Tuesday, November 30, 2010

changing knowledge

I have decided I am no longer using "antibacterial" soap.
The first reason is that it really isn't necessary, regular soap with its basic nature (pH) does it just fine.
The second is that i really have not bought into the "bacteria are bad" thought, they are necessary.  Without them, we would not be alive.  Controlling the bad ones is important, but the good ones sometimes take out the bad ones.
The other reason is more and more information on the long lasting effects of the chemical used as the "antibacterial" in soaps.
This was the link to the straw that broke the camels back from Environmental health News.
What will i use?
Chlorine, Hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, lemon juice, regular soap.
That will be enough.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mill River Park - Revisited

Recent articles talked of plantings that dies due to lack of water.
 Well of course they had some die off, it was a hot and dry summer and the plantings occurred in late spring, after the flooding, but the native weeds grew and grew well and they are what clean up toxic messes best.
I saw the company involved the other day, putting in more planting.
This time they got the best time, the fall.
I talked to them and they said at most, they lost 10%, most down stream.
I thought about this and realized most of the sludge from the pond. loaded with H2S, would have traveled down stream and effected the lower planting the most.
All is well and things will get better.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I am a big proponent of sharing information, we learn things.
During the recent study performed by many people on their own and shared with us at the Health department, I learned much.
Some was about the pesticides and I have shared about that, but also about other things.
One report on radon in water was elevated without the air being elevated.
That was contrary to my previous observations.
The well was not near the home so the material emitting the radon gas was not going into the home.  The level was high in only the water meaning that other radio-nucleotides may be present.
We know that in our area, radon is very sporadic, a had home 500,000 picocurries/L in the water (there was one, found because the radon in air was very high also).  The neighboring homes had low levels.
Something to be diligent with.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The pesticide dilemma

So much more learned and understood since undertaken the review of the information gathered from many well reports in my neck of the woods.
So much politics in an area public health should prevail, but this was what I learned.
When the pesticide, chlordane was first discovered to be a potential health problem, the US EPA banned its use in agriculture, but continued to permit its use in private residences.  That was an economic issue, there was a lot manufactured and much to use up and homes had to be protected from termites, more money damages.
That was finally stopped in 1988.
During the first period, 1948 to 1977, we ingested many pounds of the pesticides eating our veggies.
Most of us did not have serious effects, some of us did.
Dieldren, the other pesticide in question in my area, is still not even regulated by the US EPA, their statement is that it is not manufactured any more so does not pose a threat.
Both of these pesticides were applied on excavated areas before a home was built.
Dieldren does not seem to have a discernible half life, samples taken from the same home in 1996 had virtually the same levels in 2008.
Chlordane does degrade into alpha and gamma chlordane over time. Alpha and gamma chlordane are not regulated.
Some of this was very surprising, some of the things that were not are listed below.
Farms would have large  disposal areas for their product waste and that would include large amounts of any pesticide applied.
Normal, everyday people would dispose of waste pesticides or clean out private sprayers, some where in the same place in their own back yards.
Distance of a well to a home was not regulated and so a well could be dug directly adjacent to a foundation.
Percentage of wells with contamination varies directly with how close the well is to the foundation.
Wells within 25 feet of the foundation have the greatest chance of having some trace amount of pesticides in the well.  Well greater than 75 feet did not have an occurrence of pesticide in the water.
Substances found in the outfall from Scofieldtown park (a former dump site), were not found in any near by wells.
Same was true of pesticides found in the soil at Bartlett Arboretum, they were not found in any well adjacent to the property nor on the property.
That is what I have learned..

