Your Drinking Water and Your Health by Brian Oram
Even though 60% of the human body is water, water is a resource that is often taken for granted. The primary concerns with water relate to having adequate quantity of the proper quality. In terms of hydration, drinking water is probably one of the best ways to keep your body healthy. Water is used in your body to help maintain your temperature and ensures the proper operation of your circulatory, digestive, and neurological systems. Water is one of the pathways that potential contaminants and disease causing agents can enter the body, so the quality is also important. Therefore, we need drinking water of adequate quantity of the proper quality.
When the body is not properly hydrated, our body’s response is to make us feel thirsty, but if you miss this clue watch out for dry mouth, swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, confusion, palpitations, and fainting. If over hydrated, you can become water intoxicated or hyperhydration. If hyperhydration occurs, the kidneys can not process all the water and the system becomes overwhelmed. There are phone apps and other tools to help you to remember to drink enough water, but our general recommendation is if you feel thirsty it is time to get a drink and given a choice pick water.
Water comes in many forms, which can include premium bottled water, tap water, spring water, carbonated water, soda, coffee, tap water, nutrient infused water, juices, and purified water. Of all these, it is my professional opinion that we just need to drink water. The two most common sources of drinking water for a community is either public water or a private water source. A public water source is always regulated by both the federal and state governments and many may call this city water or tapwater, but well or spring water may be from a public or private source. If you get your water directly from a well or spring, this is a private source and this is not commonly regulated.
If you get your water from city water, the most common health concerns are related to the presence of chlorine-by-products or corrosive by-product in the United States, the public water supply systems are disinfected using various forms of chlorine and phosphate is added to attempt to control corrosion. The chlorine is used to disinfect the water, but it can react with naturally occurring organics to form trihalomethanes, i.e., a potential carcinogen; while phosphate will react with the metals in the water to form a scale or coating on the inside of the piping, see “Flint, Michigan”. If you are on well water, the most common problems are the presence of bacteria and elevated levels of salts in the water, like nitrate, chloride, and sulfate, or corrosive water. In some cases, the water may contain elevated levels of radionuclides and trace metals, like arsenic, iron, lead, and manganese. The quality of the drinking water depends on type of water, location, level of treatment, the condition of your plumbing, and your home or house. In some areas, the community is concerned about pipelines and natural gas development, but a hidden problem may be the existing quality of their drinking water.
For citizens, our general recommendations related to drinking water are:
1. City Water Customers- Review any annual “Consumer Confident Reports” produced by your water supplier and act accordingly.
2. Private Water Sources –Get your water tested, at least annually, and have the results review by an expert.
3. Look out for potential problems with your drinking water, based on what you can see, taste, smell, or otherwise detect with your senses or problems that may be caused by the water.
4. Download our free “Know Your H20 Phone App” or visit our website – all Free.
A few short phrases we should try to remember.
We ALL Live Downstream !
Groundwater and Surface water are Connected!
We are Part of the Water Cycle – Not just an Observer!
“It may not have been bad shrimp or dirty lettuce that kept you up all night. A recent study shows that in North Carolina, microbes in drinking water from private wells are responsible for estimated 29,200 emergency room visits for acute GI illnesses each year. That number accounts for nearly all visits of that type and cause.
This is a particularly serious problem in North Carolina, where more than a third of all residents — 3.3 million — rely on private wells for their drinking water. These wells, which can source their water from beneath the ground, a spring or a river, are largely unregulated.
(This is why contaminants from coal ash, such as arsenic, lead and chromium 6, which have even more harmful long-term health effects, are of such concern — and why widespread testing is necessary.)
An article in this month’s Environmental Health Perspectives — among its co-authors is Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson of UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health — concludes that people on private wells are more likely to get sick from their water than those on community systems, such as municipal utilities.
From the Study
The presence of total coliforms in groundwater indicates that microorganisms from surface water have been able to reach the aquifer and a more rigorous monitoring should begin for other microorganisms (pathogenic) which might also reach the aquifer. When fecal indicators are detected, anything can happen, and will happen, with potential serious public health implications.”
