© Monica Mendez.
Students Karen Vallejo (background) and Ashley Garcia (foreground) examine triclosan extracts from plant tissues.
Water is the transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance that is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans. It also happens to be the main constituent fluid of most living organisms and an absolutely essential part of life. No known life form, including humans, can possibly survive without it. But what happens when our water becomes so polluted it's actually less harmful to go without?

Heavy metals, fracking chemicals, pharmaceutical waste, industrial pollutants, microplastics, agricultural chemicals, dangerous micro-organisms - it seems there's no limit to the amount of toxic stuff we find in our water. Gone are the days of pristine streams and clean lakes you could directly drink from. Now we need complicated filter systems just to get a drinkable glass of what we all need to live. And we in the modernized world are the lucky ones!

Join us on this episode of The Health and Wellness Show as we talk about this vital resource that the human race has managed to mess up for the entire planet. Is there a way out of this madness?

And stay tuned for Zoya's Pet Health Segment, where she talks about how to get your cat to drink more water.

Running Time: 01:14:06

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript of the show:

Doug: Hello and welcome to the Health and Wellness Show here on the SOTT Radio Network. I am your host Doug. With me today is Erica.

Erica: Hi.

Doug: There's only two of us today. All of our other Health and Wellness Show hosts have left us in the lurch. I'm just kidding. They couldn't be with us today unfortunately. Oh, I didn't say the date. Today is December 14, 2018. So today we are talking about water - Water, Water Everywhere But Not a Drop to Drink.

Everybody knows what water is so I probably don't have to cover that and how important and vital it is for our health and wellness, our survival. You can't survive for very long without water. We have been extremely careless with our water as a race, from heavy metals, fracking chemicals, pharmaceutical waste, industrial pollutants, microplastics, agricultural chemicals, dangerous microorganisms. It seems like there's no end to the amount of crap that we put into our water and we're really doing ourselves a disservice by doing this because what do you do when there's no water left that you can actually drink? Not to mention the environmental impact, all the wildlife, plants, animals, everything. Everything needs water and we're just destroying our natural resource.

So we're going to talk about that today. It's sure to be a very positive show. So Erica, what do you think about water?

Erica: It's essential, I know that.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: It seems like, if you read SOTT regularly, it seems almost weekly there's some new story out or misgivings or communities getting polluted and we carry that a lot. It can be frustrating and for me it makes me angry because you get this whole climate change and cows are bad and meat is bad. But the water issues just gets brushed over. It's concerning because it's a necessity that everyone needs and it's not really appreciated or respected and definitely in the west, taken for granted.

Doug: Absolutely. It seems like it never really gets under the radar of people until there's a major incident, like the whole Flint, Michigan thing not too long ago where it was a national scandal essentially. It started showing up because they switched where they were getting their water from. They weren't getting it from Lake Michigan anymore. They started getting it from - I don't remember where it was exactly. When then did that, they weren't adding the stuff necessary to keep the pipes, which were lead pipes, from rusting and breaking down so people were getting a lot more lead in their drinking water than is safe, although it could be argued that no lead in drinking water is safe. But of course there are guidelines that allow for a little bit.

Part of the problem was that the chlorine that they were adding to kill off microorganisms was actually bonding to the lead so that there wasn't enough left to actually kill off the microorganisms and then all these people started coming down with Legionaire's disease. So this was a major scandal and at first the officials were humming about it, saying "Oh, we don't know that it's actually coming from the water and we don't know what's actually going on" and they weren't taking much action on it. But eventually it got to the point where people weren't willing to just sit back and accept this. I think more for PR purposes than anything else they actually started to move on it. I don't even know the status of it right now. I think all the lead pipes they were going to replace but they weren't supposed to be completely replaced until 2019. I think that they've corrected the problem but they're still telling people to stick with bottled water there.

Erica: Yeah, that was their solution, have bottled water.

Doug: Just to be on the safe side.

Erica: Have some bottled water.