Saturday, July 31, 2010

NRDC reports on beaches

There are many things that one can say on these yearly reports and i find much of my attitude toward them as "they still do not really understand at all".
While they do provide open discussion about the quality of swimming water in America and do raise awareness of what we have done to our planet (not that it would matter much if we were suddenly gone, the planet would heal itself), but they have missed balance.
Balance?  What does that have to do with anything?
If you believe the ideas and myths presented of the "American Indian" and how they lived in harmony with nature (not totally in reality, but better than we), there is to be harmony and balance between man and nature.
The NRDC and the US EPA are "clean water" agencies and that means they would be very happy if all the water in the world was without any materials of any kind other than water.
That, to me, would mean sterile water with no life
The reality is that water carries with it normal things from the land to water that provides life for the tiniest organisms which allow other organisms to feed and the cycle goes upward.
Man partakes of this food chain at thew higher levels and so must put back a proportional amount to balance the equation.
Of course we have not done this.
We have put things in there to kill things we do not like (pesticides and other poisons).  We have put things from the manufacture of items to kill our selves (lead and mercury).  We even have  put all of our waste, with out any sorting of good from bad, in the same waters.
So the organisms the US EPA is worried about and uses to monitor water quality are organisms that are common to humans, enterococcus and fecal coliform, but they have many, many natural sources as well and are part of the cycle of life.
They also are linked to human illness.
So when a town like Stamford, closes its beaches after a heavy rain, it is not because of man-made pollution, it is because the normal cycle of washing the earth has brought these organisms into the water for a time.  It will eventually increase  aquatics life and bathers are inconvenienced for a day.
This of course is not what the US EPA nor the NRDC wants, they want no beach closures ever and i think it is rather selfish of us to think this way.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Public health beginnings

The beginnings of public health started with infection diseases transmuted by sewage tainted water.
While there have been many advances, expanding into all communicable diseases and infirmities caused by different kinds of pollution, (some natural and some man made) , much of public health's triumphs have been in the area of preventing the transmission of disease through human sewage influence water.
Sewage treatment plants deal with vast quantities of effluent and use various methods to destroy the bacteria and viruses that cause human disease.
What would you think if a treatment plant notified proper authorities of a spill and those authorities did nothing to warn people who might be exposed to that water?
That is my question today...

Monday, June 14, 2010

The turning point generation

And we are it!
Why from 1947 to 1977, we used pesticides and other sort of manufactured chemicals to "improve" our quality of life.
Pesticides were sprayed heavily on all fruits and vegetables making the consumption of such things "normal" .  This was to make crop yields higher and reduce damage by insects.
There was no such thing as organic and the amounts of pesticides those of us who are 33 or older have consumed are astronomical.
Some one some where figured out this might not be good for use and a quiet revolution that began in the 1960's, blossomed into a realization of what we were doing to our selves.
We did not have recycling centers and waste oil from changing our own cars oil to paint brush cleaner where dumped somewhere on our own property.
Slowly we became smarter to realize that may be this was not a good thing.
Pesticides were slowly changed or eliminated, recycling began, but we are the product of the things we and for some of us, our parents did.
We find this stuff everywhere and as we become aware, we try to eliminate it so our children do not face the same toxins.
The "blame game" that is so much a part of the current Scofield circus is sad.  Clean it up, absolutely!
Change the rules that allowed this, yes.
But we or our parents did this and we are the turning point generation, the ones who have to make sure our children do not deal with the same.
It is not time to blame anyone, but to work together to make change.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A question of when, not if...

Work is now being done on the Mill River park again, ignoring the political and economic issues associated with this work, i find my self wondering what kind of engineers are they using?
Earlier in the year we had some significant rain, it was not all that unusual, large amounts of rain and flooding occur often in the spring and fall and sometimes in the summer.
This a picture of the flood...

This is a picture of the planting they are doing.

All will be under water and those were very strong flows!

It just will not hold for one of those floods.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Risk Factors

Well over 30 years ago, i worked at an adhesives and plastics corporation.
It was not my first venture into the chemical industry, but it was eye-opening.
The company received a request from a very well known food company that there was a taste and odor problem in some of their product and could we help determine the cause.
There were consumer complaints.
This company's role was that they manufactured plastic adhesives to meld food packaging with product advertising packaging and this was used with the packaging for the product.

What we found was that the solvent used in the adhesive were still present in the finished product and that included some nasty, carcinogenic and toxic solvents.
The fix was that the heat sealer had broken and had been so for some months and was replaced at the packing plant.
The tainted product had been in the consumer market for over 4 months.
No recall was issued, no government agency was informed and life went on for the company (both of them) as if nothing had ever happened.
I was young and kept no documentation and so this is considered "hearsay".
but if one company can do that, how many others do it?
We wonder why there is such an increase in cancer and other problems?

Monday, May 3, 2010

The US EPA, my tirade

I think most people reading this blog realize I have a bit of a disdain for the US EPA.
Recently, in the news, the issue of PCB's in caulk at New York Public schools were brought to a climax with an agreement to "study" the real health issue.
They set a standard in 1977 (?) and now are kind of backing down because of the huge cost for remediation.
This is mostly the case for Us EPA policy.
Another example is that there were many pesticides banned for commercial use in 1977, particularly in agriculture, but pest control companies were allowed to use them for residential homes termite remediation!  Where it may well be part of the issue in some of the wells in the North Stamford area.

