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.
Last edited by Verdeboy; 12-25-2008 at 12:06 PM.
That is really cool, Eric. You must be a very good chemist.
Great story - good pickup, Eric, and glad they did the right thing when you reported it.
One big ata boy for you eric...I'da done the same thing...
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?
Master Plumber Mark:
there is nothing better than the
manly smell of WD 40 in the air
while banging away on brass with a chisel and hammer...
it smells like......victory......
do not hit your thumb...
Just so everyone's clear: I'm the POODLE in the picture ("french", get it?) The hot woman is my wife.
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.
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.
As a fellow New Mexican, I thank you.
Abq I live in Flagstaff, AZ now but the rest of my side of the family lives in NM. Still consider it home.
Last edited by kingsotall; 12-20-2008 at 11:01 PM. Reason: cuz i cant right
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.
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.
Read what the end of this sentence means.
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.