Highwater Marks

By Lady Wa Wa

To many of us, the idea of toxic chemicals released by fracking into our water supplies seems remote. We assume only folks living next door to hydraulic fracturing operations in Texas, Ohio or Pennsylvania could possibly be affected.

Hydraulic fracturing has now been applied more than a million times to onshore U.S. oil and gas wells. Worldwide, more than 2.5 million hydraulic fracturings have occurred, with more being planned every day.

Fracking chemicals

Fracking is the process of injecting water, chemicals and sand into shale rock to release natural gas. There are numerous negative consequences of fracking near communities, as the process produces a toxic wastewater that cannot be treated by standard water sanitation facilities. In fact, people who live in areas where fracking occurs may be consuming toxic water straight from their faucets, as many watchdog groups warn.

FracFocus.org has compiled an extensive list of chemicals used in fracking, along with maps and regulations for individual states. The chemical chart is sorted alphabetically by the Product Function to make it easier for readers to compare chemicals to fracturing records .

According to Food and Water Watch.org, more than 7,500 accidents, leaks and spills related to fracking occurred in 2013, negatively impacting water quality in rivers, streams and shallow aquifers. There have also been more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination near fracking sites around the country, although the process is still used to extract natural gas in spite of claims made against its impact.

Water for fracking operations is mixed with sand and toxic chemicals, including over 100 suspected endocrine disruptors and carcinogens (including lead, mercury and uranium), Food and Water Watch states. Also, giant holding ponds or tanks are needed to store the chemically contaminated waste water that comes back up the hole after wells have been fractured.

Benzene

Besides the fracking chemicals, the fracturing process may release benzene into nearby water sources. Benzene is clear and has a sweet smell. It can be tasted once it reaches .5—4.5 parts per million. One ppm is equivalent to a single drop in 40 gallons of water.  However, Benzene is toxic in water at .005 ppm, which can’t be detected by taste or smell.

Because Benzene is found both naturally and as a result of industrial sources, people are exposed to small amounts of the chemical daily. However, when we are exposed to high quantities of Benzene, serious health problems can develop.  Drinking water contaminated by Benzene can cause stomach irritation, dizziness, sleepiness, convulsion, rapid heart rate, vomiting, or in extreme cases, coma or death.

Fracking technology has been in use for decades, but only recently has the industry developed the capacity to drill horizontally within the rock formations, which requires massive amounts of water and potentially toxic chemicals. But industry secrecy about the chemicals injected into the shale has made it difficult for scientists and government agencies to get the facts on health and environmental impacts of fracking.

Industry oversight

Individual states regulate fracturing that occurs within their borders, and they have different rules over the use of the process. The EPA says it is working with states and other key stakeholders to help ensure that natural gas extraction does not come at the expense of public health and the environment. According to the agency’s website:

“The Agency's focus and obligations under the law are to provide oversight, guidance and, where appropriate, rulemaking that achieve the best possible protections for the air, water and land where Americans live, work and play. The Agency is investing in improving our scientific understanding of hydraulic fracturing, providing regulatory clarity with respect to existing laws, and using existing authorities where appropriate to enhance health and environmental safeguards.”

New York, Vermont have already banned fracking and now California is contemplating a ban, thanks in great part to forward-thinking environmental protestors and community action groups.

FracTracker.org, a non-profit that launched in 2010, provides oil and gas maps for over 30 U.S. states with drilling activity. Simply click on your state to learn about fracking operations. These maps may include drilled wells, violations, proximity to vulnerable populations, pipelines and proposals, waste disposal sites, sand mining operations, and more.

Hydraulic Fracturing 101

Activists such as these, who are rapidly becoming more organized, larger and stronger, are busy gathering data and proof that fracking is not good for the environment – despite industry claims to the contrary.  Consider this innocent-sounding summary of fracking by Halliburton, a leader in the hydraulic fracturing industry:

  • “So how does this process actually work? Well, it starts with a good bit of water and a lot of sand. Mix those two together, apply a couple thousand pounds of pressure, and introduce them to a reservoir several thousand feet below, often with the help of a small percentage of additives that aid in delivering that solution down the hatch.”
[Incidentally, the “good bit of water” Halliburton refers to is actually a lot of water.  In south Texas, home to the hydraulically fractured Eagle Ford Formation, for example, the portion of water use for oil and gas well drilling and completion was 6 percent as of January 2012, compared to 64% for irrigation, and 17% for municipal use, according to Wikipedia.]
  • “Then physics takes over. The force of the water creates a network of tiny fissures in the impermeable rock. The flow of water acts as a delivery mechanism for the sand, which finds its way into those newly created cracks and holds them open. This creates passageways through which the previously trapped natural gas can travel to get to the wellbore. The fracturing process is now finished; on average, it takes 3 to 10 days to complete.”
  • “Now it's time for the operator to remove the water, clearing the way for the newly stimulated well to produce energy for the next 20, 30, 40, even 50 years. The trucks, the pumps, the equipment, and the traffic that were needed to do the job – they're long gone. The operator typically leaves a production valve and collection equipment behind. The rest of the site is remediated, often within 120 days.”

Fracking discovered in 1866

Halliburton is not alone in its praise of this new technology credited with bringing wealth and vitality to communities. In “A Brief History of Fracking,” Brian Hicks, investment director for the income and dividend newsletter The Wealth Advisory, explains how the concept of fracking is not new. It was devised in 1866 by Civil War veteran Col. Edward Roberts who patented the "Exploding Torpedo."

As the story goes, Roberts witnessed Confederate exploding artillery rounds plunging into the narrow millrace (canal) that obstructed a battlefield in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Roberts' observation gave him an idea that would evolve into what he described as "superincumbent fluid tamping."

“Nobody knew it at the time, but Roberts' "Exploding Torpedo" was the birth of the modern-day shale fracturing industry...”

Skip ahead to 2015 and “the U.S. now has 200 years' worth of natural gas… and is predicted to be the largest oil producer in the world by the end of the decade, thanks to fracking,” says Hicks.

“Oh, and by the way... because the United States is using more natural gas as a result of the fracking revolution, the country's CO2 emissions are at a six-year low...”

Fracking is good for the environment, Hicks concludes.