Money and health do not mix, except at the US EPA.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Norwalk Shellfish operation

I know that Soundbounder did a post recently on Norm Bloom's shellfish operation, but i got to go visit with Stamford's shellfish commission.
The first thing that struck me was the smells, the fresh sea smells.  No decay, rest a wonderful sea salty smell that reminded me of Galveston and the shrimp boats.

Then there are the oysters and clams -piles and pile of them.
They made my mouth water!
Here are pictures:

First the oyster, just harvested, piles of them!:

Then we get to some of the workings:

A few boats in dock:

Then to an incoming boat:

The real cultivating of the oysters that he does is incredicble.

Sadly, no samples were available for organoleptic testing.

Friday, April 2, 2010


We all have them, if we admit it.
Fear of germs, bugs, insects, spiders, snakes, SUV's. etc...
How do they effect us and what we do to the environment?
Farmers had a phobia of insects ruining their crops and insecticides were created and used (that goes back a long time to Egyptian times by the way).
I think that one will cause us problems for a long time to come.
Of course that one still continues to day and has spread to urban dwellers (to control roaches and bed bugs) and suburban dwellers (to control, ants, ticks, termites. etc...).
I do not use them.  I will use a bug spray on my self, but that is because of the next one...
Then there is a fear of germs and so everyone uses antibacterial whatever to try to stop them.
We will never and they are so necessary that it is a good thing.
Bacteria, most bacteria are very beneficial and necessary for life (and death) and we try to randomly stop them all.
I will admit to using chlorox, but I am mostly trying to stop bacteria "mats" from forming and making things slippery.
Having dealt with some of the worst bacteria this world has to offer (note I did not say viruses, thankfully we are not that sophisticated), Clorox is my lifeline.  At the same time, I don't really care about all the grimy every day bacteria that are in the soil and door knobs.  When I cook food, I wash my hands very, very often, too many of those nasties live in the food we buy and I prefer not to pass them on to the people I serve.
Now the question, what happens to all those antibacterial products we use when we are finished with them?
They go down the drain and many keep killing, long after their job with you is done,
I do like Clorox because it tends to get destroyed by common soil organics,  Some of the by products I do not like, but some of the others keep killing at very small concentrations,
What about peroxide?  great stuff, but does not penetrate the bacterial mats well enough for me,  And surprise as a very reactive substance, it also creates unusual compounds with soil organics, but it is not too bad.
So my statement?
I would like not to use anything and regular soap does a great job of removing bacteria from your hands with out destroying the rest of the world.  Yes regular soap, the pH and lathering does wonders!  So does hot water.
Use the tough stuff only when you have to and sparingly.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Mill River has the last laugh!

With all the rain the past month, the Mill River has over flowed its newly prepared banks each time around the now deconstructed Mill River Park.
While pictures are worth a thousand words, I really only have the over flowed river.

The large boulders that were to be the rivers right bank edge are now almost an island as the river has had its way with the ways of men,
When will we ever learn?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


It was way too cold this winter, it started late in New England and I had parsley from my garden for Thanksgiving for the first time since i have been up here.
The cold weather reached Florida this year and the tomato crops were killed.
There was a lot of snow, all over the country, but the East coast has had record breaking warm weather for mid march, unheard of.
There are already floods on the rivers from all the snow melting.
This is the confusion about global warming or rather climate change.
We, who are not studying it, think with what we experience on a daily or seasonal basis and it becomes confusing.
Climate change means things are less predictable, an El Nino forms are the weather gets strange, we get more storms, more snow, more cold in one part that is typically very cold and another gets warmer weather.  Storms become harder to predict, a 25 mph front becomes a 80 mph hurricane.
It is the unpredictability of the weather that makes it climate change, not how cold or hot it is today or tomorrow or even this year.  Those are all variables.  It is the difference from normal patterns that spells a significant change.  It is abnormal fluctuations that are the problem and then there is the average temperature of the entire globe, which, despite cold in one place or another, is still going up.
We are in a solar minimum and that effects things greatly.  If it were not a minimum, the temperature would still be hotter.  The sun has a lot to say about it, so do we.
Now what about our part in it?
It is arrogance for us to think we do not effect the planet in very significant ways.
Is ours a major player?  No the major player is the sun and volcanoes, but we still have a part to play.
The climate changes and swings naturally also, but for us to deny that we contribute is arrogance or worse, greed.  Because it takes money and effort and it affects the bottom line for a company not to have an impact. 
Will it happen any way?  I would say yes.
Will it happen sooner if we do not do something to stop it?  I would say yes.
so why not try to help at least our grand children and they may be able to adapt.
It is clear that politicians and companies have no clue the way the debate rages on.
It is time to stop listening to either side of that debate, listen to the entire earth, we might see something.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Poll results

