Drinking Water

Water Contamination in N.H. Addressing PFOA

May 31, 2016
florianhuag / Flickr/CC

With new guidance from EPA on how much of the chemical is too much, and a lawsuit against the plastics plant that is its source, many Granite Staters are glad to see more action around the contamination. But others are still worried: both that the damage is already done, and that there's not enough assurance that it won't happen again.


Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / https://flic.kr/p/cG7qFL

In recent weeks, confusion and unease have increased in several New Hampshire towns where contamination with the chemical PFOA has been detected in private wells.

Though the EPA has yet to determine a safe level of PFOA in drinking water, Sarah Pillsbury, the administrator for public drinking water with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, is hoping that's about to change. 

Shane Burkhardt via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/yZ34mF

For decades, environmentalists have fought to keep plastic, glass, paper and other recyclables out of landfills where they’d sit for thousands of years…so, is recycling truly making a difference in the health of the planet? Today, some data that challenges recycling’s sanctified status.

Then, India’s government says it will clean up the horribly polluted Ganges, the river which supports ten percent of the world’s population. The first step: working with the Hindu belief that the Ganges is holy, self-purifying and the place to be buried. 

Gloconda Beekman / Flickr/CC

After the Flint, Michigan water crisis, many around the country started taking a closer look their own water systems. And with a recent contamination scare in southern New Hampshire by the chemical PFOA  - the concerns have become local.  We'll look at the state's sources for drinking water, and the challenges to delivering it free from contaminants.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

A large turnout is expected for a meeting in Merrimack Wednesday night where state officials will update residents on their investigation into the chemical contamination of some local water supplies.

The state Department of Environmental Services has expanded the radius of its probe after three private wells tested for high levels of the chemical PFOA.

DES has now collected samples from approximately 100 private wells within a mile of the Saint-Gobain plastics plant in Merrimack, where the chemical was first detected.

https://flic.kr/p/fA6veL / Flickr Creative Commons

New Hampshire environmental regulators and realtors have reached an agreement on how to communicate the risks associated with Radon in drinking water.

Materials and fact sheets available from the Department of Environmental Services previously recommended that homeowners “test the indoor air for radon and consult with radon mitigation and water treatment providers” whenever radon exceeds 2,000 picocuries per liter in well water, which was the lowest advisory level in the United States.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

The governors of New Hampshire, New York and Vermont are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review and issue new safe drinking water guidelines regarding an emerging contaminant that's shown up in water systems and in private wells.

They wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Thursday asking for a review of the best available science regarding PFOA. It's part of a family of chemicals used to make nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpeting.

Via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7MMKBg

A long-running dispute between the real estate industry and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is back before the state legislature this year. Realtors have put forward a bill that would force the DES to get in line with federal standards when it comes to what's considered safe levels of radon in drinking water.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

The recent disintegration and crash of a Virgin Galactic suborbital space plane raised questions about the safety and viability of space tourism. On today’s show we consider another issue for commercial spaceflight….the psychological effects of leaving earth.

Then, we can all remember our favorite sports movies – but what about our favorite sports-based books? Bill Littlefield of NPR’s Only a Game talks about his favorite sportswriters, and reads from his new collection of athletics inspired poetry. 

Plus, a conversation with America’s only water sommelier. That’s right, water sommelier.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Virtual Water Tasting With Sommelier Martin Riese

Dec 3, 2014
Martin Riese

Choosing from an expansive wine list can be a challenge, and as a result, many restaurants provide the services of a sommelier to help patrons choose. At Ray’s and Stark Bar, a restaurant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, you can also enjoy the services of the country’s only water sommelier, Martin Riese.

Emre Ayaroglu via flickr Creative Commons

While the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs may be most familiar, the earth has experienced five great extinctions, and we may be in the midst of the sixth…right here, right now. On today’s show: a startling account of the planet's biodiversity crisis, and the role humans have played in creating it.

Plus it’s easy to condemn the office gossip – but getting the inside scoop at work might just save your career. We’ll discuss why gossip can be good for you. And, America’s only water sommelier explains why his restaurant features a 44-page water menu.

Listen to the full show and click Read more for individual segments.

Brady Carlson, NHPR

A 16 year old inventor from New Hampshire has caught the attention of federal environmental officials.

Deepika Kurup of Nashua has won a President’s Environmental Youth Award from the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency for her work in finding sustainable ways to purify water.

She joined us to talk about her invention.

How does this method that you’ve developed work?

Dennis Amith via Flickr CC

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says there is $2.2 million available this fall for grants to protect drinking water in the southern part of the state.

The money comes from a fund established to offset impacts to wetlands and streams associated with the widening of Interstate 93 between the Massachusetts border in Salem and the I-93/I-293 interchange in Manchester.

New Data Stokes Concerns About N.H.'s Drinking Water

Jun 25, 2014
Bart / Flickr/CC

A recent survey of private wells in the Granite State found eighty thousand residents may be at risk of exposure to several toxins, including arsenic. Public water supplies, meanwhile, can be vulnerable to other forms of contamination and affected by severe weather from floods to droughts. We’ll look at these challenges, and possible solutions.

GUESTS:

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

This is the second of two stories about arsenic in well-water.

Almost twenty years ago, Joe Ayotte got a well drilled at his house in Concord.

“As you can see it’s a bit of a mud-pit, and it’s very red,” says Ayotte surveying the site of his artesian well, which has since been retired from service, but continues to leach iron-stained water onto his lawn.

Ayotte had some bad luck. The well must have hit what he calls “rotten rock” and brought up massive amounts of minerals in the water, including so much iron that it destroyed his fixtures.

Dave G / Flickr CC

There are basically two options: the state lab and private well testers.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

At a house in Stoddard, a Cushing and Sons truck mounted rig pounds a drill bit into bedrock 90 feet below.

“What we’re hearing now is a pneumatic hammer,” says Bart Cushing, who together with his brother runs this family owned well-drilling business, “That’s a flat-based bit with carbide buttons. And it’s literally pounding the rock.”

These artesian groundwater wells are the norm these days: something on the order of 95 percent of new wells are drilled into the bedrock.

And there’s a reason for that.

Dennis Amith via Flickr CC

A new study from the US Geological Survey estimates that as many as 80,000 people in Southeastern New Hampshire could be drinking water from wells with unhealthy levels of contaminants.

The study finds nearly 50,000 people could be drinking elevated levels of arsenic, nearly 15,000 with manganese, and fewer than 10,000 could be consuming either high levels of uranium and lead.

State officials have shut-down one of three drinking water wells that serve the Pease Tradeport. The well was contaminated with an unregulated chemical found in foams used by firefighters.

Perflourooctane Sulfonic Acid, or PFOS, was found in the well which serves the 250 businesses and 8,300 employees of the Pease Tradeport. It was detected in levels that exceed a “provisional health advisory” level set by the EPA.

Addressing Arsenic

Oct 24, 2013
mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

Most well-known as a poison once used between political or personal rivals, arsenic is now causing more problems at very low levels in our well water and food. We're looking into the sources of arsenic, the toxic effects it has on our health, and how to remediate it.

GUESTS:

Sam Evans-Brown

About 40 percent of New Hampshire residents get their drinking water from private wells. The Department of Environmental Services is encouraging well owners to test their water for arsenic, but unlike municipal water supplies, testing isn’t mandatory. And colorless, odorless contaminants abound in the Granite State.