Doug: Yeah. And they were saying it wasn't even just for drinking, it was also for bathing, for cooking, anything that you were going to use water for, you should be using bottled water because everything else is not safe.

Erica: Which is so crazy in and of itself. We did a show a year or so ago about tap water. It's equally as bad.

Doug: Well maybe not as bad as Flint Michigan for most people. Tap water has a lot of terrible things added to it and found in it. We were reading one of the articles here and I think they said that they test for 91 potential water contaminants in the US tap water. I imagine that's probably pretty close to what's done in most western countries although I don't know for sure, but 91 potential water contaminants. But in the US alone there are over 60,000 chemicals that can find their way into the water supply. So 91 might sound pretty good but then by the way, there's 60,000 potential things in there.

Erica: Well what's interesting about this is when you read about the Flint water issue and then you start to dig deeper - and I'm just talking about the US here - every single state in the United States has had some issue.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: In California, 1,2,3-TCP which is a big oil manufacturer, pesticides. There's also 1,4-Dioxin which is an industry solvent stabilizer which pollutes the waters of North Carolina's Cape Fear. New York and Pennsylvania have had outbreaks of water-borne Legionnaire's disease. Hoosick Falls, New York has the PFOAs which is the man-made chemical used in Teflon and we'll go into that a little bit because they're phasing that out and replacing it with something that's equally as toxic.

Hexavalent chromium is a cancer-causing chemical. We learned about that from Erin Brockovich. She's a water activist. She made a movie, I can't remember the name.

Doug: It's just called Erin Brockovich.

Erica: Yeah. Then Houston, Texas has the hexavalent chromium fracking which we'll go into a little bit. So it seems like at least in the United States the 1930s was the dawn of the chemical industry and that's when this stuff started seeping into the water and the EPA is pretty much a useless organization.

Doug: More or less.

Erica: But I will say I have read several studies by scientists who've worked for the EPA who try and bring these studies out to the public but they're usually shunned and fired. Their story isn't really shared. According to Erin Brockovich, in the United States we don't just have one Flint, we have hundreds of Flints. It's happening consistently.

Doug: Yeah. The pollution is terrible of course but then there's also the stuff that we add to the tap water. I was lucky where I grew up because I was outside the area where they added fluoride. The next township over they were adding fluoride and my township didn't. My mom of course at the time, thinking she was doing it right, would get me fluoride treatments at the dentist. "Yeah, thanks mom."

But in Toronto where I spent most of my adult life, they do fluoridate the water. Our listeners are probably familiar with this whole thing behind fluoride but it's unbelievable that they have turned this industrial pollutant which the EPA considers a Class 4 hazardous waste, which is illegal to dump anywhere...

Erica: Except for in the waters.

Doug: ...and then they turn around and say "Oh, we need to add this to the water supply. We're doing people a favour by adding this." It's unbelievable. I think there might be something to the whole thing about it helping teeth to a certain extent but to say that it should be drunk by people every day, all the time! You can't do a metered dose if it's just in the drinking water. However much water everybody's drinking, that's the dose they're getting. It's unbelievable. If you want to protect your teeth with fluoride -and I would recommend doing some research on that first because like I say, I think there might be something to it - but getting a fluoride treatment where they put it directly on your teeth is very different than drinking it. Basically it's medicating people without their consent.

Erica: Yeah, and they're even adding it into food like frozen chicken, ice cream. Again, it may be different in Europe than it is in the United States. Where I grew up there was not fluoridated water but living in Hawaii for many years, all the military bases - which says a lot - have fluoridated water. We could go on and on about fluoride but, as you said, most of our listeners are probably well informed about it.

Doug: Just so people know what we're talking about, it actually has been shown to damage tooth enamel, increase risk of fractures, suppress immune and thyroid function, increase cancer risk, disrupt the function of the pineal gland, which I think is very telling. There have even been studies that have shown that it actually decreases IQ of children, that children in fluoridated water areas will have lower IQ than those in non-fluoridated areas. It's pretty disgusting.