I was surprised and learned some things.
The first is that there is a movement away from bleach usage, but it is very small and most people have no idea about it.
While the poll was not scientifically random, it did include a wide cross section of people.
27 responders
3 no longer use bleach or try to use other products labeled "eco-friendly"
that left 24 in the category of "Who does not use bleach?"
To me, the 3 are significant in that I was not aware of any do not use bleach movement.
I had no responders from out of the USA.
The 3 were from different areas of the country, were different age groups and different politics (I am very sure of this in 2 cases, but not the third).
I learned something.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Information needed

This is an informal poll and is an attempt for me to gain knowledge and change my attitude if necissary.
I recently have had a couple of people tell me they never use bleach or bleach products,
Bleach products would include products that have chlorox in them (laundry bleach, cleaning products with bleach, mildew stain removal products, many disinfecting liquids), most pool disinfecting chemicals (bromine is another), most automatic dishwasher detergents and many other cleaning products.

The question starts with my statement that I do not know anyone who does not use some product with bleach in it.
Do you know anyone WHO DOES NOT USE ANY product with bleach?
Please respond with the location of the world (Provence or state and country)  and what is the alternative used.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

scofieldtown dump - the investigation

As meeting progress and people leave and new people come and ideas change hands and people get angry.  I am still waiting for the science.  Yes, I am admitted "Squint" (as coined in the TV show; Bones).
All those homes that were tested (I count 197, plus some that were done by private home owners and then shared), what was the big deal?
The START survey contracted by the US EPA found pesticides in some wells on Hannah's Road.  They found a spot with some Dieldren in the playground are of the dump, but what else was found?
It is not talked about.  The public talks VOCs.SVOCs. Heavy metals, but the things found in the greatest concentrations in the area where the water drains out of the dump, were none of those.
It was old pesticides, DDT and its family (DDE and DDD) and a PCB pesticide Archlor.  Those levels were hundreds to tens of thousands of times greater than dieldren found.  If the dump was a source, they would be in the wells.  They were looked for, they were not found even in a trace amount.
The START testing looked at VOCs.  I was interested in VOCs, which are solvents and components of oil and gasoline.  The START testing found acetone, but in the quality control a "field blank" is carried with the sampler to ensure that any false contamination would not be introduced into the other samples.  The field blank had acetone.  Eliminate that as a VOC.
So out of the 197 homes tested, all for VOCs. what was the outcome?  Mostly chlorination and bromination by-products, all easily attributable to pools and hot tubs in the area and household bleach use.  There were a couple of strange chemicals found in 2 wells in trace amounts (Chlorotoluene), and two wells which had oil or gas residue.  One well with a paint solvent.  All of then very separate from each other.
The big thing about the site is there was a salt dome that was kept there, uncovered for years and some anecdotal evidence that the salt was buried into the dump after each season.  This would mean that thee are tons of water soluble sodium chloride flowing underground.
The wells in the area are very similar, most less than 300 feet in depth and only have 20 feet of casing.  there are many treatment softening systems used most disposing of the regeneration brine into their own septic systems.  Salt levels are varied, mostly along the lines of where the softeners are.  This can be further verified by levels of potassium, where the regeneration brine used was potassium chloride.
There are many other factor, the Villa Maria complex was an old farm house which farmed a large area.  there was a road leading south to what loos like a dump site for the farm, this is where Very Merry Rod ends.
Many wells were dug very close to the homes, there are no regulations and some of them abut the foundation.  Any termite treatment, which digs a hole 3 to 4 feet into the ground and then has an insecticide solution poured into it at intervals around the entire foundation of the home would effect a well that close to the foundation.
The issue is complex, but who fault is it?
All of ours because it is the years of not understanding what these chemicals could do to us and using them so haphazardly.
The dump is not the issue, all of us are the issue.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The anatomy of an outbreak

