Tag Archives: Rainsoft

AMERICA’S PROTECTED WATERWAYS

We highly recommend “AMERICA’S WILD AND SCENIC RIVERS” – a National Geographic article, published November, 2011 by Joel K. Bourne, Jr., and the associated Gallery of Photos of the Rivers photographed by Michael Melford (stunning!)

Links to the article, Photo Gallery and Michael Melford’s web site are listed at end of blog.

America‘s Spectacular Wild Rivers

These Scenic Waterways Thrive Under Federal Protection
in the United States


More than four decades after it became law, a little-known federal act safeguards hundreds of primordial waterways.

Photographs by Michael Melford

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River gorge is not so much a river as an exuberant expression of water at play… Today it is one of the ultimate white-water experiences in the United States, drawing thousands of visitors each year.

John Craighead, now 95, is legendary in the field of wildlife biology, … Yet the proudest achievement of John Craighead’s long and storied life, he says, is the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

 … “It took a decade of reports, lectures, and political wrangling, but when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1968, much of its language came from the Craigheads. The initial act spared eight rivers and narrow buffer zones around them from dams and development. Today the list has grown to more than 200 rivers in 39 states and Puerto Rico.”

Article link –

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/11/americas-wild-rivers/bourne-text

      Photo Gallery link -

http://bit.ly/rL1Ng4

       Michael Melford’s web site -

http://www.michaelmelford.com/

UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST RESULTS

Here are the results (see my blog of April 11, 2012) of  the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science underwater photography contest. Some of you may have voted for the “Fun Favorite” category entry online.

Congratulations to Todd Mintz of Canada whose entry won first place in the Macro category! 

Best Overall
Headshield sea slug, Chelidonura hirundinina — St. Thomas USVI Ximena Olds, local Key Biscayne resident, has been named “Best Overall” winner of our 2012 Underwater Photography Contest. Olds captured an orange headshield sea slug with a beautiful green seagrass background in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This year’s newest category was the online “Fan Favorite,” where the winner was determined by an online voting poll. The winner was Todd Aki, receiving nearly half of the 1,221 online votes, capturing a very colorful jellyfish.

Macro 1st Place
Todd Mintz, Canada
Yellownose gobies, Elacatinus randalli, in bolder brain coral — Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Macro 2nd Place
Davide Lopresti, Italy
Porcelain crab, Porcellanella sp. on feathery sea pen
Komodo National Park, Indonesia

Macro 3rd Place
Marcello DiFrancesco, Italy
Emperor shrimp, Periclimenes imperator
Ambon, Indonesia

Wide-angle 1st Place
Mark Fuller, Israel
Lionfish, Pterois sp
Eilat, Israel, Red Sea

Wide-angle 2nd Place
Matt Potenski, New Jersey
Red mangroves, Rhizophora mangle
South Bimini, Bahamas

 

Wide-angle 3rd Place
Bill Lamp’l, Florida
Soft corals and scalefin anthias, Pseudanthias squamipinnis
Bligh Water, Fiji

Fish or Marine Animal Portrait 1st Place
Douglas A. Kahle, Florida
Juvenile sperm whale, Physeter macrocephalus — Dominica

 Fish or Marine Animal Portrait
2nd Place

Rockford Draper, Texas
Paddle flap Rhinopias, Rhinopias eschmeyeri
Bali, Indonesia

Fish or Marine Animal Portrait
3rd Place

Nicholas Samaras, Greece

Best Student Entry
Kyra Hartog
Whale shark, Rhincodon typus
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Nudibranch, Cratena peregrina
Chalkidiki, Greece

Student 2nd Place
Phillip Gillette, Florida
Harlequin shrimp, Hymenocera picta
Similan Islands, Thailand

Student 3rd Place
Austin Gallagher, Florida
Juvenile tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, and lemon shark, Negaprion brevirostris
Bahamas

Student 2nd Place
Phillip Gillette, Florida
Harlequin shrimp, Hymenocera picta
Similan Islands, Thailand

Student 3rd Place
Austin Gallagher, Florida
Juvenile tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier, and lemon shark, Negaprion brevirostris
Bahamas

Posted on April 19, 2012 byRSMAS

Link to RSMAS’ slideshow of winning entries – a must see!

http://www.rsmas.miami.edu/outreach/underwater-photography/2012-winners/#!facebox[uw]/11/

ANCIENT GIANT RABBIT UNEARTHED

Rainsoft Ottawa sends best wishes for a joyous Easter celebration to all our WordPress friends/followers/bloggers.

“KING OF THE RABBITS”

In March 2011, a team of palaeontologists reported the discovery of a new species of extinct rabbit on Minorca, which is a small Spanish island in the Balearic archipelago in the western Mediterranean Sea. The researchers, led by Joseph Quintanaa from the Institut Català de Paleontologia in Barcelona, named it Nuralagus rex, literally ‘King of the Rabbits’.

This royal rabbit hailed from the Late Neogene period, which ended about 2.5 million years ago, and would have weighed around 12kg. This is about six times the size of the modern European rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus.

