Monday, March 30, 2015

Why HOME FILTRATION (and ionization) is the Best, Most Environmental, and Cost-Saving Way to Drink Water!

Please know that I love Costco!  Costco membership has many, many advantages, and I think it's great that Costco is providing a discounted water delivery service to its customers, because I believe most Bay Area water simply isn't safe to drink unless it's filtered (click HERE and HERE to see why). Overall, Costco seems to offer pretty decent pricing for water, when compared with other companies, and they do have the extra convenience of not having to drive to the store and lug heavy bottles in and out of your car.

However... what many Costco members may not realize, is that they can get premium filtered water, with even more convenience than home delivery, for much less than what Costco charges! In addition, there are many extra health benefits to drinking Kangen Water (which is recommended by Physicians, used in Japanese Hospitals) that you simply will not find in Reverse Osmosis water, which is what Costco/Alhambra uses, in the examples on this page. I know they also have a "Spring Water" service, but it is more expensive (and still won't have the antioxidant levels and as many reported health benefits as the Kangen Water).

I also really like arrowhead water and have consumed quite a bit of it in my lifetime. But I didn't know nearly as much about water, and the environmental costs of transporting it, as I do today.

There are many benefits to drinking water that you filter in your own home!

Forego the heavy lifting, back strain and storage of your bottles. 

When you have a Kangen machine at home, you won't have to carry heavy 5-gallon bottles from your door to your storage rack (or wherever else you keep them), and then load them onto your water dispenser. In addition, you won't have to worry about finding the space in your garage or kitchen, to store all those bottles, or leave them on your porch to be picked up.  Some people find themselves drinking less than the amount of water they should, simply because they don't want to deal with lugging the heavy bottles onto their water coolers, or because they don't want to pay for extra bottles. But with a Kangen machine, you can drink unlimited amounts of Kangen water, and there is no heavy lifting!

Electrolytes, Antioxidants & High Cell Penetration... does your water offer that? 

Whenever you want, you can make yourself a glass of fresh Kangen water that is high in antioxidants (10x more than green tea), penetrates cell walls 6 times more efficiently than regular water, and helps your body to transport nutrients and oxygen for greater hydration and endurance. Kangen water also helps you flush out lactic acid and uric acid after a workout, which means you are neutralizing free radicals and minimizing oxidative damage that ages your body.

There is a reason you find so many testimonials about Kangen water! Scroll down to see a much longer list of advantages.

Many people think it must be expensive to get a water ionizer, but they think nothing of buying bottled water or having it delivered at home for a monthly fee. Well, when you sit down and do a long term cost analysis, of a home delivery service, you will see that you can easily save money - a lot of it - by getting a Kangen / Enagic Machine - even when you use a high grade filter.

You can get your own machine starting as low as $44 per month, interest-free, for the first year, and you can make unlimited amounts of fresh Kangen water, which has electrolytes, micro-clustering, and 10x more antioxidants than green tea.

This is what Costco charges (price shown below does not include the cost of a bottle deposit, dispenser, tax, or energy surcharge)

This is a screen shot of Arrowhead water's pricing.  Please note this pricing may not necessarily reflect the total cost of their water delivery service. It also may not reflect any other types of recurring specials they may have (buy 12 months, get one free, etc).  But specials aside, the regular price for the bottled water pictured below, after the first month, is approximately $1.30 per gallon for Nestle Pure Life, $1.50 for Arrowhead Natural spring Water, and $2.00 per gallon for Nestle Pure Life Natural Spring Water. This does not include the cost of any taxes, energy surcharges, or the cost of renting or buying a water cooler.

This is a screen shot of the pricing for Arrowhead's water coolers. Please note this does not include the cost of electricity. According to the Costco site, the Alhambra coolers seem to start at $5.75 per month.

Please note, the sample Costco bill below is for three 5-Gallon bottles (15 gallons total). This is a sample of a first bill, which will include the bottle deposit.

Making filtered, ionized water at home is also better for the environment than door-to-door delivery. 

When you are paying for a home delivery service, you're paying a monthly fuel surcharge for a truck to carry heavy bottles to and from your door. In the Bay Area, the Alhambra water treatment facility is located in Milpitas, CA. A water delivery for a typical family of four (consuming the recommended amount of half their body weight in ounces of water, daily, whether it be for drinking or cooking) would require transporting 625 pounds of water per trip, which equates to 8,131 pounds of water per year, or 121,965 pounds of water over a 15-year period. Transporting this water to Redwood City is approximately a 44 mile drive, round trip, which equates to 572 miles driven per year, or 8,580 miles driven over a 15-year period.

I do realize the truck is carrying water for more than one person. On one hand it seems this should justify the cost of transportation via heavy trucks, and makes the process more efficient. And yet I still think... if the truck is delivering for 20 people, that is even more weight being transported, in order for people to have the convenience of home delivery.

It reminds me of how, I never thought about the environmental impact of using clumping cat litter until I read it an article about it. Like water, clumping cat litter is very heavy to transport - it's like cement. So transporting it to and from your home, and then putting it in your garbage can, for a truck to have to haul to the dump, has a pretty negative long-term impact in the environment. Whereas, using lighter, compostable cat litter will have less of a negative effect.  Using a home filtration system for your water at home will inevitably save money in fuel.