To learn or read more – Go to Article
More importantly to Act Now and Get Your Water Tested.
The Keystone Clean Water Team was very happy to work with the local “Poconos Region” Property Owners Association to offer a private well water screening test for the residents drinking water. For the 2016 program, a total of 16 residents participated in the program and for this program water testing was offered at two different tiers. The basic tier provide general information related to the bacterial quality of the water and level of nitrate, iron, and total hardness. The advanced tier provided testing for trace metals such as arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, and more comprehensive analysis of the overall quality of the water. The following is a summary of the results:
2 samples were positive for total coliform bacteria, but no samples were positive for E. coli.;
1 sample exceeded the drinking water standard for lead and 5 other samples had detectable levels of lead in the water;
13 of the 16 samples contained detectable levels of nitrate, but at no point did the level exceed or approach the drinking water standard of 10 mg/L;
1 sample had elevated levels of manganese, but 3 had detectable levels of manganese in the water; and
15 of the 16 samples were considered slightly to corrosive to metal piping and 1 sample was considered very corrosive to metal piping.
The pH of the water ranged for 6.2 to 7.5 and only two samples had a pH that was less than the recommended drinking water standard of 6.5. These samples were associated with water that had detectable levels of lead, but not the highest level of lead. The sample with the highest level of lead appeared to be a sample collected at the kitchen sink after the water had been treated with a water softener.
From this snapshot, we learned the following:
- There appears to be a 13 % probability that a private well may contain total coliform bacteria.
- The water produced from the aquifer tends to be slightly corrosive and have total hardness that ranges from 30 to 150 mg/L.
- The groundwater does not appear to have elevated levels of nitrate.
- The groundwater does not appear to have E. coli. bacteria.
- Lead was detected in some water samples, but the occurrence in the well water is related to the corrosiveness of the water, type of water treatment, and type of plumbing fixtures in the home and not the groundwater aquifer.
- Homeowners that reported problems with sulfur odor or black particles were the same homeowners that had elevated or detectable level of manganese.
- If you are considering the use of a water softener, please consider the type of household plumbing and it may be necessary to install a neutralizing filter.
Based on these results, we recommend that all private well owners conduct an annual water quality test. To facilitate this effort, the Keystone Clean Water Team offers an online mail order informational water testing program for private well owners throughout the USA and we offer our Know Your H20? Free Phone App. To learn about our mail order program, please visit us at http://www.water-research.net or http://www.knowyourh20.us. If you have any questions, please call or email 570-335-1947 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
Understanding the Health Risks of Private Well Ownership
Guest blogger / writer – Julie Bowen <email@example.com>
As a country, we are proud of our reputation for having the safest and cleanest drinking water in the world. However drinking water that is procured from privately owned wells is not regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or many state agencies, meaning that the owners of those wells are responsible for ensuring that their water is safe and drinkable. Water from private wells tastes crisp and refreshing, and it can be a wonderful gift to own your own water source. It is also important to acknowledge that many residents living in rural areas have no choice but to procure their water from private wells or cisterns. However, regardless of the reasons that their water is sourced from private wells, it is essential that private well owners are aware of the health risks involved in private well ownership as well as the myriad of benefits that they can obtain.
The Risks of Water Contamination
Drinking water from wells can be contaminated in a variety of different ways: either due to naturally occurring chemicals and minerals, the land use and farming practices in the area surrounding the well, and a malfunction of the wastewater treatment systems operating on the well itself. As a result of this, there are a wide range of illnesses that can be contracted via drinking contaminated well water. These can range from short-term gastrointestinal and stomach illnesses that includes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to more severe long term illnesses such as reproductive problems, neurological disorders, and other chronic illnesses. Death by drinking water is not common, but it has happened. Individuals with compromised immune systems, as well as children, pregnant women, and elderly people, are more vulnerable to the effects of certain contaminates and should be especially vigilant about the quality of their privately owned drinking water.