Its skeletal structure indicates that it was not built to hop like modern-day rabbits, and did not have the heightened sense of smell and excellent vision of its modern-day counterparts.

In the 40 million years of rabbit evolution, most species have remained within the size range found in modern rabbits. The giant rabbit of Minorca is a notable exception. Its enormous size (for a rabbit) may have been due to a lack of predators on the island. This would be a classic example of a principle in evolutionary biology called the “island rule,” which states that animals confined to an island can evolve to get bigger due to an absence of predators, or smaller because of a scarcity of food. Contemporaries of Nuralagus rex, also found in the Minorca fossil record, include a bat, a large dormouse, and a giant tortoise…

Nuralagus rex, a giant rabbit that lived between 3 and 5 million years ago, is the oldest known example of the “island rule.” Its unique physiology presents scientists with interesting insights into the evolution and adaptation of mammals in an isolated environment free of predators. Quintana hopes that his giant rabbit will become a mascot of sorts to attract students and visitors to Minorca, an island that’s a popular tourist destination in Europe. There’s no other place that can lay claim to being the home of the largest rabbit that ever existed on the planet.

  Links

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/blog/5490/king-rabbits

http://earthsky.org/biodiversity/ancient-giant-rabbit-unearthed-in-minorca-spain

Enjoy your weekend!

RENEWABLE ENERGY – NEW ENERGY IN NIAGARA FALLS

NEW ENERGY IN NIAGARA 

 ‘How a giant hole will help Ontario’s shift away from fossil fuels‘  by Alex Hutchinson, is extremely well researched and well written.

Hutchinson’s on site experience during excavation tunneling is invaluable.  However the article is far too lengthy to include in this blog.  I hope you’ll forgive me for extracting highlights.  I urge you to read Alex’s most interesting article – link provided at end of blog.

I just found a link to a “Big Betty” slideshow that’s pretty awesome and have included the link in the last paragraph of the blog.  Note: the play button – top right hand corner of slide may be partially hidden.

Also, please find a link to OPG’s indepth video presentation in ‘Additional Links’ below.

A tunnel worker by the cutter head on May 13, 2011, to celebrate the safe completion of mining the 10.2 kilometre Niagara Tunnel. (Photo courtesy of Ontario Power Generation)

The Niagara Tunnel route follows the same path as two tunnels built in the 1950s, but at a much greater depth.

 After a five-year battle with the fickle subterranean forces of the Niagara Escarpment, the long-awaited mega-tunnel under Niagara Falls is 99.99 percent complete. Just a metre and a half of solid rock remains

  the Ontario Premier is preparing to radio the “dig” signal to equipment foreman Kevin Collins, far underground in the control room of the world’s largest hard-rock tunnel boring machine.

We’re assembled in a massive tent alongside the Niagara River… to witness the final “breakthrough”… A succession of speakers in the preceding hour had laid out the epic scale of the project: a $1.6 billion, 10.2-kilometre-long tunnel that has displaced enough rock to fill 100,000 dump trucks. It will ultimately funnel water from its intake above the falls to the Sir Adam Beck Generating Stations downstream at a rate that would fill an Olympicsized swimming pool every five seconds, spinning turbines to power 160,000 Ontario homesOntario Power Generation (OPG) commissioned the unprecedented boring machine… and, since tunnelling machines, like ships, are always female, dubbed her “Big Becky.”

Planning for the tunnel began in 1982 Tunnelling finally started in 2006, but a trip underground is still a voyage into the unknown… tunnellers reached a troublesome layer called the Queenston shale, and as months passed and losses mounted, it began to look like yet another victory for geology in the age-old battle of man versus rock…

The current Sir Adam Beck Generating Stations are angular, modern structures jutting into the river about eight kilometres downstream from the falls… where the Niagara Tunnel resurfaces,… in August 2010… my first tour of the then incomplete tunnel… in the 1950s, when the Sir Adam Beck II Generation Station added 16 more generators to the original 10… These days, as much as 4,000 cubic metres of water per second are diverted through various tunnels and canals around the falls to generate electricity. Canada and the United States signed a treaty in 1950… power generation, split 50-50 between the two countries… the current plan has been scaled back to only one tunnel and no additional generating capacity…”The Ontario government finally gave the go-ahead in 2004; Big Becky was built from scratch in 12 months, and began tunnelling in September 2006… It took 18 years to inch a tunnel under the Thames… but the basic principle is still in use today…

the Ohio-based Robbins Company has built boring machines for every conceivable terrain and location— through the Alps and the Andes, above the Arctic Circle, beneath the English Channel — culminating in the biggest ever built, “Big Becky”…

Water is now expected to begin flowing through the tunnel in December 2013…

within that opening, you could easily stack three eighteen-wheelers on top of one another and have room to spare…The 35-minute drive to the end of the tunnel is like a time-lapse video of the construction in reverse… five kilometres in, they’re laying down the lower third of the concrete lining… At this point, we’re just a few hundred metres from the mist and thunder of the greatest chute on Earth and the equivalent of 29 storeys almost directly below Canada’s tallest hotel… I prepare to enter a 150-metre-long, 4,000-tonne machine whose metal parts are so covered in grime and corroded by the salt oozing from the walls that they look like relics from a century-old coal pit… Big Becky  (click here for video link) is averaging close to 20 metres of tunnelling a day… an engineering feat of immense proportions…once it’s finished, it will remain invisible for the century or more of its service life as it delivers fuel to generate 1.6 billion kilowatt hours per year…This is the feeling I remember, nine months later, as I stand blinking in the bright sun waiting for Dalton McGuinty to give the signal to start up Big Becky for the last time.

