water contamination

  1. Lakes overflowing with antibacterial chemical

    New pollution threat comes from your own sink

    They're called "freshwater" lakes -- but these days, they're about as "fresh" as the local sewer. Once-pristine, U.S. lakes are now so overflowing with chemical filth it's a wonder we're not overrun with mutant bog monsters.

    I don't have the space here to list all the dangerous chemicals turning up in the water, so I'm going to focus on just one for today. It's called triclosan, and if you use antibacterial soap, you're part of the problem -- even if you don't know it.

    Well, now you're in the know. Every time you suds up with antibacterial soap, you send a load of triclosan through the plumbing and out the other side.

    And the other side is usually a lake somewhere.

    In one new study, researchers looked at eight lakes in Minnesota -- land of 1,000 glimmering lakes.

    But maybe that glimmer is really just a chemical sheen, because all seven of the lakes with wastewater input -- water that's supposedly been treated and "cleaned" -- had high levels of triclosan in them.

    The one lake with no wastewater input was free of the chemical.

    The problem isn't just the triclosan, although that's plenty bad enough already.

    When triclosan goes through wastewater treatment, it combines with chlorine to form chlorinated triclosan derivatives (say that five times fast). And when the chlorinated triclosan derivatives are exposed to sunlight -- like, say, while glimmering on the surface of a Minnesota lake -- they form dioxins.

    Yes, dioxins.

    Next thing you know, you need a hazmat suit just to go for a swim -- and don't even think about eating the fish that inhale this dirty water.

    They say change begins at home, so stop dumping this stuff into lakes by not using it in the first place. But don't just do it for the lakes -- do it for yourself too, because triclosan isn't some magic hand-cleaner. It's actually a dangerous endocrine-disrupting pesticide linked to brain damage, heart trouble, reproductive problems, and more.

    Besides, even the feds admit it doesn't clean hands any better than plain old soap.

    I'm not done with waste in the water yet -- keep reading for the latest on fish.

  2. Fish are eating plastic

    Why fish are less healthy lately

    Swimming the English Channel used to be a feat of human survival. Now, it's a survival feat even for the fish.

    The Channel is so clogged with garbage that fish are eating a steady diet of plastics and other junk. In one recent experiment, a third of 504 fish caught in the Channel were found to have bellies full of tiny particles called microplastics.

    If this was simply unhealthy for the fish, I'd feel bad for them... but I wouldn't necessarily be writing to you about it.

    But this isn't just bad for the fish. It's bad for YOU if you eat those fish -- because fish that chow down on plastic aren't eating the kelp and critters they normally eat.

    In fact, they may not be eating much at all -- because these plastics can accumulate in the gut and leave them feeling full all the time. And when they're full of plastic instead of their normal diet, they become so devoid of essential fats, minerals, and other nutrients that they may as well be made of plastic themselves.

    So when you eat these fish, you're not getting the delicious and healthy seafood dish you ordered. You're getting a piece of plastic -- a tasty piece of plastic, but still a piece of plastic.

    And this isn't just fish that swim the English Channel. Plastics are turning up in the ocean everywhere, and fish are gobbling them up everywhere.

    Of course, eating fish is a crapshoot these days anyway. As I told you recently, many of them are so loaded with mercury that a little plastic in the gut is the least of your concerns.

    Smart money is on avoiding seafood unless you do your homework -- know where it came from and what's inside it, and make sure you can actually trust the person who's telling you this.

    This is good advice for purchasing beef, chicken, and pork, too.

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  3. Chemicals in your water increase the risk of reactions to food

    Why do so many people have food allergies? It may not be what we eat -- it could be what we drink. A new study links chemicals in tap water to the condition.
  4. Arsenic in your drinking water could harm moms and kids

    No level of arsenic is "safe" -- and the latest research confirms that EPA-approved levels of arsenic in your drinking water are actually dangerous.

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