Tag Archives: water

Why Ultra-Pure Water Is Actually Bad for Your Health (Video)

We tend to imagine that purity is the ultimate indicator of the quality of water. So why is 100%, ultra-pure water not good for us?

Well the simple answer is that water (H20) purely comprised of hydrogen and oxygen doesn’t provide our body with the natural electrolytes and salts we need to survive.

There is no such thing as truly pure water in the natural world. Even water in the purest springs and lakes contains small amounts of dissolved minerals such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium.

Oregon’s Crater Lake, which formed in the crater of a long-dead volcano, is thought to be one of the purest natural bodies of water. It is fed almost exclusively by snow and rain. Click to enlarge (Photo: Danita Delimont / Gallo / Getty)

When these minerals dissolve in water, they form the ions which we commonly refer to as electrolytes.

According to eatbalanced.com,

“Maintaining the correct concentrations of these ions in and outside cells in the body is essential for transmitting electrical impulses along nerves and for muscle contraction. They allow us to perform all the “bioelectrical” functions such as moving, heart-beating, thinking, and seeing.”

But not only does pure water fail to provide these essential electrolytes, it tries to rob your body of them when you drink it, potentially creating a fatal imbalance (if you drink enough of it).

This is a result of a process of diffusion, in which dissolved material tends to move from more concentrated solutions to less concentrated ones.

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You can think of it this way: imagine a room with no gravity, split in half down the middle. You throw a couple hundred bouncy balls into the left side of the room. Since there’s no gravity, they bounce around everywhere.

But if you cut a bunch of holes in the barrier, they will slowly start to spread over to the right side. Some may cross back over to the left, but eventually, they will be evenly distributed across the entire room.

That’s how diffusion works inside you as well.

One of the reasons water is the main component of your body, from you lungs and skin to your blood and organs, is because it’s a universal solvent (ie. it can dissolve anything soluble and is neutral).

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The water in your organs (the left side of the space room) maintains very specific levels of minerals (the bouncy balls).

When you drink ultra-purified water, it pulls the minerals out of your blood just like the right side of the space room pulled some of the bouncy balls over from the left. Ultra-pure water will even strip the copper off the inside of a pipe!

If you drank enough of it, the lack of minerals would eventually kill you.

These dissolved minerals, often referred to as “impurities”, are also what gives us the different flavors we taste when we consume different tap waters or brands of bottled water.

David Rees of National Geographic examined “Ultra-Pure” water. Check out the video below to see what he found.

What Mars Looked Like When It Had Water, Courtesy of NASA (Video)

Today, we think of Mars as having  a cold, dry, and desolate environment (because it does).

But that was not always the case. Four billion years ago, while our Sun was still in its infancy, Mars was covered with water.

Back then, it had a much thicker atmosphere, which kept the planet warm enough for water to exist in its liquid form. Some estimates say that at one point, up to 1640 ft (about half a kilometer) of water covered the whole planet.

Many features on the surface of Mars hint at the existence of water in the past. The image above, for example, seems to show the dried-out remnants of a river delta. Click to enlarge

NASA will launch its  Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) on November 18. MAVEN’s job is to determine exactly what happened to Mars’ atmosphere during those four billion years.

In the meantime, they had their Goddard Conceptual Image Lab create a video showing what Mars might’ve looked like four billion years ago and how it changed as the atmosphere thinned out over time:

There are a number of theories as to why Mars’ atmosphere disappeared, including a major asteroid impact and the loss of its magnetic field as a result of solar winds.

NASA hopes that the data collected by MAVEN will help them solve the issue once and for all.

(h/t IFL Science)

A Mysterious Lake Just Suddenly Appeared in the Middle of the Desert in Tunisia

Apparently, Siberia isn’t the only place that has been experiencing strange geological occurrences lately. Residents of the Gafsa region in Tunisia are still trying to make sense of a lake that appeared out of nowhere recently.

A group of three shepherds with an intimate knowledge of the land in the region discovered the new lake three weeks ago.

Since then, people in the area have been buzzing. Some people say it’s a miracle- others say it’s a curse.

Lake Gafsa. Click to enlarge
Lake Gafsa. Click to enlarge

Tunisian authorities have officially banned swimming in the lake, warning that the water may not be safe.

One reason for this concern is that the soil in the area near the newly-formed lake has high levels of phosphate; the mining of this mineral actually drives the bulk of the economic activity in the region.

This has led to fears that the water may be contaminated with the chemical. Phosphate residue can be highly radioactive and enough exposure to it can lead to cancer.

But, despite the potential risks, more than 600 people have already visited the “miracle lake”.