 Toronto-based science journalist Alex Hutchinson has a new-found respect for boring machines. http://www.alexhutchinson.net/

http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/apr12/niagara_energy.asp

Additional links:

Video Link: Niagara Falls Tunnel Project: Ontario Power Generation –  http://www.cliftonhill.com/falls_blog/2010/11/19/niagara-falls-tunnel-project-ontario-power-generation/

http://www.niagarafrontier.com/tunnel.html

http://www.opg.com/power/hydro/new_projects/ntp/image_gallery_process.asp

http://photogallery.thestar.com/935594

SAVING NORTH AMERICA’S RIVERS – COUSTEAU VIDEO

Alexandra Cousteau brings attention to water issues in new documentary

By Ryan Stuart

The Colorado River used to create a massive estuary in the arm pit of the Baja Peninsula. The great river met the sea at a wetland the size of Delaware; 2-million acres of fish nurseries and a refuge for migratory birds.

However, in the last 50 years the Colorado river only actually reached the sea a handful of times. It has been sucked dry by Americans. The U.S. siphons off 90 percent of the water to soak lawns, water farmland and hydrate the nearby desert-loving people. The rest goes to Mexican cities.

Sad but true, the Colorado is one of many rivers in trouble, and this is just one of the growing number of water issues in North America. In 2010, Alexandra Cousteau set out to document many of these water issues in “Blue Planet 2010: North America.”

The granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau and a team of videographers, writers and photographers traveled 27, 000 kilometres across the United States in a biodiesel-burning bus/newsroom to investigate water issues. Wherever they stopped, they met with water crusaders to learn about local issues and raise money for local projects.

Next up for Cousteau, who has spoken at the United Nations, Harvard and the Smithsonian, is her most daunting challenge—Motherhood. But like her iconic grandfather, Cousteau isn’t taking much time off. She’s already planning her next project: an ambitious effort to restore a major U.S. watershed.

 Links -

“http://www.vimeo.com/15096754″

Alexandra’s website

http://explore-mag.com/1421/adventure/alexandra-cousteau-saving-rivers-2

OUR WORLD OF WATER

Physical Properties of Water

 The chemical formula for water is H20, which means it is a molecule consisting of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. These three atoms are bonded tightly together, more so than the atoms of most other substances. This tight bond and arrangement of atoms in the water molecule results in the following five unusual properties:

The water molecule – two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bonded together

1. THREE FORMS: Water is the only substance that occurs naturally on earth in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas. In liquid water, the molecules of hydrogen and oxygen are close together but are able to slip past one another, which is why it flows. Examples of this are a river, a waterfall, or water coming out of your faucet.

When the temperature drops, the water molecules slow down and become sluggish. As it becomes cold enough for the water to freeze, the molecules rearrange themselves into hollow rings. This is why water expands when it freezes, unlike most other substances which contract. This expansion in the solid phase is the reason why ice cubes float in a glass of water. The ice is actually lighter or less dense than the liquid water.

Water also occurs in the gaseous phase, such as steam rising from a boiling tea kettle. As water is heated, the molecules move about violently, colliding with one another, until some break free and form a vapor, or gas.

EXPERIMENT #1
To see how easily water can change forms, try the following experiment. First melt some ice cubes in a pan on the stove. Bring the same water to a boil and place a cover on the pan to catch the steam. The steam should condense into small dropletsof water when it contacts the cover. Next, place the cover with the droplets of water into the freezer until the droplets freeze. Can you think of how humans use this ability of water to change forms? Think of how you change forms of water when you use it. Find out if it is possible for water to change from a solid form (ice) to the gaseous form (vapor) without becoming liquid.When various materials are dissolved in water, they can change the properties of the water. To see this, take two containers of equal size and put into each the same amount of water. Pour salt into one of the containers, label the container, stir until the salt dissolves and then place both containers in the freezer and mark the time. (Note: Do not use large amounts of water because it will take a long time for this to freeze.) See how long it takes for both to freeze. Can you think of why they put salt on icy roads during the winter? Ask your parents why anti-freeze is important for their car.

2. SURFACE TENSION: Water has a high surface tension. This is the ability of a substance to stick to itself. A drop of water falling from the rim of a faucet will stretch itself very thin before it drops off. Then it immediately forms a sphere and resists any kind of shape change. This high surface tension enables a water surface to support small objects like waterbugs, because their weight distribution will not permit them to break through.

