Science environment video report reveals disturbing find in us drinking-water?

The Weather Channel Android :



been linked to cancer and other serious health problems, a U.S. study suggests.

The chemicals – known as PFASs (for polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances) – are used in products ranging from food wrappers to clothing to nonstick cookware to fire-fighting foams. They have been linked with an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, hormone disruption, high cholesterol, and obesity.

“PFASs are a group of persistent manmade chemicals that have been in use since 60 years ago,” said lead study author Xindi Hu, a public health and engineering researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Once these chemicals get into the water, they’re hard to get out, Hu added by email.

“Most current wastewater treatment processes do not effectively remove PFASs,” Hu said.

The problem may be much more widespread than the current study findings suggest because researchers lacked data on drinking water from smaller public water systems and private wells that serve about one-third of the U.S. population – about 100 million people, Hu noted.

To assess how many people may be exposed to PFASs in drinking water supplies, researchers looked at concentrations of six types of these chemicals in more than 36,000 water samples collected nationwide by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2013-2015.

They also looked at industrial sites that manufacture or use PFASs, military training sites and civilian airports where fire-fighting foam containing PFASs is used; and at wastewater treatment plants.

Discharges from these plants—which are unable to remove PFASs from wastewater by standard treatment methods—could contaminate groundwater, researchers note in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters. So could the sludge that the plants generate and which is frequently used as fertilizer.

The study found that PFASs were detectable at the minimum reporting levels required by the EPA in 194 out of 4,864 water supplies in 33 states across the U.S.

Drinking water from 13 states accounted for 75 percent of the unsafe supply, led by California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Georgia, Minnesota, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

Sixty-six of the public water supplies examined, serving six million people, had at least one water sample that measured at or above what the EPA considers safe for human consumption.

The highest levels of PFASs were detected near industrial sites, military bases, and wastewater treatment plants—all places where these chemicals may be used or found.

One limitation of the study is that researchers lacked data on how long people lived in areas supplied by contaminated water or how much of this water people actually drank, the authors note. The risk of many health problems linked to the chemicals is associated with long-term exposure.

A second Harvard study from one of the co-authors on the paper, Philippe Grandjean, focused on a new potential health problem tied to PFASs.

Grandjean and colleagues studied nearly 600 adolescents from the Faroe Islands, an island country off the coast of Denmark, who received vaccines to protect against diphtheria and tetanus.

The subset of these teens exposed to PFASs at a young age had lower-than-expected levels of antibodies against diphtheria and tetanus despite receiving vaccinations, according to the study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

This suggests that PFASs, which are known to interfere with immune function, may be involved in reducing the effectiveness of vaccines in children, the authors conclude.

Previous research has found lower responses to vaccinations at ages 5 and 7 with exposure to the chemicals, Grandjean said by email. The current study in teens suggests that the problem persists as children get older.

“So the negative effects on immune functions appear to be lasting,” Grandjean said. “Sadly, there is very little that an exposed resident can do, once the exposure has led to an increased amount of PFASs in the body.”

SOURCE: Environmental Science and Technology Letters and Environmental Health Perspectives, both online August 9, 2016.

Wedgefield water to be retested after Chemical found

Wedgefield water to be retested after chemical found

By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 04, 2016, 6:27 PM

Residents in east Orange County are being told they have to get their water re-tested after initial results showed high levels of a chemical byproduct.

  • Preliminary results of tests on water for 18 Wedgefield homes show high levels of THM
  • Orange County insisting on a second test
  • Pluris, private water company, has had complaints before

Preliminary test results in the Wedgefield neighborhood showed no lead or bacteria in the water, but high levels of Total Trihalomethanes, or THM, a chlorine by-product.

The tests were conducted by Orange County’s Department of Environmental Protection, at Commissioner Ted Edwards’ request earlier this month.

“It’s not something we should have to worry about in our county,” said Jessica Kohl. “It’s not something we should have to worry about in our state or our country right now.”

Kohl and her family moved to Wedgefield four years ago, unaware of water concerns — only the prices.

“[Pluris] kept on raising the prices and we weren’t really sure what the money was going towards,” she said.

Kohl said the utility company, Pluris, only mentioned costs were associated with infrastructure.

Kohl said her family got energy efficient, replacing items like hot water heaters and washers in their home. They decreased water flow with every toilet flush and made sure their pool and irrigation systems were instead hooked up to a well.

While it made a dent, Pluris raised rates again, now to $7.76 per thousand gallons.

Kohl said that’s not their biggest concern now.

“To me, it’s not safe drinking water for me. It’s not safe drinking water for my daughter,” she said. “If we go take a bath, take a shower, we still have a chlorine smell that’s coming out of our baths and showers.”

Kohl’s home was one of 18 tested by the county. But she said she’s yet to receive back her first round results. Some residents got their results back, showing the high levels of THM. The county decided, based on those results, to move forward with a second round of tests.

Kohl was told if she can’t schedule the second round on Monday or Tuesday, Orange County will not continuing testing of her home.

