Category Archives: Water Quality

How Much Are You Paying for Tap Water?

At Fridge Filters, we're big fans of filtered water. We're not such big fans of disposable plastic water bottles. That's because water you buy at the store can cost anywhere from 50-2700 times more than filtered water from your faucet.

Say No to Water Coolers

Some supporters of bottled water may claim that their bottled water is from fresh mountain springs or secluded mineral wells on remote islands, however those claims may not be true. Recently, several businesses have been duped by water companies advertising "fresh, great-tasting spring water" when, in fact, it is merely municipal tap water. 

 

A plumbing company in Chicago recently filed a lawsuit against Nestlé Waters North America for this terrible lie in advertising. It was quoted "Nestlé Waters' failure to discloser this critical fact caused consumers to purchase five-gallon jugs thatthey wouldn't have otherwise purchased… and caused consumers to pay more" than municipal water costs.

 

Nestlé Waters North America is believed to have a 32% market share in the bottled water industry and sells brands like Ice Mountain, Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park, and Nestlé Pure Life. With so many brands under one corporate giant, this lawsuit could change the face of the bottled water industry. There is already an increased focus on bottled water sources, labeling, cost, and environmental issues surrounding production. 

 

Over the years, there have been other lawsuits similar to this one. Even major companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been involved in them. At the end of the day, it's important to know that tap water in America is some of the best you can get in the world. Why pay 2700 times more when you can get the same great, quality water right from the filter? 

 

Will Watersheds Win the War on Fracking?

We like to update our blog with fracking information as often as possible. As more information comes out regarding the chemicals used and the water consumed, it's hard to find the good in fracking these days. 

Scientist looking at flask

Currently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), under the Department of the Interior, is developing new rules and regulations on fracking. These new rules include policies on over 750 million acres of both public and private land nationwide. The Secretary of the Interior has even noted that the current rules "are in many ways outdated."

 

The BLM's most recent draft of rules seems to be lacking in several areas. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) wants to see the BLM require companies to disclose the chemicals used before fracking takes place, require a base water test of the area's water supply before fracking begins in order to tell in the future if fracking has occured, and they want the BLM to establish high standards for fracking well design and construction and prohibit the use of open air pits for toxic fracking waste disposal. 

 

Because frackings risk are so high, these desired requirements don't seem unfair. Some of the affected areas include the Washington DC water supplies of the Potomac and James Rivers. Fracking in this area would also affect residents of the  Shenandoah Valley area. In Colorado, the water supply for the Denver area (including Centennial, Columbine, Littleton, Aurora, Lakewood, Glendale, and more) in Park County could be targeted for fracking. The White River National Forest in Colorado, which provides water to Carbondale, Vail, Aspen, Gypsum, and Redstone, is also an area where there is proposed fracking.

 

These areas are high in population, so the need for stringent regulations is even greater. Millions of water supplies could be contaminated and without knowing the chemicals fracking companies use. Without knowing what's in our water, we may not be able to remove contaminants with a water filter and doctors may not know how to treat any ailments caused by unknown pollutants. 

 

With fracking becoming an increasingly popular topic, what are your thoughts on it? Share them in the comments! 

 

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.

 

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

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

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.)

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

 

Water Filters: A Boiled Down History


Supernova


14,00,000,000 B.C.E.    The first molecules of water form in space after an early star explodes in a supernova (try filming that, Michael Bay.)

 

 

4,000,000,000 B.C.E.    Liquid water on planet Earth–IN YOUR FACE, NEPTUNE AND MARS!

2000 B.C.E.    Egyptians boil water and use crude sand and charcoal filters like, you know, Egyptians.

Hippocrates

 

 

400 B.C.E.       Hippocrates designs a sleeve-like cloth filter. He uses his "water cure" to treat many diseases but sadly does not cure his baldness. 

 

 

 

500-1500 A.D.        Beer is the staple beverage of Europeans because the fermentation process naturally purifies water and they need more excuses to day-drink. 

1627    Sir Francis Bacon attempts seawater filtration. The resulting product is salty and undrinkable, much like seawater.   

1660s    Anton van Leeuwenhoek uses a microsope to discover tiny, living organisms in the water–cholerae, salmonella, and maybe these little guys. (On a side note OH MY GOSH DELICIOUS SHRIMPJUICE!)


Jonsnow

 

1800    John Snow (not that one) discovers chlorine as a disinfectant. Happily, people stop dying of cholera and typhoid.* 

 

 

1804    Paisley, Scotland installs the first municipal water filter plant. SLAINTE!

1972    The Clean Water Act becomes law (USA! USA!)

2012    Concerns about pesticide chemicals, industrial sludge, chlorine byproducts, and lead continue to motivate consumers to use water filters in their homes. Lots of people read the Fridge Filters Blog and get happy and smarter.

Ff-logo-tagline

www.fridgefilters.com


*Sadly, waterborne illnesses are still a major concern in many parts of the developing world. Please visit http://thewaterproject.org/ to learn more


Charity Spotlight: Cary-Kildaire Rotary Club

By Megan Vick

 

Mussoorie-Water-Project

In December, our Charity Spotlight was on the Rotary Foundation and Rotary International. In Cary, North Carolina, the Rotary Club of Cary-Kildaire collaborated with the Rotary Club of Mussoorie, India. These two clubs collaborated to provide sanitation and pure drinking water facilities to three schools in India. I was able to ask Scott Rossi a bit more about the completion of the project.

Fridge Filters:Scott, can you tell us more about the project and its completion?

Scott Rossi: The first phase of the ‘Purified Drinking Water System and Sanitary Facility Project’ undertaken by the clubs was dedicated to the students of MY Saraswati Shishu Vidya Mandir, Gandhi Niwas, Mussoorie on Monday, 27th June 2011. The second phase was dedicated to the students of Mussoorie Girls Inter College, Mussoorie on Thursday, 30th June 2011. The third phase was recently dedicated to the students of Sanatan Dharm Girls Inter College, Mussoorie on Friday, 4th November 2011.

FF: How did your club come to decide on doing such an ambitious project?

SR: Rotary has six areas of focus: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development. Our International Service Committee felt that well-planned water projects have the potential to address multiple areas of focus.

FF: What made the club choose India for the clean water project?

SR: Cary-Kildaire Rotary Club was part of three water projects last year. The first project was constructing soak pits or recharge wells in Kolkata City and surrounding rural areas, West Bengal, India. The second project was digging a bore hole well and constructing water storage tanks at a school in Our Lady of Lourdes School, Ozuoba, Rivers State, Nigeria. The third project was providing drinking and sanitation facilities at three schools in India. We chose these projects because of the needs that existed and because their were excellent Rotary partners at each location.

Mussoorie-Water-Project-Speech

FF: How can other groups do something similar?

SR: They can search for water projects that need partners/sponsors on websites www.waterteaminternational.org or www.startwithwater.org (a website run by WASRAG, the Water and Sanitation Rotary Action Group).

FF: What was the best part about being involved in these projects?

SR: It is tremendously uplifting to be able to help people and to contribute to the alleviation of needless suffering.

Special thanks to Scott Rossi and Carl Ryden of the Cary-Kildaire Rotary Club for their information on this topic.

Check out the video for the Cary-Kildaire West Bengal water project!

Rotary Club West Bengal Project