U.S. touted as fracking leader

Fracking is not, of course, limited to the United States. Citing U.S. shale-extraction success and energy revitalization, Japan and Algeria are among the most recent countries to begin fracking operations – also with heavy public opposition.

Hacina Zegzeg, a coordinator for a protest movement who lives and works in In Salah, Algeria, said in a January 2015 online Observer article that her group organized protests in 2014, but the debate cooled a bit because the government agreed to hold off beginning the extraction of shale gas until 2022.

“However, at the end of December last year, the prime minister came to inaugurate the country’s first drilling site, located about 28 kilometers from In Salah… And we had not even been warned about his visit. All this reignited the movement.”

Zegzeg said a shale gas mining operation poses a serious threat to her town because the groundwater table is fossilized, meaning that the water doesn’t replenish itself.

“We are at risk of having polluted water and running out of water entirely,” Zegzeg said.

Being proactive

So long as humans rely on fossil fuels and can find a way to get to it, this debate will continue. Meanwhile, freshwater sources dwindle worldwide. If you live in an area where fracking is ongoing or being considered, learn all you can. Have your water tested.  Contact your legislators to hold energy companies accountable for any contamination caused by fracking and to disclose the chemicals they use.

By Lady Wa Wa

When a commodity as vital to life as clean water is at stake, we would be wise to be overly cautious rather than rely on government agencies to protect us.

From Love Canal, N.Y., (the nation’s first Superfund site) to the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., news stories abound of disastrous situations where authorities failed to warn residents of unsafe water in a timely manner, or even attempted to cover up or downplay the hazards. Meanwhile, unsuspecting residents became ill drinking and bathing in polluted water.

Yet, according to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 59 percent of survey respondents view the Environmental Protection Agency favorably. In other words, they believe the EPA informs and protects them. Pew conducted the survey Jan. 7-11 among 1,504 adults nationwide.

I suspect the 6,000 residents of Glendive, Mont., are less trusting of the EPA and their local government since a ruptured Bridger Pipeline Company pipeline poisoned their town’s drinking water supply in January with benzene, a human carcinogen found in oil and gas.

Benzene in nature

Often, industry professionals and government agencies point out that so-called hazards such as radiation, ozone, mercury, lead and benzene, to name a few, occur organically in the environment. A poster produced by Environmental Programs at Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center states that benzene is produced naturally by volcanoes and forest fires and does not build up in living organisms.

“It is also present in many plants and animals and in fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Benzene evaporates very quickly into the air. It can pass into the air from water and soil. It reacts with other chemicals in the air and usually breaks down within a few days.”

This makes benzene sound benign, doesn’t it? The information poster concludes by stating that benzene can cause cancer and disrupt the immune system in humans.

Yellowstone River and benzene

The Bridger pipeline split on Jan. 17, 2015, spilling approximately 30,000 gallons (some sources say 50,000 gallons) of crude oil into the Yellowstone River four miles upstream from Glendive. Glendive’s treatment plant officials did not issue an advisory against drinking the carcinogenic tap water until 48 hours after the catastrophe, according to news reports.

According to the EPA, the 12-inch diameter, ½-inch-thick pipeline broke between two block valves approximately 6,800 feet apart where the line crosses under the river.

“To date, response crews have collected 548 barrels of oil (about 23,000 gallons) out of more than 1,200 barrels that could have been released. Most of the oil recovery was from within the pipeline after it was shut down. Additional oil has been recovered from on-ice recovery efforts.”

The EPA says workers conducted water sampling at the Glendive Water Treatment Plant and environmental specialists took water samples along the river at the site of the release and at select points downstream. “Additional environmental sampling will also be conducted to determine the extent of the spill's environmental impact and to guide future response and recovery plans once the ice breaks up.”

"Brief" water contamination

The EPA said Glendive’s public drinking water supply was “briefly contaminated soon after the spill when volatile organic compounds, specifically benzene, showed up in early sampling results.”  Solutions were put in place to mitigate these VOCs and the water treatment plant has since been decontaminated and the main distribution lines flushed through the city's fire hydrants.

“Residents were instructed to flush the pipes in their homes and businesses and advised that they could continue using their water as normal. DEQ has confirmed that the municipal water delivery system now meets standards set out by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.”

The EPA ordered additional monitoring equipment to install at the intake to detect VOCs and other oil constituents entering the system, sounding an alarm that will trigger a shutdown of the treatment plant if benzene levels reach 2 ppb (less than half of the benzene maximum contaminant level).

The EPA also sampled 10 shallow groundwater wells near the break. No VOCs were detected.

Ten days later, city water was again deemed safe.

Not safe for all creatures

A month later, however, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks advised fishermen to use caution when deciding whether to eat fish they caught in the area affected by the spill. In February, detectable levels of petroleum were found in tests of fish pulled from the Yellowstone River downstream from the broken pipeline.

Apparently, the fish didn’t read the EPA’s press release certifying the water as safe to use.

The state agency said sampling for contaminated fish – as well as cleanup of the spilled oil – has been difficult because ice covers most of the river downstream from the spill site.

FWP fisheries biologists were able to catch several species of fish at sites downstream from the break. The fish were sent to laboratories in Billings and Wisconsin, which tested the edible muscle tissue and internal organs for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – or PAHs.

“Published research indicates that petroleum compounds can accumulate in fish for 40 or more days after a spill. FWP will resume catching fish after the ice leaves the river and test tissues for PAH accumulation.”

The agency said petroleum compounds can also be passed on to fish through the food chain when micro-organisms, insects, worms, crustaceans and other aquatic animals absorb petroleum compounds then eaten by fish.

The advisory was issued as a precaution, instructing anglers to tend toward conservative decisions and prudent practice when it comes to the health effects of the oil spill.

Prevention

Lois Gibbs, the Love Canal housewife who rallied neighbors in a 3-year fight to force legislators to listen and the EPA to evacuate 833 households from their highly toxic, dioxin-laden neighborhoods, said in 2008, "The federal government's failure to prevent harm for American citizens is unacceptable: When will government learn to err on the side of caution instead of risk equations?"

Gibbs, the founder/executive director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, was speaking about the Food and Drug Administration’s decision that bisphenol-A (BPA), a common plasticizer used in a variety of consumer food and beverage containers, is safe for babies.

Seven years later, a newly published study reported an association between BPA with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children. The study, by researchers at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS), shows that BPA is not metabolized well in children with ASD.