In a statement Wednesday, Commissioner Ted Edwards said in part:

“Further testing is being done to determine if THMs which are a byproduct from chlorine meets state guidelines and, if not, whether the source of origin is the water company or the piping in individual homes.”

In 2013, Commissioner Ted Edwards reached out to the state, following resident concerns over quality and price.

EPA records also show the facility has been noncompliant with one or more facets of the Safe Drinking Water Act for the past three years.

Edwards said Wednesday he was unaware of the EPA noncompliance. He says only the state has jurisdiction to take action, if warranted, against Pluris.

The commissioner also said Pluris has made upgrades to their facility, has cooperated with the testing and should address problems directly with customers themselves.

We have reached out to Pluris over the last several days, even stopping by their Wedgefield facility; there has been no response or comment.

As for Kohl, her family will continue using bottled water, conserving to keep high bills down and hoping that someone takes action.

“I would be willing to pay a higher price for water if I knew it was great, safe drinking water. And we don’t have that,” said Kohl. “I want to know why we’re having these chemical buildups, and why we’re having it in such quantities.”

Wedgefield is not the only community with complaints about Pluris Water:

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner said constituents in several communities lodged similar complaints over the taste, quality and price of water.

As the company asked to raise rates in 2013, Hillsborough considered the complaints and instead, purchased the Pluris utility.

Alto grado de Contaminacion del Agua en EEUU

Alto grado de contaminación del agua potable de los EEUU


Alto grado de contaminación del agua potable de los EEUUAlto grado de contaminación del agua potable de los EEUU
Alto grado de contaminación del agua potable de los EEUU

Un estudio de la calidad del agua potable de la nación, efectuado durante 3 años, detectó más de 200 químicos irregulares en el agua del grifo de 45 entidades.
El análisis a cargo del Environmental Working Group de 20 millones de pruebas de calidad de agua potable, detectó un total de 316 contaminantes—incluyendo solventes industriales, herbicidas, refrigerantes y el componente para combustible de cohetes, perclorato—en el agua suministrada al público entre el 2004 y el 2009.
La Agencia de Protección Ambiental regula 114 de dichos contaminantes, fijando niveles máximos legales a los que las juntas de agua se ajustaron el 92 % de las ocasiones, según el citado estudio.
Preocupa al EWG que los restantes componentes, que no se ajustan a estándares de seguridad federales, produzcan reacciones potencialmente tóxicas por consumo prolongado.
“Los servicios de agua hacen lo mejor que pueden resolviendo un enorme problema con recursos tan restringidos, pero debemos hacer más y mejor”, dijo Jane Houlihan, vice Presidenta veterana del grupo de investigadores. “No es ajeno para la gente el ingerir agua de la llave que contenga de 20 a 30 contaminantes. Aunque sea legal dicho límite, eleva serias sospechas sobre su impacto en la salud”.
Los contaminantes provienen de diversas fuentes, desde la agricultura, desechos industriales, productos domésticos, charcas y plantas tratadoras de aguas.
Los reportes anuales sobre calidad del agua que deben las juntas de aguas enviar a los usuarios apenas dan una noción parcial, de acuerdo al estudio, pues no se incluyen datos sobre contaminantes ilegales. También mencionan niveles promedio de algunos contaminantes, lo que no se dice es cuándo y con qué frecuencia se rebasaron los niveles permitidos de contaminación.
En septiembre la EPA dijo que considerará regular 104 químicos en el agua potable, como pesticidas, químicos comerciales, bioproductos desinfectantes y, por vez primera, farmacéuticos.
Esta fue la más extensa lista elaborada por la agencia desde que en 1996, por ley, se ordenará analizar cada 5 años los contaminantes del agua potable, y se regulará al menos 5 de ellos.
La EPA dijo que seguirá investigando dichos contaminantes, y para el 2013 determinará cuáles más se regularán.
Un estudio de la calidad del agua potable de la nación, efectuado durante 3 años, detectó más de 200 químicos irregulares en el agua del grifo de 45 entidades.
El análisis a cargo del Environmental Working Group de 20 millones de pruebas de calidad de agua potable, detectó un total de 316 contaminantes—incluyendo solventes industriales, herbicidas, refrigerantes y el componente para combustible de cohetes, perclorato—en el agua suministrada al público entre el 2004 y el 2009.
La Agencia de Protección Ambiental regula 114 de dichos contaminantes, fijando niveles máximos legales a los que las juntas de agua se ajustaron el 92 % de las ocasiones, según el citado estudio.
Preocupa al EWG que los restantes componentes, que no se ajustan a estándares de seguridad federales, produzcan reacciones potencialmente tóxicas por consumo prolongado.
“Los servicios de agua hacen lo mejor que pueden resolviendo un enorme problema con recursos tan restringidos, pero debemos hacer más y mejor”, dijo Jane Houlihan, vice Presidenta veterana del grupo de investigadores. “No es ajeno para la gente el ingerir agua de la llave que contenga de 20 a 30 contaminantes. Aunque sea legal dicho límite, eleva serias sospechas sobre su impacto en la salud”.
Los contaminantes provienen de diversas fuentes, desde la agricultura, desechos industriales, productos domésticos, charcas y plantas tratadoras de aguas.
Los reportes anuales sobre calidad del agua que deben las juntas de aguas enviar a los usuarios apenas dan una noción parcial, de acuerdo al estudio, pues no se incluyen datos sobre contaminantes ilegales. También mencionan niveles promedio de algunos contaminantes, lo que no se dice es cuándo y con qué frecuencia se rebasaron los niveles permitidos de contaminación.
En septiembre la EPA dijo que considerará regular 104 químicos en el agua potable, como pesticidas, químicos comerciales, bioproductos desinfectantes y, por vez primera, farmacéuticos.
Esta fue la más extensa lista elaborada por la agencia desde que en 1996, por ley, se ordenará analizar cada 5 años los contaminantes del agua potable, y se regulará al menos 5 de ellos.
La EPA dijo que seguirá investigando dichos contaminantes, y para el 2013 determinará cuáles más se regularán.

