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Upcoming Events

Dec. 29, 10AM – 2PM   EJ Network Quarterly Meeting hosted by Concerned Citizens of Northampton County. Lunch will be served so please email Belinda (joynerjb60@yahoo.com) to RSVP. Cool Spring Comm. Center, 120 Cherry St., Gaston

Save the Date! Jan. 11, Raleigh, 1– 5PM  Rally/Lobby Day for a Cleaner Energy NC. Sponsored by Triangle People Power. Focus will be on resisting the ACP and Clean Path 2025 Act.

Ongoing — Help Robie and Dwayne Goins fight the ACP! Consider donating to the Goins’ legal battle against the proposed fracked gas pipeline in their town of Prospect, NC. For more info, visit their GoFundMe

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Reducing Plastic Pollution: A Priority

Chances are high that within your reach are many things made of plastic. Since the second World War plastic has become the material of choice for many of the products we use. It is lightweight and durable, and inexpensive to produce and purchase. In fact, many of the plastics we use are intended for only a single use. But while many find plastics cheap and convenient, there are hidden costs of allowing a material made from chemicals to become so ubiquitous in our lives.

You may have seen some of the startling photographs of wildlife tangled in plastic, animal stomachs full of plastic debris, or massive islands of garbage floating in our oceans. Images such as these are alarming reminders that plastic waste is a major environmental plight. Yet even more threatening are the invisible hazards of plastic waste. Microplastics and plastic chemicals have infiltrated our environment – our soil, our air, our waters. In one study of 33 tap water samples taken across the US, 94% contained plastic particles.

Some of this pollution is due to larger pieces of plastic eroding and breaking down into smaller particles, but often, microplastics are already present in the products we buy. Synthetic clothing such as polyester blends, which make up nearly 60% of clothing on the market, have been shown to shed massive amounts microfibers into the air and water.  Research has shown that an average of about 700,000 such fibers can be washed out of a single load of synthetic clothing. These microplastics are too small to be filtered out by conventional washing machines and most municipal water filtration systems lack the technology to keep these minute particles from flowing into our waterways or entering our drinking water supplies. Because synthetic fabrics are inexpensive, low income folks may have greater exposure to microfibers. Furthermore, plastics manufacturing often involves emissions of toxic air pollutants and is more likely to take place near communities of color or low income.

The implications of so much plastic in our water are yet largely unknown, but there is evidence of some serious health concerns. Plastics have been found in the stomachs of sea birds, fish, whales, and other water-dependent animals. From zooplankton to top predator fish like tuna, plastics can work their way onto our dinner plates. Furthermore, plastics can both absorb and leach toxic chemicals from the surrounding environment. If there are plastics infiltrating our taps, this can amount to chemicals in the water we drink, as well as foods cooked with water. Many of the chemicals that are used for making plastics have not been subjected to toxicology studies for effects on human health, yet plastics are used to handle and store our food, bottle our drinks, clothe our bodies.

Some plastic chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA) are known to cause cancer and disrupt the endocrine system and the production of hormones. While BPA has been banned from use in certain products, chemicals that are used to replace BPA have not been proven to be any safer. Unlike some European nations who employ the precautionary principle to test chemicals to be sure they are safe for human use before they hit the market, the US applies the opposite approach often taking years to remove unsafe chemicals from use. Currently, EPA does not currently have standards for plastics or plastic chemicals in our drinking water. Such chemicals are not even up for consideration on the list of potential contaminants for the next 6-year review of federal drinking water standards.

While many of the problems with plastics are invisible, they urgently need our attention. There are a number of measures that can be taken, from individual choices to industry pressure to political action, that amount to fewer plastics and plastic chemicals in our environment. Plastics are a serious concern, but we can work toward reducing the risks if we decide to make it a priority!

Why and How to Test Your Well Water

By Bill Rubin, Guest Author

Over three million North Carolinians get their drinking water from private wells, but not all private wells provide safe, drinkable water. Nothing’s more important to your quality of life and health than having well water you KNOW is safe. Store-bought test kits don’t give you the detection level you need to ensure water safety, and generally only test for one or two possible contaminants. Luckily our state can help you test your water to be sure it’s pure.