EXPERIMENT #2
Can a needle float on water? Drop a sewing needleinto a container of water and watch it sink. Now, take a strip of paper and make a loop. Carefully rest the needle in the loop and lower it slowly onto the water, being careful not to break the water surface with the needle. Keep pushing the paper down slowly, and gently pull it away after the needle has floated. This may take several tries before it is accomplished. Look very closely at the contact between the needle and the water. Notice the indentation the needle makes on the water surface.Have you ever held water between your fingers? Place the tips of your thumb and index finger together in water. When you pull them out of the water, slowly open up a small space between them. You should catch some water between your fingers and be able to hold it there no matter how you move your hand. See what happens when you open up your fingers. Does the water stay between your fingers? Try this with very soapy water. Can you still capture some of the soapy water between your thumb and index finger? What does the soap do to the surface tension of the water?

3. HEAT CAPACITY: Another unusual property of water is displayed when it is heated. Water has an extremely high heat capacity, which is the ability of a substance to absorb heat without becoming extremely hot itself. This is why it takes a long time for water to boil. An empty pan placed over a hot flame will become red hot and then burn black. However, if some water is placed in the pan over the same flame, the pan will become hot, but not red hot as before since most of the heat will be absorbed from the pan by the water. In like manner, your body cools when you sweat because body heat is absorbed when sweat evaporates.

The heat capacity of water enables the oceans to act as huge reservoirs of solar warmth and keeps our weather from going to great extremes of heat or cold. The moderating effect of water is noticeably absent from a desert, where days tend to be very hot and nights cold.

EXPERIMENT #3
Collect rainwater in a clean glass or metal container and fill another container of similar shape with an equal amount of water from your faucet. Label the containers and place them in a warm place to evaporate. When all of the water has evaporated from both containers, check them for any residue. Which container has the most residue in it after the water evaporates?

4. SOLVENT ABILITIES: The most remarkable aspect of water is its ability to dissolve so many substances; that is, to act as a solvent. For example, some caves form when acidic ground water dissolves limestone bedrock. The substance that is dissolved is called the solute, and the liquid mixture is called a solution. Most water on the earth is actually a solution.

Rainwater is the purest naturally occurring solution of water and contains few dissolved substances.

The degree to which water has a distinctive taste or odor depends on the types of substances dissolved in it. Since water is not changed chemically when it acts as a solvent, it can be recovered for reuse after undesirable dissolved substances are removed. The amount of dissolved substances in water is affected by factors such as water temperature and the nature of the material water moves through.

EXPERIMENT #4
Take two containers of equal size and fill one with cold water and the other with hot water from your faucet. Make sure each container has an equal amount of water. Measure a ¼ teaspoon of salt into each container, stir to dissolve. Keep adding salt by the same amount to each container and see which temperature of water will dissolve the most salt. Keep a record of the number of times you added a ¼ teaspoon of salt to each container. Be sure to stir the water each time you add the salt. What would happen if you dissolved as much salt as possible in hot water and let the water cool to near freezing temperatures? Try this. Do you think that instant coffee or cocoa would dissolve as rapidly in cold water as hot water? Think of some environmental problems related to water’s ability to dissolve so many substances and the effects of dumping hot water containing dissolved pollutants into cooler river water.Mix some salt with water until it has a definite salty taste. Pour this into a pot and bring to a boil. Catch some of the steam using a pan lid. When it cools, taste the water collected on the pan lid. What happened to the salt? Find out what distilled water is and how it is prepared. Why is it best to use distilled water in a steam iron? If all the water in the oceans evaporated, what would be left? Look in an encyclopedia and find out how the Bonneville salt flats were formed.

Streams running through areas where there are few people will generally have a better quality of water than streams running through populated areas. Can you tell why? What do you think happens to the quality of polluted water when it evaporates? How would evaporation act as a natural purifier of polluted water?

CONDUCTIVITY: Conductivity is the ability of a substance to carry an electric current. Water will conduct an electric current only if dissolved ions are present because water molecules do not act as a conductor. Measuring conductivity is a good way to determine the amount of dissolved solids in a sample of water and, thus, to determine its purity.

EXPERIMENT #5
Construct an electric circuit using a flashlight bulb, wire, and a 6-volt dry cell battery. Wire the circuit such that two ends of the wire are submerged in a glass of water, as shown in the diagram. See if the bulb will light up when there is only water in the container. Start adding salt to the water, always stirring. Watch and see if the bulb starts to get brighter and brighter. Do you think that seawater would be a good conductor?

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/youthdevelopment/components/0328-02.html


DANGERS OF CHLORINE IN OUR TAP WATER – PART 1 OF 2

DRINKING CHLORINATED WATER IS A HEALTH HAZZARD –  FACT! NOT FICTION!

