Monthly Archives: February 2014

Another alarming report, this time about natural gas

A very typical alarming headline and study (click here)….almost on queue.

We know the effects of not having an affordable source of energy. People die. Is the CPI concerned about that? Apparently not.

World Health Organization water fluoridation level nephrotoxic

A Martín-Pardillos, C Sosa, A Millán, V Sorribas. Effect of water fluoridation on the development of medial vascular calcification in uremic rats. Toxicology. 2014 Feb 18. pii: S0300-483X(14)00024-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2014.01.012.

Public water fluoridation is a common policy for improving dental health. Fluoride replaces the hydroxyls of hydroxyapatite, thereby improving the strength of tooth enamel, but this process can also occur in other active calcifications. This paper studies the effects of water fluoridation during the course of vascular calcification in renal disease. The effect of fluoride was studied in vitro and in vivo. Rat aortic smooth muscle cells were calcified with 2mM Pi for 5 days. Fluoride concentrations of 5-10μM-similar to those found in people who drink fluoridated water-partially prevented calcification, death, and osteogene expression in vitro. The anticalcifying mechanism was independent of cell activity, matrix Gla protein, and fetuin A expressions, and it exhibited an IC50 of 8.7μM fluoride. In vivo, however, fluoridation of drinking water at 1.5mg/L (concentration recommended by the WHO) and 15mg/L dramatically increased the incipient aortic calcification observed in rats with experimental chronic kidney disease (CKD, 5/6-nephrectomy), fed a Pi-rich fodder (1.2% Pi). Fluoride further declined the remaining renal function of the CKD animals, an effect that most likely overwhelmed the positive effect of fluoride on calcification in vitro. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that fluoride did not modify the Ca/P atomic ratio, but it was incorporated into the lattice of in vivo deposits. Fluoride also converted the crystallization pattern from plate to rode-like structures. In conclusion, while fluoride prevents calcification in vitro, the WHO’s recommended concentrations in drinking water become nephrotoxic to CKD rats, thereby aggravating renal disease and making media vascular calcification significant.

Click here for full paper (fee).

Irreversible fouling of microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes

These results are somewhat unexpected in that typically the hydrophobic fraction would be thought to cause irreversible fouling.

H. Yamaura, K. Okimoto, K. Kimura, Y. Watanabe. Hydrophilic fraction of natural organic matter causing irreversible fouling of microfiltration and ultrafiltration membranes. Water Research. Volume 54, 1 May 2014, Pages 123–136.

Although membrane filtration is a promising technology in the field of drinking water treatment, persistent membrane fouling remains a major disadvantage. For more efficient operation, causative agents of membrane fouling need to be identified. Membrane fouling can be classified into physically reversible and irreversible fouling on basis of the removability of the foulants by physical cleaning. Four types of natural organic matter (NOM) in river water used as a source of drinking water were fractionated into hydrophobic and hydrophilic fractions, and their potential to develop irreversible membrane fouling was evaluated by a bench-scale filtration experiment together with spectroscopic and chromatographic analyses. In this study, only dissolved NOM was investigated without consideration of interactions of NOM fractions with particulate matter. Results demonstrated that despite identical total organic carbon (TOC), fouling development trends were significantly different between hydrophilic and hydrophobic fractions. The hydrophobic fractions did not increase membrane resistance, while the hydrophilic fractions caused severe loss of membrane permeability. These results were identical with the case when the calcium was added to hydrophobic and hydrophilic fractions. The largest difference in NOM characteristics between hydrophobic and hydrophilic fractions was the presence or absence of macromolecules; the primary constituent causing irreversible fouling was inferred to be “biopolymers”, including carbohydrates and proteins. In addition, the results demonstrated that the extent of irreversible fouling was considerably different depending on the combination of membrane materials and NOM characteristics. Despite identical nominal pore size (0.1 μm), a polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) membrane was found to be more rapidly fouled than a PE membrane. This is probably explained by the generation of strong hydrogen bonding between hydroxyl groups of biopolymers and fluorine of the PVDF membrane. On the basis of these findings, it was suggested that the higher fouling potential of the hydrophilic fraction of the dissolved NOMs from various natural water sources are mainly attributed to macromolecules, or biopolymers.

Click here for full paper (Open Source).

Myths About Arizona’s Religious Freedom Law

I will address the Arizona situation in a more detailed post following the Governor’s decision. In the mean time, here is a good summary of the myths surrounding this law. The bill is a must-sign legislation to bring some balance back from homosexual tyranny. It should be signed…..and a similar law enacted in every state. Whether it will be signed….time will tell.