Contaminacion del Agua en Condado Orange Fl

[Read more…]

Orlando’s ozone pollution could violate proposed limits

The amount of lung-damaging ozone inhaled by Orange County residents in recent years would exceed new limits for the pollutant that were proposed recently by the federal government.

A push by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for further reductions of ozone pollution has been lauded by health and environmental groups and vilified by industries and conservatives.

The pressing question is whether cleaner cars, mass transit and other, ongoing strategies to reduce ozone will lower levels in Central Florida by the time any new standard takes effect in 2017. Orange, Hillsborough and Sarasota counties have had the state’s worst ozone pollution in recent years, according to EPA.

“Medical research has been there all along that ozone levels need to come down,” said Phil Compton, a Sierra Club regional representative in Tampa. “They aren’t going to get their on their own.”

Invisible and odorless, ozone is a byproduct of fuel fumes, industrial emissions and, most significantly, car exhaust. When those pollutants concentrate near the ground, typically on hot, stagnant days, sunlight “cooks” them into ozone.

At excessive levels, health authorities say, ozone aggravates respiratory diseases, causes premature deaths and can make breathing difficult for children, the elderly and those who spend time outdoors.

This year’s State of the Air report by the American Lung Association gave Hillsborough County the only F in the state for ozone pollution. The report gave D’s to two counties: Orange and Santa Rosa in the Panhandle. Ozone levels during recent years in Seminole, Osceola and Polk counties also hovered around EPA’s proposed limits.

“This is a pretty dangerous pollutant,” said Janice Nolen, association assistant vice president for national policy.

The nation has managed to reduce ozone 33 percent since 1980. The federal standard now is 75 parts per billion — a figure that involves complex averaging. EPA wants to lower the limit to 70 ppb or 65 ppb but also has invited public comment on 60 ppb, which is what the lung association has long pushed for.

Historically, EPA has taken into account cost and technical difficulty of reducing ozone pollution, emphasized incentives over penalties, and has given states years to implement solutions.

Florida is not nearly as troubled with ozone as the Northeast, Texas and Southwest.

Paula Cobb, director of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection air division, said current trends make it likely most of Florida will not have difficulty meeting even the 65 ppb limit.

Gary Huttmann, deputy director of MetroPlan Orlando, said it’s hard to say how often Central Florida might violate the new standard. He said the area probably would be OK at 70 ppb, occasionally top 65 ppb and most likely would repeatedly violate a limit of 60 ppb.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” said Huttmann, whose agency sets transportation policy in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

If the region regularly fails, he said, it would mean leaders would have to look for ways to get cars off the road, or at least the older, less efficient models. Two likely solutions would be to promote the SunRail commuter train and hope for increased ridership, as well as trying to get people to ride city buses more often.

Other possibilities include reducing automobile idling by timing traffic lights to allow traffic to move more smoothly, as well as discouraging use of gas-powered lawn mowers and leaf blowers, Huttmann said.

Parts of California, including the Los Angeles area, periodically offer rebates on electric lawn mowers when exchanged for working gas mowers. The EPA considers gas mowers a significant source of pollution.

Orange County and the Interstate 4 corridor are among Florida’s ozone hot spots. Metro areas with heavy traffic such as Fort Lauderdale and Miami benefit from sea breezes that dilute ozone concentrations.

Though EPA and the Lung Association contend that research strongly supports the need to reduce ozone pollution, industry and conservatives are attacking EPA as out of step with the economy.

The federal agency, said Florida Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Edie Ousley, is nothing more than a bureaucracy that is “out of control, tone-deaf and indifferent to the cost and burden some of their rules place on Floridians.”

She promised the chamber “will review the ozone regulations when they are published. However, given their recent track record, we’re not optimistic that the EPA gets it.”

