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Verdeboy
12-20-2008, 05:44 PM
A few weeks ago, I had my 15 minutes of fame for discovering toxic chemicals in our drinking water. The water department had decided to resurface the inside of one of our million gallon holding tanks, and they put it back on line without ever testing the water for VOC's (volatile organic compounds.) I was the only person in the whole town who noticed a chemical odor from the tap water, and as a former chemist, I was able to tell them with perfect accuracy what family of chemicals were in there.

SewerRatz
12-20-2008, 05:52 PM
Good catch :)

Cookie
12-20-2008, 05:59 PM
That is really cool, Eric. You must be a very good chemist.

SteveW
12-20-2008, 06:00 PM
Great story - good pickup, Eric, and glad they did the right thing when you reported it.

Cass
12-20-2008, 06:03 PM
One big ata boy for you eric...I'da done the same thing...

frenchie
12-20-2008, 06:23 PM
I wonder how much more would have leached out of that sand, and into people's morning coffee, over months or years, if you hadn't caught it?

Good call.

Cookie
12-20-2008, 06:28 PM
What exactly Eric could those chemicals had done if you didn't find it over a period of time like Frenchie said. I am curious, I don't know chemicals.

Probedude
12-20-2008, 06:53 PM
That is really cool, Eric. You must be a very good chemist.

Just need a good nose and exposure to the smell to know that it's not normal.

Oh, and not having smelled it long enough to have killed off your brain cells :p

Dave
(chemist by degree)

Verdeboy
12-20-2008, 08:06 PM
What exactly Eric could those chemicals had done if you didn't find it over a period of time like Frenchie said. I am curious, I don't know chemicals.

According to the water department, the chemicals (mostly Xylene, a paint solvent) were detected at below the MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level), with sampling done from a spigot located at the bottom of the million gallon tank. However, Xylene is completely insoluble in water, and its density is much less than water. That means the bulk of it would have been floating on top.

I smelled it first thing in the morning. This is because, over night, the xylene would separate out in my pipes and rise up to the highest point, which is in the faucets. So, the first few ounces of water that came out of the tap was nearly pure paint solvent. Once you let the water run for a bit, the smell disappeared. Also, the odor threshold is 100 times greater than the level they claimed was in there. And there was a very strong odor, which means there was at least a thousand times greater concentration than they had claimed.

Anyway, here are the toxic effects.:

Short-term: EPA has found xylenes to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: disturbances of cognitive abilities, balance, and coordination.


Long-term: Xylenes has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.

kingsotall
12-20-2008, 09:45 PM
As a fellow New Mexican, I thank you.

Verdeboy
12-20-2008, 09:47 PM
What part of NM?

kingsotall
12-20-2008, 09:57 PM
Abq I live in Flagstaff, AZ now but the rest of my side of the family lives in NM. Still consider it home.

Cookie
12-21-2008, 06:12 AM
According to the water department, the . So, the first few ounces of water that came out of the tap was nearly pure paint solvent. Once you let the water run for a bit, the smell disappeared.



That would probably still improve my coffee, ( I make horrible coffee).

But, on a serious note, that is really good you found it and contacted them. Just imagine the damage that could had been to people if you hadn't. They owe you one. They owe you a big thank you to say the least.

Dunbar Plumbing
12-21-2008, 07:53 AM
I'd be suing the entire state, shaking profusely and frothing at the mouth, lawyer right there wiping the drool from my chin.


Call in "extra!" because it's gonna be big.



I'd get my dog in on the mix too...premature graying of the hair. That's worth a cool 1/4 mil right there. File that under "Expressed desirable appearance values" that were grossly diminished by repeated exposure to poisoned, harmful water contaminates.

Verdeboy
12-21-2008, 10:10 AM
The problem is, there's no evidence other than the fallacious results they put in the newspaper. I actually took my own sample of the water, when it was at its worst, but I (stupidly) dumped it out after they had told me it wasn't collected in an "approved" container after letting the water run for 10 seconds.

That was before I realized that only the initial few ounces were heavily contaminated. So, unless a bunch of people can prove they were sick during that time, I just have to let it go. No one in this backwards town seems to care anyway.

BTW, their excuse for contaminating the water was: "We never painted the inside of a tank before" and "We trusted the contractor. It's their fault" and "We let the paint cure the necessary time according to the manufacturer's specifications" and "We already tested the water earlier that year for VOC's, and there weren't any present."

To which I responded: "You should have talked to someone who has painted the inside of a tank" and "You are responsible for any work that is contracted out" and "Paint-curing time varies tremendously based on the humidity and temperature, not to mention that the tank is essentially a closed system, giving the solvent vapors no where to escape" and testing the water before it is painted is completely worthless other than to give you a baseline for comparison after the tank was painted."

I also had to practically beg them to test for lead, since they initially sandblasted all the old layers of paint, which could easily have had lead in it. They told me they were hesitating because, "Just asking for that test could open up a can of worms, and the higher-ups would start asking questions."

They never did make public the results of the metals testing.

master plumber mark
12-21-2008, 10:17 AM
Maybe like Rugged stated , the whole community
can sue the water company and get some money for it..



oh, never-mind

I meant the lawyer that sues for you will get some
money..
...

Cookie
12-21-2008, 10:29 AM
Well, actually here is what I would do. No one likes to hear the sickness that might be involved, especially if you remind them, that their children have been drinking it. Do you know how long people/children have been drinking the water? Can you find out the short term results from it? Even if you have to go to a doctor and ask, do it. Then you find out the long term results from their children drinking it; and pregnant women drinking it, how it effects the unborn child; also, include how it effects the sick people with lowered immunity systems, and the aged people. Do your homework. I would do it because I hate to be shoved around. I would make sure the community realizes your results. Was this the same water that supplied the schools water fountains? The same water people filled up their swimming pools with? Took baths and showers in? Watered there gardens with? I wouldn't let myself be walked on.