When you are drinking filtered, ionized water from your own home, you are using less resources to make the water. Using a high grade filter will also help cut down on waste.

 I once had an admin job where I had to change the water filters for the Reverse Osmosis machine we used. We had to change 2 large (non-recyclable) filters every 11-25 days (and this was when there were an average of only about 12 employees in the office at a time... which seemed odd, because the fridge was so full of other types of drinks (even Coconut water!) so I didn't see a whole lot of people drinking the filtered water. I also wasn't aware, ad the time I was changing these filters, that Reverse Osmosis water typically wastes 3-20 times the amount of water it produces. You can read more about that here.

Spring water may not waste as much water as Reverse Osmosis, but it takes a lot of fuel to transport hundreds (or even thousands) of miles from the spring to your front door. I'm not saying it's bad to drink Spring water. I love the taste of spring water, and overall, it has a much lower environmental impact than consuming milk (which uses between 683 to 2000 gallons of water to make one gallon) or beef, which is commonly estimated to use between 1,800 and 2,500 gallons of water to make one pound. But those fuel costs are still something to consider.

The cost of renting a water cooler

Also, consider the cost of using a hot/cold water cooler (costing about $5.75 per month). According to the federal government, standard water coolers with both hot and cold water use about $82 in electricity per year (Energy Star models use about 40 percent less electricity).

You can read more about that, here.

Kangen water machines can easily save you money in the long run. In addition, you can get referral fees and possibly get your machine for free! Better yet, there are people who have replaced their yearly income with money they have made from becoming an Enagic distributor.

How much water should you drink?  This is a great article by Nutritionist, Health Coach and former Professional Socccer Player Yuri Elkaim,  in U.S. News & World Report. The original article can be found on this page.

Storing your water in any type of Plastic, even "BPA Free" bottles, can adversely affect your health.

One day, as I was pouring myself a glass of water from the water cooler at a Venture Capital company I was working at, I noticed the assistant to the CEO was pouring herself a glass of water from the refrigerator machine instead. This surprised me, as she seemed pretty health conscious and I thought water from the cooler was the healthiest type you could possibly drink. I said, "Oh... you're drinking water from the machine instead?" Pointing to the water cooler, I said, "Is there a reason you don't like the water from this machine?"

She told me that she had done a lot of research on water, and said that the toxins from the large plastic water bottles (yes, even those big hard plastic 5 gallon bottles) can leach into the water.  I said, "Well, aren't these bottles BPA free?" And she said it didn't matter. Any type of plastic, even the BPA-free type, can leach toxins into the water. She said that the safest type of water is water that's filtered from a machine (provided the filters are changed regularly). As a little side note, I think she may have also been trying to get pregnant (it was announced a few months later that she was expecting a baby... I imagine that baby must be pretty healthy!)

I decided to do my own research, and lo and behold, she seems to be right. When bottles claim to be "BPA Free," that doesn't necessarily mean they are any more safe than plastics with BPA. It most likely means that they are simply made with a common BPA replacement, which is called bisphenol S (BPS), which may be just as harmful. According to this article:

Nearly 81 percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPS in their urine. And once it enters the body it can affect cells in ways that parallel BPA. 

You can read another eye-opening article about BPA free plastics, HERE.

The following article, from U.S. News, can be found in it's entirety, on this site.  (Please note this article has been shortened, I am just showing the highlights as it pertains to the amount of water you should drink)

The Truth About How Much Water You Should Really Drink

Your hydration questions, answered.

  • Sept. 13, 2013 | 4:17 p.m. EDT
    Yuri Elkaim
    Yuri Elkaim
    After all, the human body is predominantly water and thrives when it is properly hydrated. But what is "proper hydration?" Well, that's what I'm about to answer for you.
    The Uber Simple Hydration Equation
    The first thing you need to do is calculate how much water your body needs at rest. That's working at a desk, puttering around the house, reading and doing all of the other things you do throughout the day. This is your bare minimum water requirement – what your body needs to function.
    The basic equation for determining this is by dividing your body weight in half. So, if you weigh 200 pounds, you would need 100 ounces of water per day if you're not doing anything strenuous. If you're working out, hiking, at a high altitude or outdoors a great deal, you're going to need to add to those 100 ounces. 
    If you're exercising and sweating profusely, add another liter of water with half a teaspoon of sea salt to ensure proper electrolyte replenishment.
  • Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN is a registered holistic nutritionist, fitness expert and highly sought-after high-performance health coach. He's also a former professional soccer player and served as the head strength and conditioning and nutrition coach for men's soccer at the University of Toronto for seven seasons. For more than 13 years, he's empowered more than 86,000 people to greater health with his no-nonsense approach to health, fitness, and nutrition. He's made it his mission to empower at least 10 million people to greater health and fitness by 2018. Get Yuri's FREE "Y-Factor" at


This is approximately what it costs to make Kangen Water, based on the facts below (price of water may vary depending on your area, water usage, etc). Including the cost of the machine, filter and cartridge replacements, and servicing, and the average price of water over a 15 year period, the price for one gallon of Kangen water is approximately 68 cents (less than 80 cents when you add premium filtration to the water - which I highly recommend). Please note this is a high estimate - I've been told it's actually a lot lower, depending on how much water you make, but I am keeping the estimate high to be on the safe side.