Erica: Insidious.

Doug: Yeah, it really is. And then there's the controversial chlorine. You could look at it in many different ways. I would like to think that there might be alternatives to chlorinating the water. It's added in to kill off microorganisms, which of course, is very important. As we saw from Flint, Michigan, you need some way of getting rid of these microorganisms. The problem is that chlorine doesn't know when to stop killing microorganisms and it completely kills off the good bacteria in your digestive tract as well.

They've identified chlorine as being the leading cause of bladder cancer. It's also associated with rectal and breast cancer, asthma, birth defects, premature aging of the skin. Chlorine fortunately is relatively easy to get out of tap water. I think they say that just letting it sit on the counter for - I can't remember - 24 hours or something, it will actually evaporate. I think the Brita takes some of it out too, those little countertop filters. But I wish that they were looking into alternatives to it because it seems like it's very good for killing off the microorganisms but there's repercussions to that.

Erica: Well certainly. I know years ago in Hawaii we had excessive rain and because people were on septic systems the water was being contaminated. There was just so much of it so their solution was to add excessive amounts of chlorine to the water to make it "safe" and we didn't really even notice what was happening with it because you become accustomed to it. You can smell it when you're showering. They put a lot in it. We had a farm and everything started turning yellow, dreadfully yellow. So we had the water tested and it had super high levels of chlorine and people in the United States, if they're on municipal water, can have their water tested. It's kind of scary when you look at everything that's in there. It was like "Well, we need to put a filter on the water that was going to the farm, to all the plants". A filter can cost you anywhere from $300 to $1,000.

So I don't know if it really deals with the issue at hand. Maybe it just remedies one aspect but then there's so many others.

Doug: It's true. One of the scary things too with the whole water issue is that they've started finding pharmaceutical drugs in water. What happens is people take these drugs and then they urinate and that goes back into the water supply and there's leftover drugs in there. That actually ends up going into the ecosystem and into the water table. So we're probably getting a good dose of pharmaceutical drugs with our glass of water as well.

I remember there was a controversy back in the '70s I think, that they were finding traces of the birth control pill, so basically oestrogen, in the water. Oestrogen can lead to breast cancer and other types of cancers. It can have a feminizing effect on men. So there's all kinds of detrimental effects. They've even found anti-depressants and other psychiatric medications. Talk about having a drugged populace!

Erica: Yeah! With the fluoride.

Doug: Yeah, with the fluoride plus the anti-depressants.

Erica: In the United States I think people feel like they have the Clean Water Act, these other organizations like the EPA that are supposed to regulate, the Safe Drinking Water Act. These organizations are supposed to regulate things like that, the toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, plastics, heavy metals. People are being misled into believing that their drinking water is safe because it meets these "government standards".

Doug: Mm-hm.

Erica: But the EPA's allowable concentrations of contaminants in your drinking water is safe is a myth because they're not taking into account the cumulative effect of all the things, like you were just saying. So it's really hard to track those cumulative effects on people's health unless there's an acute exposure like what happened in Flint. There was an acute exposure. They started seeing that this lead was probably causing issues, mainly learning disabilities. But it's not being acknowledged that these chemicals accumulate in your blood, in your fatty tissues and other parts of your body and that that overload starts to affect us. As you said, you're not just being exposed by drinking it. You're being exposed by cooking with it and swimming with it, showering and brushing your teeth. So it's just insane. Basically it's a silent pandemic.

Doug: Yeah. When we look at things like the rise of autoimmune conditions and chronic disease, the numbers just keep on going higher and higher. I would be completely unsurprised if it turns out that this was a major contributor to these kinds of things, just not having clean drinking water. Like you said, the whole thing about the Clean Water Act, this doesn't just apply to the United States. Any country that's doing industrial agriculture or has industry of any kind is probably dealing with this same kind of issue. It's almost like this illusion that's placed over things. 'Everything's fine. The water is clean. You can drink it right out of the tap. Don't worry about it.' In reality, you really don't know.

