Saturday, October 31, 2009

H2S not out of the picture

The other day, as I was relaxing a bunch of chemical "balancing" equations came to mind, mostly having to do with the Long Island Sound Oxygen deprivation.

2O2 + H2S + CaCO3 → H2CO3 + CaSO4
NH4+ + 2O2 → NO2 + 2H2O
NO2 + O2 → H2O + NO3-

The reality is that we are getting a lot of low oxygen levels with no or little plankton/algae present.
What i saw in the sediment suddenly came to life as I realized that it was the reaction of H2S with carbonates, using up significant oxygen in the process.
The issue Art Glowka brought up for consideration is not out of the equation, rather may be an even more important part of it.
He brought to mind cyano bacteria, bacteria which fix nitrogen into ammonia and then to Nitrite and then on to Nitrate. They are not facultative anaerobic organisms and so need oxygen to survive, unlike the organisms that are and many times produce H2S as a byproduct.
The high level of Sulfate in the water fits the balanced equation.
Still asking questions about all of this, so this is not an end post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

H1N1 Influenza A - update for Stamford

Please refer inquiries for H1N1 vaccine to our website ( -- link on front page, or our hotline 977-4213. We are now extending the vaccine to healthy children 2 years to 6 years of age and healthy non-pregnant parents, care-givers, and household contacts of infants less than 6 months of age.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Questions and more questions

As I scratched my thoughts about H2S and Hypoxia, several new things have emerged.
First a paper published on Lake Erie (so definitely not by me) gave phosphorus and phosphate a new role as the limiting factor in algae growth in marine waters (this has always been true of Fresh water, but the thinking has always been that it was different for salt water).
This apparently has gotten many from the EPA to question their direction in the Sound (about time).
Two questions were posed to me by Art Glowka.
The first was concerning cyano-bacteria, which are now known as blue-green algae. They fix Nitrogen, meaning that they take available nitrogen and turn it to ammonia, which in turn is changed to Nitrite (2 oxygens) and then Nitrate (3 oxygens). Could this be a pathway causing Hypoxia?
The second has to do with a graph, long published in the New York water quality report and now omitted, showing the beginning of significant Hypoxia in the Long Island Sound occurring around 1977.
This coincides with two events, me moving up to Connecticut and the beginning of sewage treatment plant "clean up".
Is it all coincidental? For one part of that, I certainly hope so, the other is a question that we may try to answer when I try to get back to the Long Island Sound.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What is the deal (H1N1 Infuenza A novel)

The CDC stopped tallying cases,
They estimated the US has had already had 1 million cases!
The Normal Flu season does not start until late November, we are experiencing large numbers of Flu cases...
it is ALL H1N1 at this point.

The vaccine is available, just like all other flu vaccines, except they have a way to give it with out sticking you.

Get the vaccine...if your doctor recommends it.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I saw this in a public health presentation and knew it must be posted.
Normally i am very serious on the site and the various influenzas we are dealing with have many people concerned.
The vaccines are here. I got the regular one already and the H1N1 will be distributed soon, I will get that one also.
How about you?

Friday, October 9, 2009

The use and misuse of hysteria

This week has been an interesting week with news concerning the H1N1 influenza novel circulating about, the arrival of the vaccine at the health department, some differed knowledge about rabies, more information and misinformation on the Scofieldtown dump and surrounding wells and several unrelated well water issues.
The news about the influenza is that there are deaths, which is not surprising, all flues kill an amazing number of people. The issue is that this flu is particularly dangerous for Healthy individuals. the vaccine is here and we should be fore armed with it.
The rabies info had to do with a scratch of someone pregnant. I do not know the issues with the rabies vaccine and pregnancy. I deferred that info to more qualified persons. The person calling called the incident minor ( a scratch by a raccoon), but I had to say that because a raccoon is a major vector of rabies, it is still serious.
The hysteria about the dump is currently very difficult to manage, there a lot of erroneous information being spread by word of mouth that only heightens fear and serves basically none one. The most ridiculous one was that the water company uses the water from the Rippowan river for drinking. that was a malicious lie and anything else that person spreading that lie should also be disbelieved.
The demand for heavy metal testing is one I can understand because most people do not understand metals. in the environment, especially here in Stamford a well drilled 50 feet away from from a well high in the normal metals found in the area (iron and manganese) will not have any.
The reason is because metals tend to turn into not just insoluble compounds of oxides, chlorides, carbonates, sulfates and the like, but these compounds actually bind with the surrounding soil making it almost impossible for them to move through the ground. This is true of most of the metals found at the dump. they will be carried above ground by rivers and streams and rain, but in the ground they do not move well at all.
Of course because of the real concerns in the Hannah's Road, Very Merry Road and Larkspur Road, many people are becoming aware that they need to have their water checked.
Well's have seals that over time can fail, about 5% in a 30 year period. When the water does not taste "right" suddenly, check for bacteria.
Such was the case this week and it was contaminated with bacteria. The issue is that the seal on the well can deteriorate and allow surface water into the well and also the bacteria it carries. It is not an underground problem, it is an above ground issue, soil carried the bacteria we look for, wells should not have it. Of course the question was first asked by the homeowner, "We do not live anywhere near the dump, how could this be?" Of course it had nothing to do with the dump.
The final story had to do with a plumber/ well person calling me hysterical because I called Hydrogen Sulfide dangerous. Strange, you can look in any hazardous chemical book and find out how dangerous it really is. the source may be very simple, a uncared for "swimming hole" which was full of decomposing organics (leaves and such) creating an anaerobic (without oxygen) situation where bacteria creates hydrogen sulfide. The well was close to this spot and so would draw it down. the battery of treatment units on the water did not remove the problem. There were other issue with the home, but the constant head aches can be linked to constant exposure to the hydrogen sulfide at low levels over time.
The good news? Water company water is readily available.

Other issues had to do with bacteria being found in homes with carbon filters. Carbon filters do NOT remove bacteria, but the tests were done by outside labs but when I repeated the test, there was no "coliform" bacteria. There were a few non-coliform colonies which the people will take the info to their doctors because of special situations. the bacteria may have been introduced by plumbing work (most likely).

So endeth the lessons.