Recently at Rainsoft Ottawa we became aware that more parents are concerned about their children’s allergies to chlorine in our drinking water. We encourage you to read as much as you can on the dangers of chlorine in tap water (dangers in drinking the water and also bathing/showering in chlorinated water) so that you can make an informed decision about systems that will remove the chlorine from your water.

http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&cp=45&gs_id=57&xhr=t&q=concerns+about+chlorine+in+our+drinking+water&pf=p&sclient=psy-ab&rlz=1W1ADRA_enCA414&source=hp&pbx=1&oq=concerns+about+chlorine+in+our+drinking+water&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&gs_sm=&gs_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=9dc824e4dd2e51d3&biw=1067&bih=429

How Dangerous is Chlorine in our Tap Water?
Tap water is one of the four most pressing health threats posed by environmental problems. Each year the correlations between contaminated drinking water and cancer, learning disabilities, and asthma are becoming stronger and clearer. Even if tap water has gone through municipal treatment before reaching your home faucet, it is often far from safe. In many cases, municipal water treatment facilities actually add dangerous chemicals to water in the process of treatment.
Dangerous chemicals and other contaminants are constantly present in our tap water.
Many people may say that attacks on the quality of tap water are simply scare tactics designed to increase profit for bottled water and water treatment companies. Yet, large increases in cancers and other diseases related to poor drinking water quality point unabashedly to a large problem in the current quality of our tap water. What follows is a brief listing of contaminants that could very likely be in your tap water as well as a discussion of how these contaminants may affect your health.

Chlorine: Chlorine is perhaps one of the most dangerous and insidious poisons in our drinking water supply. Surprisingly, it is a municipal additive to drinking water. Water treatment facilities use chlorine as a powerful disinfectant to kill or inactivate biological water contaminants, but that same chlorine that is so toxic to biological contaminants is also poisonous to our bodies. Chlorine in drinking water is currently a leading cause of bladder and rectal cancer and asthma. Health officials are now linking chlorine ingestion to breast cancer, as well.
Clearly, tap water is unsafe and unsuitable for drinking, and bottled water is not the panacea we would like it to be. In many cases, bottled water is nothing more than reconstituted, rebottled tap water
Water filters, with their use of both chemical and physical processes to block contaminant passage, are the only type of water treatment that can effectively and efficiently remove chlorine and reduce other dangerous contaminants from drinking water. The dangerous nature of tap water clearly warrants the use of a drinking water filter…

If it cleanses your water, then what is the problem?

Health officials are concerned with the chlorinating by-products, also known as “chlorinated hydrocarbons” or trihalomethanes (THM‘s). Most THM’s are formed in drinking water when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring substances such as decomposing plant and animal materials. Risk for certain types of cancer are now being correlated to the consumption of chlorinated drinking water. The President’s Council on Environmental Quality states that “there is increased evidence for an association between rectal, colon and bladder cancer and the consumption of chlorinated drinking water.” Suspected carcinogens make the human body more vulnerable through repeated ingestion and research indicates the incidence of cancer is 44% higher among those using chlorinated water.

Even though the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted new regulations in 1980 for cities to lower the chlorination by-products in water to level not exceeding 100 parts per billion, experts believe that it still doesn’t provide proper safeguards and should be strengthened. Unfortunately, there is a little likelihood that the use of chlorine will be discontinued since it is currently the most economically acceptable chemical for bacterial control at this time. It is ironic that the process of chlorination, by which we cleanse our water of infectious organisms, can create cancer-causing substances from otherwise innocent chemicals in water. Expert voices from now and earlier:

“Chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times. While it prevented epidemics of one disease, it was creating another. Two decades ago, after the start of chlorinating our drinking water in 1904, the epidemic of heart trouble, cancer and senility began.”
SAGINAW HOSPITAL
J.M. Price, MD

IS YOUR WATER SAFE TO DRINK? – Consumer Reports Books

Chlorinated Drinking Water Linked to Cancer
November 21, 1999 The Toronto Star
Task force to conduct tests in hundreds of communities
Ottawa (CP) – A new federal analysis concludes that chlorinated drinking water may pose a cancer risk to humans, particularly the risk of bladder cancer.

The report by the Laboratory Center for Disease Control, made public yesterday, is based on an exhaustive review of dozens of studies carried out over recent years in Canada and abroad.
The review has already spurred the Federal-Provincial Drinking Water Committee to re-examine existing standards for levels of chlorine by-products (CBPs).

Despite the undisputed benefit of chlorination in controlling infectious diseases, the epidemiological studies indicate an elevated incidence of bladder cancer among those who have been exposed to chlorinated drinking water for long periods.

“If you put those two lines of evidence together I would say it comes out as a probable link (between chlorinated water and cancer),” said health department expert Donald Wigle, who wrote the review.
He said a task force would test drinking water in hundreds of communities across Canada to determine precisely the current concentrations of chlorination by-products. The task force will also survey equipment and practices at water purification plants across the country to determine how costly it would be to lower the current limit on the chemicals. One of the most effective ways to reduce concentrations of the chemicals is to use filtration. But many communities, especially smaller ones, don’t have up-to-date filtration systems.

Wigle said a new standard, if one is deemed necessary, probably won’t be proclaimed until late next year. He said consumers could protect themselves from the risk by using household water filters or drinking bottled water.

