Tag Archives: Texas

West Nile Virus Infection and Proximity of Residence to Bodies of Water

Melissa S. Nolan, Ana Zangeneh, Salma A. Khuwaja, Diana Martinez, Susan N. Rossmann, Victor Cardenas, and Kristy O. Murray.  Proximity of Residence to Bodies of Water and Risk for West Nile Virus Infection: A Case-Control Study in Houston, Texas. Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology  Volume 2012, Article ID 159578, 6 pages doi:10.1155/2012/159578 

West Nile virus (WNV), a mosquito-borne virus, has clinically affected hundreds of residents in the Houston metropolitan area since its introduction in 2002. This study aimed to determine if living within close proximity to a water source increases one’s odds of infection with WNV. We identified 356 eligible WNV-positive cases and 356 controls using a population proportionate to size model with US Census Bureau data. We found that living near slow moving water sources was statistically associated with increased odds for human infection, while living near moderate moving water systems was associated with decreased odds for human infection. Living near bayous lined with vegetation as opposed to concrete also showed increased risk of infection. The habitats of slow moving and vegetation lined water sources appear to favor the mosquito-human transmission cycle. These methods can be used by resource-limited health entities to identify high-risk areas for arboviral disease surveillance and efficient mosquito management initiatives.


Gun Control Laws Will Not Stop This Type of Terrorism

“According to the indictment of Shannon Miles, the motive for the alleged killing of a Harris County deputy was for the deputy’s service as a member of law enforcement. The man accused of executing Deputy Darren Goforth by walking up behind him at a gas station and unloading 15 rounds into his head and back was indicted on Monday.” click here

West Texas Arsenic Study Associations Premature

One could go through a list of the limits of this study but I am not going to do that here. In short, the inference drawn here is a bit premature. This study reminds me of many published in the 1980s and 1990s and written intentionally to alarm. Studies like this can be useful. But a conclusion such as this “Measures should be taken to reduce arsenic in drinking water in order to prevent hypothyroidism” based on the study design applied here is premature. 

Gong G, Basom J, Mattevada S, Onger F. Association of hypothyroidism with low-level arsenic exposure in rural West Texas. Environmental Research. 2015 Feb 23;138C:154-160. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.02.001.

It has been reported recently that a higher airborne arsenic level was correlated with higher urinary arsenic concentration and lower serum thyroxin level among urban policemen and rural highway workmen in Italy. The current study was to determine whether exposure to low-level arsenic groundwater (2-22µg/L) is associated with hypothyroidism among 723 participants (118 male and 267 female Hispanics; 108 male and 230 female non-Hispanic whites, NHW) living in rural West Texas counties. Arsenic and iodine levels in their groundwater used for drinking and or cooking were estimated by the inverse distance weighted (IDW) interpolation technique. Groundwater arsenic was ≥8µg/L in 36% of the subjects’ wells while iodine concentration was <1µg/L in 91% of their wells. Logistic regression analysis showed that arsenic in groundwater ≥8µg/L and cumulative arsenic exposure (groundwater arsenic concentration multiplied by the number of years living in the current address) but not groundwater iodine concentration were significant predictors for hypothyroidism among Hispanics (p<0.05) but not NHW after adjusting for covariates such as age, gender, annual household income and health insurance coverage. The ethnic difference may be due to a marginally higher percentage of Hispanics (p=0.0622) who lived in areas with groundwater arsenic ≥8µg/L compared with NHW. The prevalence of hypothyroidism was significantly higher in Hispanics or NHW of this rural cohort than the national prevalence. Measures should be taken to reduce arsenic in drinking water in order to prevent hypothyroidism in rural areas.

Intolerant Homosexual Thuggery in Houston Must be Resisted

Such politicians need to [resign or] be voted out.

“This is a breathtaking violation of religious liberty — and it is political thuggery at its worst. Make no mistake: A major American city has subpoenaed the sermons of Christian pastors. And those sermons were to include anything that touched on homosexuality or gender identity.” click here

Faulty wells, not fracking, contaminate drinking water wells with methane gas

Duke researchers conclude that water contamination in Texas and Pennsylvania occurred because of leaky well shafts near the earth’s surface and not because of hyrdalic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing itself takes place thousands of feet underground.

