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Young scientists ask ‘What’s in your water?’

26th August 2013   ·   0 Comments

By J. Kojo Livingston
Contributing Writer

Shreveport – You could call them the young lions of science.

Demetrius Norman is a native of Shreveport with a degree in electronic engineering. He is the coordinator and recruiter for NSBE the National Society of Black Engi­neers. At 28 years of age he has made himself known throughout the city by being involved in numerous civic causes and activities.

Logik in 3rd Person is a medical miologist and a transplant to the area, who quickly made a name for himself on the local poetry scene and also at community events. The two young scientists have teamed up to address a number of issues affecting the Black community, the first being one of the most basic of all human needs.

At the Marcus Garvey Day celebration held last Sunday at Airport Park in Shreveport Center they teamed up to do a dynamic…and sometimes disturbing presentation on the water we all drink, whether from our tap or from a bottle.

The first thing Logik alerted the audience to was that there are many companies that simply pour tap water into a bottle and sell it to the public at over 1,000 times the cost. “If you turn the bottle around and look on the side they have to list the source. Many times the least expensive water comes from the municipal water sources like the one right here in Shreve­port…tap water.”

According to Logik, “The major concern with tap water is that though the water treatment process in a lot of major cities makes the water acceptable and safe, based on a lot of criteria that the EPA has established, the distance that it travels from the treatment facility where it’s being tested, to get to some of these homes you don’t really know about the integrity of the piping between point A and point B. so you can have things that are present in your water coming out of your faucet that aren’t actually present when it leaves the treatment site. So it comes down to the individual household being mindful of what is coming out of their tap.”

Norman is also concerned about what happens between the water treatment plants and the neighborhoods. “No matter how pure the water is coming out of the plant, if the pipes in your area are in bad shape you don’t have healthy water. If you check you will find that most low income areas do not have piping that is in great shape.”

Currently the City of Shreveport is under an EPA mandate to improve, repair and upgrade its water and sewerage system, which makes the question of water quality that much more serious.

“There are some things that are done to municipal water that is not done to bottled water. The fluoride treatment, that is something that I think is part of a special interest agenda to get the public to accept something that is not necessary for our health. The main thing is to know what you are getting. Educate yourself. The information is out there that would allow the general public to know what’s going on with the waters, what kinds of contaminants are in the water and ways to deal with those things are potentially in your public water sources.”

According to Logik, the EPA is required to report when something contaminates city water. They have to report that, but bottled water is not held to the same standard. When bottled water is found to be contaminated there is no public announcement—often the water is simply pulled off the shelf and people think they sold out.

A suggested resource for anyone seeking more information on water is the NRDC – the Natural Resource Defense Council.

As for best personal measures both scientists suggest that home purification is a viable option. Some people filter their water for drinking and bathing, understanding that most things that are harmful to ingest can also be absorbed through the skin. According to Logik, home water purifiers are a cheap way to ensure that tap water is as pure as possible. He also recommends the use of charcoal. Many people now consume charcoal or use charcoal filters. The charcoal absorbs the impurities.

According to Logik, “There really isn’t a best source. There are bottled waters that are extremely good. Usually these are the higher priced waters that have levels of calcium and magnesium that exceed the daily requirement. At the very least get spring water which is as close to natural as you can get. The more natural the source, the better. Distilled water is just dead water that has the least benefit to you.”

Because the bottles that hold bottled water are petroleum products, there is a big concern now about cancer-causing chemicals seeping or leeching out of the bottles into the water you may drink. This seepage happens with or without heat but heat causes the seepage to accelerate. It is not good to leave bottled water in a car and then drink it. However, this does not account for water left in heat on trucks, trains or warehouses before they even get to the stores.

A final caveat of bottled water is the environmental impact there is a Texas-sized mass of bottles and other discarded plastics growing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. They are polluting streams, rivers and beaches across the globe.

Norman is concerned about the general quality of drinking water as a public health issue. “The public should demand more information about how industrial processes such as oil and gas drilling and fracking impact water supplies. What state or local authority is regulating drilling activity and how they use our fresh water? Some companies say they are using waste water other say they are using whatever is available. Who is monitoring these activities? What data is being collected to determine our water quality? Is this just a smoke and mirrors game where people are doing minimal testing, minimal research and just giving us the answers we want to hear?

To Norman the bottom line is accountability. “We need a realistic assessment of what is going on now and how we can maintain sustainability in the future.”

This article originally published in the August 26, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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