With this estimate, it'll cost you about 7 cents to fill up a 16 oz. bottle of water (vs. 21 cents for a bottle filled from Arrowhead home delivery).  If the machine last longer than 15 years (and I've heard that they've been known to run 30 years  if you take good care of them), the price per gallon will be even lower!
Kangen Cost Comparison (other brands)

NOTE: Figures were calculated based on a family of four, using a recommended daily water consumption formula of ½ the body weight of each individual in ounces of water. Father – 190 lbs, Mother – 160 lbs, 13 year old son – 100 lbs, 10 year old daughter – 75 lbs. Weights based on National Center for Health Statistics for average weights of individuals living in the United States. This family should consume 262.5 ounces, or 2.05 gallons, of water each day. The calculations above have been figured using 2 gallons of daily consumption.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Quote:

“We generally pay much less for our drinking water than we do for most other goods and services…On average, tap water costs are slightly more than $2 per 1,000 gallons…Each of us, on average, uses over 100 gallons of water per day for everything from drinking and bathing to watering our gardens...This equates to an average annual water bill of about $300 per household…”

The 15 year Kangen Water® information is based on the Enagic® SD501, with a retail price of $3980.00 (please note we have a financing program where you can get this machine for $44 per month, no interest for your first year on approved credit, and if your clients buy the machines based on your referrals, you can pay the whole thing off sooner). It also includes the cost of a high-grade filter, replaced annually; 2 cleaning cartridges, used annually; 5 cleaning services, once every 3 years, performed by Enagic® Technicians and the average cost of tap water, as indicated by the U.S. EPA, at the rate of $.002 per gallon.

To learn more about Kangen water, fill out the contact form at the top right side of this page. 


Laura Ellen

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Conversion Charts: Turn mg/L to PPB, PPT to PPB, etc.

Sometimes you will find a reading on a water report that is something other than Parts Per Billion (the most commonly reported method).

A few times I would see a contaminant reading in milligrams per liter (mg/L) or even parts per trillion, and had to rely on Google to help me convert it to parts per billion (something I am more familiar with).  What would I do without you, Google?

If you need to do a conversion, click here to:


Thursday, March 5, 2015

San Francisco Regional Drinking Water Report - What's in Your Water (for those of you in SF or on the Peninsula)

At first I had a really difficult time finding San Francisco's water report. Usually it can be found within 5 or 10 minutes by simply typing in "(city name) Water Quality Report" (or different variations) and it just wasn't coming up. After an hour of trying to find it, I literally had to call the governor's office, and the woman I spoke to there couldn't find it either. I ended up sending a note to Jerry Brown asking for this information to become a little easier to find. The woman on the phone directed me to an estuary site, which is the only place we could find a water quality report. I realized, the report she led me to is just a report for untreated SF bay Water, but I am including it HERE in case you are curious to see it.

I finally was able to find the correct water quality report for San Francisco Regional Water (which is now coming up with a search for "San Francisco Water Quality Report."  You can see it HERE.


When I first took a look at our water report(s) via EWG's database (2004-2009) for San Francisco Regional Water (which you can see HERE), I just kind of glanced over it and didn't bother to look up all the chemicals that were detected our drinking water. Mostly because a) I just didn't get around to it, and b) it looked decent enough to me (and my untrained eye). At least I wasn't looking at a sea of yellow and red dots indicating we are constantly over the health and legal limits, like you see in many L.A. water reports, and many others in Central and Northern California. And c) I have heard over and over again that our drinking water is GREAT. Just one sniff of heavily chlorinated water from a Las Vegas hotel bathroom makes it easy to believe SF must have the best water in the WORLD!

Yeah, I knew maybe I should look it up but... quite honestly, I preferred to go on believing that our water was perfectly fine. True, I was a little suspicious of the fact our report seemed to show only ONE test, that was done sometime in 2008. Why couldn't they provide testing for every year? Some water facilities test the water a dozen times per year. But I preferred to believe the reason we have "so few dots" on our report is because it's so good, they don't need to test it!

Well... it was a nice thought, anyway.

Finally, I started doing a little more research on what is in our water. Partly because I noticed a VERY strong chlorine smell in the "wastewater" container from my Antioxidant Water Machine. It has two hoses. One that makes filtered antioxidant water, and the other hose has the wastewater... meaning it's the water with the filtered contaminants in it.

I decided to start collecting this water and try to use it instead of waste it. I hate to waste water, especially since we're in a drought! But I noticed some of my plants really did not like it and their leaves started turning yellow when I'd dump the wastewater onto them. I decided, well if the plants don't like it, then maybe I can use it myself, like to wash my hands. So I filled a dispenser with it and kept it in the bathroom so I could just wash my hands with it, or use it to rinse the shower walls.

