MTBE: From Clean Air to Toxic Water

What is MTBE?

MTBE(methyl tertiary-butyl ether) is a chemical compound that is produced in large quantities as a fuel additive to help gasoline burn more effectively to reduce air pollution. So what’s it doing in our drinking water?

MTBE has been used in U.S. gasoline at low levels since 1979 to replace lead as an octane enhancer. Since 1992, MTBE has been used at higher concentrations in some gasoline to fulfill the oxygenate requirements set by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. MTBE was used across the US up until the last decade as a gasoline additive to make the fuel burn more thoroughly and reduce air pollution. Anytime this toxic chemical leaks or spills on to the ground, the toxins seep into the ground and contaminate natural ground water sources.

MTBE is now a commonly found contaminant in drinking water across the United States. The EPA reports a growing number of studies have detected MTBE in ground water throughout the country; in some instances these contaminated waters are sources of drinking water.The MTBE gasoline additive is now banned in many states due to the elevated risk of brain tumors, liver cancer, blood cancer, and kidney cancer when inhaled or ingested from tap water.

Who is affected?

Almost everyone in the United States breathes in or drinks some MTBE. However, some states have seen dangerously elevated levels of MTBE contamination and have banned its use. New York and California banned MTBE use in 2004, and twenty-three other states followed suit by signing legislation banning MTBE by 2005. The current court battle in New Hampshire alleges pollution of 40,000 wells with 5,590 of them reaching levels that make the water unfit for human consumption.

What you can do to protect yourself from MTBE:

If you are concerned about MTBE in your water make sure you are using a water filter that removes this harmful toxin. Aquasana water filters are certified to reduce MTBE in tap and well water. For more information on the specific impact of MTBE on your local water source contact your local EPA drinking water office for more information.

Chloramine on Tap

There’s a threat in the water, and it appears only as a single word on your water bill: chloramines. It’s the combination of ammonia and chlorine that’s added to the water to disinfect it before use. However, when added together, ammonia and chlorine create toxic, cancer-causing disinfection byproducts.

For many years, chlorine has been the primary chemical used to eradicate the risks of waterborne diseases. In the last few years many municipal water treatment plants have switched to chloramines due to their ability to disinfect water for longer periods of time. When these disinfectants interact with the organic materials in water, disinfection byproducts are created. Many of these byproducts are thought to cause gastric or liver cancer, or pose other health risks such as increased asthma symptoms, danger to mucous membranes, digestive problems and skin irritation. Kidney dialysis patients cannot use water that contains chloramines in their dialysis machines because it will cause hemolytic anemia.

While chloramine poses a risk to everyone, there is an increased risk to populations with weakened immune systems, including children younger than 6 months, the elderly, those on or who have had chemotherapy, people with HIV or AIDS and organ transplant patients.

The use of chloramines is growing. The EPA estimates more than 20 percent—or 1 in 5—of Americans use water treated with chloramines. More states are adding chloramine to water supplies because it is a more stable and longer-lasting alternative to free chlorine. Free chlorine is chlorine before it combines with other chemicals, but it can evaporate quickly, while the stability of chloramine means it lasts longer in the water supply and the harmful byproducts reach the consumer in higher levels.

Washington D.C. witnessed another side effect in 2004 when chloramines were introduced. Officials say lead contamination resulted from chloramine-related pipe corrosion. The city discovered lead levels at least 83 times higher than the accepted safe limit while performing research into premature pipe corrosion. They found that the decision to change from using chlorine to chloramine as a treatment resulted in a spike in lead levels. A report released in 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the water supplied to almost 15,000 homes might still contain dangerous levels of lead despite the partial replacement of lead pipes at the homes from 2004 to 2008.

As consumers, we need to be aware of the dangers posed by these byproducts in our water. In a recent study conducted by water filtration company Aquasana, it became apparent that our country doesn’t know the risk associated with unfiltered water. More than 70 percent of respondents were unaware of the health risks connected to drinking and bathing in unfiltered tap water, and 91 percent did not know that one of the President’s Cancer Panel’s top three recommendations to reduce environmentally-based cancer is to filter tap water.

