Highwater Marks

Let us never forget the tragedy following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan a year ago.  On March 11, 2011, life changed irreversibly for many people living in proximity to the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. From now until Monday, I will donate 10% of all purchases to the victims of Fukushima. Proceeds will be donated to Architecture for Humanity, who have been working courageously to provide housing to those who lost everything a year ago. Visit our Highwater Filters web store to get the best prices on Katadyn, Sawyer, TRAP radiation filters, LifeSaver portable distiller kits, PurestOne, and more. Thanks for caring.
radiation_h2oWhile dangerous events at the Fukushima and other Japanese nuclear reactors  are far from over, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cut back radiation monitoring to pre-tsunami levels. One has to wonder what the bleep are they thinking??? The dangers of nuclear fallout are far from over in Japan and answers about how much radiation is safe are far from conclusive. There have been elevated levels of iodine-131, Cesium-134, Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 found in U.S. milk. Levels of Iodine-131 exceeded permissible limits set by the Safe Drinking Water Act and rainwater has been found with levels that exceed the EPA's Maximum Contaminant Levels for drinking water. So why are we not ramping up our monitoring of radiation in the US instead of ramping it down? In a way, I sort of feel like a whiny baby complaining about the radiation in the U.S. when so many people in Japan are facing much graver levels of contamination. My heart goes out to all the people who have no options but to stay at home despite levels of radiation that could jeopardize their health. I am announcing right here and now that in recognition of the victims of Japan's recent earthquake and devastating tsunami, I am offering FREE SHIPPING to Japan on all products until further notice. I hope that this will help the victims of the terrible recent events better afford products that can remove or reduce radioactive particles from water. I am excited by the new TRAP water filters, developed by NuWater Concepts, that were designed specifically for the fallout from the recent nuclear accidents in Japan. Finally, there is a product that addresses radioisotopes that can become suspended in water and can be ingested. The TRAP is the answer we've been looking for! Click here to read the TRAP brochure. Look for special deals on TRAP bundles coming soon! For more info on EPA's decision to ramp down radiation monitoring, click here. Attention! $50 Off Katadyn Pocket starting July 19, 2011 for one week only! You must use this discount code in order to qualify: PKTSVR. In addition, I am also offering free shipping on this item. Hurry, Sale ends July 26th! We are also offering $100 Off for Katadyn Expeditions, plus free shipping. Discount code: EXPSVR. Sale ends July 26th! Thanks for reading!

It’s been over a month since the tragic earthquake in Japan left a large portion of that country in a constant state of high alert. Concerns for leaking radiation from damaged nuclear plants continue to make many people all over the world nervous about the possibility of radioactive emissions falling in their area of the globe. Don’t let those who are quick to dismiss these concerns as "going overboard" deter you from getting the facts for yourself. Anyone who wonders what the dangers are should research the risks posed and decide if precautions are needed, even if the only benefit is peace of mind. Don’t we all at least wish for this? As I’ve said in my previous blog post about radiation and drinking water, there are so many claims out there about what method is best for filtering radioactive particles from water. It’s difficult to separate truth from wishful thinking. Chemistry was never my strong suit, but I’m learning a lot about radiation these days. I am happy to share what I have discovered with you here. I went to the Environmental Protection Agency's website to see what information they have available about radiation. I discovered they had plenty of free info available to citizens like me. I learned that most radiation occurs naturally at levels too low to be concerned about. I learned there exists a spectrum of radiation that includes lower level non-ionizing radiation such as sound waves, light, and microwaves. This is not the type of radiation we should be worried about, however. On the higher end of the spectrum is radiation that falls within the "ionizing radiation" range. Radiation within this range can be used in manufacturing processes, in cancer therapy, and to generate electricity. Radiation from Japan’s nuclear facilities falls into this category. [caption id="attachment_231" align="alignleft" width="365"]