The results of the metal tests they had taken should be public record.
Since this happened once, and because of the way I am, I would make sure I had this so-called, approved water container on hand. Just because.

Oh, and also, Eric, if you consider fighting this, find a lawyer whose kids have been drinking the water, too.

Redwood
12-21-2008, 01:03 PM
Nice catch Eric!

Cass
12-21-2008, 01:40 PM
The problem is, there's no evidence other than the fallacious results they put in the newspaper. I actually took my own sample of the water, when it was at its worst, but I (stupidly) dumped it out after they had told me it wasn't collected in an "approved" container after letting the water run for 10 seconds.

That was before I realized that only the initial few ounces were heavily contaminated. So, unless a bunch of people can prove they were sick during that time, I just have to let it go. No one in this backwards town seems to care anyway.

BTW, their excuse for contaminating the water was: "We never painted the inside of a tank before" and "We trusted the contractor. It's their fault" and "We let the paint cure the necessary time according to the manufacturer's specifications" and "We already tested the water earlier that year for VOC's, and there weren't any present."

To which I responded: "You should have talked to someone who has painted the inside of a tank" and "You are responsible for any work that is contracted out" and "Paint-curing time varies tremendously based on the humidity and temperature, not to mention that the tank is essentially a closed system, giving the solvent vapors no where to escape" and testing the water before it is painted is completely worthless other than to give you a baseline for comparison after the tank was painted."

I also had to practically beg them to test for lead, since they initially sandblasted all the old layers of paint, which could easily have had lead in it. They told me they were hesitating because, "Just asking for that test could open up a can of worms, and the higher-ups would start asking questions."

They never did make public the results of the metals testing.

File a request using a FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) letter and see what happens...it might work...

Redwood
12-21-2008, 01:48 PM
The cops were probably wondering why all the local glue sniffers were carrying water bottles all of a sudden...

Terry
12-21-2008, 04:33 PM
Nice job Eric,

It also shows how the community shares water.

One of the issues we have with homeowners is convincing them that we "SHARE" the water supply.
A dangerous method of plumbing in one home my harm others that live on the same street.
In your case, many more were involved.

songli
12-21-2008, 06:29 PM
Now that is a lot of brass air fittings http://www.***********.com/subpages/airfitting_1.htm there is just about every type
of air fitting that you could want. Wholesale prices too. I guess these could be used as small water pipe fitting also. I
used some of the parts to make my babington wvo burner.

kingsotall
12-21-2008, 07:46 PM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
--------SPAM----------

http://inventorspot.com/files/images/1559606_340_1116081430036-spam.jpg

jadnashua
12-21-2008, 07:59 PM
while both regretable and irresponsible, if it is a public utility, they probably can't be sued. Even if it is, the ratepayers would end up effectively sueing themselves.

Cookie
12-21-2008, 08:02 PM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Brockovich

Verdeboy
12-21-2008, 08:50 PM
Do you know how long people/children have been drinking the water?

The whole incident only lasted about 10 days, back in August.


Can you find out the short term results from it? Then you find out the long term results from their children drinking it;

I already posted that information in one of my previous posts.


I would make sure the community realizes your results.

I started two threads about it in our local community forum. That is how the newspaper picked up on the story.


Oh, and also, Eric, if you consider fighting this, find a lawyer whose kids have been drinking the water, too.

No thanks. I've done my civic duty. I'd rather drink that toxic water than deal with our inept legal system.

Verdeboy
12-21-2008, 08:54 PM
The cops were probably wondering why all the local glue sniffers were carrying water bottles all of a sudden...

Interesting you should say that. The chemical I thought I was smelling is toluene (methyl benzene), which is commonly found as a solvent in model airplane glue.

BTW, xylene is dimethyl benzene. So, my nose was nearly spot on.

Cookie
12-22-2008, 05:54 AM
No thanks. I've done my civic duty. I'd rather drink that toxic water than deal with our inept legal system.


That is where we differ, but that is okay, too. I always stongly feel to try to change what is wrong. That is just me.

When I asked about the short term, long term, I was thinking more in terms of names of illnesses. Cancer, etc. I did see the disturbances it can cause, that is fine, too.

You've done good Eric.

Verdeboy
12-22-2008, 09:40 AM
Xylene is not a known carcinogen. But don't you consider damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys to be more than just "disturbances?"

And, I did fix what was wrong. The water is fine now.

What you and others are suggesting is to spend countless hours trying to sue for reparations for what happened back in August. I'm not doing it. Apparently, no one else in this town wants to either.

You've seen the movie, Erin Brockovich too many times. Great movie, but, a totally different situation. People were drinking that chemical-laden water for years. This time, it was nipped in the bud.

But, if they do make a movie out of this, I want Jude Law to play me. :)

Cookie
12-22-2008, 09:43 AM
Didn't mean no offense. Cookie

Cookie
12-22-2008, 09:59 AM
Short-term: EPA has found xylenes to potentially cause the following health effects when people are exposed to it at levels above the MCL for relatively short periods of time: disturbances of cognitive abilities, balance, and coordination.


Long-term: Xylenes has the potential to cause the following effects from a lifetime exposure at levels above the MCL: damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.

Eric, you corrected me on using the word disturbance, and I was just using it like you. Maybe, I should had added, also, damage, I don't know...

Also, I only saw that movie once, lol. I might rent it and watch it again :D

You said, what we suggested, that was just it Eric, an idea if you wanted. Probably nothing would even come to this, because it wasn't drunk like you said, long enough.

Still, all in all, it is a good thing like everyone said, you did sniff it out.

Cookie