The lake has already attracted hundreds of visitors, and more are expected. Click to enlarge
The lake has already attracted hundreds of visitors, and more are expected. Click to enlarge

So where did it come from? Well, a local geologist from the city of Gafsa thinks that the lake is most likely the result of seismic activity in the area, theorizing that underground tremors created a crack in the groundwater table.

That theory has yet to be confirmed, but it seems to be the best explanation proposed so far.

The water table is the line that separates the sandy, gravely top-soil level from the underground aquifers below it. Click to enlarge

Check out some more pictures of the lake and beach below. Click an image to enlarge:

You can read the Google translation of the original story from the  Tunisia Daily (a French-language paper) here.

(h/t Pangea Today)

NASA Is Seeking Help In Potentially Finding Life On Jupiter’s Moon Europa (Video)

NASA is confident that underneath Jupiter’s moon Europa there could be more water than in our oceans here on Earth. So naturally, Europa has attracted a lot of attention, encouraging the curious to ask, “Could there be life on Europa?”.

Currently, NASA is aiming to send a new mission to Europa by 2025. The White House’s 2015 federal budget allocates $15 million towards making this Europa mission a reality.

Europa has recently become one of NASA’s main focuses because,  out of all the other planetary bodies in our solar system, it has arguably the greatest chance of harboring life.

From Space.com…


“Every 10 years, the U.S. National Research Council, a nonprofit organization that advises the government, issues a report that recommends a planetary exploration strategy for NASA and the National Science Foundation. The current report (which covers 2013 to 2022) ranks an exploration of Europa among the highest priority missions. According to the report, the future mission should focus on taking a closer look at the ocean that scientists suspect lies below the surface; characterizing its icy crust and looking for any subsurface liquid water; determining the surface composition and chemistry; examining surface features and identifying landing areas for future missions; and understanding the purpose of its magnetosphere — the magnetic field surrounding the celestial body. NASA officials said the instrument proposals should focus on at least one of these exploration goals. The announcement calls for instruments designed for a spacecraft that will orbit Europa or complete several flybys, since astronomers do not yet have enough data to pinpoint safe landing sites on the icy moon.”


The video below describes Europa in more detail.

NASA hopes that by providing monetary incentives to private parties, they will encourage competition and innovation, leading to affordable development processes for the instruments necessary for new missions like the upcoming one to Europa.

Two of the main challenges for teams developing instruments are overcoming Jupiter’s high levels of radiation and making sure that no organic material from Earth (like microorganisms, for example) is introduced to Europa’s potentially habitable surface.

The competition ends in April 2015. NASA will select the top 20 proposals, rewarding $25 million to each of the selected teams to further advance their designs for their instruments. NASA will also select eight winners whose instruments will be developed and actually used in NASA’s mission to Europa.

This competition is included in NASA’s budget to get to Europa, according to Space.com…

“NASA is in the process of designing a mission that will cost less than $1 billion and will still meet as many of the exploration goals as possible.”

Check out NASA’s full guidelines for Europa mission science instrument ideas here.

You can also learn more about how Europa works in this infographic from Space.com (click to enlarge):

Water Scarcity- The Invisible Threat to Humanity’s Future (Infographic)

Water is the most important necessity for life. However, it’s something that we take for granted in much of the developed world. Although 70% of the world is covered with water, only 3% is freshwater, and 2/3 of that is frozen and inaccessible.

Also, most people don’t realize just how much water we use for food- it takes an estimated 441 gallons of water to produce just one pound of boneless beef, and a large portion of our freshwater is used for agriculture.

Check out this great infographic from Seametrics about just how much water we’re using now and what the future looks like for our most important resource (click to see full size):

How A “Drinkable Book” Might Just Drastically Improve the Lives of Millions of People (Video)

Dr. Theresa Dankovich is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Virginia. Dankovich, whose specializes in chemistry, recently designed a new type of paper which is coated in silver nano-particles which not only filter the water but actually kill the bacteria of common (yet deadly) water-borne diseases like typhoid and cholera.

The paper has been proven to remove more than 99.99% of bacteria in the water, and it costs just pennies to produce, making it cheaper than any other filtration devices on the market.

The paper is printed with important information and tips about water health and safety and then bound into a book which not only educates people about water safety but actually provides them with the filters they need to purify their own water.

For more on the Drinkable Book and other creative solutions to the clean water crisis in underdeveloped countries, visit waterislife.com.

What’s In Your Drinking Water? Cocaine and Caffeine, If You’re British

A group of experts from the British Drinking Water Inspectorate recently carried out a series of tests to see what chemical compounds were in British drinking water. Even after intensive purification treatments, the scientists found traces of cocaine.