In 2008, as a result of advocacy by Clean Water for NC and other safe water groups, as well as Environmental Health Directors, well water testing became mandatory for all new North Carolina wells. If your well was drilled after July 2008, then you can look up your original well water analysis with your county environmental health director or well program director, and request a new set of tests every few years, to be sure nothing’s changed. But if you have a well drilled before 2008, it might have never been tested for either bacterial or chemical contamination. We strongly recommend you invest the $150 to $200 to test for the most common bacterial and chemical contaminants, including contaminants like arsenic that occur naturally.

Clean Water for North Carolina recommends testing for total coliform, arsenic, lead, zinc, other metals, as well as nitrates, and nitrites every 3-5 years. This is the minimum standard statewide well testing recommendation. NC Health and Human Services has a similar recommended testing schedule.

How do you test? The first step is to call your county environmental health director. If you’re not sure what to test for, your county director or Clean Water for North Carolina can help with recommendations.

Unfortunately our legislature has cut well program budgets in recent years, removing subsidies and thus making tests more expensive.  This table will enable you to find your county’s  recent price schedule. Contact your county environmental director if you’re concerned about your ability to pay, as some counties offer assistance.

Read the full article here

Help Us Prevent EPA’s Rollback of Critical Coal Ash Protections!

At the only public hearing on April 25th near Washington, DC, dozens of public speakers strongly opposed the Pruitt EPA’s effort to slash coal ash protections for our waters and our health!

Public comment period on EPA’s proposed rule changes ends April 30th. Please email your written comments to CCRPhase1@epa.gov. Include “Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2017-0286:” in your subject line.  For more details, please click here.

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking comments by email on the Trump administration’s proposed major rollbacks of the Federal Coal Combustion Residual (CCR) Rule. The CCR rule was established in 2015 to provide transparency with the public, safeguard human health, and protect our environment from coal ash pollution and disasters like the Dan River spill. Each year, hundreds of coal–fired power plants across the U.S. burn nearly a billion tons of coal, creating hundreds of millions of tons of coal ash, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke, brain damage and other life-threatening illnesses.

The proposed CCR rule rollbacks would:

  • Slash important groundwater monitoring and reporting requirements.
  • Eliminate mandates to include public input in the decision making process for coal ash remediation and disposal.
  • Allow industry and political appointees to make critical decisions on coal ash management, including whether cleanup or closure is necessary.
  • Give polluters the authority to use “alternative” groundwater protection standards to determine when cleanup is required.
  • End the utilities’ required annual groundwater monitoring and reporting to the public.
  • Give states and polluters the discretion to ignore location prohibitions on coal ash dumping without public notification or oversight.
  • Allow unlined coal ash pits to be used indefinitely!

The Trump administration’s proposal clearly puts the interests of industry above the public’s health and the environment. Scott Pruitt praises the proposed rule changes for saving the industry up to $100 million, completely ignoring the costs in polluted water sources and health.

Please submit your written comments by Monday, April 30th! Tell EPA to protect the public from coal ash and preserve ALL of the basic, common sense protections provided by the 2015 coal ash rule!

The Dangers of Bottled Water

Bill Rubin, Guest Author

In speaking with residents in low income areas, Clean Water for NC has sometimes found homes where the parents drank tap water, but they bought bottled water for their kids. They figured that although bottled water was more expensive, it must also be safer. You can understand why that family might think so, given a number of high profile water contamination cases in pubic water systems, including the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan.

In reality, that family would most likely have been safer sticking to tap water. Why is bottled water less safe? First Ill tell you why bottled water is more vulnerable to contamination, and secondly, how it is tested less frequently.

Water bottlers generally test for fewer contaminants than local water systems do. Storage is a problem tooplasticizers and antimony from plastic bottles can leach into water during extended storage or when exposed to heat. A variety of bottled products are not even subject to national drinking water standards. This includes water bottled and sold within the same state, filtered water, and carbonated water.

What about monitoring? The EPA regulates the safety of your local tap water system, creating safe water standards for allowable levels of contaminants. The Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water, in theory applying the EPAs same public water safety standards. But bottlers are required to test their water only once per year for physical and chemical contamination. Most residents public water is tested daily for large systems and quarterly for smaller systems.

If that low income family was concerned about safety, then bottled water was the wrong choice. Different bottled water brands have been recalled for health reasons dozens of times over the past several decades, but there are not always public notices. Unless your local water authority has issued a specific order about a drinking water problem in your system, its actually safest to stick to tap water.