Category Archives: Water Quality

Lessons from Flint Water Crisis


As far back at 2015 ThumbWind started ringing the warning bell as Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s Financial Manager Darnell Earley authorizes the utilization of the Flint River as a point water source for the city. Needless-to-say the rest is history. The Flint Water Crisis resulted in 1000’s of people becoming poisoned with lead and $100’s of millions spend to re-mediate the debacle.  I was recently approached by some folks in Ireland from the Water Filter Men who provided this awesome infographic to update us on this modern crisis. 

What-Can-We-Learn-From-The-Flint-Water-Crisis

Infographic provided by The Water Filter Men (https://www.thewaterfiltermen.ie/) is an online stockist of water filtration products based in the town of Dundalk in Ireland. It is known as a well-respected stockist of products such as reverse osmosis water filter systems, UV sterilizer systems and water softeners, while the company is committed to promoting the provision of clean water for all homes and businesses. Its owners are renowned for their encyclopedic knowledge of water treatment and ethical standpoint on environmentally friendly filtration practices.

 

Advertisements

Have we made the Great Lakes into a Plastic Soup?


This post was also published in 2012 and is the third most read environmental post on ThumbWind. To me this is development is disheartening but so evident with plastic debris commonly washing up on our beach. This is the fourth article in the Our Water, Our Life Series. 

The next time you brush your teeth or wash your face you may be contributing to adding plastic into the Great Lakes. The New York Times is reporting that micro-plastics are now identified as a serious threat to the Great Lakes ecosystem. As of now there is no way to stop the plastic contamination from products with micro-plastics from entering the watershed.

 The Great Lakes are now a Plastic Soup

microplastics great lakesIn a recent study was conducted by the 5 Gyres Institute headed by Dr. Sherri Mason SUNY College at Fredonia New York. Water samples in July 2012 were taken in the Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario and showed an average abundance was approximately 43,000 microplastic particles/km2. One sample taken downstream from two major cities in Lake Erie, contained over 466,000 particles/km2, greater than all other sample areas combined. Samples taken in Lake Huron just north of Port Austin, Michigan showed a microplastic contamination range between 10,000 and 20,000 microplastic particles/km2. This was the first study to analyze the impact of plastic contamination of the Great Lakes. The surprise is that concentrations of plastic contamination exceed data collected in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

 Detrimental Effect on Humans Unknown but Likely

Scientists are still working through the links of the chain leading back to humans; about 65 million pounds of fish are caught in the Great microplastic in fishLakes each year. Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, said that the bits of plastic have a great capacity to attract persistent pollutants to their surface. “Plastics are not just acting as mimic food, but they can also cause physical damage to the organism,” she said. She has examined fish guts and found plastic fibers — possibly from the breakdown of synthetic fabrics through clothes washing — that are laden with the chemicals, and said she expected to find beads as well. The entire food chain in the Great Lakes region appear to be affected.

The plastic pollution problem may be even worse in the Great Lakes than in the oceans, Rios said. Her team found that the number of microparticles — which are more harmful to marine life because of their small size — was 24 percent higher in the Great Lakes than in samples they collected in the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

 Waste Treatment Plants Fall Short

microplastic4While many of the beads appear to enter the environment when storms cause many wastewater treatment plants to release raw sewage, it is increasingly clear that the beads slip through the processing plants as well, Dr. Mason said at a sewage treatment plant in North East, a town near Erie.

Studies are currently underway to assess the effectiveness of waste treatment plans in the Great Lakes region. Dr. Mason and several students are looking at the presence of these plastics and synthetic materials passing through waste water treatment plants. This would cover water that was flushed down toilets and passed through household drains. Currently Mason’s study is focused on treatment plants in upstate New York.

 Products to Avoid

Facial and body scrubs are the largest contributor to microplastic contamination. In a Hair_wash_with_shampoostudy conducted by 5 Gyres, a single tube of Neutrogena “Deep Clean” contained over 350,000 plastic particles. Microplastic particles and microbeads can be found in facial scrubs, shampoos & soaps, toothpaste, eyeliners, lip gloss, deodorant and sunblock sticks. These microparticles are made of Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and Nylon. PE and PP are the most common.

Some companies have promised a voluntary phase-out of plastic beads. Others have made no commitments.

Promises to phase-out:

  • Beiersdorf (no set date)
  • Colgate-Palmolive (by end of 2014)
  • Johnson & Johnson (by end of 2015)
  • L’Oreal (no set date)
  • Proctor & Gamble (by end of 2017)
  • Unilever (by end of 2015) (D)

 Citations

New York Times Scientists Turn Their Gaze Toward Tiny Threats to Great Lakes, December 14, 2013. By John Schwartz

Polluting plastic particles invade the Great Lakes, Reported by American Chemical Society, April 8, 2013, By Lorena M. Rios Mendoza, Ph.D

Microplastics in consumer products and in the marine environment, Position Paper – 2013, 5 Gyres Institute, Plastic Soup Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Plastic Free Seas, Clean Seas Coalition

Graphics

  • Wikipedia Commons, NOAA, Thumbwind

It’s Time to Consider a Bounty On Asian Carp


Michigan is one of the few states with open and active bounty statutes. These laws date back to the 1800’s and were meant to address the same problem we have today; invasive species. The Norway rat, English sparrow and Starlings were such a problem that Michigan placed a small bounty, $.02 – $.50 cents for each carcass. There is a story of kids in Pigeon Michigan shooting sparrows near the grain elevator to prevent spoilage on the grain. They brought the birds into the local post office “by the bushel”, for payment.

Southern Illinois University has issued a report advocating the use of overharvesting the bighead and silver carp as an immediate, revenue-positive complement to other control efforts.  Populations of these fishes are growing dense in the lower and middle Illinois River and both species are approaching the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) and the defensive electrical barrier set up there to stop it. The team believes the downriver source populations of the fish will continue to send individuals upstream to challenge the CAWS and ultimately the Great Lakes until their numbers are reduced.

From Detroit Free Press

ThumbWind.com advocates placing a $10-20 bounty on each and every Asian Carp caught in Illinois. Rather than spending endless millions on technical silver bullets try good old fashioned overharvesting. Local fisherman and communities would benefit from both the income and as a potential food source. In China, where the big head variety is used to make soup, the fish has been hunted to near eradication. The invasive snakehead is wiping out local bass population in Maryland. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries (DNR) has offered a $200 gift card to Bass Pro Shops if fishermen manage to hook and kill a snakehead. Florida is in the process of training and offering incentives to hunters and trappers to hunt and kill invasive pythons, which have become a deadly problem.

Like this topic?

Please share it with your favorite Social Media.


ThumbWind-Mercantile-banner

Federal government pushes back decision on proposed nuclear-waste bunker near Lake Huron — Global News


Looks like we will have to continue to follow this  issue through August. The proposed site is just across Lake Huron from Harbor Beach. Too close and right on the shore. This is a shared repost.

The federal government has punted a decision on whether to allow a proposed underground storage bunker to house nuclear waste near Lake Huron well into next summer.

via Federal government pushes back decision on proposed nuclear-waste bunker near Lake Huron — Global News