Two of the parasitic illnesses private well owners should be most aware of are Hepatitis A and Giardia (which is the parasite that causes the illness giardiasis, a common cause of diarrhea). Giardiasis is a relatively short lived condition, that is caused by water becoming contaminated by either mammalian or human feces. The parasite itself is resistant to basic chlorination, meaning that it tends to be particularly resistant to water treatment methods, however once infected most individuals have overcome the illness in approximately 7 days. More deadly are the risks posed by the liver condition hepatitis A, which is a highly contagious illness that is also contracted via the fecal oral route, due to water contaminated by infected feces. Hepatitis A is a self-limited disease that does not result in chronic infection, but the symptoms can be severe and pose a particular risk to vulnerable individuals.
Taking the Appropriate Precautions
Because of the risks of being exposed to contaminated drinking water, it is recommended that in addition to regularly checking the quality of your drinking water, and taking the necessary precautions to ensure it avoids contamination, private home owners also secure comprehensive health insurance. This will help them to ensure that they are fully protected in the unlikely instance that something should go wrong with their water supply, and they should contract one of the myriad of illnesses listed above.
The Keystone Clean Water Team (KCWT) is committed to ensuring that home owners with responsibility for private wells are given the support, the information, and the technology that they need to ensure that their well based drinking water is as clean and as safe as possible. The quality of well water should be tested at least three times a year, and the well itself should be regularly repaired and maintained to protect the water that is inside. When it comes to modern well technology, knowledge is power, so it is important to be as informed as possible about what is happening inside your well, and well as any possible risks that you face. The process involved in maintaining healthy well water can seem complicated, and the language involved in the process unnecessarily convoluted, which is why The Keystone Clean Water Team can help homeowners interpret their test results and ensure their water is as safe as it can be.
A few thoughts from the KCWT:
- When people say may water taste great and looks great – I have no problem – 50% of the time they have a problem that can make them sick.
- Of these individuals, 50% of the time the problem can be eliminated for a few hundred dollars.
- Some recent work on lead in drinking water found that 2 out of 3 private well samples had elevated lead; whereas only 1 out of 10 city water samples had a lead issue. Testing your well water quality is important, but you must understand our risks.
- Blood lead testing is important for kids – get it done if you are living an older community that has or had historic industrialization.
A few suggestions:
- Download our free phone App.
- Get Your Water Tested (Portion of the Proceeds Help the KCWT)
- Get a Custom Neighborhood Hazard Report
- Order the Private Well Owner Educational Guide
“Glyphosate is an herbicide that is regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It is an ingredient in Roundup, a widely used herbicide, as well as more than 700 other products for sale in the United States. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide used on many food and non-food crops as well as non-crop areas such as roadsides. When applied at lower rates, it serves as a plant growth regulator. The most common uses include control of broadleaf weeds and grasses hay/pasture, soybeans, field corn; ornamental, lawns, turf, forest plantings, greenhouses, and rights-of-way.
Some people who drink water containing glyphosate well in excess of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for many years could experience problems with their kidneys or reproductive difficulties. This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for glyphosate. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with glyphosate in drinking water when the rule was finalized. In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks and exposure over a lifetime with an adequate margin of safety, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLG). Contaminants are any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances or matter in water.
The MCLG for glyphosate is 0.7 mg/L or 700 ppb. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems. EPA has set an enforceable regulation for glyphosate, called a maximum contaminant level (MCL), at 0.7 mg/L or 700 ppb. MCLs are set as close to the health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies. In this case, the MCL equals the MCLG, because analytical methods or treatment technology do not pose any limitation.
