Sunday, December 30, 2012

first year of testing

The goal was 750 and thing were started late.
The person collecting samples was not hired until the middle of March.
The final total?  751.
the person hired was able to do 707 of those samples, while the inspectors added 44.
This was in spite of the snow storm and hurricane, so it was a job well done.

But people are not interested in numbers, but rather results.

I think the most significant thing uncovered was extremely high chlordane levels in the mid west portion of Stamford, far away from all the tauted "sources". 
5 samples over US EPA MCLs and none relatable to the dump or the arboretum.
19% of the sample had some level of pesticide in them.
5% were over the action limits set by the State of CT.
The issue with pesticides and their affect on our lives may be more complex than simple carcinogens,
a recent study indicated there may be effects of the immune system and although it would be virtually impossible to study, there is thoughts that chromosome damage might be generational.

The numbers in the drinking water still pale in my view to the constant exposure that all of us have to all the newer agents used to control insects and the older ones still hanging around.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Well, people have finally been asking simple questions on the fly on how to do things.
It still perturbs me that these questions have not been asked before, but whatever.
Some acknowledgements came that i have been work 33 years and so i go to the first paper published in the National Environmental Health Journal about what we do to our wells with what we dump into a softener...
The paper was entitled:  Salt in Well water, Is there a softener in the background.

The study linked the usage of softeners discharging Sodium Chloride into septic systems as the major cause of chloride levels over the area average.
Over time and a switch to a more Eco-friendly potassium Chloride, determinations could be made of actual ground water flow tracking potassium levels.
This has changed back with economic hard times with more people abandoning ecologically friendly products and using cheaper sodium chloride again.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Count down

Day 4...
On this day it was made clear that most of what i have done in the past 33 years,
will no longer be done at the Health Department lab.
Ok, i expected this, but i am disappointed that the reason is because of disinterest.

So for a report -
the abstract of a published paper in the National Environmental Health Association Journal:

Predictability of Swimming Prohibitions by Observational Parameters


Authors: Joseph E. Kuntz, BS, RS

              Robert Murray, MS, Laboratory Director           

              City of Stamford

              Health Department Laboratory

              888 Washington Blvd.

              Stamford, CT 06904

              phone: (203)977-5843


Using compiled bacterial analyses to predict the water quality when certain conditions have been observed, provides a way to establish public health policy that is active when a problem exists. Conditions were reviewed using a geometric mean specifying different parameters which included the amount of rain in previous days, wind direction and speed, tides and high tide height, water temperature, drought or flood conditions for the season, different materials coming into the swimming areas and the location and amount of any sewage spills. Only three events showed statistical significance (Chi-Squared P < 0.0001): rain events of 1.00 inch or more in a 24 hour period under normal weather conditions, rain events in a 24 hour period under drought conditions over 0.75 inches, and when "floatable" material from distant sewage spills (i.e. grease balls) are present at a beach. This evaluation enables a public health policy which restricts swimming when conditions are present that constitute a public health concern without needing to wait for bacteriological examinations to prove a problem exists.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

True closure

The following link on the City' Website: Reports and surveys will be shut down shortly.
This is not my decision, but rather the provisional lab directors decision.
All of these reports are things that i have written and reviewed, but it is deemed worthless, especially now that i am leaving.
I will be posting each of those here and so i am unconcerned.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Swan Song

In 7 days, i will no longer be the "chemist" at the Stamford Health Department.
There may be even fewer posts in this area after that.
I have allowed my RS in Connecticut to lapse as of November 30th, which shows you just how commited i am to leaving this feild.
I have kept my ACS (American Chemical Society) membership because chemistry is a very diverse feild and is involved in every part of our lives, whether it be using man-made items or natural products.

The lab at the Health Department will no longer be offering any metals testing - no iron or manganese, copper, arsenic, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc or lead.
At least until they hire someone new who is interested in these things (read what this says about the current person, who is strictly clinical).

This bathers me, but there are other labs that offer such testing, the lab has that list.

This bothers me because lead and copper still top my list of the most prevelant metals and the reasons are fairly clear - old pipes, old well pumps or pumps that failed and could not be extracted from the well, there is not natural lead and copper in this area.
Arsenic worries me because even though only 3 wells have been found at the action limit,  Arsenic was used extensively in many products and it remains a significant hazard.
Although a person has said they found mercury in their well, thay have not shared any results and that makes it hearsay and i personally think it is just some one wanting to make trouble.  No mercury has shown up in any tests submitted to me.
Uranium, one of those "natural" products has shown up in a number of wells and this does concern me.  We never could test for this, but other labs can.
Manganese is one of those discoloration metals that has the potential to be dangerous to your health at high levels.  It exists in many wells.
VOCs (Volitale Organic Compounds, think solvents) have been found in insignificant quantities (mostly due to chlorine use) throughout Stamford.
Pesticides, the big concern, have shown to be all over and very persistant in the environment.  Political and executive descions will prety much keep this as a Stamford problem, even though it is very clear to me that it is found anywhere that had some sort of usuage when the pesticide, particularly dieldren and chlordane) where legal to use.
People continue to use pesticides on lawns with great abandon, so more problems will show in the future.
This of course seems to only be a concern as far as wells are concerned.  Everything is treatable and i will continue to say there is more risk in all the other exposures that we have in eveeryday life, than form the well water.