Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tainted Water!!!

Oh my gosh!! You can't even drink water anymore without wondering what's in it! Up north of us, people were warned not to drink or cook with their tap water because it may be contaminated with Trichloroethylene (TCE). I wasn't sure what this was, so I googled it. It is a chemical used to clean machinery parts. From the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry:

Trichloroethylene is a colorless liquid which is used as a solvent for cleaning metal parts. Drinking or breathing high levels of trichloroethylene may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma, and possibly death.

You can be exposed to this chemical by:

Breathing air in and around the home which has been contaminated with trichloroethylene vapors from shower water or household products such as spot removers and typewriter correction fluid.
Drinking, swimming, or showering in water that has been contaminated with trichloroethylene.
Contact with soil contaminated with trichloroethylene, such as near a hazardous waste site.
Contact with the skin or breathing contaminated air while manufacturing trichloroethylene or using it at work to wash paint or grease from skin or equipment.

Technically, we live outside the area affected by this, but not THAT far! We normally drink bottled water, but I'm thinking we're going to be cooking with it from now on as well. And showering...Ummm...

Good, hubby is home. I need his strength and opinion for this one.


Carol said...

That is so sad! What a state we are placing the Earth in...

Michelle said...

I have to warn you that some bottled water is bottled tap water.

I have a degree in civil engineering and studied water treatment facilities and their design. Many water and sewer water treatment facilities welcome tours. You might find it interesting, and it would teach you a lot about what you drink. ALL civic water and waste water treatment facilities MUST provide the public with reports about what is in the water. You should have no trouble obtaining that information with a little digging. ALL water treatment facilities are required to monitor their output on a frequent basis. I'm not sure how often, but I'm pretty sure that it is a matter of hours and not days between tests.

I'm not sure if the people up north of you are drinking city water or well water. Well water also has to be tested, but not as often. If they are drinking city water, it is likely that the problem is new, because they have just been told to stop using it, or, if not, then they failed to do their testing and are in huge trouble. If they use wells, then it could have been going on for some time, unfortunately. I hope you use city water! It is usually safer than well water.

Cmerie said...

Thank you Michelle for that information. I just might schedule a tour of a water treatment facility. I believe the problem was/is a city water issue. This doesn't directly effect us, but it sure is scary. We are also on city water.

Interesting about the bottled water thing. How can you be sure the water you are drinking is safe? When we lived in Wyoming, I used to think people were crazy for buying water to drink, mostly because the water there is SO good. But, when we moved to Arizona, I began to understand. I'm not saying the water is bad, because I'm sure it's (usually) perfectly ok to drink. However, the taste is AWFUL. And the smell is even worse. I'm not sure why it's like that, but it really is gross, so we started buying water (mostly because it tasted better and didn't smell like fish).

I've thought about getting filters for our tap water, but I'm not really sure if they would do us any good, and my husband seems to think they would just be a waste of money. He's probably right about that, but worrying about things like this is new to me, and I have to wonder when to be concerned and when I should just let it go

Michelle said...

Water filters that you attach to your faucet or the kind attached to a pitcher are great if your only problem is aesthetics (taste, smell). Those filters are probably cheaper than bottled water for drinking. Just realize that they don't protect you against bacteria or TCEs or really dangerous stuff.