The Phase V Rule, the regulation for glyphosate, became effective in 1994. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to periodically review the national primary drinking water regulation for each contaminant and revise the regulation, if appropriate. EPA reviewed glyphosate as part of the Six Year Review and determined that the 0.7 mg/L or 700 ppb MCLG and 0.7 mg/L or 700 ppb MCL for glyphosate are still protective of human health.” (EPA 2015)
While the United States classified glyphosate as non-carcinogenic when it was last reviewed in 1993, the World Health Organization published a study in March 2015 that indicates glyphosate is a probable carcinogen. Since the new study was released, there have been many questions asked regarding the safety of glyphosate. According to The Ecologist (June 12, 2015), several countries have banned or restricted use of the weed killer, including France, Columbia, Sri Lanka and El Salvador. In addition, many garden centers across the globe are pulling products that contain glyphosate off their shelves as a precautionary measure to protect customers. However, Roundup remains a staple herbicide in the United States.
Testing for glyphosate previously may have been cost prohibitive for many homeowners. We have partnered with a national testing laboratory to provide a cost-effective alternative that also includes trace metals, volatile organics, and other organic chemicals. For more information, please visit our Testing Testing and Evalatuion Protal but National Testing Laboratories (NTL) now offers a lower-cost test for detecting glyphosate in drinking water. Typical analysis by EPA-approved methods can cost $200 to $400, but the new package offers a much lower price to both water treatment professionals and homeowners.
Flint Officials Are No Longer Saying the Water Is Fine
By MONICA DAVEY
OCT. 7, 2015
“FLINT, Mich. — All along, through months of complaints from residents of this city about the peculiar colors and odors they said were coming from their faucets, the overriding message from the authorities here was that the water would be just fine.
Yes, there had been a boil order when fecal coliform bacteria turned up in some neighborhoods last year. And yes, the extra chlorine that was pumped in to solve that problem seemed to create another one — increased levels of a different contaminant.
Still, the guidance from Flint officials about the temporary water supply they switched to in 2014 — partly to save money — sounded reassuring. In a notice sent to residents in July, city officials declared: “This is not an emergency. If a situation arises where the water is no longer safe to drink, you will be notified within 24 hours.”
The soothing talk has vanished. In recent weeks, testing has shown increased levels of lead in the blood of some Flint children — and health officials pointed to the water as a possible source.
First, the city advised residents to run their water for five minutes before using it, to use only cold water for drinking and cooking, and to install lead-removing water filters. Then county officials issued an emergency advisory recommending that people not drink Flint’s water unless it is tested for lead or filtered.
And last Friday, after corroborating that lead levels had risen in some children, state officials called for the water to be tested at all Flint public schools and for stepped-up efforts to replace lead service lines; they also promised $1 million to provide filters.
Officials met here on Wednesday afternoon, and talks were underway, officials said, for additional solutions that could come as early as Thursday. Gov. Rick Snyder said on Twitter late Wednesday that he planned to make an announcement about the situation on Thursday morning.
Private groups have raced to donate bottled water to schools, where the water fountains are now shut off, as well as filters to families who cannot afford them. Saying “we’re just in a heck of a bind,” Robert J. Pickell, the Genesee County sheriff, began serving bottled water and food that need not be cooked in water to hundreds of inmates in the county jail. Some residents have begun washing their children and pets with bottled water.
And Flint’s mayor, Dayne Walling, who had attended a 2014 event to celebrate the switch to the new water supply, called for returning to the city’s old water supply and urged state officials to provide millions of dollars to help pay for it.
The contaminated water was just the latest blow to Flint, an economically battered city that has struggled for years with factory closings, job losses and population decline.”
- This can be a problem associated with bacterial regrowth, Microbiologically induced corrosion, corrosive water, and a plumbing problem.
- The primary recommendations get a comprehensive water quality test of the first flush and flushed water sample.
- Always flush the water line prior to use and use cold water and not hot water.
- Base decisions on facts not fear.
- Special Informational Water Screening Testing – Get your water screened for water contamination including lead – unflushed and flushed water samples tested for 30 parameters including corrosion potential for only $ 175.00. Email
Here are a few easy ways to help protect Groundwater Quality in Your Community ” Remember We ALL Live Downstream”:
2. Apply fertilizers and other herbicides and pesticides as per the manufacturers specifications or seek out “Green” or Native Alternatives and test the soil before adding fertilizers.