I noticed my hands feel very dry after I use it, and decided I'm going to have to just use it for something else (I wish there was a way to hook a wastewater hose up to the washing machine or toilet... that would be perfect!!!)  Yes, I do realize, we need chlorine to keep the water clean and free of bacteria. But that doesn't mean it's safe to drink straight from the tap (which I used to do all the time). If you look up trihalomethanes (and the amounts that are in our water in the Bay Area) you will understand why I created this blog.

I decided to look up a few of the things that are on our water report. At first glance, our report (above) doesn't look bad at all, compared to, say... Modesto's, pictured below (no offense, Modesto). But I was also aware that... maybe ours only had the appearance of being OK because for whatever reason, only ONE TEST was even reported!!! At least Modesto revealed all their tests.... the good, the bad and the ugly. You can see the rest here.

MODESTO's water report (pictured only as a comparison to SF's report)

One thing I've learned recently is that there is a BIG difference between the CALIFORNIA EPA's SAFE LIMIT on toxins found in water, and the EPA's "Safe Limit." Sadly, the Federal EPA's safe limit is largely dictated by funding. They can only keep it so low, with the budget they have.

As an example, the California EPA has set a "recommended safe limit" for Hexavalent Chromium at 0.02 parts per billion  (It doesn't sound like a lot but consider that the birth control Nuva Ring is effective at 0.035 parts per billion). The Federal EPA set the limit at 100 parts per billion (5,000 times what California says is safe enough to pose no health risk). The new proposed legal limit is 10 parts per billion (500 times higher than what California says it should be).

When you look at these charts you will notice there are two columns which show you whether the HEALTH LIMIT has been exceeded, or the LEGAL LIMIT has been exceeded. Please pay careful attention to the column showing the HEALTH LIMIT.  Personally, I tend to ignore the "legal limit" since it is often WAY higher than what the California EPA says is safe. Really, people, California does not set these guidelines because they're bored and have nothing better to do. They do it because they're looking out for our health!

Dichloroacetic acid 

Dichloroacetic acidAmount detected:
13 ppb
13 ppb
Yes (Health limit exceeded)
Recommended Health limit:
: 0 ppb


Status: Regulated - EPA has established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Dichloroacetic acid is a disinfection byproduct regulated by EPA as one of five haloacetic acids that are formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.
Health Concerns for Dichloroacetic acid:


ChloroformAmount detected:
25.46 ppb
25.46 ppb
Yes (Health limit exceeded)
Recommended Health limit: 5.7 ppb
Status: Regulated - EPA has established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Chloroform is a disinfection byproduct from the trihalomethane (THM) family, and is formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.


Chloroform is a carcinogenic pollutant that forms when disinfection agents such as chlorine and chloramine react with organic matter in drinking water sources and in wastewater treatment (Richardson 2007; International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2008b).
Chloroform pollution in the environment also comes from industry releases (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) 1997b). The paper industry accounts for nearly half of the 1.5 million lbs of chloroform released in 2002, followed by the chemical manufacturing and solvent recovery industries (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) 2009i)
In humans chloroform is known to cause nausea, vomiting, irregular heart beat, kidney damage, liver damage, dizziness, fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia, increased dreaming, impaired memory, and anorexia. In animals, chloroform is known to cause infertility, birth defects and cancer (ATSDR 1997b; Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) 2001b).
Health Concerns for Chloroform:



BromodichloromethaneAmount detected:
3.67 ppb
3.67 ppb
Yes (Health limit exceeded)
Recommended Health limit:MCLG: 0 ppb


Status: Regulated - EPA has established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Bromodichloromethane is a disinfection byproduct from the trihalomethane (THM) family, and is formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.
Health Concerns for Bromodichloromethane:

According to this report's "health guidelines" we should not have ANY of this in our water. ZERO. The amount we have is 13 parts per billion. Which may not sound like much but keep in mind, Nuva Ring is active at 0.035 PPB.

Affected Organ Systems: Hepatic (Liver), Renal (Urinary System or Kidneys) 

Cancer Classification: NTP: Reasonably Anticipated to be a Human Carcinogen 


DibromochloromethaneAmount detected:
1.18 ppb
1.18 ppb
Yes (Health limit exceeded)
Recommended Health limit:0.4 ppb
Status: Regulated - EPA has established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Dibromochloromethane is a disinfection byproduct from the trihalomethane (THM) family, and is formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.
Health Concerns for Dibromochloromethane:


ChlorateAmount detected:
163 ppb
163 ppb
NO (Legal at any level)
Keep in mind that even though Chlorate is "legal at any level," Chlorate is an herbicide and pollutant from explosives. Also keep in mind that until recently, the legal limit for hexavalent chromium (a known carcinogen) was 100 parts per billion (California's EPA says anything above 0.02 parts per billion could be a health risk).

This information is from the World Health Organization's document, "Chlorite and Chlorate in Drinking-Water."

Status: Unregulated - EPA has not established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Chlorate is a disinfection byproduct (unregulated chlorine dioxide byproduct), an herbicide and a pollutant from explosives.

