Monday, September 23, 2013

Arsenic again

For a short while, the industry magazine i use to stay in touch with the world, Chemical and Engineering News, has been doing stories on Arsenic.

The latest link is included and the final say is that more testing is needed.

I can say that i am still concerned about Arsenic in all we eat, just as i feel we have been slowly destroying our world in the nonsense that we perpetuate.

More to be dome for sure.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Data Review

I hear many times that the "data" has not be scrutinized or analyzed at the Health Department,
The strange thing is that i did, back in July of 2012.
Not that it was a perfect analysis, but i compared all wells tested, wells showing the presence of pesticides with those not showing pesticides present.
What is this you say? show me?
Here is a general overview:

All well results since 2008 to 10/2012:
  House Built Well depth well distance pool Onsite   Current land layout Past Land use
Average 1959 248 34   2 2
Max 2008 1100 200   6 6
Min 1700 30 0   1 1
count 1001 168 112 94 646 639
median 1962 195 25     2 1

The numbers for past land use and land layout are as follows:
ID # Current Land Past Land Use
1 Flat undeveloped
2 gentle slope Forest
3 moderate slope Animal Farm
4 steep slope Farm
5 Rolling Hills Landscaping buisness
6 Hilly Industrial

Data for the next categories are until July 2012, not Oct 2012
wells with pesticides found:
  House Built Well depth well distance pool Onsite   Current land layout Past Land use
Average 1952 210 26   2 1
Max 2007 800 81   4 4
Min 1730 30 0   0 0
count 149 35 34 11 72 69
median 1960 120 20     2 1

Wells without pesticides found:
  House Built Well depth well distance pool Onsite   Current land layout Past Land use
Average 1959 260 36   2 1
Max 2008 1100 200   6 4
Min 1735 30 0   0 0
count 640 102 66 47 325 300
median 1963 220 25     2 1
there are slight differences, but not statistically significant not do the difference correspond to changes in the use of the pesticides.

Sadly this does not show any way of determining if a home might have an issue or not - it varies by factors that we cannot determine, of course if someone would develop a time machine, we could see what was happening to cause these problems.  i do not think it would be that surprising.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And then there is good news...

in this grouping of the same magazine that keeps me informed of so much, they report that certain chemicals in Honey breaks down toxins and particularly pesticides.
Honey works in bees when they eat it, will it work in us?
probably, since the action is a chemical (enzymatic) one!

time to realize what is happening

Arsenic, how wide spread is it?
Recent statements by physicians and patients would indicate we must be worried about our water...
but is that the real story?

I was privy to research sometime ago which i posted concerning levels of arsenic in our favorite health foods, brown rice and dark chocolate.
Now my favorite magazine , Chemical and Engineering News (C & E N) has done much more in an article which tells all of us chemist to share the news.
This is really important, since even those of us with arsenic in our wells might be more effected in the HEALTHY foods we eat.
This is also scary and is not dissimilar to persons who  consumed large quantities of canned white albacore tuna (the expensive kind and supposedly better for you), who ended up with toxic levels of mercury.
The other canned tuna did not have those high levels and did not create such a problem.

I would hasten to add that much of the bacterial contamination in salad greens have come from ORGANIC PRODUCE.

Scary, isn't it?

This is also not dissimilar to cases of lead poisoning where the main exposure route was through a child eating lead paint!

Beware - if you are concerned about your health be very careful what you eat!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Complication of Epidemiology - Environmental factors

