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Warnings about sewage sludge ... and well water.

I was horrified when I read Ken Scharabok's suggestion that individuals should use municipal sewage sludge in his article on rejuvenating abused soils (77/2).

Not long ago a dairy magazine here in Michigan carried an article featuring a dairy that had heavy metals in their wells due to city sludge being spread on their property. The family on this farm was lucky because the symptoms of heavy metal poisoning showed up in the cattle first. Because dairy cows consume 20 gallons or more of water a day, the milking herd was the first victim. Cows couldn't carry calves to term and there were innumerable lameness problems because heavy metals directly affect cartilage The subsequent drop in milk production almost put this farm out of business. The article went on to discuss similar situations on other dairies where city sludge had been spread.

Lead poisoning from their well

I am particularly vigilant about the issues of well contamination because I have experienced lead poisoning due to heavy metals in our own well. We live in an area where shallow wells are the norm, and thought we were safe with a 150 foot well. After living on our little piece of paradise for a year we were so sick that we could hardly get up to get our chores done every day. The doctors we consulted treated us for everything from intestinal parasites to cancer, but couldn't find anything. We took a water sample into our health department but they only test for nitrates, bacteria, and hardness, so they said our water was fine. We were lucky enough to get in contact with two women in our county who immediately told us to stop drinking our water. Later water tests (which came out of our own pocket) showed lead levels at twice the EPA safety level. It took us nearly five years to overcome all the effects of lead poisoning.

If you are considering buying a new homestead check the water first. Our contamination is in the well itself and not due to old pipes. Even in new houses it is suggested that you let the water run for a few minutes each morning to clear water that sat in the pipes overnight. Even brand new plumbing fixtures have lead in them, although this is being fought in California.

Our well has subsequently been tested for lead and came up with a negative result. We are informed that this is because an underground aquifer is like a slow moving river and that the water in our well has changed. We were also told that two wells only 50 feet apart might not have the same contaminates.

If you are having vague symptoms that range from achey arthritis type pain to gastro-intestinal disorders to general fatigue, or any "hypochondriac" accusations, you may want to consider your water.

Water tests can be very expensive. One easy way to tell is to simply use distilled water for a week. Everything you eat or drink has to be made with distilled water, even brushing your teeth! Unfortunately, with heavy metals you absorb 100 percent of every atom you inhale. This means you have to avoid your water in vapor form as well (i.e., in your shower). We did not stop taking showers but noticed a difference in our health in only three days! We've had friends whose water did not contain heavy metals but after a while on distilled water lost arthritis pains and heel-spur type pain.

Our experience has taught us a lot about environmentally induced illness. Every once in a while the media will do a story on "those crazy people with Environmental Sensitivity." We are very lucky to have been "saved" from our water before our illness got that extreme, but those "crazy people" have a lot of valid advice to offer. So many of us take our health for granted and when pollution takes a gradual toll on us we put it down to getting older, etc. I say we are getting weighed down by a toxicity overload.

The EPA has stated that over 800 municipal water systems are over the EPA safety levels. (That's right, city water!). Some things you may want to consider: Invest in some sort of filtration system: there are all kinds out there for all kinds of problems, Our health has been so jeopardized that we can only tolerate distilled water because even the slightest amount of lead will make us ill.

If you drink city water or if you buy water that is not distilled, it will often contain chlorine. Let it sit in an open container and the chlorine will dissipate. Sharp minds wonder, to where? Carry your own water when you travel or eat out.

Be aware of all the potential toxins in your environment. New carpeting is so toxic that even the government is becoming involved. Look for changes in the carpet industry. In the meantime, they are suggesting that you leave the carpet to air out for six months in a place like a garage or other well-ventilated area! Talk about inconvenient! Particle board, plywood, and other products made with glues fume formaldehyde. Air out first, and use formaldehyde-eating plants like spider plants in rooms where these products are used.

Varnish and paint thinner have been directly correlated with multiple sclerosis. We all take risks with our health. Even breathing can be an environmental hazard in some areas. Each person has to judge what risks they can tolerate. A body that is relatively clean can cope with a lot more toxins than a saturated body. An increased awareness of pollution will not only keep the Earth cleaner. It will keep you healthier.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:heavy metals contamination
Author:Larabee, Kim
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Nov 1, 1993
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