I know a lot of people who live outside of cities who aren't on municipal water. They're on well water, a lot of times will feel safe because of that. But the thing is, there's still tons of stuff that can get into your water, I think agricultural pollution in particular.

Erica: Yeah. I shared that on the show last week, about glyphosate. There's this push to get it out of the food but I fear that the contamination is already done, that it's now in the water table, especially if you are on a well and you're in an agricultural area. All that stuff is going to sink into the water table eventually. It will be filtered through the soil and rocks and whatnot, but they're not testing for it. The Safe Drinking Water Act was actually enacted in 1974 and it was supposed to focus on ensuring that public drinking water met appropriate safety standards. And then two years before that the Clean Water Act was regulating pollution in lakes and rivers and other bodies of water.

But as we know, and what we've shared in the past, big business can get away with murder essentially. They just bribe and pay off the right people. But the Environmental Working Group tests water and they have a document called Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. You can look it up. The rule requires the EPA to review each national primary drinking water regulation at least once every six years and then revise it. They don't. Like you said, they only test for 91 contaminants out of thousands. So they're dropping the ball and they're really underfunded now. It's not really a priority. It's getting worse.

Doug: Well not only that, but local water testing, in a lot of cases they know how to fudge the numbers. They can hide spikes and things. In particular there was a report that just came out a month ago from the Environmental Working Group. They were talking about atrazine, the herbicide, a known endocrine disrupter, reproductive disrupter, leads to pre-term births, foetal deformities. So what they were showing was that these municipalities - I'm assuming it was the municipalities actually, I'm not sure who was testing the water - but the EPA allows them to report averages. So they can average out over the whole year.

So when the farming season is in its peak and it's there spraying all kinds of this stuff, they can hide the spikes that happen during that time because in winter it's not being done. So if they can report an average, then they don't actually see that at certain times it's actually well over the amount that's allowed to be in there. Also there were reports of some testers actually avoiding that time altogether. They don't test during farming season to avoid showing that there's spikes in these levels.

We have a clip with...

Erica: Dr. Tyrone Hayes.

Doug: That's it, Tyrone Hayes. He talks about atrazine and the pollution of the water table and its effect. So we can play that now.

Dr. Hayes: This is a pond in Lake Nabugabo in Uganda where I started to think that this agricultural runoff might not only affect the frogs and the fish but also the other animals that are drinking out of the water, including the humans that collect their drinking and cooking water from this same source. Because see, we all make oestrogen in the exact same way and use it in the same way.

The connection to contaminants in water might not be so obvious, this is my village, but things like Erin Brockovich's story and things like Flint, Michigan remind us that we don't necessarily have the resources that we think we have, the clean sources of water. A colleague of mine showed me - because I don't work with humans, I had to work with other people on this - that if you look at men in Columbia, Missouri and compare the atrazine in their urine, men who have atrazine in their urine have a low sperm count and can't get their wives pregnant. And by the way, this is the same amount of atrazine, 0.1 parts per billion, that we were using to chemically castrate and feminize our frogs.

Another colleague showed - and I've mashed the data down now - because these are atrazine levels of men who work in the fields in California and these are atrazine levels of men who apply atrazine in California, 2,400 parts per billion. They have 24,000 times the atrazine in their urine than we use to chemically castrate frogs and fish, 24,000 times what we know is already having a negative impact on men in Columbia, Missouri! One of these guys could pee in a bucket and I could dilute it 24,000 times and use the atrazine in their urine to chemically castrate and feminize 24,000 buckets of 30 tadpoles each.

Then a little boy who likes frogs learns phrases like 'environmental justice' because most of these individuals are Latinex or in California Mexican-Mexican-American. And then I thought about the impact that increasing oestrogen would have on humans because atrazine has the same effect in human cells. If you take human cancer cells - and we've done some of this work - that don't normally make aromatase for oestrogen and give them atrazine, they start making oestrogen just like we've shown in fish and frogs and rats and reptiles and in birds!