It starts with a report because somewhere someone was sick enough to either be admitted to a hospital or get their doctor concerned enough to check out why they were so sick.
Then another report. 
The second report should trigger an investigation, sometimes it does, some times not, but the third does.
Interviews are performed and a location that fits the time frame is uncovered.
Workers are then queried:
Is any one sick?  The response is usually a unified no.
More questions about what they do, when they work.
Then general food handling practice.
What do they work with?
Do they use gloves?
Do they wash their hands?
They all know the right answers, but occasionally some one blanches on a question nad we know the truth.
Stool samples are required of every worker.
They do not report all the people who work there, but samples form the workers come back positve.
Some confess they have been sick.  They know that if they are positive they will be out of work for at least 2 weeks.
The owner gets upsets, "we cook our chicken to 550 degrees!", he exclaims.
We look at each other and tell him it is not the chicken.  that it probably was someone who was sick working with out gloves on the salad.  he blanches and asks, gloves?  Salad?
A worker comes in, not on our list. 
They work nights. 
They were not told about the problem.
They have been sick.
They say everyone has been sick.
We know, we say.
More positive stools and now the restaurant is closed because all their workers test positive, even the owners.
We are told of people having been sick who ate there, but it is now a long while and they are okay.
When did it start?  We do not know.
How many people got sick?  A lot, many more than we will ever find.
Why. why don't they wash their hands?

Friday, February 19, 2010

The great Oxygen debate

Lack of oxygen in the Long Island Sound is increasing.  That is bad news, but it gets worse, the algae and nitrogens everyone blamed, are also decreasing.
The EPA had a large research boat in Long Island Sound several months ago, everyone is still waiting for the results.
The results have not been released because they do not know what to make of them.
Things are not what they expected.
Check the iron out guys, check what has happened to the iron.
That horrible black sludge loaded with sulfides, iron sulfides, gobble up oxygen like a hungry Pac man.
The oxidation process uses lots of oxygen.
The anaerobic conditions create the sulfides and the sulfides maintain them.
This is not a good situation.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Conffusion about Global warming

That is what you get if you look at the weather outside on any single day.
Global warming is about a cumulative effect over time.  Yesterdays and today's cold weather here in CT mean nothing because, If I wanted to look at it that way, I was picking parsley for dinner at Thanksgiving.
Neither tell a full story.
We can measure a definite increase in CO2 in the atmosphere that has been happening since the industrial revolution.  That will warm things up, but it will also make the weather even more unpredictable than it already is because things get unstable,
On the other side people want to blame global warming for loss of fidh in the Long Island Sound and that is not so easily proved.
As I have pointed out, man still was a major contributor, but our clean-up efforts have not occurred with our full understanding of what the impact is.
So in the freezing Northeast (Today) or the snowy Mid Eastern seaboard (today) or in warmer Arizona (currently) we will see what tomorrow will bring.
What ever we do, we have to think it through carefully.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I said I would not post until things were finished, they are not finished I and will not yet go into details, however, i will explain about my role.
From June 2009 when they gave me the results from the START testing performed under the direction of the EPA, every bit of analysis and result has passed through my hands.  And I have given each piece scrutiny.
Every single local official involved has heard my take on things, every single one has ask me multitude of questions.
Actions do not have to be based on what i say, but what ever i have said, has been heard.
Any resident calling in has heard the same story from me from almost day one.  My story has not changed and the case i have made has had more evidence come in its favor.

On the professional level, i have done this type of thing for 30 years.  I have directed investigations and found answers.  i have been brought before courts and what I have had to say has been borne out.
I have approached this just like any investigation, environmental, forensic or whatever comes into the lab.
I have nothing to lose by making anything up and anyone can be annoyed at me for what i say, but the reality is, I am the expert in this town.
What I have heard in the papers and in the meeting, i do not think anyone really wants to look at the big picture.  No one, not the residents, not the DEP, not the local decision makers want to face what may very well be a national issue.

Enough said on that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

H1N1 Influenza Novel update

We are currently in the second round (from all that I gather), round of the H1N1 influenza virus coming around.
I hear they are expecting it again.
The vaccines have been effective for those who received them and now the clinics are being openned to everyone, not just children or people with children.
The last clinic the Stamford health Department jad in the beginning of January had close to 1,000 people get vaccinated.
People do take this seriously now that the "Hysteria" has died down.
There will be another one at the end of the month, so keep looking at the Health Department Website for more info.