Thomas H. Darrah, Avner Vengosh, Robert B. Jackson, Nathaniel R. Warner, Robert J. Poreda. Noble gases identify the mechanisms of fugitive gas contamination in drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1322107111 September 15, 2014

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have enhanced energy production but raised concerns about drinking-water contamination and other environmental impacts. Identifying the sources and mechanisms of contamination can help improve the environmental and economic sustainability of shale-gas extraction. We analyzed 113 and 20 samples from drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales, respectively, examining hydrocarbon abundance and isotopic compositions (e.g., C2H6/CH4, δ13C-CH4) and providing, to our knowledge, the first comprehensive analyses of noble gases and their isotopes (e.g., 4He, 20Ne, 36Ar) in groundwater near shale-gas wells. We addressed two questions. (i) Are elevated levels of hydrocarbon gases in drinking-water aquifers near gas wells natural or anthropogenic? (ii) If fugitive gas contamination exists, what mechanisms cause it? Against a backdrop of naturally occurring salt- and gas-rich groundwater, we identified eight discrete clusters of fugitive gas contamination, seven in Pennsylvania and one in Texas that showed increased contamination through time. Where fugitive gas contamination occurred, the relative proportions of thermogenic hydrocarbon gas (e.g., CH4, 4He) were significantly higher (P < 0.01) and the proportions of atmospheric gases (air-saturated water; e.g., N2, 36Ar) were significantly lower (P < 0.01) relative to background groundwater. Noble gas isotope and hydrocarbon data link four contamination clusters to gas leakage from intermediate-depth strata through failures of annulus cement, three to target production gases that seem to implicate faulty production casings, and one to an underground gas well failure. Noble gas data appear to rule out gas contamination by upward migration from depth through overlying geological strata triggered by horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.

Click here for full paper.

Mercury concentrations around mercury mines in the Big Bend region, Texas

Gray JE, Theodorakos PM, Fey DL, Krabbenhoft DP. Mercury concentrations and distribution in soil, water, mine waste leachates, and air in and around mercury mines in the Big Bend region, Texas, USA. Environ Geochem Health. 2014 Jun 29.

Samples of soil, water, mine waste leachates, soil gas, and air were collected from areas mined for mercury (Hg) and baseline sites in the Big Bend area, Texas, to evaluate potential Hg contamination in the region. Soil samples collected within 300 m of an inactive Hg mine contained elevated Hg concentrations (3.8-11 µg/g), which were considerably higher than Hg in soil collected from baseline sites (0.03-0.05 µg/g) distal (as much as 24 km) from mines. Only three soil samples collected within 300 m of the mine exceeded the probable effect concentration for Hg of 1.06 µg/g, above which harmful effects are likely to be observed in sediment-dwelling organisms. Concentrations of Hg in mine water runoff (7.9-14 ng/L) were generally higher than those found in springs and wells (0.05-3.1 ng/L), baseline streams (1.1-9.7 ng/L), and sources of drinking water (0.63-9.1 ng/L) collected in the Big Bend region. Concentrations of Hg in all water samples collected in this study were considerably below the 2,000 ng/L drinking water Hg guideline and the 770 ng/L guideline recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to protect aquatic wildlife from chronic effects of Hg. Concentrations of Hg in water leachates obtained from leaching of mine wastes varied widely from <0.001 to 760 µg of Hg in leachate/g of sample leached, but only one leachate exceeded the USEPA Hg industrial soil screening level of 31 µg/g. Concentrations of Hg in soil gas collected at mined sites (690-82,000 ng/m3) were highly elevated compared to soil gas collected from baseline sites (1.2-77 ng/m3). However, air collected from mined areas at a height of 2 m above the ground surface contained concentrations of Hg (4.9-64 ng/m3) that were considerably lower than Hg in soil gas from the mined areas. Although concentrations of Hg emitted from mine-contaminated soils and mine wastes were elevated, persistent wind in southwest Texas disperses Hg in the air within a few meters of the ground surface.

Click here for full paper (Open Access).

Geosmin taste and odor hits Arlington, Fort Worth, Texas tap water

“Imagine pouring yourself a cool glass of gritty grass clippings. Not appetizing, right? Unfortunately, thousands of North Texans are now getting water out of the tap with a similar smell and taste.” click here