Chlorate Like chlorite, the primary concern with chlorate is oxidative damage to red blood cells. Also like chlorite, 36 µg of chlorate per kg of body weight per day for 12 weeks did not result in any adverse effects in human volunteers (Lubbers et al., 1981). Although the database for chlorate is less extensive than that for chlorite, a recent well conducted 90-day study in rats is available, which identified a NOAEL of 30 mg/kg of body weight per day based on thyroid gland colloid depletion at the next higher dose of 100 mg/kg of body weight per day (McCauley et al., 1995). Application of an uncertainty factor of 1000 to this NOAEL (10 each for inter- and intraspecies variation and 10 for the short duration of the study) gives a TDI of 30 µg/kg of body weight. This TDI is also supported by the human volunteer studies. Using the TDI of 30 µg/kg of body weight, a typical human body weight of 60 kg, the assumption that drinking-water contributes 80% of the total exposure and a typical consumption of 2 litres of water per day, the provisional guideline value is calculated as 0.7 mg/litre (rounded figure). This guideline value is designated as provisional because use of chlorine dioxide as a disinfectant may result in the chlorate guideline value being exceeded, and difficulties in meeting the guideline value must never be a reason for compromising adequate disinfection. A long-term study is currently in progress that should provide more information on the effects of chronic exposure to chlorate. 

fyi a Note from Ualani:  µg means a microgram
To convert pounds to kilograms / micrograms You can use a calculator here

My weight (125 pounds) is 56.699 kg.  According to their 1981 study, if I had drank about 2041 micrograms of chlorate, per day, for 12 weeks, I would not have experienced any adverse affects (at least not immediately). I do trust the WHO, but because this was not a long term study and they do state that "the primary concern with chlorate is oxidative damage to red blood cells," I would rather not have it in my water!

Total haloacetic acids (HAAs)

Status: Regulated - EPA has established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Total haloacetic acids refers to the sum of the concentrations of five related disinfection byproducts in a water sample: dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid and dibromoacetic acid.

Haloacetic acids (HAA5)

Haloacetic acids (HAA5) are byproducts of chlorinated disinfectants added to drinking water to control pathogens. Five haloacetic acids are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hence the acronym HAA5. The five regulated HAAs are monochloroacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid, and dibromoacetic acid. Haloacetic acids are formed when chlorine and other disinfectants react with organic matter found in source water. Surface water pollution with animal waste, sewage, fertilizer, algae and sediment results in greater quantities of haloacetic acids in drinking water (Environmental Working Group (EWG) 2002).
Two of the five HAAs regulated by EPA (dichloro- and trichloroacetic acid) have been shown to cause liver tumors in at least one type of laboratory animal (Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) 1996a, 1996b). Other HAAs, including those regulated by EPA, have been show to cause developmental defects in embryos grown outside the womb (whole embryo cell culture). Malformations included those of the neural tube, eye and heart (Hunter 1996). Haloacetic acids are genotoxic, which means that they induce mutations and DNA damage (Richardson 2007).
Long-term exposure to haloacetic acids in drinking water above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) set by EPA could increase the risk of cancer (USEPA 2009b).

Trichloroacetic acid

Trichloroacetic acidAmount detected:
8.67 ppb
8.67 ppb
NO (Health limit not exceeded)
 20 ppb
Note from Ualani: I am posting this here, even though the "health limit" is not exceeded, because the data that has been provided for this contaminant represents just one test (in a 5 year period), so it's very likely that at different points, it may have been higher or lower (if you look at Modesto's chart you will see that regular testing can show varied results).  The fact that it has been detected in the water is something you should be aware of.
Status: Regulated - EPA has established a maximum legal limit in tapwater for this contaminant.
Trichloroacetic acid is a disinfection byproduct regulated by EPA as one of five haloacetic acids that are formed when chlorine, chloramines or other disinfectants react with organic and inorganic matter in water.
Health Concerns for Trichloroacetic acid:

I was able to find a water quality report for San Mateo and I think it should win some kind of award for the most confusing water report in the entire country. No WONDER even EWG didn't list more than one year!! You can see it HERE.

I got it from THIS SITE. I did email someone to ask them to please give me a copy of a water report (one that most people can understand, and locate easily).

Please tell your family, friends and neighbors to start filtering their water. If I seemed a little paranoid at the beginning of this post... I hope now you understand why.

Laura Ellen

Monday, March 2, 2015

California Cities with High Levels of Hexavalent Chromium - How Does Your City Look?

Hey there fellow Californians,

I decided to make this blog post because I felt it was important for people to know that there is a good amount of Chromium 6 (Hexavalent Chromium) in many Bay Area water supplies. There are all kinds of other toxins, but this is one of the first ones I've actually had time to look up. For anyone who doesn't know (or remember) what Chromium 6 is, it's the toxin that was made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich.  