Chlorine’s Health Effects
In addition to diet and exercise, maintaining optimum health involves controlling toxic pollutants commonly found indoors. Many people who suffer from allergies find their complaints aggravated by substances that have become part of everyday life. Whether we like it or not, most of us spend 70 to 90% of our time indoors, bombarding our immune systems with chemicals and irritants from carpeting, cleaning products, tobacco smoke, pesticides, dust, plastics, fiberglass, asbestos, automobile exhaust, and even the chlorine that is routinely added to municipal water supplies…

While chlorine occurs in nature, chiefly as a component of sodium chloride in sea water and salt deposits, it irritates the eyes and throat, and it is poisonous when swallowed or inhaled. In 1992, the American Medical Association published information that stated “nearly 28% of all cancer of the intestines and 18% of all cancer of the bladder were caused by the drinking of chlorinated water.” Chlorine may also be a culprit in cancer, although studies undertaken to determine if this is the case remain incomplete.

Potential Contribution to Heart Disease
The patent for chlorination was granted in 1888 to Dr. Albert R. Leeds, Professor of Chemistry at Steven’s Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. The next year, the first chlorination of a public water supply was attempted in Adrian, Michigan. It wasn’t until 1908, however, that chlorination was used on a large scale, at Boonton Reservoir waterworks in Jersey City, New Jersey. By the 1940s, chlorination was widespread in the United States.

Concerns about chlorine and health began in the 1960s. In one study, an association was shown to exist between chlorination and heart disease, evidence that was, interestingly, discovered in Jersey City, the site of the first large-scale chlorination project. The severity of heart disease among people over the age of 50 correlated with the amount of chlorinated tap water they consumed. A statistically significant correlation demonstrated that those persons over 50 who did not suffer from heart disease drank mostly unchlorinated fluids such as bottled water, or boiled water (chlorine is released as a gas when boiled).

Dr. Joseph Price, author of Coronaries, Cholesterol, Chlorine, has stated that he believes chlorine is the cause of “an unprecedented disease epidemic which includes heart attacks and strokes … Most medical researchers were led to believe it was safe, but now we are learning the hard way that all the time we thought we were preventing epidemics of one disease, we were creating another. Two decades after the start of chlorinating our drinking water in 1940, the present epidemic of heart trouble and cancer began.”

Although numerous studies have been conducted in the attempt to discover how chlorine may be a factor in cancer, no research has determined specifically that chlorine is a responsible agent. (See, for example, T. Pate, R. H. Harris, S. S. Epstein, “Drinking Water and Cancer Mortality in Louisiana,” Science Vol. 193, 1976, 55-57). But the relationship between heart disease and chlorinated water is well established – alas, even chickens and pigeons used in tests to determine the effects of chlorine showed evidence of either atherosclerosis of the aorta or obstruction of the circulatory system.

Rainsoft of Ottawa can certainly dispel your fears about the dangerous effects of chlorine. Our two systems that remove chlorine in your drinking water or in your bath, shower and laundry water are a Reverse Osmosis System and the Whole House Carbon Filtration System.
Contact us for information, a free water analysis test and chlorine removal systems.
Ottawa, 613-742- 0058 for an appointment.

  PART 2: “TAKING LONG HOT SHOWERS IS A HEALTH RISK – FACT, NOT FICTION” IS OUR NEXT BLOG

AWESOME SCIENCE!: TOP VIDEOS FROM LAST NIGHT’S (JAN. 24, 2012) STUNNING NORTHERN LIGHTS SHOW

For the last few days, Earth has been bombarded with radiation as the strongest solar storm since 2005 raged. This geomagnetic storm has resulted in a wealth in stunning videos of the northern lights. The lights were most vibrant in northern Europe, but did reach into Canada and Alaska.

Some of the videos on this site you can enjoy!:
– extremely vibrant footage from Sweden by photographer Chad Blakley:
– footage compiled by the Associated Press:
– short but sweet clip taken from Old Knik River Bridge in Alaska:
– footage from Trondheim, Norway:
– the show from Finland:
And photographs sent to us from Jason, a Blaze reader, from Fairbanks, Alaska:
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/these-are-the-top-videos-from-last-nights-stunning-northern-lights-show/

ECOLOGY: A WORLD WITHOUT MOSQUITOES – A DREAM COME TRUE!

Eradicating any organism would have serious consequences for ecosystems – wouldn’t it? Not when it comes to mosquitoes, finds Janet Fang.

This is a 6 page article, hence the condensed version follows.

For the complete article see:
http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100721/full/466432a.html

Every day, Jittawadee Murphy unlocks a hot, padlocked room at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland, to a swarm of malaria-carrying mosquitoes (Anopheles stephensi). She gives millions of larvae a diet of ground-up fish food, and offers the gravid females blood to suck from the bellies of unconscious mice — they drain 24 of the rodents a month. Murphy has been studying mosquitoes for 20 years, working on ways to limit the spread of the parasites they carry. Still, she says, she would rather they were wiped off the Earth.

