Tropical Plant Removes Toxic Heavy Metals from Britain’s Rivers

A new study has found that the water hyacinth plant is successful in removing toxic heavy metals from the River Tawes, south of Wales.  The invasive tropical plant removes pollutants using a process known as phytoremediation.  Using living plants to clean contaminated water is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than other conventional methods.  The water hyacinth plant is native to Brazil, among other countries in South America.  Researchers transplanted the plant (which is actually classified as an invasive species) to the highly polluted British river Nant-Y-Fendrod, a tributary of the River Tawe.  Global copper productions in the 19th and 20th centuries resulted in millions of tons of copper and zinc smelting waste, contaminating soil and affecting waterways in the area.  Three weeks after introducing the non-native plant to the river, researchers found that up to 100 % of the toxic metals (including cadmium, zinc, arsenic, lead, chromium, aluminum, copper, manganese and nickel) were removed.

Paper Water Filters Developed to Remove Pollutants, Including Toxic Heavy Metals

Scientist Liangjie Dong from the University of Hawaii has created an easy-to-use paper water filter called Mesopaper. The filter uses three layers of paper made from bamboo fiber with ceramic granules manufactured from clay sandwiched in between.  The granule’s pores are tiny enough to trap heavy metals like arsenic, lead or mercury, while at the same time letting water and precious nutrients pass through.  Remarkably, inside the pores are nano-sized needles which collect bacteria and deactivate viruses.  They react with water and lock pollutants inside, so when the filter is ready to be thrown away it doesn’t contaminate the ground or pollute groundwater.

The filters are inexpensive, and resemble coffee filters, which can be placed easily over the top of a water bottle or jug before pouring water through it.  Once the filter stops allowing water through, it is time to replace.  Each Mesopaper can filter up to 22 liters of water.  Outdoor enthusiasts, international travelers, and emergency preppers are currently the main consumers, but Dong hopes to continue research to make it one day available on a larger scale to people who need it most in developing countries.

Metal Content in Lip Products

Beginning in 2007, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began researching lead in lipstick based on findings by consumer watchdog group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  Lip products in particular are a concern based on their higher risk of ingestion.  In 2010, expanded research revealed lead in over 400 different lipsticks by various brands.

In 2016, the FDA issued draft guidance to industry on lead as a pollutant in cosmetics, including lip products.

Recently, researchers at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health found other toxicities besides lead in a variety of lipsticks taken from common drugstores and department stores.   Aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese were also found to be potential concerns.

Ultimately, it is up to the consumer to research what they are putting on their pucker.  Avoid lipsticks that have been found to have high levels of lead contamination.

E-Waste & Toxic Heavy Metals

Electronic waste (e-waste) is the term used to describe discarded electronic devices.  Many unwanted electronics (computers, laptops, mobile phones, TVs, DVD players, mp3 players, etc.) contain hazardous waste including toxic heavy metals, such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, copper, and aluminum.  Incorrect disposal of these items can lead to health problems and environmental pollution.

Freelance writer, Heather Levin wrote an interesting piece on e-waste facts, statistics & solutions. The author has some great tips on recycling your e-waste safely, including:

Another option is to donate your unwanted cell phones to a worthy organization, such as:

Using Hemp to Extract Heavy Metals

Using Hemp to Extract Heavy Metals

Scientists at Colorado State University (CSU) are researching how hemp can naturally clean contaminated soil.  This natural process is known as “phytoremediation”.  It involves using living plants, in this case hemp, to detoxify the soil through natural, biological, chemical or physical activities and processes of the plant.  The CSU scientists say there are many reasons hemp has outstanding phytoremediation potential:

  • It is a tenacious plant that grows just about anywhere.
  • It is highly effective at extracting nutrients from the soil and converting them into potentially useful products.
  • It has an unusually deep and extensive root structure.
  • It is naturally resistant to insect predators, eliminating the need for pesticides.

Thanks to a change in the political climate, research opportunities for hemp have expanded.  The researchers plan on publishing their results this summer.

Are YOU Exposed to LEAD at Work?

Some workers have a higher risk of exposure to lead while at their job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that around 804,000 general industry workers and an additional 838,000 construction workers are potentially exposed to lead. These workers come in to contact with the toxic heavy metal through its production, use, maintenance, recycling, and disposal.  Lead exposure occurs in most industry sectors including construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation, remediation, and even recreation.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have compiled an informative list of jobs that are more likely to come in to contact with lead. This list includes:

  • Artists (materials used may contain lead)
  • Auto repairers (car parts may contain lead)
  • Battery manufacturers (batteries contain lead)
  • Bridge reconstruction workers (old paint may contain lead)
  • Construction workers (materials used may include lead)
  • Firing range instructors and gunsmiths (ammunition contains lead)
  • Glass manufacturers (lead may be used in glass production)
  • Lead manufacturers
  • Lead miners
  • Lead refiners
  • Lead smelters
  • Manufacturers of bullets, ceramics, and electrical components (all contain lead)
  • Painters (old paint and commercial paint may contain lead)
  • Plastic manufacturers (materials made may contain lead)
  • Plumbers and pipe fitters (pipes may contain lead)
  • Police officers (ammunition contains lead)
  • Radiator repairers (radiators may contain lead)
  • Recyclers of metal, electronics, and batteries (may contain lead)
  • Rubber product manufacturers (process contains lead)
  • Shipbuilders (materials used may include lead)
  • Solid waste incinerator operators (waste may contain lead)
  • Steel welder (galvanized steel is coated in part with lead)

Employers are required to protect workers from inorganic lead exposure under OSHA standards.  Click here for more information on lead standard requirements found at OSHA’s official website. If you or someone you know works with lead, please BE SAFE! Protect yourself by using a soap formulated to remove toxic heavy metals, like lead.  USE CLEAN-ALL HEAVY METALS® HAND & BODY SOAP!