I didn't have time to look up every single city, but I tried to include a good number of large water suppliers that had levels I believe people should be aware of. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but the two people I know of, who died from Gastrointestinal and Liver Cancer, lived in areas with high levels of Chromium 6. Those two observations, on their own, may not be a big deal, but just in the last couple of months I've seen 10 other cases of people with Cancer (2 cases of lung cancer, 3 cases of bladder cancer, 2 cases of breast cancer, 2 cases of brain cancer) and Parkinson's Disease, who just so happened to have very high levels of a particular chemical that was known to cause that particular form of cancer, in their water (Trihalomethanes, Radon, Manganese and Hexavalent Chromium).  From what I could tell, none of these people seemed to believe their illnesses could have anything to do with the water supply.

Maybe this is all just coincidence, but... I feel like, at this point, I should try to warn people. You may have heard stories about how, when the Tsunami was about to hit in Indonesia, there was a guy running down the street, yelling and warning everyone to run for the hills, and people were looking at him like he was crazy? Well, to some degree, I feel like that guy. I think people might look at me like I'm making a big deal out of nothing. I'm not asking you to run for the hills. I'm just saying... please have a look at your own water report. It's easy, fast, and free to do. And then look up the chemicals that are in your water, and see what they can cause. And then make sure you're drinking filtered water! 

In particular, I thought it was pretty alarming to see how high the levels of Chromiun 6 were in Dixon, Lancaster, Los Angeles (via the LA Dept. of Water and Power), Los Banos, South San Francisco, and Pomona. Pomona had the highest level I had ever seen of any water report, by far - they were the only city I've ever seen reported over the EPA's legal limit, and the legal limit is 5,000 times higher than what the California EPA says it should be.

It's true, these levels may have changed by now. The Federal EPA has finally set the legal limit for Hexavalent Chromium at 10 parts per billion. The legal limit used to be 100 ppb.  

For anyone who doesn't think 10 parts per billion sounds like a lot (like I didn't), please consider the fact that the birth control Nuva Ring is active at 0.035 parts per billion. And PG&E was recently cited for giving residents in Hinkley (the town featured in Erin Brockovich) water that had "high levels" that were just 0.11 parts per billion. As per their agreement with the residents, the water the supplied Hinkley residents with was to have levels no greater than 0.11 ppb.

A note about this chart below, from the San Jose Mercury News: the California EPA has since revised its limit of Chromiun 6 to be 0.02 PPB (they formerly said it should be just .06 PPB, but made it even lower to protect children and people with sensitivities to chemicals).  

The Chromium level for South SF in EWG's database was reported to be between 10.14 and 33.56 parts per billion. It wasn't listed as the hexavalent type (many water facilities don't actually report the hexavalent chromium levels at all), I suspect that since South San Francisco is known as the "Industrial City," they may have more than a fair share of hexavalent chromium in their water. 

Update 4/10/15: I just found South SF's water quality report online (though the 2012 report is the latest I could find). It seems that the level has gone down but it's still way, way above California's proposed health limit of 0.02 ppb (it was as high as 17 ppb, with an average of 6.79 ppb). You can see the report here

I do appreciate that Cal Water specifically tested for Chromium 6 and revealed this level on their report.  In many cases, companies do not report "hexavalent chromium" - just the "Total Chromium." If you live in an area where this is the case, I urge you to ask your water company for their most recent tests and ask what the level of hexavalent chromium is. If they can't give it to you, see if you can get it done yourself through a local testing facility (just google "water test" and ads will pop up - or contact me and I can send you to someone who will do it pretty cheap). 

If a level of hexavalent chromium was not reported, but total chromium was reported, I highlighted the level in red if it was at a rate that was drastically above California's proposed "Safe Limit."

Dixon, CA seems to have the highest level of Chromium 6 that I've seen in Northern California (an AVERAGE of 25 parts per billion). The town of Hinkley, CA (the one that sued PG&E for $333 million) had peaks of chromium reported to be 20 parts per billion, from every source I can find, and their AVERAGE of Chromium 6 was supposedly just 1.19 (Note: I keep seeing these figures repeated and that's what is currently on Wikipedia but am doing further research to verify these numbers are accurate). The bottom line is, regardless of what the levels are, or were, in Hinkley, the fact is that the California EPA recommends we do not have more than 0.02 parts per billion in our water!

I hope the residents in the Dixon district have been warned about what they've potentially been exposed to.  (Note: later in the day I looked this up and found Dixon's report from 2009 - 2011. The average went down slightly but it was still very high). The average for those years was 19 parts per billion, with ranges from 13-24 PPB. According to their 2013 report, their levels were between 14-23 PPB, with an average of 19 PPB. I am very concerned for people who could have developed health problems due to their long term exposure of this toxin. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I have only heard of one person who has died of liver cancer. Sadly, he passed away yesterday in Los Banos (where chromium levels were measured between 25.56 - 27.67). Liver and gastrointestinal cancer is a well known side effect of chromium exposure.  

Update 3/2: Tonight I discovered a report that looked even worse than Dixon, and I am HOPING this is some kind of a typo, because I find it hard to believe that this could really be true. POMONA, CALIFORNIA is the first town I have seen that actually peaked above the LEGAL limit for Hexavalent Chromium (they had levels of as high as 170 PPB). And the legal limit is 5,000 times above what the California EPA says it should be! You can see the report HERE.