I'll start with the story of DDT and its effects on the top of the food chain in the avian  world.
DDT was never sprayed on the eagle, nor was it sprayed on the fish that the eagles eat,
nevertheless, the eggs had trace amounts of DDT in them and it affected the thickness of the shell causing the eggs not to mature.
The source?  Farmer spraying fields of plants, draining off into the streams, insects with DDT being consumed way down the food chain by small water dwelling animals, which were consumed by still larger fish until the size was large enough for an eagle to catch.
Think about it, that is a long way to travel.
We know, from other countries experience, that Arsenic can cause cancer, but at fairly high levels, but what about low levels?
We know from the non-smoking Uranium miners in Colorado and Utah that radon in very high levels can cause lung cancer.  Reports and studies on low levels when i studied them were mixed as were the studies on radon in water (even more so because some studies showed an inverse relation between cancer and high levels of radon in the water).
Then there was the study that the US EPA did on tree milling areas where there would be a very fine dust produced.  The study found that those workers who also worked producing methanol were not only NOT effected, but that the methanol vapors mitigated other factors such as smoking.
There is thee issue of asbestos, in the medium small particle range, causing a very bad disease, which is a direct cause and effect, or manganese which caused a mercury like brain problem when consumed in high quantities and of course a long history of problems with mercury itself.
Then we go to small levels of the next generation of pesticides after DDT, Aldrin (active component is dieldren) and chlordane.  Dieldren has been described in literature as something that would assist cancer production if there is something else which would cause cancer.  Chlordane is a concern for the endocrine system.
Now we get into the difficult stuff, pesticides have been found to effect immune systems at low levels and affect autoimmune diseases a generation down.
The issue with environmental factors is that they are complicated, small amounts of dieldren might not affect a person, but maybe their children or maybe a high dose of radon or a small dose of arsenic might be a trigger.
Eating process foods might be a factor.  Other pesticides in foods might be a factor.  Using chlorine bleach might be a factor.
Occupational exposure to ozone from a copier might be a factor or excess car exhaust from long commutes may play in to the equation.
One thing the US EPA did right is they talk about life time exposures to substances, but it can also be combination of things that could be factors.
This is why straight epidemiology does not work well in these situations, but it is the only tools we have.
This is complicated and direct connections are often hard to find.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

a bit more on Art Glowka

though he was primarily know for speaking out, he published a number of articles.
The following are links to some of the things on the web that can be looked up.
He was a very busy fellow!

Halloween Yacht Club

Field and Stream

The River keepers

New York Magazine May 29, 1972

On The Water, June 2011

 and another

This is a SHORT List
much is lost

Monday, March 25, 2013


There will be people who are glad he is gone,
he won't be asking THOSE questions, the kind that made them squirm.
They are just plain arrogant and wrong.
This world is now a little duller and one more person who sought only truth, is gone.

This Morning March 25, 2013 Art Glowka passed on.
He is in a better place and i am richer for having known the man and admired his efforts.

And what he was most interested in?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Preparing a tribute

there are many things that i could write on today, but things have come up and i feel the need of a tribute.
The Tribute will be for Art Glowka, the person i call the Patron Saint of long Island sound., but the tribute is not yet, but possibly soon.

There are many things that people simply do not realize about him that are very important to remember for he was considered a pain in the rear by many who did not want to answer his many very straight forward questions.
I could ask what were they trying to protect, but "They" are not important, it was that Art would ask the difficult questions that others did not want to hear.
He questioned the studies on the Long Island Sound, which continually blamed nitrogen.
He questioned mathematical models which said that the Sound flowed differently than old flow tests showed and what fishermen knew to be the truth.
He questioned the statements on the fish populations in the Sound, for every fisherman saw depletion  and he questioned the explanations given for it.
He asked why the Lobster population fell off after the tropical storm Floyd in the late 1990s and why no one made that correlation.
He made meticulous records of fish caught and their sizes.
He went to every public meeting for the Long Island Sound.
He headed the Shellfish commission for no money.
He fished regularly.
He helped the Health Department take water samples and brought his own in for curiosity sake.
He helped feed the poor and homeless on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
And he is a good friend.
I hope that if he passes, that he remembered as such.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