The EPA does not force any state or town to use chloramine as a disinfectant. Additionally, they recommend many alternatives to the toxic mixture, including removing organic contaminants through coagulation or sedimentation. However, the use of more and more chemicals in water treatment underscores the need to regulate what goes into our water supply in the first place. By limiting toxic materials and enforcing regulations, the need for such harsh chemical disinfectants diminishes.

Along with Washington D.C., Tennessee has completely banned chloramines from water. This is the best possible outcome for consumers, but in the meantime, filtering your water has never been more important. When shopping for water filters, make sure that the company has a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certification to remove chloramines.

Aquasana Leads the Fight Against Chloramines

The Home Water Filtration Company Releases Two New Chloramine-Reducing Products

(AUSTIN, Texas, March 2, 2013) – Aquasana will make a splash at the International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago March 2-5 with the introduction of two groundbreaking filtration products. Both represent industry leadership for chloramine contamination reduction.

Aquasana is the first consumer water filtration brand to alert consumers about the need to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the mixture of chlorine and ammonia, known as chloramines. Many states have begun to use chloramines to treat water, as it is a cost-effective method and more stable than pure chlorine.

To combat this threat, Aquasana is unveiling a groundbreaking filter pitcher system and an under-the counter system. The pitcher represents a game-changer in the water filtration industry. Not only is it the fastest pitcher on the market, it also features the industry’s only NSF certification to remove harmful chloramines, reducing 10 times the contaminants of the leading drip pitcher filter

“This pitcher is the result of years of research into the proliferation of chloramines in the United States,” said Aquasana CEO Todd Bartee. “We are pleased to offer a full line of chloramine-reducing products for the home.”

Consumers will no longer wait for water to drip through a filter. The system can filter one half-gallon in about one minute. The system fits on the countertop and can be stored in the refrigerator once filtered. Aquasana’s sleek design means contaminants stay in the filter, so consumers only see healthy, clean water.

Aquasana’s under-the-counter system, the AQ-5300, is the brand’s most powerful water filter. What the brand calls the most cost-effective, filtration system in the D-I-Y segment is NSF-certified to remove 97 percent of chloramines and chlorine. The eco-friendly cartridge exchange system features filters that reduce more than 60 contaminants for up to six months. This system has also been independently tested to reduce pharmaceuticals.

Additionally, the EQ-400 whole-home system, based on a research partnership with the University of Texas School of Engineering, reduces 90 percent of chloramines and 97 percent of chlorine.

For more information, please visit www.aquasana.com.

About Aquasana
Aquasana is a leading water filtration company, based in Austin, Texas focused on providing best-in-class water filtration products for residential and commercial use. The company’s consumer products include drinking water filters, shower filters and whole-home water filter systems that remove over 60 harmful contaminants from water including chlorine, chloramines, herbicides, pesticides, industrial solvents, lead and mercury. All Aquasana water filters are engineered to be environmentally friendly and to preserve the healthy minerals in water.
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What’s the truth about your water?

It’s not JUST water

We can all remember the days of high school chemistry class and learning the basic components of water, H2O: 2 hydrogen molecules attached to 1 oxygen molecule. You may also remember that our bodies are composed of 70%-80% water and we must drink enough of it to survive. Today we face major problems regarding safe drinking water, not only because of mass contamination from environmental and synthetic chemicals, but an even bigger problem is growing due to corporate and governmental control of our bottled water system. We are being forced to buy more bottled water than ever and the only people who benefit are the big corporations who mass produce this highly consumed product. It’s not easy to find clean, affordable drinking water but there are things that we can do.

Contaminants

The EPA has set standards for more than 80 contaminants that may occur in drinking water and pose a risk to human health. The EPA claims its standards protect the health of everybody, including vulnerable groups like children. Is there really a safe standard when it comes to drinking toxins? And, what happened to the countless other contaminants found in our drinking water? According to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) two-and-a-half year investigation, tap water in 42 states is contaminated with more than 140 unregulated chemicals that lack safety standards. In an analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests, most of which were required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, EWG found that water suppliers across the U.S. detected 260 contaminants in water served to the public. One hundred forty-one (141) of these detected chemicals — more than half — are unregulated; public health officials have not set safety standards for these chemicals, even though millions drink them every day.