Perhaps we cannot rely on government agencies to keep us safe from all hazards lurking in our environment. But, we can be proactive. First, have your water tested.

 

Home water filters are available today that can eliminate dangerous pollutants, whether they occur naturally or from horrific oil spills, leach from chemical dump sites or seep into the groundwater from landfills.

As Lois Gibbs says, wouldn’t we also be wise to err on the side of caution?

By Lady Wa Wa

Manure doesn’t immediately come to mind when envisioning deadly overflows. Two liquid manure mishaps, however, were among the top-10 manmade poisonous spills of all time, according to “Wave Goodbye: 10 of the World’s Worst Toxic Floods.” The rivers of cow pies and hog poo were as lethal as coal ash slurry and mining waste tainted with arsenic and cadmium.

Besides harmful chemicals, the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that animal waste contains disease-causing pathogens, such as Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform, which can be 10 to 100 times more concentrated than in human waste. More than 40 diseases can be transferred to humans through manure.

Perhaps we don’t think of animal manure that way because it was once a natural byproduct of raising livestock, back when most farms had no more than a couple dozen cows, sheep or hogs. I can still recall the sensation of cow patties squishing between my naked kid-sized toes as we herded the neighbor’s modest 35 or so Holsteins from the pasture in the 1960s.

I didn’t much like sliminess when tramping through a fresh patty, although it was natural, green and usually involved no more than one or two pies per episode. Incidentally, we also cupped drinking water with our bare hands from the creek in that pasture and weren’t later curled over with gastroenteritis.

 That family farm, like thousands of others, no longer exists. A subdivision occupies the land, while industrial-sized factory farms produce milk elsewhere. Not only has farm size exploded in recent decades, with many recording animal populations in the tens of thousands, not mere hundreds. But, the number and amount of hazardous chemicals found in the manure produced there has also increased. Running barefoot through it is not advised.

Horse manure, for example, responsible for damaging crops and home gardens after normal application, has been found to contain herbicides that were traced back to the horses’ feed. Manure also contains high concentrations of phosphorous and nitrates. So, when a flood of the stuff accidentally runs across the landscape, plants and creatures above ground are not the only things harmed. Manure spills kill wildlife in natural waterways and contaminate drinking water supplies in wells, aquifers and reservoirs.

When thousands of gallons of manure flow from a lagoon into a nearby creek, the farmer is commonly blamed and fined. In many cases, however, the containment systems failed – a faulty or nonexistent check valve, broken pipes, cracked concrete walls, soil berms saturated by rain or lagoons overflowing by excessive rainfall. Government agencies established to protect the environment have also been accused of not doing enough to prevent catastrophes. In December 2014, for example, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources advised residents of a manure spill that could contaminate water wells, but did not mention the number of gallons or how the spill happened.

Some recent mishaps include 25 million gallons of hog waste spilling from a North Carolina farm in 1995, 3 million gallons of cow manure at a New York dairy farm, 640,000 gallons of manure spilled from a Wisconsin dairy in 2014, 300,000 gallons of manure at Arlington Agricultural Research Station in Wisconsin in 2013 and 200,000 gallons of hog manure spilled in Illinois in 2009 . These are but a few of the disasters filling the news and damaging ecosystems.

Meanwhile, whatever the cause, water everywhere becomes tainted. Sadly, we can’t wish ourselves back to a pristine world of unspoiled, crystal clear water and harmless cow patties. We can, however, protect ourselves with a simple household water filter system.

And be sure to wear your shoes in the barn.

By Lady Wa Wa

From sea to shining sea, all year long, the news overflowed with stories of catastrophic water pollution events that made people sick, destroyed ecosystems and cost uncalculated billions to clean up. The poisons are many – everything from naturally occurring gases released by mining to dumped dry-cleaning solvents and coal ash used as landfill.

 

2014 started with four states (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia) finally confirming that fracking was responsible for contaminating water wells. Four days later, a disastrous Jan. 9 coal-washing chemical tank leak in West Virginia sickened hundreds of people. Incidentally, the same site was responsible for a similar chemical spill six months later.

By the time it was revealed on Dec. 29 coal ash was the source of water contamination in Wisconsin, so many environmental calamities occurred during the year that it is impossible to list them all here. Unless you’re one of the unfortunate residents affected, these stories are usually quickly forgotten among the stream of assaults against Mother Earth.

Here, briefly, are a few of the hugest water-pollution stories topping the news in 2014:

Winter

  • 4 States Confirm Water Pollution From Drilling  USA Today reported Jan. 5 that an Associated Press investigation revealed water wells in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia have been contaminated by oil or gas drilling, despite industry claims that such problems are rare.
  • Toxic Chemical Leaks into Elk River Upriver from the West Virginia American Water intake source, about 10,000 gallons coal-washing chemical, crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol, leaked from a Freedom Industries’ holding tank into the Elk River, leaving 300,000 people without potable water for weeks. It was later uncovered that a second chemical also leaked into the river. Industry executives were charged in December.
Spring
  • Freedom Industries Leaks Chemicals, Again A faulty sump pump was blamed for causing potentially contaminated storm water to overflow into the Elk River from a containment trench at Freedom Industries’ site in Kanawha County, W. Virginia, in June — the same site that leaked chemicals into the river in January, poisoning the drinking water supply downstream.
Summer
  • Toledo Water Contaminated by Algae In early August, in the warm, still waters of Lake Erie, chemicals (likely from fertilizer components) caused a massive algal bloom that polluted the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents.
Fall
  • Study Links Water Contamination To Fracking In September, University of Texas researchers found  that levels of arsenic, selenium and strontium were higher than the EPA’s limits in some private wells near natural gas wells. A drinking water study by the National Academy of Sciences determined  fracking was indeed responsible for water contamination in several states. In New Mexico alone, the report states,  chemicals from oil and gas waste pits contaminated water sources at least 421 times. In August, Pennsylvania made 243 cases of contamination of private drinking wells from oil and gas drilling operations public.
 
  • Coal Ash Contaminates Wisconsin Water A decades’ long practice of legally dumping tons of coal ash in lots, waterways, landfills, and even hospital parking lots, has been linked to well contamination, according to a study released in November by Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy group. Government programs, such as “beneficial reuse,” allowed power plants to use coal ash as fill in construction projects. Chemicals leaching from the ash may be responsible for numerous serious health problems. The EPA confirmed 157 cases of proven or potential damage from coal ash, including 14 in Wisconsin.