What's more, if you look at prostate cancer, there's an 8.4-fold increase in prostate cancer in the factory where they make atrazine in a community that's 80% black, 80% African-American. There are studies showing that there's correlations between atrazine in their drinking water and breast cancer incidents of women in Kentucky. And that's just a correlation but their own laboratory showed in 1994 that if you give rats atrazine, you increase the incidents of mammary cancer or breast cancer above animals that aren't exposed.

This is an interesting problem because breast cancer, the number one cancer in women, is oestrogen-dependent. This aromatase that I've talked about produces the oestrogen during breast cancer that stimulates those breast cancers to grow and divide and turn into tumours and spread. In fact, the role of aromatase is so important in breast cancer that the number one treatment for breast cancer right now is a chemical called letrozole. It works by knocking out aromatase, decreasing oestrogen so that even if you have cancerous cells they don't grow and turn into a tumour. That drug though has to work against 80 million pounds of atrazine that we're using every year that's the number one contaminant of drinking water that does exactly the opposite.

I got in trouble because I pointed out that Novartis Oncology in the year 2000 offered treatments for cancer that ranged from breast cancer. So the same company that gave us 80 million pounds of this contaminant associated with breast cancer was also selling a chemical that does the opposite to treat breast cancer. Yeah, they weren't too happy about me pointing that out.

I became concerned. I'm just a little boy who likes frogs but I became concerned because if you look at the top 13 cancers you're going to get in this country, blacks, African-Americans are more likely to get 11 out of the 13 and more likely to die from 13 out of 13. Biology? My colleagues who are experts in cancers tell me that less than 30% of cancer can be explained by genetics. That means that when the doctor tells you that you're going to get breast cancer more likely if your sister, your aunt or somebody in your family has it, they're not telling you you have bad genes necessarily. They're telling you that you've been exposed to the same crap as the rest of your family because if you're a minority, if you're an immigrant, if you're first generation, if you're low income, you're more likely to live in and more likely to work in areas where you're exposed to chemicals that we know are associated with adverse health outcomes.

What's more is, with the exception of HeLa cells, the cancer cells that we use to study cancer don't come from minorities. So even if we find the cure (hopefully), it may not be applicable to people who would need it the most.

So I think what's happened is my interest in this aquatic organism has taught me a great deal about this aquatic organism, because we all start out as aquatic in the amniotic fluid and these chemicals that I study in my tadpoles can cross the placenta. In fact, we now know that your children will be exposed to over 300 synthetic chemicals before they leave the womb and most of them we have no idea what the biological impact is. For atrazine we do know from rats, which are a proxy for us, that if you give rats atrazine, an EPA lab showed that those rats are more likely to have an abortion. Of those rats that don't have an abortion, the sons are born with prostate disease. Of those rats that don't abort, the daughters are born with impaired memory development such that when they grow up, their offspring experience retarded growth and development.

And it was these studies that moved me the most, that made me realize I can't just be a little boy who likes frogs because see that rat on the bottom? That rat on the bottom never saw atrazine. The rat on the bottom was affected by atrazine that its grandmother was exposed to. The rat on the bottom never saw atrazine. The rat on the bottom was affected by atrazine that its grandmother was exposed to.

So when I think about my little girl, my son, the fact that my grandchildren, that your grandchildren could be affected by chemicals that we're using today, it moved me in a very different way than just a little boy who likes frogs. It's just a correlation but we already know, studies have already been done by the Centers for Disease Control and others that if you get pregnant during peak atrazine contamination, you're more likely to have babies with birth defects, including malformed genitals in the male babies. The EPA has acknowledged this but they say "A monetary value is assigned to disease impairment and shortened lives and weighed against the benefits of keeping a chemical in use". A monetary value!