According to the EPA, contaminants fall into two groups based on the health effects that they cause. Acute effects occur within hours or days of the time that a person consumes a contaminant. Chronic effects occur after people consume a contaminant at levels over EPA’s safety standards for many years. The drinking water contaminants that can have chronic effects are chemicals (such as disinfection by-products, solvents, and pesticides), radionuclides (such as radium), and minerals (such as arsenic). Examples of the chronic effects of drinking water contaminants are cancer, liver or kidney problems, or reproductive difficulties.

Go here for more information.

The bottled water scam

water footprintWith so many of us becoming aware of our contaminated tap water, the world is embracing the bottled water industry like never before. In 1999 the sales of bottled water in the US was around $6 billion in one year. By 2007 the sales of bottled water jumped to over $11 billion. Some believe that drinking bottled water is no more pure or better for your health, nor is it safer than community or municipal water. The purity standards for bottled water are no higher than those applied to tap water — in some instances they are lower or less rigorous. Studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, can leach into bottled water over time. There are no regulatory standards limiting phthalates in bottled water. The bottled water industry waged a successful campaign opposing the FDA proposal to set a legal limit for these chemicals.

Go here for more information.

What can you do?

The majority of the contaminants found in our drinking water can be traced back to improper or excessive use of ordinary compounds like lawn chemicals, gasoline, cleaning products and even prescription drugs. As a consumer, you might consider buying eco-friendly cleaners, avoid using toxic toiletries, and dispose of your medications properly. By doing your part in creating a less toxic environment, we will be able to create safer water for generations to come.

The benefits of bottled water are convenience and novelty. Instead of buying bottled water you can carry a canteen or a reusable athletic bottle. My personal favorite is to use a glass bottle and filter the water at home using a water filter. It is good for the environment and lowers the risk of chemical exposure such as BPA, a common toxic chemical in plastics. This change will save you a lot of money and will help the environment because water bottles are one of the major sources of plastic going into landfills today. Shipping billions of gallons of water every year also uses a lot of fuel.

Lastly, recycle empty water bottles, EVERYTIME! And don’t WASTE your water by letting the shower or faucet run. Use old water for things like watering plants and invest in water saving devices for you home. Be a responsible and conscious water consumer. We will all benefit from it.

 

—Dr. Wendy Norman, D.C.

www.bodyelectrictoday.com

And for more information on how to dispose of your pharmaceuticals:

Green Your Home

 

 

 

What is THAT? …My baby can get eczema?

Unfortunately, studies and records show that eczema, particularly in babies and children, is becoming a more common and widespread problem. The good news is that it’s not always a life-long affliction for kids (they often outgrow it by 5 years old), but it’s still painful and frustrating to treat as a parent (and no picnic for your wee one, either). Baby eczema

 

Many cases remain of undetermined origin, but there are some environmental and genetic variables that can play a part:

• Skin too dry (dehydrated or not enough natural oils, excessive sweating)
• Diet
• Exposure to physical allergens and irritants
• Plain old bad luck (genetics)

 

Recognizing it

In babies and young children, eczema shows up initially as red or swollen—sometimes pebbly or rough—skin, especially in skin folds that tend to stay damp: armpits, behind the knees, and in the groin area. Sometimes there are blisters or raised red bumps, and sometimes the scratching and dryness can get so bad the skin cracks and leaves open sores. Fussy, irritable babies with tender skin who dislike bath time might have a problem with eczema.

