Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Don't Drink the Water!

For the second time in recent history, a nasty chemical was released into the water supply in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. After the spill residents of both Scottsdale and Paradise Valley were advised not to drink the water until further notice. The ban was lifted on January 19th, under the advice of the Department of Environmental Quality and the Maricopa County Health Department.

The chemical that was released is known as trichloroethylene, or TCE. Fortunately, short term exposure does not often cause problems, however chronic exposure may result in a variety of symptoms including dizziness, shakiness, insomnia, fatigue, and headache. TCE also sensitizes the heart to the action of the adrenal hormone epinephrine, which can lead to arrhythmias. For more info about TCE follow this link

TCE is readily absorbed via inhalation or ingestion, and to a lesser extent, through the skin. This implies that both drinking the water or showering in it and then inhaling the steam are possible routes of absorption. Repeated ingestion via any route can be sufficient to cause symptoms. TCE can cross the placenta and has been detected in breast milk.

Young children may be at a higher risk than adults exposed to the same amount of TCE. This is because children have greater lung surface area to body weight ratios than adults do.

Treatment for acute exposure includes using activated charcoal. Taking 2-3 capsules immediately upon exposure, and then 2-3 capsules again before each meal for 2-3 days is the treatment of choice. If you believe that you have been exposed to TCE, blood and/or urine testing can help determine the extent of the exposure.

Trichloroethylene is not the only chemical to have tainted the water in our city. Phoenix also has the distinction of being one of the cities with higher-than-normal levels of another chemical known as perchlorate. Perchlorate is a derivative of rocket fuel. Apparently, Phoenix's increased levels of perchlorate in the water is the result of several weapons/rocket manufacturers being located in the city as well as along the Colorado River. for more about Arizona's problem with perchlorate click here

I feel strongly that people should avoid drinking city water. The city has said over and over that the water here is within the acceptable limits for contaminants. Well, I really don't want ANY contaminants in my drinking water. Therefore, I drink and cook with bottled water even though I don't live in either Paradise Valley or Scottsdale. If you're going to drink bottled water, try to use a big manufacturer instead of some little unknown company. This is because even bottled water isn't perfect, check out this link for more detail If possible, use class containers instead of plastic. Glass is easy to clean and/or sterilize, and is much less likely to leach chemicals into your water.

Using a reverse osmosis system on your house seems to be the best way to help make sure that there is nothing funky in your drinking water. The only drawback to these systems is that you have to remember to change the filters regularly. I've heard that good systems can be purchased fairly inexpensively at places like Sam's Club or Costco.

If you feel that you may have been exposed, or if you live in the affected areas and have been experiencing abnormal symptoms, it may be worth your time to have your TCE levels checked.

On a happier note, Naturopathic Family Care will be having our spring open house on Thursday, March 13th. Our last open house was a huge success, and we're hoping that this time will be even better. All of our doctors will be present to meet people and explain their therapies. We'll also have healthy snacks and several door prizes. Open house details will be posted to our website shortly.

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