Fasten Your Seat Belt...
How many functions do we perform each day in our lives, primarily based on a “just in case” philosophy. Our automobile seat belt is probably one of the most prevalent, and it is now required by law in most places. Other functions that could be broadly lumped into this category might be: using hand sanitizers, carrying an umbrella, taking vitamins, changing the password frequently on our computer, locking our doors, etc. Maybe it’s “better safe than sorry”, rather than “just in case”, but whatever the term, it is a widely accepted force in our society today.
I recently read in Bloomberg Businessweek, and in my local newspaper, that a top official of the CDC’s* National Center for Environmental Health, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is now getting involved in investigating the possible contaminants associated with fracking. Fracking is a process used in the extraction of natural gas and oil from shale. At this time, there is no proof that the chemicals used in or produced by that process might affect our health but they believe it needs to be studied. At the same time, the **EPA is looking at the subject to see if those chemicals affect our environment in any way including ending up in our drinking water. So “just in case”, do we need to stop all fracking until more is known? This is under serious debate in many states right now.
We already know that our water supplies contain trace quantities of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs). Individuals add PPCPs to the environment through excretion and bathing, and through the disposal of unwanted medications to sewers and trash. According to the EPA, (http://www.epa.gov/ppcp/) PPCPs have probably been present in water and in the environment for as long as humans have been using them. Although we can now measure PPCP levels at low concentrations there are more people ingesting or applying products to alter their moods, change their looks, or somehow “fix” themselves than ever before. Just as an example, the Wall Street Journal in August 2011 reported that in 2010 there were 253 million prescriptions written for antidepressants! That in itself is depressing.
If you drink water that is coming from a surface water source, you don’t have to wait for an error in gas well fracking to possibly send mystery chemicals into your drinking water. Thanks to PPCPs, you probably already have a mixed cocktail of them (albeit in very low concentrations) heading into your home and making their way into your Kool-Aid or coffee. Yet, in my recently supplied 2011 Water Quality Report from the Cleveland Division of Water, PPCPs are not even mentioned, though the report is well organized and well written. The report does briefly explain that “Reverse osmosis filters…..remove things like fluoride and many minerals found in hard water. Replacement filters can be expensive and several gallons of water are wasted for every gallon filtered.”
I, for one, believe that it makes sense to process my drinking and cooking water through a reverse osmosis membrane to significantly reduce PPCPs and many other possible contaminants and have been doing so for the last 25 years - that’s longer than I have been consistently clicking my seat belt… just in case.
* Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
**U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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