Types of Radiation in the Electromagnetic Spectrum[/caption] There are three main kinds of ionizing radiation: alpha particles, beta particles, and gamma rays. The kind we are concerned about affecting our health from a nuclear reactor accident are beta particles. I could give you a detailed description about how beta particles are formed, but I doubt I’d fool you into thinking that I know what I’m talking about. In a nutshell, when the ratio of neutrons to protons becomes too high, it causes a chain reaction that forcibly removes an electron from the nucleus of an atom. The original radionuclide, considered a “beta emitter”, is transformed into a different element. There are many beta emitters including cesium-137, strontium-90, and iodine-131. Radioactive iodine is the biggest concern after a nuclear reactor accident. These particles are what are most likely to cause contamination to our food or water after a nuclear accident. According to information from the EPA's website, “ Direct exposure to beta particles is a hazard, because emissions from strong sources can redden or even burn the skin. However, emissions from inhaled or ingested beta particle emitters are the greatest concern. Beta particles released directly to living tissue can cause damage at the molecular level, which can disrupt cell function. Because they are much smaller and have less charge than alpha particles, beta particles generally travel further into tissues. As a result, the cellular damage is more dispersed.” A common fear of exposure to radiation from contaminated food and water after a nuclear accident is the threat of cancer. This can occur after long term low-level exposure and can take many years before symptoms appear. Immediate threats from higher doses of radiation can include burning of the skin and radiation sickness, or radiation poisoning. Symptoms include premature aging, nausea, hair loss, weakness, diminished energy, and sometimes death. Other long term health effects include physical anomalies in babies who are exposed in the womb, and genetic mutations passed on to future generations. So that’s some background information for you to try to absorb, but the burning question of the day remains, how can we protect ourselves if water becomes contaminated after a nuclear accident?   First off, it is useful to know the MCL (maximum contaminant level) for beta particles in water. The EPA sets this at 4 millirems per year. If your water exceeds levels that could cause you harm, the EPA lists (drum roll, please) ion exchange and reverse osmosis as the two methods of filtering water that are proven effective. So there you have the results of my investigation. I am not saying there isn’t information out there on the web that will dispute this conclusion, and I know there are many who would never depend on or trust the EPA for a decision that may be the difference between life and death. I encourage you to do further research and see if there is information out there that can support, or dispel, these claims.

I am especially curious to learn of any credible information as to the effectiveness of silver-impregnated ceramic filters like are in many of our Katadyn water filters, including our best-selling Pocket Microfilter.   I am also interested to see if claims that distilling removes radioactive particles is true. especially regarding iodine-131. Since we sell Katadyn products, and portable non-electric distillers, I would be pleased to know that both these methods are effective against the type of radiation we are currently concerned with. Unfortunately at this time, all I can claim is that the silver impregnated ceramic filters and distillation can reduce radioactive particles. And for me, that is an added sense of security. Please feel welcome to leave a comment if there is anything you can add to this conversation, or if you have any questions that you are itching to ask. I will do my best to respond and find answers. Thanks for reading! Update: January 10, 2013 The Vortex Non-electric Water Distiller Kit by Highwater Filters is now available. We have both kits installed in 5 gallon buckets and DIY kits available.

Update: We now carry CuZn Water Filtration products including a radiation filter. Go here to view replacement filter. Triple under counter for radiation, fluoride, chlorine and other contaminants.

It’s been 13 days now since the tragic events in Japan unfolded following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake centered near Sendai. All hope for any additional survivors is gone, short of a miracle. The threat of further radiation leakage from the damaged nuclear power plants is very much still real. The weather has been bitterly cold, the survivors have been mourning the terrible loss of at least 18,000 lives, and food supplies are in jeopardy of becoming contaminated. The situation at ground zero is very bleak. Amidst it all, there does emerge stories of rescue and survival that give us a morsel of hope and a grain of joyfulness. The Japanese are such a resilient people, but they have been tested beyond reason. I personally want to send out my very best wishes for recovery to all the people affected by this terrible tragedy. Today marks a full week since I pledged to donate 10% of all sales from the Highwater Filters online store to disaster relief efforts in Japan for the rest of the month of March. I am happy to say, that as of this moment, I have donated $260 to help Japan recover from the earthquake. I mentioned last week that I discovered the website Charity Navigator and they do a good job of assessing different charities and give valuable information about how donations are spent and what type of services each charity provides. Groups are rated on efficiency and data is provided about administrative costs and salaries. I really found the tool useful to help me decide on where to send my support. architecture for humanityAfter careful consideration, I have chosen Architecture for Humanity to send 10% of sales from the last week. They have a very high rating from Charity Navigator and I like that their two executives each make $85,000 annually, instead of the six digit figures of many of the CEOs of other charities. I like that they utilize volunteer professionals who can provide valuable services during emergencies. But what I really like is that these folks are already on the ground and working to help provide emergency support to build temporary structures for housing, medical facilities, schools, etc. It seems like a service that is sorely needed in Japan right now, and I am excited to help them. Here is their mission statement: Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit design services firm founded in 1999. We are building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. By tapping a network of more than 40,000 professionals willing to lend time and expertise to help those who would not otherwise be able to afford their services, we bring design, construction and development services where they are most critically needed. Each year 10,000 people directly benefit from structures designed by Architecture for Humanity. Our advocacy, training and outreach programs impact an additional 50,000 people annually. We channel the resources of the global funding community to meaningful projects that make a difference locally. Our clients include community groups, aid organizations, housing developers, government agencies, corporate divisions, and foundations. I have already made my first donation to Architecture for Humanity. Don’t worry though, I’ll be donating more on the 31st. So get your order in for one of our Katadyn portable water filter products and I will add 10% of your total purchase to the next donation. Thanks for stopping by!