Copyright © 2015, Orlando Sentinel

Florida’s water woes are seen as urgent — except in the House

Gov. Rick Scott, several powerful state senators, a coalition of environmental groups and a consortium of business and industry groups all say the Legislature needs to do something this year about fixing Florida’s water.
The pollution is too pervasive, the flow too endangered, and the perils too great to the state’s future to ignore it any longer, they all agreed.
“Water quality and quantity have the potential to limit residential and business growth, and we need to attack this problem head-on with forward-thinking solutions,” Tom Feeney, president of the probusiness Associated Industries of Florida, said in February.
A rally for clean water drew 200 people to Tallahassee last month, all clamoring for quick action. One speaker, former Department of Community Affairs secretary Tom Pelham, told the crowd, “The time to act is now. Delay will only make the situation worse and the solutions more costly.”
The House is the one place where there’s no such sense of urgency.
“I don’t foresee any major changes to water policy this year,” said Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island.
The reason, said the man who will be speaker next year, is simple: “It’s going to take more than a year to solve this problem.”
Crisafulli, who hails from a prominent citrus family and is former president of the Brevard County Farm Bureau, pointed out that Florida’s water problem is actually a whole suite of woes involving both water quality and water quantity.
“Nobody has really come up with one silver bullet answer,” he said in an interview a day before the clean water rally.
In Crisafulli’s backyard lies the Indian River Lagoon, which has been battling pollution that likely fueled a series of toxic algae blooms blamed for wiping out 40,000 acres of sea grass. Since then hundreds of manatees, dolphins and pelicans have died, too. Scientists are not sure if the deaths are related to each other or to the pollution and sea grass die-off.
Meanwhile the state’s iconic springs — many of them owned by the taxpayers as part of the state park system — have suffered from increased pollution, toxic algae blooms and a loss of flow that some have blamed on overpumping of the aquifer by agriculture and development interests.
Further south, the Caloosahatchee River on the west coast and the St. Lucie River on the east coast have born the brunt of polluted water released from Lake Okeechobee by federal officials trying to lower the water level before it breaches the berm surrounding the lake.
The emergency releases have fouled the estuaries of both rivers, hurting their sea grass beds and marine life and causing economic consequences for fishing and tourist industries.
Water supply has become a prickly issue. In Apalachicola, the oyster industry that has long tied the town together is failing and Scott is suing Georgia in the U.S. Supreme Court for holding back too much water that normally flows down to Florida.
Niagara Bottling’s Groveland plant overcame strong opposition to get a permit to boost its pumping from the aquifer from 484,000 gallons a day to 910,000 gallons. The Adena Springs Ranch near Silver Springs has faced similar opposition to its request for a permit to pump 5.3 million gallons daily for its proposed cattle operation.
Meanwhile, a coalition of five of Central Florida’s fastest-growing counties have proposed slaking their future thirst by pumping 150 million gallons per day from the St. Johns River. The proposal has proven controversial, with critics pointing out that the St. Johns is already suffering a loss of flow as well as dealing with pollution-fueled algae blooms.
None of these are new problems. They all date back at least a year and, in the case of both the springs and the Lake Okeechobee releases, a decade or more. But finding the political will to deal with them has been difficult. Just last year, for instance, Scott vetoed money for tracking the pollution in Indian River Lagoon.
One thing all of these problems appear to have in common is the type of pollution involved — nitrate pollution, made up of excess nitrogen and phosphorus, from wasted fertilizer, animal waste and leaking septic tanks. Scott’s administration fought hard to wrest away from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the power to regulate nitrate pollution, and now must grapple with it in waterways across the state.
Last year thousands of people petitioned Scott for more protection and restoration for the state’s springs. Local government officials in North Florida formed a group to push for springs legislation. However, no springs bill passed.
The Legislature did agree last year to spend $10 million for springs protection, far from the $122 million in projects that the state’s five water management districts had listed as essential to springs restoration.
This year, Scott has proposed the Legislature appropriate $55 million to restore and protect the state’s springs. The Senate is ready to spend even more than that. A coalition of Senate committee chairs has drafted a bill to raise nearly $400 million a year for springs from documentary stamp taxes on real estate transactions, using it for hooking septic tank users up to central sewer lines in the regions around major springs.
There’s also a Senate bill to spend $220 million to protect the Indian River Lagoon and to redirect the damaging water releases from Lake Okeechobee.
Crisafulli doesn’t like the dollar figure on the Senate’s springs bill, calling it “the biggest, most unfortunate part” of any water-related measure. An amount that big “would take away the opportunity to work on other issues around the state.”
He foresees putting aside an as-yet undetermined amount of money this year “to fund as much as we can, and not just focus on one region.” There will be no comprehensive fixes, just individual projects that offer a chance for improvement — for instance, removing 6 million cubic yards of polluted muck from the bottom of the Indian River Lagoon.
Resolving all of Florida’s water problems, he said, “is going to take a commitment continuing out for an indefinite number of years.” That’s how to resolve what’s needed for any new state water policy, he said.
Ironically, according to Estus Whitfield, who served as an aide to governors from Reubin Askew to Jeb Bush, “Florida has had a water policy, the most widely acclaimed in the U.S., for over 40 years.”
So how did things get so messed up? “Thanks to a lack of conviction and implementation by our state government, and with a little help from our friends in the business and ag industries,” Whitfield said, “it has not been effective in preventing the serious demise of our water resources.”
Craig Pittman covers environmental issues for the Times. He can be reached at or follow him on Twitter at @craigtimes.—-except-in-the-house/2167892
12:24.AM, Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