 

Treatments

Treatment invariably depends on the cause, which is not always obvious. Please consult your pediatrician or a dermatologist in order to get direction on the proper course of treatment.Your doctor will evaluate your kiddo, and ask a lot of questions about his or her environment. Why? If your child’s skin reacts to the laundry detergent you use, resolving the issue could be as simple as switching brands or going to a “free and clear” version. Children’s skin often responds to diet changes as well; removing things like dairy, nuts or soy can improve eczema symptoms a surprising amount. There are lotions and creams, acupuncture and other homeopathic treatments, and even UV light treatments. Here are the biggies:

Filter your child’s bath water (I can personally attest that this does help, as I have adult eczema, and it helps me!)
Change laundry detergent, and dress your wee babe in 100% cotton clothing to allow the skin to breathe
• Perform an allergy test and identify possible contact or internal allergens (we’re looking at you, cow’s milk!)
• Remove certain Big Allergens from your kid’s diet (or stop eating them yourself, if you’re breastfeeding): cow’s milk, soy, nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, and wheat
• Try keep your baby in a warm (not hot!), dry environment to minimize sweating (sorry, fellow Texans, you will fail this one)
• Try OTC hydrocortisone cream (though I’m not a huge fan of chemicals)

 

Those are just some of the remedies available. There are a lot of them out there on the web, but please be careful when trying them out! Always test first on yourself, and if there’s no reaction, a small part of your baby (with something handy to wipe/remove the solution if it’s not well received).

 

Does your child have eczema? What have you found works to help alleviate the symptoms? Share in the comments!

 

What is dermatology?

As you may or may not be aware, dermatology is the field of medicine that focuses on the skin: skin diseases and disorders. This includes things as varied as hair removal and implantation, skin cancer treatment, skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis and (the most unfair of plagues) acne, to plastic surgery like liposuction and face lifts.

And just how, you might ask, is dermatology related to water and water filtration?

For hair removal issues, plastic surgery and cancer, water is important for all the usual health reasons, but has little impact aside from that. Where water becomes an essential component of dermatology issues are in the areas of skin health and skin disorders. Proper hydration is often the heart and soul of health in general, but it particularly affects the skin. Lack of adequate hydration can exacerbate (or cause) rashes, eczema, allergic reactions and other topical ailments.

Along the same lines, the water you wash with can affect the quality and vitality of your skin in surprising ways. City water contains a whole raft of contaminants in varying concentrations, some of which have been shown to be harmful to your skin. Chlorine in particular is cause for concern. We all know how it feels when you get out of a chlorinated pool: the itchy, dry, tight feeling plagues you until you can rinse off with less chlorinated water. But there’s chlorine in your shower water, too, if in lesser amounts, and it’s still not good for you.

Dermatology and you

For the next several weeks, be on the lookout for blog posts, Facebook and Twitter activities, and general buzz on Aquasana.com and our other community channels that relate to dermatology and skin issues. The subject is near and dear to our hearts, and we have undertaken a mission to shed light on various dermatology topics. With that in mind, we’ve found some really excellent resources about dermatology and skin conditions out there on the net:

Related, interesting sites on dermatology…

American Academy of Dermatology
National Eczema Association
Kids Skin Health
KidsHealth

Shower Filters Enhance Natural Beauty and Health

Aquasana-happy-momSo you took the step of purchasing a drinking water filter in your house? Congratulations! You should take time to relish the relief you feel at providing healthy and safe drinking water for your family. I don’t know about you, but before I installed a drinking water filter, I always felt a kind of sour internal feeling that maybe drinking the tap water wasn’t really in my best interest, my heart plagued by guilt and doubt. But no more!

Bath & Shower Demons
Now let’s turn our attention to another source of nasty business in the house: the shower and bath water. If you have noticed that your hair and skin seem to be dry and that your baths or showers irritate your skin, that is likely the result of shower water contamination: chlorine, lead, VOCs, SOCs, chloramine, and other harmful vapors. The potential damage that shower water contamination could be causing goes much further than just irritated skin or dry hair. When you take a shower, your skin “drinks” water that it comes in contact with. In fact, during an average shower, your skin absorbs as much water as you would drink during an average meal. If that water is not filtered, the good work you did to protect your family from bad water in the kitchen may be undermined in the bathrooms. Here’s a quick rundown of the effects related to showering and bathing in chlorine-laden, unfiltered water:

• Contaminants absorbed more easily through skin and inhalation

• Mild or inflamed eczema and other skin disorders

• Inflamed asthma

• Dry, brittle hair

• Excessively dry and sensitive skin

• Eye irritation

• Respiratory irritation

The Upshot…
The great news is that by taking the step to filter your bathing water, you can enjoy a good number of health and beauty benefits. It’s amazing how much changing just that one little thing can do:

• Healthier skin

• Softer, more manageable hair

• Healthy steam

• Less respiratory inflammation

• Improvement in existing skin conditions

Filter chlorine out of your shower water

Just Don’t Inhale!
Do you love taking long, steamy hot showers as much as I do? Ever had the unpleasant feeling of a tight chest or feel the need to cough? That steam we dig so much is the vaporized water coming out of the shower faucet, which—when unfiltered—contains all that vicious chlorine. That vaporized water invades your lungs and pollutes your body with even more unhealthy toxins. As much as we may love the idea of a relaxing, hot and steamy shower, the idea of standing in a small room with toxic steam makes the idea somewhat, shall we say, less appealing.

Shopping for a Shower Filter
For the best and most effective results, you should look for a filter that employs carbon, which filters out synthetic chemicals, THMs and VOCs. Also look for a filter to have a KDF stage of filtration, to reduce the amount of chlorine and balance the water’s Ph (for that healthy glow).

The Importance of a Refrigerator Water Filter to Your Family’s Health Plan

You’ve seen them in people’s homes many times. Many people are choosing refrigerators with built-in water filters. To some, water filters have become a prerequisite in buying refrigerators. Sometimes, filtering water has become part of the refrigerator’s job description.

Refrigerator water filters are a good option for providing clean and healthy drinking water that is also instantly chilled upon dispensing. Because the water is filtered before it goes into your refrigerator, you know it will come out clean and chilled for use by you and your family. At the same time, refrigerator water filters provide ice from filtered water. Some people do not pay attention to the kind of water used for making ice. Ice made from unfiltered water, however, is just like drinking contaminated water. It’s like opening the door wide to waterborne diseases or health problems caused by toxic chemicals that come in your drinking water every day.

You don’t have to worry about problems of contaminants in your chilled water or in your ice when you have a refrigerator water filter. The type of water filters used in refrigerator doors are the same type of filters used in drinking fountains, commercial ice machines, coffee makers, and water coolers. You can also buy an additional level of water filtration for your refrigerator that is installed in the water line going to your refrigerator.

Refrigerator water filters have been proven to be very efficient in providing the best type of drinking water. A filter can remove impurities such as pesticides, chemicals, sediment, and chlorine residue. This takes care of any unpleasant taste and odor that might be present in your tap water before filtration. Aside from purification, refrigerator water filters also keep natural trace minerals in the water throughout the filtration process. Unlike other filters, it doesn’t strip your water of the minerals your body needs to get from it.

Refrigerator water filters pass the water through a long and efficient process before the water becomes available to you. The first filter the water goes through removes big dirt particles like soil, silt, and sand. The water then goes through a mixture of copper and zinc that are responsible for removing chlorine. The last stage involves carbon filtration, which removes all the other microscopic contaminants. It also takes care of the water’s taste and odor.

This carefully designed craftsmanship that goes into refrigerator water filters can benefit your family’s water supply every day. It is a must that your family uses a refrigerator water filter if you want to provide a total solution to your family’s water quality needs. With a good refrigerator filter system in place, you will be assured that your children can easily get clean, tasty water from the refrigerator. By providing a reliable system for assuring a good supply of clean water, you no longer have to worry about waterborne diseases.

If you are planning on purchasing a refrigerator water filter, trust Aquasana, one of the nation’s leading water filter providers. Aquasana has been around for years with the purpose of providing quality, affordable, and easy-to-use water filters for every home. Through the years, Aquasana has consistently mastered the science of water filtration and has devoted their time to provide only the best.

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