Consider this scenario:
Members of an activist group damage a water treatment facility to stop the provision of water…..and shut down all use of water, all industrial activities, and all development….they are arrested and charged with a crime, subjected to a jury trial, and are found not guilty.
Their defense? A lawful excuse: Damage to the water facility was justified on the grounds that the destruction was needed to prevent greater damage being caused by climate change to property around the world due to greenhouse gas emissions from the the facility and by the industries and customers using the water.
Sounds far fetched? Rediculous? Well consider this excerpt from an article “Climate change in court” published in the June 2011 issue of Nature Climate Change:
Source: Adam, D. Climate Change in Court. Nature Climate Change, Vol 1, June 2011.
I hope this example of misguided zeal is not a taste of things to come.
N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) occurs in various foods and alcoholic beverages. It is detected in cigarette smoke and has also been detected in some drinking water and wastewater systems as a byproduct of chlorination and/or chloramination. It was used in the past in rocket fuel but is no longer manufactered.
Click here for the current USEPA risk assessment for NDMA.
In California, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the city of San Jose funded a study that detected NDMA in recycled water used for irrigation into shallow groundwater. Concentrations of 3 to 4 parts per trillion (ppt) were found down to 30 feet in ground water. No one drinks the water and so there is no immediate health risk. Click here for the June 14, 2011 Silicon Valley Mercury News report.
The California Public Health Goal (PHG) for NDMA is 0.003 ug/L (or 3 ppt). The PHG is based on linear-extroplation of animal toxicological data and represents a 1:1,000,000 theoretical risk of cancer. Click here for the California PHG document.
There are a number of strategies that can be used to minimize the formation of NDMA or to eliminate it altogether. Perhaps we’ll take a look at these processes in a future post.