3. Compost – Do not burn or put leaves or other organic yard waste in plastic bags.
5. If on a septic system – the septic system should be maintained, cleaned, and inspected approximately once every three years.
6. Run a Community Hazard Report – Know Your H20?
7. Switch to more Eco-Friendly Cleaners.
Use Social Media
1. You do not need to be an advocate – but when you find a good story or information -Like Us, JUST Share Our Posts, Or Submit a Post – let us know.
2. Like our Facebook Sites
4. Share Our Educational Booklet
2. Recycle Old Cell Phones
3. Order a “Water Screening Test Kit” as low as $ 1.00 per parameter.
4. Order the “PA Guide to Drinking Water Quality”
Initial Press Release (Partial) – Chemical Spill – Potter County, PA (Please like and share with others)
“JKLM ENERGY, LLC INITIATES RESPONSE TO RELEASE OF SURFACTANT AT REESE HOLLOW DRILLING LOCATION IN SWEDEN TOWNSHIP, POTTER COUNTY WEXFORD, Pa (Sept.24) – JKLM Energy, LLC (JKLM) today released information on the company’s ongoing efforts to respond to an incident in which a surfactant solution used in the drilling and completion of natural gas wells is believed to have migrated into shallow subsurface and ground water during initial drilling activities at the Reese Hollow 118 Pad located off Burrows Road in Sweden Township, Potter County, Pa. Surfactants are also referred to as “foaming agents” or “soap.” The migration was discovered following the use of the surfactant to free a broken drill bit piece in the well at 570 feet below ground on September 18th.“
“Local residents with questions may contact Dean Boorum, JKLM’s community liaison, at (814) 598-3960. The company is also establishing a website (www.northhollowresponse.com) to provide regular updates as the groundwater investigation and response process continues.”
Link to Information Portal
Link to Press Release –
“JKLM ENERGY, LLC TO PROVIDE DAILY UPDATES TO COMMUNITY ON PROJECT WEBSITE No Isopropanol Present in Five of Six Initial Well Water Samples Closest to Drilling Location WEXFORD, Pa (Sept.25) – JKLM Energy, LLC today announced plans to issue daily updates to the public regarding the release of drilling chemicals at its Sweden Township, Potter County wellpad. These updates, along with previous press releases and related information will be available at www.northhollowresponse.com, beginning at 4:00 PM today. As of September 24, 2015 JKLM Energy, LLC received lab results from six water sources that had potential groundwater contamination. These results included four of the five private water wells with foamy characteristics for the presence of isopropanol, the chemical of principal concern in the incident, which was not detected in those four wells. The material was also not detected in a sample collected from a spring located in the area of the investigation. The private well with foam closest to the drill site contained 15 ppm (parts per million) isopropanol, which is at the Act 2 standard for aquifers serving residential uses, the threshold for state drinking water standards. These sampling results are consistent with the belief that the aquifer would continue to disperse and degrade the isopropanol as it is transported through the aquifer by means of normal water flow.”
JKLM ENERGY PROJECT UPDATE, OCTOBER 1
Total number of water samples (water wells, springs and surface water sources) analyzed to date (93), and those found with the presence of methylene blue activated substances (MBAS), isopropanol (IPA) and acetone, a constituent that is expected to be found as isopropanol breaks down in the environment. In a correction from yesterday’s update, a total of five samples have been returned with levels of MBAS above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s non-health secondary standard of 0.5 parts per million (ppm). 5 samples above MBAS standard and 1 above isopropanol standard.
Learn More about Foaming Agents in Well Water
Video –Potter County’s water sources contaminated (9/25/2015) – Must Watch – Solid Information. (53 gallons of chemical used – final concentration or 0.25 % or 2500 mg/L after initial dilution). (Clarity requested- did it say it moved 8000 feet in 1 day?)