Winter, again
  • West Wichita Wells Contaminated by Dumped Solvents In December, nearly 200 homes in west Wichita were connected to city water as the result of groundwater contamination caused decades ago by dry-cleaning solvents. Kansas Department of Health and Environment spent more than $2.5 million to pay for water mains, meters and connections to the homes that were within the area of the contamination plume.

To get an idea of the potential contaminants in your drinking water, see this report by the Environmental Working Group that compiled records from 48,000 public water suppliers, creating the largest drinking water quality database in existence. More than 300 pollutants were detected. To use the database online, simply enter your zip code to see the results of public water sources near you.

EWG also compiled a water filter resource guide to help consumers choose a system.

To find information about the many water filtration products that we carry, please visit the Highwater Filters website.

Yet another reason to filter your drinking water

By Lady Wa Wa

From the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, numerous reports documented the health dangers of lead pipes. Although not until the 1920s, many U.S. cities eventually banned or restricted the use of lead pipes for water distribution. Meanwhile, efforts by the Lead Industries Association, which formed in 1928, encouraged cities and homeowners to continue installing lead pipes, extolling lead’s virtues over iron pipe (malleability and increased system longevity).

A century later, consumers question the safety of current popular pipe materials including cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) flexible piping used by a growing number of green homebuilders. Touted for economy and easy installation, whispers of concern have dogged the green home industry. Do chemicals leach into drinking water when stagnant in the pipe or when it's used for hot water applications?

Consider piping as a vessel. We wouldn’t drink from a lead cup, would we?

Government oversight

When the U.S. Pure Food and Drugs Act passed in 1906, it was 100 years behind public outcries for government oversight of manufacturing. Oddly, the law had no pre-market approval system for food ingredients or drugs. The government could act only after products were on the market.

Before the law, the general attitude was for consumers to be responsible for awareness of potential contaminants. A 1906 USDA Bureau of Chemistry bulletin instructed housewives how to discern if the milk, cereal or canned beans they purchased contained harmful adulterants. 

 

The bulletin strongly defended manufacturers, stating it would not be in their interest to shorten the lives of their customers nor impair their appetites by knowingly adding poisons. Several more decades passed before ingredient-listing was required, delayed because manufacturers feared scaring off customers or giving away secret recipes, according to the FDA.

Suspected toxins

Americans are again calling for more information about the products they put on or in their bodies. Again, regulation lags for consumer information about materials used to store or otherwise hold food and beverages. It can take decades from the time concerns about harmful ingredients arise until any government actions are taken to remove carcinogenic or toxic-containing products from the market. In some cases, there is simply no regulation of contaminants, such as is the case for bottled water sold in the United States.

How many years did we drink soda from plastic bottles containing Bisphenol-A (BPA) before we realized that once in our system, the synthetic chemical compound emulates estrogen? To learn more about bottled water, BPA and water filters, see this 2013 Highwater Marks blog.

First developed in 1891, BPA began appearing in plastic products worldwide in the 1950s. For 60 years, BPA has been used without regulation establishing its safety. The Toxic Substances Control Act passed in 1976, but labeled BPA a "grandfather" chemical, meaning it was never evaluated and was presumed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to research by consumer law firm Baum, Hedlund, Aristei and Goldman, PC. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Medical Journal cite numerous health problems associated with BPA use.

The latest “best” piping material

So, is it any surprise that pipe commonly used to transport drinking water into our homes may also leach toxins into that water – and we don’t have to be made aware of it? Under scrutiny recently is PEX potable water pipe.

PEX has several advantages over metal pipe (copper, iron, lead) or rigid plastic pipe (PVC, CPVC, ABS) systems. It is flexible, resistant to scale and chlorine, doesn't corrode or develop pinholes, is faster to install than metal or rigid plastic, and has fewer connections and fittings, according to PEXinfo.com.

Europeans began using PEX around 1970; it was introduced in the United States in 1980. PEX use has been increasing ever since, replacing copper pipe in many applications, especially for hot water.

Several California groups blocked adoption of PEX for a decade for concerns about toxins getting into the water, either from chemicals outside or inside the pipes such as methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and tertiary butyl alcohol. California eventually permitted PEX use in all occupancies. An environmental impact report and subsequent studies determined there were no causes for concerns about public health from PEX piping use.

PEX pipe studies

A 2002 Regional Food Control Authority report, “Volatile organic components migrating from plastic pipes (HDPE, PEX and PVC) into drinking water,” by a research team in Norway indicates VOC migrated in significant amounts into the test water from PEX pipes. The full report is available for purchase online.

A 2014 study by University of South Alabama graduate student Matt Connell presented new drinking water impact results regarding plastic pipes in green buildings. At an American Water Works Association conference, Connell discussed the degree chemicals leach from popular plastic plumbing pipes. Also attending, environmental engineering professor Andrew Whelton described drinking water odor and chemical leaching results for six brands of PEX pipe. Their downloadable presentation is available here.

Following a 28-day study on water quality, including taste and odor and chemical leaching, the researchers concluded that PEX pipes’ test results are highly variable among manufacturers.

“There were wide variations between the magnitude of chemicals released by PEX pipes. One PEX pipe significantly altered drinking water quality while the other did not,” their report states.

Connell and Whelton said little information is available for plastic pipe sold in the United States. “To aid homeowners, builders, and water professionals in their desire to select plumbing pipe that ensures safe and aesthetically pleasing drinking water, more data are needed,” they reported.

“There is a bigger concern in the weeks after installation,” concluded Hilary Ohm, owner of Highwater Filters, after studying the researchers’ reports. “Over time, the dangers are minimal. However, flushing water that has been standing for a period of time and using a filter are the best ways to protect consumers from any harm.”

PEX pipe? There is a filter for that

History indicates consumers would be wise to research piping materials instead of relying on industry professionals or the government for safety and health information. As an added measure, install a water filter and test your water.

 

The Premium 10 Stage Plus by New Wave Enviro is a popular choice for removing a wide variety of contaminants, including those suspected to leach from PEX. 

 

We've now got whole house filters and a range of filters for under the counter and counter top. See all our home filters here.