That sentiment is widely shared. Malaria infects some 247 million people worldwide each year, and kills nearly one million. Mosquitoes cause a huge further medical and financial burden by spreading yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, Rift Valley fever, Chikungunya virus and West Nile virus. Then there’s the pest factor: they form swarms thick enough to asphyxiate caribou in Alaska and now, as their numbers reach a seasonal peak, their proboscises are plunged into human flesh across the Northern Hemisphere.

So what would happen if there were none? … Nature put this question to scientists … and unearthed some surprising answers.

There are 3,500 named species of mosquito, of which only a couple of hundred bite or bother humans…intense efforts are under way to develop methods that might rid the world of the most pernicious, disease-carrying species (see ‘War against the winged’).

… scientists acknowledge that the ecological scar left by a missing mosquito would heal quickly as the niche was filled by other organisms. Life would continue as before — or even better… A world without mosquitoes would be “more secure for us”…

Elimination of mosquitoes might make the biggest ecological difference in the Arctic tundra, …
“If there was a benefit to having them around, we would have found a way to exploit them. We haven’t wanted anything from mosquitoes except for them to go away.”

…Bruce Harrison, an entomologist at the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Winston-Salem estimates that the number of migratory birds that nest in the tundra could drop by more than 50% without mosquitoes to eat. Other researchers disagree. Cathy Curby, a wildlife biologist at the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Fairbanks, Alaska, says that Arctic mosquitoes don’t show up in bird stomach samples in high numbers, and that midges are a more important source of food. “We (as humans) may overestimate the number of mosquitoes in the Arctic because they are selectively attracted to us,” she says.
Mosquitoes consume up to 300 millilitres of blood a day from each animal in a caribou herd, which are thought to select paths facing into the wind to escape the swarm. A small change in path can have major consequences in an Arctic valley through which thousands of caribou migrate, trampling the ground, eating lichens, transporting nutrients, feeding wolves, and generally altering the ecology. Taken all together, then, mosquitoes would be missed in the Arctic — but is the same true elsewhere?

“Mosquitoes are delectable things to eat and they’re easy to catch,” says aquatic entomologist Richard Merritt, at Michigan State University in East Lansing. In the absence of their larvae, hundreds of species of fish would have to change their diet to survive. “This may sound simple, but traits such as feeding behaviour are deeply imprinted, genetically, in those fish,” says Harrison. The mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), for example, is a specialized predator — so effective at killing mosquitoes that it is stocked in rice fields and swimming pools as pest control — that could go extinct. And the loss of these or other fish could have major effects up and down the food chain.

Many species of insect, spider, salamander, lizard and frog would also lose a primary food source. In one study published last month, researchers tracked insect-eating house martins at a park in Camargue, France, after the area was sprayed with a microbial mosquito-control agent1. They found that the birds produced on average two chicks per nest after spraying, compared with three for birds at control sites.

Most mosquito-eating birds would probably switch to other insects that, post-mosquitoes, might emerge in large numbers to take their place. Other insectivores might not miss them at all: bats feed mostly on moths, and less than 2% of their gut content is mosquitoes. “If you’re expending energy,” says medical entomologist Janet McAllister of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Fort Collins, Colorado, “are you going to eat the 22-ounce filet-mignon moth or the 6-ounce hamburger mosquito?”

With many options on the menu, it seems that most insect-eaters would not go hungry in a mosquito-free world. There is not enough evidence of ecosystem disruption here to give the eradicators pause for thought.

As larvae, mosquitoes make up substantial biomass in aquatic ecosystems globally. They abound in bodies of water ranging from ephemeral ponds to tree holes2 to old tyres, and the density of larvae on flooded plains can be so high that their writhing sends out ripples across the surface. They feed on decaying leaves, organic detritus and microorganisms. The question is whether, without mosquitoes, other filter feeders would step in. “Lots of organisms process detritus. Mosquitoes aren’t the only ones involved or the most important,” says Juliano. “If you pop one rivet out of an airplane’s wing, it’s unlikely that the plane will cease to fly.”…

In 1974, ecologist John Addicott, now at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, published findings on the predator and prey structure within pitcher plants, noting more protozoan diversity in the presence of mosquito larvae5. He proposed that as the larvae feed, they keep down the numbers of the dominant species of protozoa, letting others persist. The broader consequences for the plant are not known.

A stronger argument for keeping mosquitoes might be found if they provide ‘ecosystem services’ — the benefits that humans derive from nature. Evolutionary ecologist Dina Fonseca at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, points as a comparison to the biting midges of the family Ceratopogonidae, sometimes known as no-see-ums. “People being bitten by no-see-ums or being infected through them with viruses, protozoa and filarial worms would love to eradicate them,” she says. But because some ceratopogonids are pollinators of tropical crops such as cacao, “that would result in a world without chocolate”.

Without mosquitoes, thousands of plant species would lose a group of pollinators. Adults depend on nectar for energy (only females of some species need a meal of blood to get the proteins necessary to lay eggs). Yet McAllister says that their pollination isn’t crucial for crops on which humans depend. “If there was a benefit to having them around, we would have found a way to exploit them,” she says. “We haven’t wanted anything from mosquitoes except for them to go away.”

