Article Submitted to Connections Magazine for February 2018 American Heart Health Month

Show Your Partner You Care – “Know Your H20”

By: Brian Oram, Professional Geologist

This article was prepared based on the topic of “Romance”.   On the topic of romance, I am not an expert.  I have been married only twice and currently love only one women my current wife.  Robin is great!   Many see this as a time to show the one you love you care by going that extra mile, saying I love you, being more considerate, and trying to at least let that other person know you care and you love them.   Therefore, it is good to have big strong heart and for that reason it is “American Heart Month”.

Heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States and in the month of January my good friend had a massive heart attack.  He is currently doing well.   Since I am not a physician I can only tell you what my doctor tells me   “Make heart-healthy choices” and “Know the risk factors”, and stay hydrated.

Since I am in expert in geology and water quality, I would like to add “Know YOUR H20”.  It is critical to know what you are putting into your body and what you are using to hydrate your system.    Humans are big bags of water.    Since hydration impacts the circulatory system, improper hydration may cause the heart to pump quicker.  There are a number of contaminates in drinking water that can impact your heart and overall health.  These contaminants include: atrazine, arsenic, antimony, barium, cadmium, lead, microorganisms, and selenium.   In general, 50% of private wells in Pennsylvania have elevated levels of bacteria and 8% contain elevated levels of arsenic, and about 40% may contain elevated levels of lead/copper and other trace metals.  Even “city water” may contain elevated levels of trace metals and chlorine by-products that can impact your health.  To show your partner you care, get your water tested and make sure you “KnowYour H20” and the hazards in your community.

PS: Buy native flowers and say I love you !

Keystone Clean Water Team

Brian Oram is a licensed professional geologist and a soil scientist.  He is the owner of B.F. Environmental Consultants, Inc. and the manager for the Keystone Clean Water Team a 501 c3.


Weed Killers and Your Garden

Week of 07/11/10

Dear EarthTalk: Within my lawn I have over 100 citrus, mango and avocado trees. When I use Scott’s Bonus S Weed and Feed, am I feeding my new fruit any poison? Will the weed killer be taken up by the fruit?— Richard Weissman, Miami, FL

In short, yes and yes: You will jeopardize the health of your fruit trees and your yard in general if you use such products. Scott’s Bonus S Weed and Feed, as well as many other “weed-and-feed” fertilizers (Vigero, Sam’s, etc.), contain the harsh chemical herbicide atrazine, which excels at terminating fast-growing weeds like dandelions and crabgrass but can also kill other desirable plants and trees and damage your entire yard as toxin-carrying root systems stretch underground in every corner and beyond.

Howard Garrett, a landscape architect who founded the website and is an evangelist for natural organic gardening and landscaping, points out that anyone who reads the label on such products will learn that even manufacturers don’t take their health and environmental effects lightly. Some of the warnings right there in black and white on the Scott’s Bonus S Weed and Feed packaging include precautions against using it “under trees, shrubs, bedding plants or garden plants” or in the general vicinity of any such plants’ branch spreads or root zones.

Scott’s also recommends not applying it by hand or with hand-held rotary devices or applying “in a way that will contact any person either directly or through drift.” And just in case you were thinking it was okay for the environment, Scott’s adds that “runoff and drift from treated areas may be hazardous to aquatic organisms in neighboring areas” and that the product is “toxic to aquatic invertebrates.”

Of course, homeowners aren’t the only ones who want lush plant or grass growth without weeds. Farmers have been using atrazine for decades all over the country, although not surprisingly concentrations are highest along the Midwest’s so-called Corn Belt. The herbicide consistently delivers slightly increased agricultural yields, but environmentalists wonder at what cost. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental research and advocacy non-profit, reports that atrazine exposure has been shown to impair the reproductive systems of amphibians and mammals, and has been linked to cancer in both laboratory animals and humans. Male frogs exposed to minute doses of the herbicide can develop female sex characteristics, including hermaphroditism and the presence of eggs in the testes. Researchers believe such effects are amplified when atrazine and other chemicals are used together.

As to safer alternatives, Garrett recommends organic fertilizers. “Synthetic fertilizers are unbalanced, often contain contaminants, have no carbon energy, contain far too much nitrogen and have few trace minerals,” he says. “Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, contain naturally buffered blends of major nutrients, trace minerals, organic matter and carbon. They have lots of beneficial life and, most important, they contain nothing that will damage the roots of your trees and other plants.” Some of Garret’s top choices include corn gluten meal (a natural way to prevent the growth of new weeds), THRIVE by AlphaBio, Garrett Juice, Ladybug, Medina, and Soil Mender. More and more choices are coming on the market all the time thanks to the growing popularity of organic gardening.

CONTACTS: Scotts; The Dirt Doctor; NRDC.