We are proud to offer a growing list of CuZn Water Filtration products. Their innovative technology removes a wide range of contaminants. Check out all our CuZn products here.

Environmental Protection Agency strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect the supply of safe drinking water and upgrade the community water system. EPA requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual consumer confidence report, sometimes called a water quality report, to their customers by July 1 of each year. Homeowners with private wells are advised to test their water at least annually or more often if problems are suspected due to odor or nearby activities (fracking, mining, agricultural, etc.)

The Deadly Virus is not a Reason for Filtering Water – but a Host of Other Contaminants Are

Historically, people have occasionally been wide off the mark concerning water cleanliness and safety. Who can forget the iconic “Whites Only” drinking fountains of the last century designed to prevent disease spreading between races? In the photo below from the Library of Congress archives, a young man is drinking water from a “colored” dispenser at an Oklahoma City streetcar terminal in 1939. Even with paper cups at hand, folks feared they would become ill if using the same water cooler. Many Caucasians actually believed they could catch a multitude of infectious diseases from non-whites while using public restrooms, restaurants, drinking fountains and even transportation waiting areas from only the slightest human contact. This irrational and outright shameful discrimination was aimed not only at Blacks, but also Asians, Native Americans and Hispanics and continued openly until the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964.

Meanwhile, U.S. municipalities and factories nearly killed the Great Lakes and other major waterways with industrial waste, mercury, lead, phosphates and raw sewage. In 1969, the Cayuga River actually caught fire in Cleveland it was so full of flammable chemicals.

"There was a time, not so long ago, when pollution was accepted by many as the price one paid for living in an industrialized society. By the 1960s, our rivers had become so polluted by municipal and industrial wastes that fish could not survive in them and humans could not swim in them; millions of yards of garbage and millions of gallons of oil were routinely being dumped at sea; visibility in our major cities was obscured by smoke from factories and exhaust from automobiles; and industrial wastes, buried in drums and dumped in landfills, was contaminating soil and groundwater." Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Prosecution of Environmental Pollution Crimes.

This legal dumping went practically unchecked until the 1970s, and continues illegally and accidentally today, as evidenced by news stories of toxic waste spills, too numerous even to list here. Basically, pick a state and you can find a recent, horrific poisonous spill story to accompany it. Yet many trust their water supplies to be safe. Today, fear of contracting Ebola, or Fearbola, has many panicking and rushing to purchase home water filter systems. Filtered water is, sadly, a wise choice for most of us today, but not because of Ebola. If we can believe the Center for Disease Control reports, the likelihood of contracting Ebola through water sources is nil. According to the CDC, Ebola is not spread through the air, by water, or in general, by food. Even before the first Ebola cases were reported in North America, however, some water filter dealers began marketing their products as Ebola filters, preying on illogical fears. Still, numerous other pollutants are prevalent in our water. These include nitrates, nitrites, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals, parasites, bacteria, lead, mercury and radon, to name a few of the potentially hazardous contaminants lurking silently in private and public water supplies. Simple, at-home water-test kits are available at local department stores. The Environmental Protection Agency compiled this handy chart to list common contaminants.

In short, filter your water to protect your health, but be aware of the actual contaminants.

Check out our website at Highwater Filters for all your water treatment needs. We offer low, low prices, super fast shipping and the best customer service.