Specifically, the scientists found benzoylecgonine, which is the form that the compound takes after being metabolized in the body. It’s the same compound that is looked for in urine when testing a person for cocaine use.

Steve Rolles of the Transform think tank

Steve Rolles of the drug policy think tank Transform believes that this finding is reflective of Britain’s rapidly growing drug use. In an interview with the British Sunday Times recently, he said,

“We have the near highest level of cocaine use in western Europe. It has also been getting cheaper and cheaper at the same time as its use has been going up.”

According to the charity DrugScope, England has 170,000 crack cocaine-dependent addicts, and an estimated 700,000 British citizens aged 16-59 use cocaine at least once every year.

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But cocaine wasn’t the only thing found in the water. The inspectors also found traces of the common painkiller acetaminophen and the epilepsy drug carbamazepine. There were also significantly higher levels of caffeine in the water.

Public Health England recently published a report which assessed the health risks associated with these recent findings. Their report concluded that the levels of cocaine in the water after it was treated were 4 times lower than before treatment, and that the dosage (~4 nanograms/liter) was unlikely to pose a serious threat to public health. The report stated,

“Estimated exposures for most of the detected compounds are at least thousands of times below doses seen to produce adverse effects in animals and hundreds of thousands below human therapeutic doses.”

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However, little research has been done into whether or not constant, regular exposure to these pharmaceuticals, even in small doses, can cause cumulative effects over time.

Read more from The Independent here.

Unreal Footage of the Earth Opening and Closing During Japan’s Massive 2011 Earthquake

On March 11, 2011, a devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast of Japan, creating a tsunami which did vast amounts of damage to the island as it swept across the land.

At a park in Japan, an American tourist happened to have his phone out as the first earthquake shock waves traveled through the ground beneath him. He captured the first ever footage of the earth expanding and contracting with the waves of a quake.

He also captured the phenomenon of liquefaction, in which water held in loosely backed ground soil get pushed up to the surface by the extra pressure applied from the earthquake.

How soil liquefaction occurs during a quake (those are earthquake waves on the top half of the diagram)

Revolutionary Step? Bolivia Gives the Earth Comprehensive Legal Rights

The Law of Mother Earth is a bold move by the Bolivian government. At its source is the ancient “Pachamama” traditions of the native Andean people. This worldview is based on the belief that the earth is actually a living being (“Pachamama” translates to Mother Earth).

The Bolivian government says the law is a culmination of efforts to combat climate change, to live in harmony with the Earth and to prioritize “the greater good”.

The legislation gives the Earth the rights to,

“Life and regeneration; biodiversity and freedom from genetic modification; pure water; clean air; naturally balanced systems; restoration from the effects of human activity; and freedom from contamination.”

Bolivians rallying in support of the legislation (Source: http://www.cipamericas.org)

Furthermore, the law decrees that the Bolivian government is now legally bound to,

“Prioritize the well-being of its citizens and the natural world by developing policies that promote sustainability and control industry.”

The economy must operate within the natural limits of the environment, and the government must pursue renewable energy technologies as well as total energy and food sovereignty.

Indigenous Bolivians celebrate the winter solstice (Photo: David Mercado/Reuters)

It also gives citizens the right to sue individuals or groups (including the government and businesses) on behalf of the Earth if they belief Earth’s rights have been violated.

Here’s the full list of rights stated in the law:

  • The right to maintain the integrity of life and natural processes.
  • The right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
  • The right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration.
  • The right to pure water.
  • The right to clean air.
  • The right to balance, to be at equilibrium.
  • The right to be free of toxic and radioactive pollution.
  • The right to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities

Read more from CS GLobe here.

BP Doubles Its Initial Estimate On How Much Oil Spilled Into Lake Michigan Monday

Around 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon, refinery workers at a BP refinery on Lake Michigan reported an oily sheen on the surface of the lake.

After reporting yesterday that only 18 barrels had spilled, BP today changed the number to 39, more than doubling the initial estimate. If you’re wondering, 39 barrels is the equal to 1,638 gallons of oil (42 gallons/barrel).

In July of 2013, the refinery underwent a $4 billion overhaul to increase the amount of heavy Canadian tar sands it processes.

Although the lake provides drinking water for 7 million residents in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, BP insists the spill will have no significant impact on water quality.

The EPA is conducting an investigation into whether or not BP violated the federal Clean Water Act but declined to comment on BP’s raised estimates.

Read more from the Chicago Tribune here.