HomeAbout UsNational Site
Search Publications Regionwide: Submit
Southern Regional Water Program
Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System
HomeFloridaProgram InformationFlorida Target ThemesDrinking Water and Human Health
Drinking Water & Human Health in Florida
Groundwater is the source of drinking water for 90% of Florida residents. Public water supply use has increased 134% since 1970. Data from over 1,900 wells in Florida’s ambient monitoring network indicate generally good water quality, but local groundwater contamination problems exist. Agricultural chemicals, including aldicarb, alachlor, bromacil, simazine, and ethylene dibromide (EDB) have caused local and regional (in the case of EDB) problems. Other threats include petroleum products from leaking underground storage tanks, nitrates from dairy and other livestock operations, fertilizers and pesticides in stormwater runoff, and toxic chemicals in leachate from hazardous waste sites. The state requires periodic testing of all community water systems for 118 toxic organic chemicals.
Potential sources of groundwater contamination are numerous in Florida. The state’s unique hydrogeologic features of a thin soil layer, high water table, porous limestone and large quantities of rainfall coupled with rapid population growth, result in a groundwater resource extremely vulnerable to contamination. There are tens of thousands of potential point sources such as surface-water impoundments, drainage wells, underground storage tanks, flowing saline water wells, hazardous wastes sites, power plants, landfills and cattle and dairy feedlots. Similarly there are numerous septic tanks and urban and industrial areas that may discharge water with undesirable quality. Non-point sources that have vast potential for groundwater contamination include coastal saltwater bodies, agricultural and horticultural practices, and mining. Wetlands (10.9 million acres (4.4 Mha)) provide buffers between anthropogenic activities and water quality of lakes, streams, and groundwater. Recognition of the function of wetlands is essential for sustainable development in Florida.
Conditions in Your Watershed
The Environmental Protection Agency provides information on drinking water systems by county. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Drinking Water Section lists drinking water violations in Florida and the FDEP Source Water Program manages state surface waters.
aquifer1.jpgData on organic quality of water from the state’s principal aquifers are limited; nevertheless, occasional incidences of organic contaminants that may affect human health and welfare are a reality. In the Northwest Florida Water Management District the most prevalent organic contaminants are dry-cleaning solvents and leaking underground gasoline storage tanks. Santa Rosa, Escambia and Holmes counties in the Florida panhandle get their water from the sand and gravel aquifer. This is the sole source for Escambia County. Wells furnishing water for the county populati on are from two to five hundred feet deep. Ten major wells owned by the Escambia County Utility Authority (ECUA) are contaminated. A dry-cleaning solvent (PCE) is the biggest contaminant. Benzene, which indicates petroleum contamination, has also been identified in multiple wells. It is important to point out that rainfall within the boundaries of the county accounts for nearly all the available groundwater. Because of groundwater recharge characteristics, any disposal of waste products or misuse of toxic chemicals on the land surface, whether accidental or intentional, has a high probability for adversely impacting groundwater.
The Biscayne aquifer has been designated by the USEPA as a “sole source” drinking-water supply. The Biscayne aquifer is managed closely to control saltwater intrusion. Water in the aquifer is primarily a calcium bicarbonate type that does not exceed standards for most uses. However, it is subject to contamination by organic solvents used in industry, pesticides and nutrients used in agricultural and urban settings, and leaking fuel storage facilities. Iron concentration in untreated groundwater is commonly larger than the secondary standard of 300 g/L. Iron is commonly associated with the large natural organic content of the region’s groundwater resource. This large natural organic content has contributed to the formation of trihalomethanes during chlorination of public water supplies.
The major inorganic constituent of the surficial aquifers is calcium carbonate. Concentrations of dissolved solids are generally less than 1200 mg/L. In the intermediate aquifers, the inorganic chemical composition is generally mixed calcium magnesium carbonate. Water in these aquifers is hard to very hard. Nitrate, fluoride and iron concentrations generally do not exceed drinking-water standards, but sodium, chloride and dissolved solids commonly do. Saltwater intrusion and upward movement of saline water from deeper aquifers commonly result in unsuitable water quality for most uses.
The major inorganic constituent in the Floridan aquifer is calcium carbonate with concentration of dissolved solids less than 500 mg/L. Although the water tends to be hard, it generally does not exceed drinking-water standards for nitrate, fluoride, sodium and chloride. Iron may exceed the standard in about 10% of water-quality analyses.
In predominantly agricultural regions of Florida, the frequency of drinking water wells contaminated by nitrates exceeds the national frequency (2.4%) found in the EPA survey. Of 3949 drinking water wells analyzed for nitrate by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, (FDACS) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2483 (63%) contained detectable nitrate and 584 wells (15%) contained nitrate above the EPA MCL (maximum contaminant level). Of the 584 wells statewide that exceeded the MCL, 519 were located in the Central Florida Ridge citrus growing region, encompassed primarily by Lake, Polk and Highland Counties.
Determinants of Change