         
At Highwater Filters we are always looking for the best products that we think our customers will find value in. We look for quality, affordability, ease of use, durability and size. We value efficiency and portability. We favor American-made products because we believe in supporting local economies and American workers. We believe no other manufacturer exemplifies the qualities we look for in water treatment better than Sawyer. Sawyer products are based on technology used in kidney dialysis. Sawyer worked with a fiber manufacturer to improve the technology so that Sawyer products can withstand a decade or more of use. They wanted to make sure that Sawyer filters and purifiers could be back-flushed again and again without causing damage to the micropores. The results are impressive. So much so that Sawyer offers a "million gallon guarantee" on all their filters and purifiers. Some call that a gimmick as there is no way to really know how much water has flowed through your Sawyer product. It may seem gimmicky but it's just another way to say their products carry a lifetime guarantee. From Sawyer's website: "The proprietary water filters are comprised of tiny "U" shaped micro-tubes that allow water to enter into their core through tiny micro-pores. The high number of those tiny tubes and their surface area allows the filter to have one of the fastest flow rates in the world. This high flow rate eliminates the need to store water, reducing the possibility of water contamination after the filtration process. Each filter is certified for ABSOLUTE microns; that means there is no pore size larger than 0.1 or 0.02 micron in size. This makes it impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giradia, Vibrio cholerae and Salmonella typhi (which cause Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through the Sawyer PointONE™ biological filter. At 7 log (99.99999%) the filter attains the highest level of filtration available today. If viruses are an issue, we offer the Point ZeroTWO Purifier (0.02 micron absolute pores), the first and thus far only portable purification device to physically remove viruses, which it does at a >5.5 log (99.9997%) rate, exceeding EPA and NSF recommendations." Sawyer products are used all over the world to treat contaminated water. They are very effective for the removal of biological contaminants such as bacteria, protozoa and cysts. Their products are a favorite with backpackers, campers, travelers, relief workers, survivalists, missionaries and everyday people who want to be ready for any emergency where drinking water could be compromised or unavailable. Their light weight and fast flow rate is hard to beat. The fact that they have an unlimited capacity saves consumers money by avoiding the cost of replacement filters. And, despite the fact that they are made here in the USA, their prices are hard to beat. If you are looking for the best value in water treatment, you will be very happy with the products that Sawyer has to offer. Check out our website at Highwater Filters to find the best prices on all Sawyer water filters and purifiers. Thanks for stopping by!
Diarrhea is the leading cause of death among children in undeveloped countries and the sad thing is that these deaths can be prevented. Contaminated drinking water is the leading cause of diarrhea and the LifeStraw by Vestergaard Frandsen is a low cost and effective way to remove contaminants at the point of use. Treating water at the source is not sufficient in many areas of the world. Contaminants can easily infect water that is transported for miles in unsanitary conditions. The LifeStraw is a personal use water filter that can provide up to 1000 liters of clean drinking water to many who live at risk of water borne diseases. Not only that: it eliminates the need to boil water which saves valuable resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The benefits go way beyond simply saving young lives. The implications are global. Vestergaard Frandsen are the creators of the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter and the LifeStraw Family water purifiers that can provide up to 18,000 liters of purified water for a village. They operate on a "profit for purpose" business model and are guided by their humanitarian goals. They are committed to the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals and they have designed several products that help to eradicate disease in undeveloped countries. They are a European-based company with headquarters all over the world. My research shows them to be an admirable company with an outstanding business ethic and model. I am finding more and more companies who follow similar models of social entrepreneurship. It's inspiring to see. The LifeStraw has only recently been introduced to the US and Canadian markets. They have become an instant favorite with many survivalists, preppers, humanitarian workers, missionaries, emergency relief workers and world travelers. Their low cost and light weight are big selling points. No emergency kit should be without one. The LifeStraw is available at Highwater Filters for the low price of $19.95. As a special incentive, we are currently offering free shipping on all LifeStraw orders. You probably won't find a deal like this anywhere on the web. The LifeStraw comes packaged in poly wrap with instructions included. Many purchase one for each member of the family. It makes sense at only $19.95 a person. All of our water treatment products come with our guarantee for your complete satisfaction. We stand by our products and our customers. We know you'll be glad with your shopping experience at Highwater Filters.   Read more here about Vestergaard Frandsen and the LifeStraw. Thanks for stopping by!  
The looming problem of the continued acidification of our oceans is compounded by the fact that oceanographers don't even understand much about it. That is why the  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are proposing increased monitoring of our oceans in order to understand better the implications of the rapid increase in ocean acidity being witnessed recently. It appears there may be a "perfect storm" taking place that does not bode well for our aquatic creatures. Coral reefs, mollusks, crustaceans, sea grasses and even clown fish are being directly threatened right now. We all learned in school how the food chain works. The extinction of these species can have devastating effects on many, many other species. This is not the first time it's happened, either. 55 million years ago, the oceans were this acidic and mass extinction took place. But scientists seem especially alarmed at how quickly the oceans are acidifying today. What is the cause and what can be done about it? Scientists say that the oceans have increased acidity by 30% since the Industrial Revolution. Acidification is caused by a chemical change when sea water absorbs CO2. The same stuff that many scientists believe contribute to our changing climate. Ocean acidification is now being tagged with the name "Climate Change's Evil Twin." This is not good folks. Will aquatic life adapt to the changing acidity in our oceans? That doesn't seem likely. One scientist explained that there is a "saturation point" that when reached could trigger a catastrophic series of events that will change our oceans forever as we know it. What scientists suggest needs to be done is to reduce CO2 emissions. There may not be any other solution. It's going to be a tough pill to swallow. It may simply be too big to be possible to get down our gullets. Drastic reduction of CO2 emissions is possible. It will take a concerted effort of people all around the globe but especially in the US and Canada. We use more than twice the energy per capita that others in the world consume. We have lots of room for saving. And saving life is what this is all about. Read more here: NOAA Research Plan Highlights, AP article: US scientist: Ocean acidity major threat to reefs, Climate Watch, PressRelease from Center for Biological Diversity Thanks for reading!        
  In honor of Earth Day 2012, Highwater Filters is having a 3-day sale to celebrate our beautiful Earth. Check out our rock-bottom prices on Katadyn, Sawyer, TRAP Radiation filters, LifeSaver Portable Distiller kits, PurestOne Purifiers, Rainshow'r Dechlorinating Filters and more. We only have one Earth and water is a finite resource. Please do what you can to prevent contamination of our water resources. Thanks for caring.    
I read an interesting article in the National Geographic Daily News about a push to make recycled wastewater, or reclaimed water, more appealing to people on municipal water systems. This could partially help to meet some of our current and future potable water needs in the U.S and worldwide. It could conceivably meet 6% of U.S. municipal water needs. Treated wastewater is already being used in some countries, like Singapore, and some say that their model could be used to incentivize the use of reclaimed water. It looks to be a difficult sell to the American public, but it seems like it may be viable method to use water more efficiently. Much treated wastewater is currently being discharged into our oceans. A big concern is that reclaimed water may contain contaminants that are not currently tested by the E.P.A. (see my previous post, Our Tap Water at Risk: E.P.A. not doing adequate job of protecting drinking water.). How will the public feel confident that the treated wastewater is actually safe? Better regulation is needed for all our drinking water to ensure that our water is safe. If this method of recycling is to be used, people should demand that better testing is conducted before this water is used in our drinking supply. And why isn't the E.P.A. testing for radiation in our water? To be safe, a point of use home water filter is a great way to feel confident that you are doing the best you can to remove harmful contaminants from your drinking supply. Check out our large variety of home water filters at Highwater Filter's webstore. Thanks for reading!

A recent study released by the USGS shows 13% of private wells in the U.S.  are contaminated with levels of metals and other elements above the set safety standards for health. Contaminants of particular concern include arsenic, uranium, manganese, radon, lithium and boron.

Some of the contaminants come from natural sources and therefore can be overshadowed by anthropogenic contamination (human-sourced). But regardless of the source, owners of private wells should test their water to determine the extent of contamination so they know what contaminants they are at risk for.

A good water test may cost $200 or more in a laboratory, but there are also home test kits available that can be bought for as little as $15. It's imperative that you find out what is in your water to determine if you should take measures to protect you and your family.

Filtering water at the tap is an inexpensive and effective fix for many elemental and chemical contaminants. There are water filters available for just about every contaminant and many of them are effective against multiple pollutants. To be extra protected, some even opt to purify their water with one of the many water purifiers on the market. Once you discover the crystal clarity and great taste of your filtered well water, you will wonder why there are so many others who are lugging big jugs from the grocery store, or stock-piling cases of plastic bottled water. You just can't beat the convenience and cost of your home-filtered water.

At Highwater Filters, we have a solution available to help you remove metals and other contaminants from your well water. A recent addition to our inventory is a ceramic counter top filter that is made specifically for well water by New Wave Enviro. It's got a cleanable ceramic filter that's designed to remove suspended solids, pathogenic bacteria, hydrogen sulfide, Chlorine, Mercury, Lead and VOC's.  

 

Check out the Premium Ceramic system here.

Investing in a water test may be the best decision you ever make. Don't put it off. There are a number of water test products available on the web.

And please visit the Highwater Filters webstore for the best quality, U.S. made home water filters.