Casting Fishing Tackle & Lead Safety

Many fishermen enjoy making their own tackle.  Using a personal melting pot, a fisherman can cast his/her own jigs, sinkers, and lures.  Not only is this practice a hobby, it is also a money saver in the long run.   For most of these hobbyists, the main ingredient used in the melting pot is lead.

BE SAFE:

  • If you’re pregnant, stay away from the work area and refrain from casting your own tackle.
  • Never let children in your work area.
  • Keep your work area clean.
  • Have proper ventilation in your work area.
  • Do not eat, drink, chew gum, or smoke while handling lead.
  • Use gloves & safety glasses.
  • Wear a dust mask with special filters for lead.
  • Wear leather shoes, a long sleeve shirt, and pants to protect against lead splatters and burns.
  • Never let water or moisture come into contact with molten lead.
  • Carefully clean surfaces after completing your molds.
  • Do not sweep dry floors.  Use a shop-vac with a HEPA filter to vacuum floors.
  • Always wash your hands after handling lead.
  • Shower and wash hair after smelting or casting.

When cleaning your work area surfaces and washing your hands, be sure to use soap specifically formulated to remove lead!  Be sure to use CLEAN-ALL® HEAVY METALS HAND & BODY SOAP!

Click here for more details on lead safety for fishermen, care of the Illinois Department of Public Health

Stained Glass & Lead Exposure

Many of our customers are hobbyists who are inadvertently exposed to toxic heavy metals.  People who work with stained glass are one example.

Lead fumes occur during the soldering process.  The higher the temperature on the soldering iron, the more fumes are released.  Lead fumes are also present if you are painting with lead-based paints (especially if airbrushing).   Another method of exposure is when you’re working with old frames.  Lead dust can be created when sawing old frames.  The plaster and fillings around the glass may have absorbed lead over the years, becoming a health hazard.

Safety Tips for Stained Glass Artisans:

  • If you’re pregnant, stay away from working with stained glass until after you have finished breast feeding.
  • Do not allow children in the work area (including your work clothes, supplies, and equipment).
  • Don’t eat or smoke in the work area.
  • Wear protective clothing and eye protection at all times.
  • Wear gloves when soldering or painting.
  • Use a half-face particulate or air-purifying respirator fitted with a dust/fumes filter, both of which capture small particles of lead.
  • When sawing old cames, wet them down before taking apart old lead-light items.  This will lessen the spread of lead dust.  (Alternatively, try cutting with a sharp knife or tin snips)
  • Ensure your workroom is adequately ventilated.
  • Ensure your workroom is easily cleaned .
    • Regularly clean all surfaces in your work area by wet dusting or mopping.
    • Tools and equipment should be cleaned by wet sponging.
    • Clean walls and windows at least monthly.
  • Wash work clothes separately from the family wash.
  • Shower and wash your hair as soon as possible after finishing work (Alternatively, try wearing a shower cap while working).

Wash away lead dust particles by using CLEAN-ALL HEAVY METALS® HAND & BODY SOAP!

HAND & BODY – With a rich lather, wash & scrub hand and body for at least 20 seconds.  Rinse, then repeat.

SURFACES – Apply Clean-All Soap to a brush or wet cloth.  Thoroughly scrub area, then rinse several times with clean water.

LAUNDRY – Add ¼ to ½ cup Clean-All Soap to contaminated laundry along with regular detergent.  Adding a second rinse cycle is best.

LEVITATING DROPLETS OF WATER TO DETECT HEAVY METALS

Scientists in Mexico have discovered how to detect heavy metals in water by using sound waves to levitate and analyze droplets in mid air. Isolating the droplet by this method allows the water to evaporate in a controlled position, which increases the mass concentration of contaminants.  This also makes it easier to perform a laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) to analyze and detect low concentrations of heavy metals such as lead and mercury.

What is special about this technique is that it could lead to instruments which could perform this analysis in real-time, as an on-site contaminant monitoring system.  By speeding up the detection process it could prevent future pollutant dilemmas, such as the Flint, Michigan water crisis.

According to research team leader Victor Contreras “This type of water analysis could be used by agricultural, pharmaceutical, water purification and other industries to monitor water for contaminants.”

FDA PROTECTING US FROM TOXIC METALS IN OUR FOOD

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released an interview with Conrad Choiniere, the chair of the Toxic Elements Working Group.  This workgroup of food safety experts was established about a year ago with the purpose of helping to shape what the FDA will do to protect consumers from toxic metals found in foods.  These metals enter our food supply naturally, through environmental pollutants in the air, water, and soil.  Once in the soil or water, the metals are absorbed into plants, which are then eaten by people or by animals that enter the food supply.  The workgroup is focusing first on lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury, specifically in children’s foods since they are the most vulnerable.

A massive amount of data on contaminants and nutrients in foods is collected and analyzed as part of the group’s “Total Diet Study”.  If a food is identified with relatively high levels of a heavy metal, the group looks into how those levels can be reduced and informing consumers how to protect themselves.

“Once we zero in on the problem, we can offer remedies.”

Currently, the Toxic Elements Working Group is creating a “draft guidance that sets an action-level for the presence of inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereals and apple juice.”