Ultimately, there seem to be few things that mosquitoes do that other organisms can’t do just as well — except perhaps for one. They are lethally efficient at sucking blood from one individual and mainlining it into another, providing an ideal route for the spread of pathogenic microbes.

“The ecological effect of eliminating harmful mosquitoes is that you have more people. That’s the consequence,” says Strickman. Many lives would be saved; many more would no longer be sapped by disease. Countries freed of their high malaria burden, for example in sub-Saharan Africa, might recover the 1.3% of growth in gross domestic product that the World Health Organization estimates they are cost by the disease each year, potentially accelerating their development. There would be “less burden on the health system and hospitals, redirection of public-health expenditure for vector-borne diseases control to other priority health issues, less absenteeism from schools”, says Jeffrey Hii, malaria scientist for the World Health Organization in Manila.

Phil Lounibos, an ecologist at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach says that “eliminating mosquitoes would temporarily relieve human suffering”. His work suggests that efforts to eradicate one vector species would be futile, as its niche would quickly be filled by another. His team collected female yellow-fever mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) from scrap yards in Florida, and found that some had been inseminated by Asian tiger mosquitoes (Aedes albopictus), which carry multiple human diseases. The insemination sterilizes the female yellow-fever mosquitoes — showing how one insect can overtake another.

Given the huge humanitarian and economic consequences of mosquito-spread disease, few scientists would suggest that the costs of an increased human population would outweigh the benefits of a healthier one. And the ‘collateral damage’ felt elsewhere in ecosystems doesn’t buy much sympathy either. The romantic notion of every creature having a vital place in nature may not be enough to plead the mosquito’s case. It is the limitations of mosquito-killing methods, not the limitations of intent, that make a world without mosquitoes unlikely.

And so, while humans inadvertently drive beneficial species, from tuna to corals, to the edge of extinction, their best efforts can’t seriously threaten an insect with few redeeming features. “They don’t occupy an unassailable niche in the environment,” says entomologist Joe Conlon, of the American Mosquito Control Association in Jacksonville, Florida. “If we eradicated them tomorrow, the ecosystems where they are active will hiccup and then get on with life. Something better or worse would take over.”

Janet Fang is an intern in Nature’s Washington DC office.

SATELLITES DETECT ABUNDANCE OF FRESH WATER IN ARTIC

Rising seas in Arctic Ocean (CPOM/UCL/ESA/Planetary Visions)
23 January 2012

ESA satellites show that a large dome of fresh water has been building up in the Arctic Ocean over the last 15 years. A change in wind direction could cause the water to spill into the north Atlantic, cooling Europe.
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMD7FNXDXG_index_2.html

The results are remarkable: since 2002, the sea surface in the studied area has risen by about 15 cm, and the volume of fresh water has increased by some 8000 cubic km – around 10% of all the fresh water in the Arctic Ocean.
Researchers from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre used data from ESA’s ERS-2 and Envisat satellites to measure sea-surface height over the western Arctic from 1995 to 2010.

The results were published yesterday in the online version of the scientific journal, Nature Geoscience.

The scientists conclude that the dome could be a result of strong Arctic winds accelerating a large ocean circulation known as the Beaufort Gyre, causing the sea surface to bulge.

A change in the direction of the wind would cause the fresh water to spill into the rest of the Arctic Ocean and even reach the north Atlantic.

This could slow a key ocean current, stemming from the Gulf Stream, and subsequently cool Europe.

This current keeps the continent relatively mild compared to other areas at similar latitudes.

“When we looked at our data on a year-to-year basis, we noticed that the changes in the sea surface height did not always follow what the wind was doing, so we thought about reasons why this might happen,” said Katharine Giles, CPOM research fellow and lead author of the study.

“One idea is that sea ice forms a barrier between the atmosphere and the ocean. So as the sea ice cover changes, the effect of the wind on the ocean might also change.

“Our next step is to look into how changes in the sea ice cover might affect the coupling between the atmosphere and the ocean in more detail to see if we can confirm this idea.”

Sea ice can be measured by different types of satellite data. Radar altimeters on satellites such as the two used in the study, Envisat and ERS-2, can be particularly useful when observing inaccessible areas like the Arctic.

Envisat, the largest Earth observation satellite ever built, will mark 10 years in orbit in March.

ERS-2 was retired in July 2011, but 20 years of data from it and predecessor ERS-1 on oceans, land, ice and atmosphere will continue to be used by scientists for years to come.

“We were able to produce the Beaufort Gyre results thanks to the overlap of the ERS-2 and Envisat missions and long-term satellite data availability,” said Seymour Laxon, director of CPOM and co-author of the paper.

ESA will continue to monitor the Arctic with the upcoming Sentinel series of Earth-observing satellites for Europe’s Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme.

Later this year, the first results of seasonal changes in sea-ice thickness from data acquired by ESA’s CryoSat-2 satellite will be presented.