Special offer for readers of this blog! Take 5% off the already low price of any Premium water filter product by New Wave Enviro. You must use discount code NWDIS at checkout to get your discount.

Read more here about the USGS survey: Environmental Health News

Thanks for stopping by!

Phthalates. Don't ask me to pronounce it but do be aware that this chemical, used to soften plastic and used extensively in the bottled water industry and for many toys, food containers, and medical tubing, has been shown to affect baby boys who were exposed pre-natally to phthalates.  A new study by a team of South Korean scientists shows that prenatal exposure to phthalates adversely affects the mental and psychomotor development of six-month old boys. That girls do not seem to be affected suggests that phthalates may somehow block or otherwise thwart male hormones. This is very disconcerting and every couple or woman who plans to start a family should be very aware of this danger.

The good news is that phthalates do not accumulate in the body. Simple avoidance of soft plastic items, including water bottles, is the best defense.

Filtering water is a cost effective and safe way to protect you and your family from harmful contaminants that may exist in your water. Although municipal tap water is tested and treated for a variety of contaminants, there are some very  concerning toxins, like hexavalent chromium, that have not been prioritized by the EPA and have yet to be listed as contaminants of concern. Don't trust your tap water to protect you from all contaminants. Well water is also subject to contamination and should be tested to ensure that you are not putting yourselves at risk.

The best way to test your water is to have a certified lab analyze it. It may be costly, but it is important that you know exactly what is in your water. Once you get the results, you can assess which water filter is best for you.

At Highwater Filters we have a variety of water filters and purifiers for many different needs. We are always adding new products to our inventory with emphasis on non-electric, US-made water treatment. Coming soon: arsenic and fluoride filter cartridges for home water filters.

If you know any women who are pregnant, or planning on becoming pregnant, do share this information and advise them to avoid soft plastic products that may contain phthalates. I can't think of a better wedding gift for couples planning to start a family than a water filter. Check out our great selection and give our future generation a fighting chance.

Read more in the Environmental Health News.

For more information on the study see  Environmental Health Perspectives.

Thanks for reading!