Testing Should include general water quality, MBAS, isopropanol, and acetone. When isopropanol breaks down in the environment, this is a possible daughter. This would suggest running a full VOC can with TICs to pick up daughters. Therefore, the equivalent of a Tier II may be advisable. The breakdown of isopropanol to acetone was based on feedback and expert information from B.F. Environmental Consultants and Quantum Laboratories.
Drinking Water Standard for foaming agents or MBAS – methyl blue activated substances or surfactants is 0.5 mg/L – potential aesthetic problems.
“Methylene blue active substances (MBAS) are anionic surfactants that can be detected by colorometric or color reaction methods. An MBAS assay is a type of analysis that makes use of a substance called methylene blue in order to detect the existence of foaming agents, detergents as well as other anionic substances in water under testing. With the MBAS assay method, undesirable components in water samples can be detected appropriately. This prevents water corrosion or contamination.”
Acetone – Drinking Water Standard – No formal Standard, but there is a clean up standard of 33 mg/L, but New Jersey has a standard of 6 mg/L. (Also Acetone can be naturally occurring). If evaluating acetone, it would be advisable to collect preserved and unpreserved samples and analyze samples as soon as possible. In some cases, the preservation method may create some acetone.
National Drinking Water Database – Forming Agents
Recommended Baseline Testing – Get The App (FREE)
Informational Course On Fracking and other Energy Courses – The Process
- If you have any testing done as part of this action, please consider releasing this data to the Citizen Groundwater and Surface Water Database. Fill out the attached form and mail the data to the following address:
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
Keystone Clean Water Team
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612
Please note- if you have baseline testing done already you may have some information on the level of surfactants in the water if you had a MBAS test done.
- Informational Screening Testing – Get your water screened for water contamination including isopropanol – Informational Screening Water Kit (Not Certified) Covers about 200 parameters, plus a review of any predrilling data – Only $ 275.00. Email
- Drinking Water Guide for Pennsylvania.
B.F. Environmental Partners with Nonprofit to Share Environmental Data
This partnership allows consumers to know about environmental dangers near their homes
WILKES-BARRE, PA—September 25, 2015—B.F. Environmental Consultants, an environmental consulting firm providing a range of services throughout the Northeast, announced today that it will begin making detailed environmental risk reports available to consumers through its partnership with Keystone Clean Water Team, a Pennsylvania-based non-profit. The new program has been launched. The program provides detailed information regarding existing and historic environmental hazards in communities across the country.
“A great deal of environmental risk data is available today but little if any of it is being made available to consumers,” said Brian Oram, a professional geologist and soil scientist and founder of B.F. Environmental Consultants. “By working with the Keystone Clean Water Team, we’re able to share this information with homeowners so that they will know what dangers are lurking in their neighborhoods and have some idea about what they can do about them.”
As part of the program, B.F. Environmental works with a national environmental database search company to identify possible sources of environmental contamination and then augments that data with information from its proprietary information sources, including its Know Your H2O? app and its online Water Research Center. The reports available to consumers provide a snapshot of the current and historic environmental concerns and hazards that might impact a property as well as a review of select criminal activity.
“The combination of the mobile app, customized reports, research reports, and water testing services will help citizens identify the environmental hazards present in their communities and help them address concerns they have about their city water, well water, or local stream water quality,” Oram said. “We are very proud to link these programs to help identify the little known hazards that affect consumers, identify the possible causes for water quality issues and provide assistance in diagnosing problems.” Learn More at Know Your H2o?
About B.F. Environmental Consultants, Inc.
B.F. Environmental Consultants, based in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos, has been providing professional geological, soils, hydrogeological, and environmental consulting services since 1985. The company specializes in the following areas: hydrogeological and wastewater evaluations for siting land-based wastewater disposal systems; soils consulting (soil scientists), environmental monitoring, overseeing the siting, exploration, and development of community/ commercial water supply sources; environmental training/ professional training courses, and other environmental services. For more information about B.F. Environmental Consultants, visit www.bfenvironmental.com and www.water-research.net.