The following factors impact water quality in Florida:
Population growth (increased waste generation)
Enforcement of total maximum daily loads (TMDLs)
Florida Stormwater Rule
Mandated development and implement minimum flows and levels to maintain riverine base flow to maintain in-stream water quality, fish and wildlife habitats, and estuarine integrity.
Required use of Best Management Practices and precision application of nutrients, pesticides, and irrigation water.
Extension Outreach
The University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service and Florida A&M University College of Engineering Sciences, Technology & Agriculture Cooperative Extension and Outreach Program develop and deliver programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Extension education enables research conducted at colleges, universities and other places throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user (e.g., families, business owners and agricultural producers). Some of the major Extension education programs addressing drinking water and human health in Florida are:
The objective of FL412 Florida’s Comprehensive Water Quality Program is to provide educational materials, training and programs, where appropriate, in the areas of water quality assessment, protection and improvement for diverse clientele groups in the state of Florida. It aims to increase public awareness of the options for safeguarding drinking water quality through development and use of Best Management Practices to enhance sustainability and protection of drinking water quality.
Youth development programs in FL714 (1962) FL214 (1890) Environmental Education help individuals understand their interdependence with the environment, local ecosystem, energy and other natural resources. Information that addresses all perspectives of critical issues is presented with emphasis on maintaining the quality of human life as well as the quality of the environment. Individuals can then make informed decisions for remediation of environmental issues with a better understanding of the long and short term consequences of their choices.
landscape.jpgGuidelines developed for FL114 Environmental Landscape Management in Florida integrate landscape characteristics of site conditions, landscape design, plant selection and placement, irrigation, fertilization, pest control, mowing, pruning and recycling. Specifically, the Environmental Landscape Management and Florida Yards & Neighborhoods programs teach consumers and other stakeholders how to water efficiently, mulch, recycle yard wastes, manage pests through IPM (Integrated Pest Management), put the right plant in the right spot, fertilize as needed, provide food, water and shelter for wildlife, protect ground water and surface water bodies (i.e., bays, rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.) and minimize stormwater runoff.
The FL269 Water Quality and Environmental Programs in North Florida Design Team teaches small-scale farmers, rural families, public officials, agency representatives, local organizations, community leaders, wholesalers and retailers about practices to enhance the quality of their drinking and domestic water supply. This program is tailored for particular environmental conditions in northern Florida.
The primary impact of FL316 Florida’s Coastal Environment and Water Quality program involves increased efforts to apply sustainable management to Florida’s coastal and estuarine resources. Increased understanding of ecological, economic and management principles and processes among citizens, professionals and agency personnel is promoted. Citizens become more involved in coastal and estuarine monitoring and management and ecological concepts are more frequently key in discussions held by state and federal management agencies.
Scientific Research
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station, Office of the Dean For Research
FAMU-CESTA Research Programs
College and University Education
Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in drinking water and human health are available within several colleges at the University of Florida, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, College of Design, Construction and Planning and College of Natural Resources and Environment. Key courses include those found in the following areas:
Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Agricultural Operations Management
Civil and Coastal Engineering
Environmental Engineering Sciences
Forest Resources and Natural Resource Conservation
Landscape Architecture
Pest Management – Plant Protection
Soil and Water Science
Courses addressing drinking water and human health at Florida A&M University are located within the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology & Agriculture.
Extension Digital Information Source (EDIS)
Related Web Sites
University of Florida
Soil and Water Science Department
Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
The Florida Water Resources Primer
Wetland Biogeochemistry Laboratory
Florida Farmstead Assessment System (Florida Farm*A*Syst)
Florida Homestead Assessment System (Florida Home*A*Syst)
Keep Your Well Water Clean (for adult poor readers)
Florida Yards & Neighborhoods
Federal and State Agencies
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
USGS National Water Quality Program
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Florida Department of Health and Human Services
Northwest Florida Water Management District
Suwannee River Water Management District
St. Johns River Water Management District
Southwest Florida Water Management District
South Florida Water Management District
Program Areas
Florida Target Themes
Contacts in Florida
Partners in Florida
On-site Wastewater Treatment
Nutrient Management
Water Quantity
Florida GIS Tools

Home | About Us | Minutes | Reporting | Glossary
National Site | Accessibility Policy | Logos

All About: Water and Health, CNN December 18,2007

By Rachel Oliver
Decrease font
Enlarge font

(CNN) — The next time you fall sick and someone suggests it’s because of something in the water, they could be right. According to the World Bank, 88 percent of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.

Nanhu Lake in Chongqing, China. Around 70 percent of China’s rivers and lakes are polluted.

The number are daunting. Annually, water-related problems are responsible for:


  • 4 billion cases of diarrhea, resulting in the deaths of more than 6 million children.



  • 300 million malaria sufferers;



  • 200 million schistosomiasis sufferers;



  • 6 million people who have been struck blind by trachoma;



  • and 500 million people who are currently at risk of contracting it, the World Bank says.