Events at Fukushima continue to be tenuous. Workers are desperately trying to inject decontaminated water into the reactors in an attempt to cool the reactor cores. But the process was suspended today after only 90 minutes, due to pipe leakage. Hopefully, they'll have the system back up by tomorrow. This follows major problems with the purification process they are using to filter radioactive particles from contaminated water in order to re-inject into the reactors. There were simply too many radioactive particles for the system to handle. And news in the areas surrounding the reactors is grim. All 15 samples of urine from residents living 30-40 km from the site had levels of at least 3 millisieverts of radiation. This isn't good. Although, well below the maximum annual level of 20 millisieverts threshold permitted for a health adult, this is cause for concern. Radiation is cumulative. This must be very disconcerting for people living in proximity to the plant. [caption id="attachment_838" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Ft. Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant, Ft. Calhoun , Nebraska"][/caption] News out of Nebraska continues to be concerning as well. Flood waters have now surrounded the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant. An 8-foot berm that was constructed to block flood waters from the plant was breached yesterday and water is now seeping into a turbine building. Authorities continue to assure the public that things are under control. As someone who actively participated in protests and demonstrations against nuclear power back in the late 70's and early 80's, it has been my long held position that nuclear power is not safe, nor affordable. We were convincing enough back then to put an end to the construction of nuke plants, until a permit for new construction of a plant was approved last year. This new trend must be reevaluated, considering the circumstances. Many of our aging reactors are living on borrowed time. The life expectancy of the designs from 30-50 years ago were 40 years. Some of those plants have continued to operate past their projected lifespan. Decommissioning a nuke plant costs a billion dollars. How will that be paid for? On a brighter note, Highwater Filters has a new storefront! We are still working out the bugs, but once we do, I'll be announcing a Super Store-wide Sale that you won't want to miss. Check back soon for details on big discounts on our TRAP radiation filters, Life Saver non-electric distiller kits, Katadyn water filters and more! For more info on Fukushima go here (WSJ) and here (The Japan Times). For more info on the events at the Ft. Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant go here (Salon.com). Thanks for reading!
  I have to say that I'm torn. I heard the news about the study that was released by the International Programme on the State of the Oceans (IPSO) today and I don't really know how to react. No matter how you look at it, the news is gloomy. The situation in our oceans is way worse than scientists had thought. A combination of pollution, increasing global temperatures, over-fishing, acidification, and hypoxia are causing irreversible damage and ultimate mass extinction unless something drastic is done. Scientists warn us that the 3 main conditions that have led to mass extinction of life on Earth in the past are present now: Low oxygen (hypoxia), warming, and acidification. Oysters are essentially already extinct. There are growing dead zones in our oceans. We've played poker with our waterways and the deal done gone down bad. Situation critical. As someone who has been aware of the delicate balancing act we all play on this Earth, and as someone who learned a long time ago about feedback systems and inter-connectivity of all life, it doesn't come as much of a surprise to me. I've been concerned for years. I've been debating for years. I've been warning others for years. Now that the reality of what I feared is breathing down our necks, I'm not sure how to react. I hate to be the bearer of bad new. I don't want to believe this news is true. I want to be in denial. So for now, I will just go on trying to make a difference each and every day and hope that this news is just a bad dream. What else is there really to do? Read more here: State Of The Ocean: 'Shocking' Report Warns Of Mass Extinction From Current Rate Of Marine Distress I blogged about the condition of oysters and the spread of Oyster Herpes a while back. I found the photo I used, but can't find where it originated. I am posting it here because it is such a striking photo. My apologies to the photographer and I will try to find the source. Funny, when I googled "oyster herpes" I couldn't find the photo but half way down the first page of images I saw my kindergarten picture. lol Try it. I'm the little pixie with the uneven bangs. :) I did find out the photo credit goes to Getty Images.
In a devastating blow to the people of Japan, Tepco announced today that the highest readings yet (up to 4,000 millisieverts per hour at reactor No. 1) were recorded inside the Fukushima reactor. This announcement comes on the heals of visible steam escaping from the plant recorded on video. To make matters worse, rains threaten efforts to install new decontamination equipment in the plant. Workers are currently racing to install the new equipment by June 15, but impending heavy rains threaten to cause the radioactive water inside the plant to overflow, potentially causing considerable damage. Tepco has warned that heavy rain could cause the overflow by June 20th, or possibly sooner. Rain is expected tonight and throughout the oncoming week in the Fukushima area. Let's hope it doesn't amount to as much as the forecasters fear. Highwater Filters is still offering free shipping on TRAP radiation filters and housings for people living in Japan. We recognize the immediate need to make your drinking water safe. We make this small gesture for the many people in Japan who are facing very troubling times. Please email us at info@highwaterfilters.com to receive a discount code for free shipping to Japan. I am starting to look into a good organization that could help to provide TRAP filters to people who are without the means to purchase a filtering system. I have pledged 10% of the purchase price of the TRAP radiation bundles of a single housing and 3 TRAP filters to make this happen. See here or here for details. For recent update on situation at Fukushima: Japan Times From the Business Insider. Here's a good video concerning the current situation at Fukushima: Record radiation levels at Fukushima
A new study that measured levels of PCB's in native youth from the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation in northern New York state, Quebec, and Ontario shows levels twice the national average in the youth tested. The findings come more than 25 years after the Akwesansnes were told to alter their traditional diet high in fish. The highest levels were found in first-borns, those who were breastfed, and those who ate fish in the prior year. The Akwesasne territory is adjacent to a GE hazardous waste Superfund site. The GE factory used PCB's in its hydraulic fluid used in their machinery. Aluminum smelters in the area also contributed to PCB contamination. Fish is an important food source for our indigenous populations. In my area of northeast Washington State, studies are ongoing along the upper Columbia River to determine the risks of eating fish contaminated by years of industrial contamination from Teck Cominco, now Teck Resources, in Trail, British Columbia. Many members of the Colville Confederated Tribes, who live along the upper Columbia, subsist on fish out of the river. Each new study comes with a warning. Pregnant women and children should limit the amount of meals containing fish from the river and certain fish should be limited by everyone. Bottom feeding fish are especially contaminated. It is tragic that our native people have to choose between their traditional way of subsistence or elevated cancer risk. We can't undo the mistakes made in the past, but we need to be vigilant in preventing further contamination of our lakes, rivers and oceans so that future generations can benefit from a healthy fish-based diet. For more information on the recent study published in the journal Chemosphere go here. Thanks for reading!
Nestles Waters North America increased bottled water prices by nearly 10% last month in response to soaring plastic costs. It's the first price increase in almost a decade. It's no surprise that plastic, made from petroleum, is rising in cost. Our dependence on foreign oil and non-sustainable energy sources, combined with market speculation, has put consumers in a precarious situation. Fuel-efficient cars have never been more in demand. Energy conservation measures are being implemented world-wide. It's time to put a serious bite into our insatiable appetite for everything plastic The bottled water industry has taken a considerable hit in the media in recent years over the monumental waste problem it creates. Our roadsides, landfills, and waterways are littered with all kinds of debris; plastic bottles being at the top of the heap. Despite all the bad press however, Nestles announced that volume sales rose 6.5% in 2010. Home water filters have increased in popularity in recent years partially due to the bad rap plastic has received. And for good reason. Not only does filtering your tap water reduce your carbon footprint, it saves money as well. When you can filter your water for mere pennies per gallon, why would you want to spend over a buck for a liter of bottled water? Read more about Nestles Water price increases here: Marketwatch.com Check out our PurestOne home water purifiers. We have under counter and counter top models. They are well constructed, effective, and made in the U.S.A. Fun Fact: It takes 3-5 times more water to create the plastic water bottle than will actually fit in the bottle. Considering each bottle should only be used once (to prevent the leeching of phthalates)- that is a lot of water that is wasted for each bottle we drink. Taken from The Unofficial Stanford Blog Thanks for reading!
  This idea seems crazy to me, but studies have shown that drinking water with trace amounts of lithium has been linked to lower rates of suicide. A recent study conducted at the University of Vienna in Austria, compared suicide rates and amounts of naturally-occurring lithium concentrates. Other studies in Texas and Japan support the link of higher concentrates of lithium to lower suicide rates. This latest study has led some researchers to suggest adding trace amounts of lithium to drinking water supplies, much like many municipalities add fluoride. This is not a new idea and in the past it was met with too much resistance. I have to say that I would not support any initiative to add lithium to drinking water supplies. But it's worth further consideration for some people to decide whether they would benefit from adding lithium to their water. Maybe there could be a filter that could accommodate folks who want to opt for lithium water. To read more see Mail Online.
Wow, I must have been too busy last week to notice the email I received from American Rivers that announced the "Most Endangered Rivers of 2011." I received another email today urging me to take action to help protect our rivers. I was shocked to see that the Susquehanna River that flows through New York State, Pennsylvania, and Maryland was rated #1 for 2011. But with the threats to water throughout the Marcellus Shale formation from natural gas extracting, it really shouldn't be that big of a surprise. The Susquehanna River is no stranger to me. I have lived near its shores in both Plattsburgh, NY and Binghamton, NY, back in the late 70's to mid 80's. But of a greater concern is that my folks live on the Isle of Que in Selinsgrove, PA. They moved there 30 years ago. It lies just off shore in the Susquehanna River. In addition, I have a sister who lives with her family on the Isle of Que and my younger brother and his family live in Selinsgrove, too. So this hits home for me. As I stated in my previous blog post on Hydro-fracking, this method of energy production comes with considerable costs. It wastes and contaminates large amounts of water, and numerous cases of leaks and ground water contamination illustrate the risks to environment and the health of people living in the vicinity of extraction sites. That the gas companies use the mask of "proprietary information" to preclude themselves from disclosing the chemicals that are used in the fracking process is disconcerting, at the very best. A glimmer of hope may be on the horizon as the Wall Street Journal reported in today's edition that: "On Wednesday, shareholders at three gas producers, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., will vote on whether the companies should provide more information about the risk of air and water pollution, lawsuits and possible harm to their reputations from an increasingly widespread drilling practice." I unfortunately couldn't access the entire article because I am not a subscriber but if you subscribe, you can read more here. As the truth becomes more apparent to the risks of hydro-fracking and the eventual costs to stockholders is considered, we can only hope that the voices of reason will be able to help stockholders realize that the risks, and expense, outweigh the benefits they may be currently enjoying. We can only hope.