I also found a few discrepancies in the reports  (not that I could do a better job, with all that data they have to keep track of!). But as an example, the Great Oaks Water Co. in San Jose reports the levels of hexavalent chromium are higher than the levels of TOTAL chromium (it seems the hexavalent type should be included in the TOTAL chromium)? Same thing for Madera and Lancaster, CA. So I wouldn't necessarily trust a water report to give you all the information you need. I am not sure how these readings are taken or where they are taken from. Because of these discrepancies, I still feel a little suspicious when looking at reports that list Chromium 6 as "none detected" (but they still have very high levels of "total chromium").

Also, it seems as if the two types of readings (Total Chromium vs. Hexavalent Chromium) may come from different areas, and maybe even on different days! Because a reading can vary from area to area (see the video "The Cost of Cleaning up Chromium 6" on THIS PAGE), it could make sense that there could be some major variances between the readings. If only one area is tested, you could be getting only part of the information. Or, if a median range is reported, you could be seeing a level that doesn't represent what is actually in your water! 

I also came across listings for cities that seemed to be much further away (like San Diego) when checking local reports, so, I am not sure what happened there, but I went ahead and included cities that were further away if they came up on the report, OR if they had a high rate of toxins I think people should be aware of (I just found out the LA Department of Water and Power reported their Hexavalent Chromium levels to be between 2.87 and 33.7!!! So I am adding them to the list.

Here are the cities I looked up through the Environmental Working Group's database of water reports from 2004 - 2009 (the levels may be higher or lower now). PLEASE NOTE that if you see your city listed here that does not necessarily mean it represents YOUR water supplier. There are often times several different water suppliers for one city. To find your water supply company, type your zip code in the box near the top of this page. For the most current reading, call your supplier directly, or go to their website and you should be able to find the report on their page (though I have noticed some companies are slow to update their reports and the last ones I can find are from 2012).

WHEN LOOKING AT THESE NUMBERS, PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THAT THE CALIFORNIA EPA'S RECOMMENDED GUIDELINES FOR HEXAVALENT CHROMIUM IS JUST 0.02 PARTS PER BILLION, to ensure our water is safe, but the LEGAL LIMIT has been set to 10 parts per billion (we are supposed to be happy about this... it USED to be 100 PPB).

CITY (Click on the town name to see the report)CHROMIUM (TOTAL) CHROMIUM (HEXAVALENT)
ALAMEDA (COUNTY).32 - 3.49.41 - 1.53
ALHAMBRANot listed5.2 - 5.7
ANTIOCHNot detectedNone detected
ATHERTON (Bear Gulch Reservoir).74 - 3.27Not listed
ATWATER0.2 - 1.0Not listed
BAKERSFIELD 1.56 - 7.811.15 - 1.9 PPB
BOLINAS (no chromium but HIGH levels of trihalomethanes)Not listedNot listed
BRENTWOOD7.34 - 10.05.15 - 5.3
BURBANK2.01 - 7.52.76 - 5.9
CHOWCHILLA1.84 - 3.31.9 - 1.9
CITY OF BAKERSFIELD1.33 - 7.63.85 - 2.4
CONTRA COSTANot detectedNone detected
CUPERTINO3.12 - 8.52Not listed
DELANONot detected3.8 - 3.8
DIABLONot detected1.55 - 1.6
DISCOVERY BAY0.13 - 0.5Not listed
DIXON28.35 - 44.5225.0 - 25.0
DOWNEY0.08 - 1.5Not listed
ESCALON2.27 - 7.0Not listed
FONTANA1.43 - 4.752.68 - 3.4
GILROYNot detectedNone detected
GLENDALE5.27 - 21.08.13 - 12.6
HAWTHORNE (LA WATER DEPT)Not detectedNone detected
HERM / REDO (California Water Service)0.33 - 1.32Not listed
HUNTINGTON PARK0.66 - 5.4Not listed
INVERNESSNot listedNot listed
LANCASTER4.95 - 20.07.61 - 21.8
LATHROP2.71 - 4.0Not listed
LEONA VALLEY1.9 - 2.0.33 - 2.0
LIVERMORE 12.32 - 27.644.2 - 4.2
LODI0.73 - 6.1Not listed
LOS ALTOS5.23 - 15.08Not detected
LOS BANOS25.56 - 27.67Not listed
MADERA0.08 - 1.00.38 - 1.5
MANTECA0.64 - 6.5Not listed
MARIN Not detectedNot detected
MARTINEZNot detectedNot detected
MARYSVILLE4.32 - 10.14Not listed
MODESTO0.24 - 11.0 Not listed
MONTEBELLO2.62 - 7.14Not listed
MONTEREY.22 - 8.0Not listed
MONTEREY PARK.24 - 4.382.66 - 4.27
MORGAN HILL1.18 - 4.2Not detected
MOUNTAIN VIEW.86 - 2.48 - 1.9
NORTH MARINNot detectedNot listed
OAKLANDNot detectedNot listed
OROVILLE1.06 - 7.01Not detected
PALMDALE2.61 - 12.02.77 - 7.41
PATTERSON18.14 - 28Not listed
PITTSBURGNot detectedNot detected
PLEASANTON.85 - 2.18Not listed
POINT REYES.21 - 1.05Not listed
POMONA (highest I've EVER SEEN)9.86 - 170.012.44 - 170.0
RIPON2.77 - 9.0Not listed
RIVERSIDE3.06 - 12.02.24 - 2.8
SALINAS6.82 - 20.273.78 - 7
SALINAS HILLS3.24 - 11.92Not detected (???)
SAN DIEGONot detectedNot detected
SAN FRANCISCO REGIONALNot detectedNot listed
SAN GABRIEL VALLEY WATER0.75 - 4.23.57 - 7.0
SAN JOSE4.15 - 20.323.82 - 5.7
SAN JOSE (Evergreen)2.2 - 73.2 - 3.7
SAN JOSE (Great Oaks Water Co)2.03 - 6.25.1 - 6.7
SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITYNot listed3.55 - 3.55
SANTA CLARANot detectedNot listed
SELMA2.39 - 6.941.6 - 1.6
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO10.14 - 33.56Not listed
STINSON BEACHNot detectedNot listed
STOCKTON1.23 - 12.52.3 - 5.3
SUNNYVALE.26 - 1.53Not listed
TRACY2.15 - 8.01Not listed
TURLOCK4.98 - 17 6.2
VALENCIA.58 - 120.18 - 1.8
VISALIA1.78 - 5.271.42 - 2.2
WHITTIER.24 - 1.4.36 - 1.1
ZONE 7 WATER AGENCY (OAKLAND AREA).64 - 8.43Not detected