The U.N. also suggests that unsanitary water is to thank for 1.5 million cases of hepatitis A (and 133 million cases of intestinal worms).

At any one point in time, 50 percent of all people in the developing world will be in hospital suffering from one or more water-related diseases. Most will be children, water-related diseases being the second biggest killer of children worldwide (after acute respiratory diseases like Tuberculosis), according to Water Aid. (Diarrhea alone has killed more children in 10 years than all the people killed in wartime since World War 2, according to UNICEF).

Humans have become walking, talking carriers of diseases, thanks to poor sanitation and undrinkable water. Take one gram of human excrement these days, UNICEF says, and you could find around 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs.

Today, 1.1 billion humans lack access to freshwater and 2.6 billion are without adequate sanitation. The World Bank says that more people have access to safe drinking water and sanitation today than they did a decade ago. The problem it says is that there are more of us now. That problem isn’t going away.

The situation in the developing world will be particularly difficult moving forward, the U.N.’s fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) is warning — by 2025, it says, the developing world’s demand for water will have increased by 50 percent (the need of developed countries will have only increased by 18 percent).

Increased demand comes at a time when freshwater stocks are falling in many places. Already in western Asia, reports The Independent, freshwater stocks have fallen from 1,700 cubic meters per person per year in the 1980s to 907 today (and by 2050 it will be just 420 cubic meters).

But access to safe drinking water is not just a poverty issue. It affects everyone. And the reason has to do with how industry disposes of its waste.

According to UNESCO, up to 500 million tons of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge slip into the global water supply every year. In the developing world, UNESCO says, as much as 70 percent of industrial waste is just dumped untreated into the rivers and lakes. China is a perfect case in point. According to Greenpeace, around 70 percent of China’s lakes and rivers are now polluted from industrial waste, leaving 300 million people “forced to rely on polluted water supplies.”

Endangered groundwater

An industry that has many fingers pointing at it, however, is the agricultural sector. Currently, the Earth’s readily usable mass of potable water represents around 1 percent of the total amount of water on Earth. The vast majority of that water — at least 70 percent — is used for agricultural purposes. And the “main source of water pollutants in many countries” is agricultural runoff containing nutrients and agrochemicals, the GEO-4 says.

According to the Earth Day Network, 14 million people in the U.S. now regularly drink water contaminated with carcinogenic herbicides. And arsenic levels in drinking water around the globe are now putting more than 140 million people in more than 70 countries at risk of lung disease and cancers.

Arsenic is used in agriculture and is also a byproduct of coal-mining and copper smelting. It is widespread to the degree that “U.S. industries release thousands of pounds of arsenic into the environment every year,” says the Natural Resources Defense Council.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the main agriculturally-sourced chemical contaminants in our drinking water are nitrate and pesticides, while biosolids, or sewage sludge can be a source of what is known as “excess nutrients” such as phosphorous. Excess amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen are bad news for water supplies — namely it can cause something called eutrophication.

The U.S. Geological Survey defines eutrophication as a process where excess nutrients “stimulate excessive plant growth, often called an algal bloom [and] reduces dissolved oxygen in the water”.

According to GEO-4, around 40 percent of estuaries in the U.S. are suffering from “severe eutrophication,” which GEO-4 believes is so bad that it could lead to “dead zones” (where the water has effectively been starved of oxygen).

“Dead zones” are on the rise. Greenpeace says that the number of dead zones globally have doubled since 1990 to now fill up 70,000 square kilometers of the Earth’s surface — the size of Ireland.

But it’s not just the rivers and lakes, however, that have become contaminated. Our groundwater supplies also are becoming polluted, according to WorldWatch Institute.

Groundwater represents 97 percent of all freshwater that is readily available to us (surface water such as rivers and lakes accounts for just 0.3 percent) Nearly one-third of all people rely “almost exclusively” on groundwater supplies for their drinking water. In the U.S, 50 percent of the population (including 99 percent of its rural population) relies on groundwater.

As time goes on, the agricultural industry globally will be required to draw on it as the demand for food grows and the available of non-polluted, non-dammed surface water areas dwindle in number.

Unfortunately, polluted groundwater is becoming more common. Already, 50 percent of groundwater samples tested by the U.S. Geological Survey contain pesticides. Arsenic contamination of groundwater has also been discovered in Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, India, Mexico and Thailand, reports Earth Day Network.

According to the WorldWatch Institute, toxic chemicals have contaminated groundwater supplies “on every inhabited continent.”

Struggle for cleanup money

There is one major problem with contaminated groundwater — it takes a very long time to clean itself because water recycles slowly underground. According to WorldWatch Institute, compared to the average 16 days that water can flush out of rivers, in underground aquifers it’s nearer to 1,400 years. And that effectively means that groundwater contamination as far as we are concerned, is permanent.

WorldWatch Institute says that 60 percent of “the most hazardous liquid waste in the United States — 34 billion liters per year of solvents, heavy metals and radioactive materials” is simply pumped underground into the groundwater using what it terms as “injection wells.”