there have been errors

i never mind admitting making mistakes,
that is why we scientist review things.
The errors were with metals results that had been reported to me and then i tried to correlate them.
The errors were two-fold:
In the database numbers were divided into a base number and before the number, an "operator".  The operator could be the less than sign or a not detected symbol, in a query I wrote, used the base number of the result instead of the combination of using a less than operator and the not detected operator as 0.
They are not actually zero, but they are less than whatever detection limit was achieved in analysis.
This made a big difference in the Arsenic report, which previously had shown 3 tests results at the action level.  Each of those results were a less than 10, meaning that arsenic has not been found elevated in any of the 227 tests that i had on record.
Cadmium results were correct:  there was one test above the MCL of 64 tests, however the level was recorded as 40 mg/L (i used mg/L as the base measurement) and it was really 40 ug/L, a huge difference.
Chromium was correct, 1 test was above the MCL of 36 tests.  The only thing i can say is that it was performed in 1989 and we never saw another elevated Chromium level.
Apparently all the other test result did not have this error.
The errors occurred during the years after my operation and i knew i was not doing that well and would be prone to errors and is one of the reasons i retired.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Coming home this afternoon, i was listening to a guest speaker on NPR in CT.
The speaker was identified as an organic chemist and was talking about a new book promoting healthy eating.
It worked for her, then she started to name the issues and the first on the list was MSG.
In the course of the discussion there were many things to believe - that the food industry is able to "hide" different additives in food through a variety of methods, being the foremost.  I've seen and analyzed very serious issues in that respect.
But to blame obesity in children on MSG and aspartame seemed out of bounds, but i would allow for it.
I suppose if this chemist wanted to, they could have analysed food to determine if the statements they were making were true, but that was not presented.
Both are present as amino acids, naturally in the human body, but have been played with to create the effects they have.
So do i swallow it whole, no, but there might be a bit of credibility to it.
Then she went off on something i have heard before and it made me angry on many levels.
This was the talk about we need to make our bodies more alkaline to ward off disease.
Okay this got me -
1) Much of our body is naturally acid, Stomach acid having a pH of 1.5 to 3.5 (7.0 being neutral and lower being acidic), Saliva being mostly acidic with a pH between 6.0 to 7.4, urine being mostly acid at a pH of 6.0 and blood being slightly alkaline with a pH of 7.35 to 7.40.
2) Most "bad bugs" or bacteria that cause illness grow best in alkaline situations - that is what you use in a lab to isolate them and provide the best growth.
3) Acidity kills them - Campylobacter, e coli, Staph and MERSA and many others are KILLED with vinegar, lime or lemon juice and do not come back in those situations.
Here is whee i became upset and turned the nonsense off.

Friday, February 1, 2013


I went to a Committee meeting on Wednesday night to support the continued testing of pesticides in well water in Stamford.
I learned a few things:
While the meeting was strictly about extending the time of the ordinance, there were questions raised concerning what is going to be done with the data.
I found that interesting.
I guess if you want to blame someone, then you look for a single source.
And in the past i have found multiple source of something affecting wells, it was published.  Some of that information was used when the CT public health code was being reviewed.  It showed that softeners which discharge the salt brine into a septic system (commonly done) added chloride to wells near the system and to the south.
The information was made public and presented every time some one came with a question concerning treating their well water.  It changed things because the homeowner was aware.
This is public health.
You find something dangerous - in this case, pesticides.
You test and tell the homeowner yes or no.  There is treatment.  It gets fixed.
This is public health!
And for the question, there is a slight pattern, in relationship to the south side of farms that have been broken up and become residential, but the pesticides were used by homeowners in there own right and so there are places that it is found that can not be "predicted".
The message?
There are other things that concern me though.
The Board seems , in private statements to be limiting the testing to the concern in regards to pesticides.
Maybe this is correct because i believe the Health Department should be on the forefront in saying things need to be tested for the sake of public health.

My list mostly involves the following metals:
and the nonmetal is Radon.
Most of these are natural, but lead, copper and arsenic have man used sources.
Expect me to continue speaking.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Testing metals - lead especially

i know i have given the numbers for lead found both in first draw samples (the US EPA standard for initial collection) and samples that have been run - a total of 17.65% of over 400 samples in Stamford, but let me explain the importance.
A few years ago, a person not from Stamford (We did tests for anyone in CT), brought a "run sample for general testing and a first draw sample for lead and copper.
I ran lead on both and found both to be significantly elevated (over MCLs) in Lead.
The people had lived in the house a number of years and had moved in when one of thier children was a toddler.  The other 2 were over the age of 6.
The one child had learning issues, behavior issues and many of the other typical signs of lead poisoning.  The other 2 children did not.
Why these people waited so long to have the water checked is typical of homeowners and i believe that it created this tragedy.
The leasson?  Test for lead at the very least!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pesticide variance revisited

For the past 4 years, i have remarked that i have not seen significant variance in pesticide levels in wells where it was found.
At first because the variance in one well in two test done 11 years apart was insignificant.
Then there were 8 wells in which in DEEP was taking samples quarterly and except in 2 cases of potential collector error (one was acknowledged and the other not)  there was not a significant variance.
In the last part of sample collection this year 2 wells were repeated - one had nothing showing in 2009 and had dieldren over the action level in 2012.  The other had trace levels a few years ago and not only was dieldren over the action level, there was chlordane showing up as well.
One occurrence is an anomaly, twice something to be concerned about.
I believe that the Health Department will recommend continued testing.