat and Rwanda’s ministry of health in the future to teach employees to use
the app. These employees will be able to continue to monitor water sources and
possibly even prevent an outbreak of waterborne illness from reaching the human
population.

 

The app is available for Android devices at the Google Play
Store.

 

 

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.

 

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.)

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.