Despite EPA guidelines that ensure the toxic waste goes underneath the source of drinking water, WorldWatch Institute claims that water supplies in Florida, Texas, Ohio and Oklahoma have already become infected.

One of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), established in 2000 was to “halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” by 2015. According to the World Bank, “fewer than one in five countries are on track for meeting this target.”

(Some of the ways to avert water-related deaths are simple. Washing one’s hands with soap, for example, could slash diarrhea cases by nearly 50 percent and “save at least 1 million lives per year,” the World Bank says.)

The reason appears to be solely to do with money — or the lack of it. According to Make Poverty History, in 2005 only $7 billion — less than one-third of what was required — was committed by donor countries to the MDG relating to water and sanitation. And according to Water Aid, aid levels in general for water and sanitation are lower today than they were in 1997.

Earlier this year, special U.N. adviser Jeffrey Sachs placed the blame for the overall lack of MDG funding squarely on the shoulders of the world’s richest countries, specifically the G-8, which he said that “despite endless words about increasing aid to poor countries … are reneging on their part of the bargain.”

According to Sachs, the amount of global aid actually fell by 2 percent between 2005 to 2006, once debt cancellation had been factored in. He called the amount of money needed now “miniscule.”

“We are not talking about unachievable financial goals,” Sachs said. “The G-8, representing nearly 1 billion people, has promised to increase aid to Africa from $25 billion in 2004 to $50 billion in 2010…To put it in perspective, the Christmas bonuses paid this year on Wall Street — just the bonuses — amounted to $24 billion”. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

(Sources: Global Water; WWF; World Bank; UN Global Environment Outlook-4; Make Poverty History; Water Aid; The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka); WorldWatch Institute; UNICEF; UNESCO; Greenpeace; The U.S. Geological Survey; The Independent; Earth Day Network; World Health Organization; Natural Resources Defense Council.)

Air pollution killing over two million annually, study says

By Matthew Knight, CNN
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013

Going Green is a series of special programs that air on CNN International reporting on some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. In July watch “Earth,” a half-hour feature program with CNN Special Correspondent Philippe Cousteau. Follow him on Twitter.
(CNN) — More than two million people are dying every year from the effects of outdoor air pollution, according to a new study.
An estimated 2.1 million deaths are caused by anthropogenic increases of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) while a further 470,000 are killed annually as a result of human-caused increases in ozone pollution.

Jason West, co-author of the study published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters said: “Outdoor air pollution is an important problem and among the most important environmental risk factors for health.”
East Asia is the worst affected area with researchers estimating more than a million people dying prematurely every year from PM2.5 pollution and 203,000 from ozone pollution.

India has the second highest air pollution mortality rates with an estimated 397,000 deaths from fine particulates and ozone accounting for, on average, 118,000.
Next comes Southeast Asia which has estimated average of 158,000 deaths from PM2.5 and 33,300 attributed to ozone.
Europe has fractionally less PM2.5 deaths (154,000, on average) and 32,800 premature deaths related to ozone while in North America there were an average of 43,000 deaths from fine particulates and 34,400 related to ozone.
West et al used an ensemble of global atmospheric chemistry climate models to estimate concentrations of PM2.5 and ozone pollutants.

Fine particulate matter (dust, soot, smoke and liquid droplets) is classified as less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. It is particularly dangerous to human health because it can lodge deep in the lungs causing cancer and other respiratory disease, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Ground level ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight, say the EPA.
The study also investigated the effects of climate change on worsening air pollution, comparing climate models from the year 2000 with pre-industrial times (1850).

“Very few studies have attempted to estimate the effects of past climate change on air quality and health. We found that the effects of past climate change are likely to be a very small component of the overall effect of air pollution,” said West, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“Going forward into the future, climate change will get more severe and that could have greater effects on air pollution.”
The research adds to a growing body of evidence revealing both the human and economic impacts of air pollution around the world.

A recent report published in the British medical journal, The Lancet found that the incidence of heart failure rises when air pollution is higher. The research, funded by the British Heart Foundation, concluded that a reduction of PM2.5 could reduce hospitalizations due to heart failure in the U.S. saving a third of a billion dollars per year.

Another recent study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences highlighted air pollution problems in Northern China, suggesting life expectancy could have been lowered by five-and-a-half years.
Even in the European Union, air pollution takes a sizable 8.6-month chunk off life expectancy according to the World Health Organization.
But technology to monitor air pollution is improving all the time, says Roland Leigh, an air quality scientist from the UK’s University of Leicester.

“Historically, air quality is something very much we’ve tried to measure and manage spatially — considering over a total city what the average air quality is. What we are getting to now is systems that let us manage the distribution of air quality with knowledge of where people are and what people are doing,” Leigh told CNN.
Improved data can help manage the exposure of sensitized individuals (the young, asthma sufferers, the elderly), he says. But he concedes that the road to improved air quality might be a long one.
“We have come to terms with the fact that in the urban environment we get exposed to emissions by our transport systems. That transport system is essential and at the moment there is no economically viable way of not emitting pollution at the point of use.
“Either we have to manage those emissions and exposure more intelligently or technologies need to change in our cars.”