water quality

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We’re Pouring Millions of Tons of Salt on Our Roads

The use of salt to de-ice roads and parking lots has skyrocketed in recent years. As environmental consequences emerge, scientists propose creative solutions.

Posted on Feb 1 2018 by Anonymous

By GREG BREINING
Ensia

If you live — and drive — in a northern or mountainous climate, you’ve seen highway trucks spreading loads of rock salt on snowy highways to melt the ice. But where does the salt go?


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Image Credits:

  1. Brian Abeling via Flickr

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Lingering Questions About PEX

Researchers still aren't sure how it affects water, and certification standards may be failing to test for compounds that affect water quality

Posted on Jun 8 2016 by Emily Sohn

The calls and emails arrive as often as several times a week from people with concerns about drinking water. Some of the callers — who include homeowners, architects, and builders — want to know why their water smells like gasoline. Others want to know which kinds of pipes to install to minimize risks of exposure to hazardous chemicals.


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Image Credits:

  1. Ron / CC BY-ND 2.0 / Flickr

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Should You Worry About PFOA in Your Water?

Although phased out in 2015, this persistent chemical is showing up in water supplies around the country

Posted on May 19 2016 by Veronica Vieira

Over the past few months, several communities in upstate New York and New England have detected PFOA — perfluorooctanoic acid, or C8, a chemical linked to a range of health issues from cancer to thyroid disease — in their drinking water.

PFOA is a fluorinated compound that is absorbed into our bodies through inhalation or ingestion. The chemical can then accumulate in our blood serum, kidneys, and liver.


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Image Credits:

  1. Doug Kerr / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Flickr

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Seattle’s Pioneering RainWise Program

Homeowners get help in developing rain gardens and cisterns, limiting the amount of polluted runoff

Posted on Mar 8 2016 by Alisa Valderrama

The RainWise program, run jointly by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) and King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD), empowers homeowners and other private property owners to help stop the region's largest source of water pollution: polluted runoff and specifically the sewer overflows that occur when heavy rains flood the city's combined sewer system.


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Image Credits:

  1. Michael Pereckas / CC / Flickr

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Piping as Poison

The Flint water crisis and America’s toxic infrastructure

Posted on Feb 22 2016 by Chris Sellers

As the crisis over the water in Flint, Michigan, rolls on, we’re learning more and more about the irresponsibility and callousness of officials and politicians in charge.

The mix of austerity politics, environmental racism, and sheer ineptitude makes for a shocking brew, yet the physical conditions that have made it literally toxic for Flint residents are neither as exceptional nor as recent as much of the media coverage suggests.


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Image Credits:

  1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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EPA Looks at Fracking Risks to Water

Even a 1,000-page report doesn't address the risks to ground and surface water

Posted on Jul 14 2015 by Mark Brownstein

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its long-awaited draft report on impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, completing the most extensive scientific review of published data to date.


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Testing the Effect of Plastic Pipes on Potable Water

A government grant is enabling researchers to study how plastic pipe affects drinking water odor and chemical quality

Posted on Oct 5 2012 by Richard Defendorf

Plastic building products are no strangers to controversy. But at least one of the concerns dogging the use of plastic pipes in green buildings is now being addressed by scientific research.


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Image Credits:

  1. National Institute of Standards and Technology

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