While looking up this information I also noted a few places that seemed to have extremely high levels of other toxins, like Trihalomethanes (a known carcinogen) and Manganese (which is shown to cause Parkinson's-like symptoms). I am sure there are many, many more that would be cause for concern but those are two of the few that I have actually had time to look into. Bakersfield had a level of Manganese that had a maximum test level of 260 parts per billion (the legal limit is 50 parts per billion). Bolinas, CA (where my best childhood friend lived at one point) had low levels of chromium, but a staggering maximum test level for trihalomethanes at 260 parts per billion (3 times the legal limit... which is pretty bad because the "legal limit" is usually WAY above the "health limit")!!!

Please see what is the level in your area for these contaminants, and if it is above the "health limit".... BE SURE TO FILTER YOUR WATER!!!  Even just a good carbon Brita filter should be able to help you get rid of at least some of these toxins (you may want to look this up yourself but I have heard that carbon does a decent job in terms of filtration... just BE SURE TO CHANGE YOUR FILTERS REGULARLY!). If you're trying to get your water as clean as you can possibly get it, I have heard that one of the BEST methods for removing every trace of toxins is an reverse osmosis... however, I also know someone who got VERY sick from drinking reverse osmosis and distilled water for years (in Japan these types of waters are called "dead water" because all the minerals are removed... something many people don't know, like I didn't). So if you do go the route of reverse osmosis, you should consider adding a remineralization cartridge.

In my opinion, though, Reverse Osmosis water is VERY pricey. At my last day job, part of my job was to change the reverse osmosis filters for the company (we usually had less than a dozen employees in the building and people rarely drank the water because we had a fridge full of sodas , flavored sparkling waters and every kind of drink you could ever want!). I had to change those filters every 11-25 days (two at a time... and they cost $49 for a 2-pack from Sears). It's a pretty big, bulky thing to throw away and I always felt guilty about it, but they are NOT recyclable. I have also heard reverse osmosis wastes a TON of water (I was told it can take 12 gallons of water to produce 1 clean gallon of Reverse Osmosis water... not a good choice for the environment!!). Unless you buy a top of the line machine, but then the MACHINE will be pricey.

I also heard that a good, "inexpensive" way to remove Chromium 6 is with an antioxidant filter. However, I just realized that the machine I have (that makes alkaline water with 10x more antioxidants than green tea)  is about the same, cost-wise, in terms of 15-year costs (it could be even less, because in many cases I've heard these machines can last 15-30 years with proper care and maintenance... like a Honda). The machine I have is a top-of the line machine, made with a built-to-last transformer (vs. cheaper SMPS technology) that is actually certified medical equipment (used in hospitals in Japan, and they are #1 in longevity). The original models were $500,000 machines, but the company decided to make affordable units so people could use them in their homes. Currently, one in 4 households in Japan has one of these machines that makes this water.

This machine makes antioxidant water that can retain 90% of it's antioxidants after 3 hours (whereas most alkaline water machines make water that loses 90% of it's antioxidants within the same time frame). The reason it's able to make this water hold it's charge is because it uses higher grade parts, medical grade materials, and the transformer enables the machine to make water with a steady, long-lasting charge. 

Also, the type of water it makes (electrolyzed reduced water) has been shown in dozens of studies to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and in some cases, reduces them. I realize this sounds like a big claim but if you email me I am happy to show you the documents and studies (I have 5 pages' worth of just the titles of the studies, alone). If you are interested in learning more about the machine I have, just email me.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. If you haven't already done so, please take a few minutes to check out my post about Hexavalent Chromium on THIS PAGE.

Laura Ellen