“This week, controversy has broken out over Arizona’s law protecting the right of religious businessowners to reject service to particular customers. The law came hard on the heels of a series of outrageous court decisions finding that private businesses could be forced, in violation of their religion, to serve events such as same-sex weddings.” click here

Government Weather and Climate Forecasts are Failures

For decades now people, myself included, have quoted Richard Feynman, the great physicist on the scientific method. It does indeed place science in the proper context. Dr. Tim Ball begins with this quote in a fine essay here on the failure of government weather and climate forecasts.

“In general, we look for a new law by the following process: First we guess it; then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right; then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is—if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.” – Richard Feynman

But let me issue 2 warnings. First, science and scientific evidence are not neutral. They require an interpreter to understand them, and presuppositions  (sometimes called “worldview”) of the interpreter affect and sometimes determine the interpretation and conclusions drawn.  So even if, as Feynman suggests, a claim agrees or is consistent with experimental results, well-intentioned people may still disagree on the meaning or explanation behind the experimental observation. If one excludes a priori the possibility of a particular causal factor, one cannot expect to see it and will not see any evidence for it.

The second warning is to avoid the danger of elevating science to “religious” status, as in what is known as “scientism”.  Science (especially naturalistic materialism) cannot answer all questions and in fact can become a “worldview” in and of itself.

To quote another great scientist, Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar:

“There is no quicker way for a scientist to bring discredit upon himself and upon his profession than roundly to declare – particularly when no declaration of any kind is called for – that science knows, or soon will know, the answers to all the questions worth asking, and that questions which do not admit a scientific answer are in some way non-questions or “pseudo-questions” that only simpletons ask and only the gullible profess to be able to answer.”

  He goes on:

“The existence of a limit to science is, however, made clear by its inability to answer childlike elementary questions having to do with first and last things – questions such as “How did everything begin?”; What are we all here for?”; “What is the point of living?” 

Clearly, science has its limits.  And I am now starting to wonder whether science will ever be able to completely describe the earth’s climate system given its intricate complexity.

Huff Post confuses “weather” trends with “climate”

It is very evident that there is little precipitation in many areas. There have been many periods in history where multi-year droughts have affected populations…..some had to move, some populations vanished. 

Changes associated with climate are those over periods of 30 years or more…..and clearly the historical record shows what is happening now is typical, but not the most extreme. Farmers must face this prospect year after year, not just now when the political spotlight is on.

The Huff Post(ians)  as well as the IPCC seem to be very confused about what is “weather” and what is “climate.” (click here) Of course, in California, the unions need funding. They control many things, and operate the water and wastewater systems for the most part (We do appreciate them for this, by the way. As I have said before, it  is not union members that I have problem with, but how they are politicized by the union bosses). 

Using a drought as an excuse for pushing Gov. Jerry Brown’s porker of a water funding program with money no one has or can afford? Let’s get real…..no precipitation means no water, even with Brown’s porker water bill.

Fluoride removal from ground water using coagulation and sorption

Gwala P, Andey S, Nagarnaik P, Ghosh SP, Pal P, Deshmukh P, Labhasetwar P. Design and development of sustainable remediation process for mitigation of fluoride contamination in ground water and field application for domestic use. Sci Total Environ. 2014 Feb 19. pii: S0048-9697(14)00063-1. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2014.01.054.

Decentralised household chemo defluoridation unit (CDU) was developed and designed based on a combination of coagulation and sorption processes. Chemo-defluoridation process was optimised to reduce use of chemicals and increase acceptability among beneficiaries without affecting palatability of water. Chemical dose optimization undertaken in the laboratory using jar test revealed the optimum calcium salt to initial fluoride ratio of 60 for fluoride removal. Performance of CDU was evaluated in the laboratory for removal efficiency, water quality parameters, filter bed cleaning cycle and desorption of fluoride. CDU evaluation in the laboratory with spiked water (5mg/L) and field water (~4.2mg/L) revealed treated water fluoride concentration of less than 1mg/L. Seventy five CDUs were installed in households at Sakhara Village, Yavatmal District in Maharashtra State of India. Monthly monitoring of CDUs for one year indicated reduction of the raw water fluoride concentration from around 4mg/L to less than 1mg/L. Post implementation survey after regular consumption of treated drinking water by the users for one year indicated user satisfaction and technological sustainability.