If you look at California - I've often given this talk outside of California - we're the fifth or seventh - depends on who you talk to - largest economy in the world because of agriculture, not because of tech or Hollywood. We produce 50% of the US's food. Half of the US's food comes from California. As a result we use more pesticides than any other state and 90% of the workers are Latinex. If I put it in red here, the top 10 counties for agriculture, these are the counties, the 30% that makes up the fifth largest economy in the world.

What if I plot onto that the 30 poorest towns in California? Environmental justice. So the people who make us the fifth largest economy in the world are the same people who are paying that cost that the EPA talks about. And so when I thought about this as a little boy who likes frogs, it motivated me to cross the line, so to speak. Crossing that line cost me. The chemical manufacturers set out to discredit me with personal attacks. They said "Hey, he's biologist turned activist!" Turned activist!! You can't be a scientist and an activist!! {applause}

They tried to discredit me but when they were interviewed by New Yorker Magazine, they said it simply wasn't true, I must be crazy, I must be making it up. They said - and I quote - "I am troubled by a suggestion that we have ever tried to discredit anyone. Our focus has always been on communicating the science and setting the record straight. I am troubled at the suggestion that we've ever tried to discredit anyone." Where on earth would I have gotten the idea that they tried to discredit me?

Well it turns out they settled out of court $105 million lawsuit and all of their secret strategies, like 'how are we going to get Tyrone' notes came out from their meetings. Their strategy became public. And look what the first goal of science was in their program! {laughter} Where on earth did anybody get the idea that they would ever try to discredit anyone?! I had to make a change. Academia: My advisor told me "Don't be an advocate. Let the science speak for itself." But I had to think about this, that we're being rewarded in the ivory tower, promoted for publishing things that the public doesn't have access to. I changed my mind about this philosophy because Syngenta the company says on their website "We assume no obligation to update forward-looking statements to reflect actual results". Pardon my language, but who says shit like that?! {laughter}

But what concerned me more is that the EPA says that the ultimate decision of whether or not to ban atrazine is much bigger than science. It weighs in public opinion. And I thought, the EPA's counting on my mom. The EPA's counting on you, to help it make its decision and I'm publishing my work in journals that you can't get in Barnes & Noble. We have to change the way we do things in the ivory tower.

There's a philosophy by a great thinker that goes like this, "Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act." {applause} This guy said that, by the way and I didn't grow up privileged. I don't know about you. All I know is that now I'm here, now you are here. You are privileged and you have a duty and I've reasoned that we can change the past, but only if we act now while it is still the future. {applause}

Doug: Okay.

Erica: Couldn't have said it better.

Doug: Yeah, totally. And incidentally, when he said who said that quote, it was Albert Einstein. I don't remember the exact quote but it was something like "Those who have the privilege to know have the duty to act".

Erica: For our listeners who may not know the history of Tyrone Hayes - I've put up an article in the chat about it - but he essentially works at UC Berkeley and he was hired by Syngenta to test atrazine on frogs. He wrote an article for Mother Jones many years back called The Frog of War and they really went after him. They did try and discredit him and said his science was unsound after they paid him to do it and he reported the truth. Since then he has been an activist I guess you would say, trying to share this information because a lot of people might not know, but there was a big merger kind of like the Monsanto/Bayer merger and Syngenta are now ChemChina and they've kind of dropped out of the news yet again. But that's the second leading herbicide that's used in the United States.

Doug: Yeah. You don't hear much about atrazine because glyphosate gets all the bad press but it's a really bad one too. As one of our chatters said, he's the one who turned the frogs gay. I don't know if you've ever heard Alex Jones ranting about that but atrazine is the one that causes the feminization of male frogs essentially. It was crazy too, in that talk he was showing slides of the testes of male frogs actually producing eggs.

Erica: And some of them had both sex hormones and not just one set but multiple sets.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: And they're a keystone species. So that's why he studies them because it just takes minute amount of toxins to affect them.

Doug: Yeah. It's pretty crazy.

Erica: So what other chemicals did we want to talk about? {laughter}

Doug: Well we could talk about microplastics.

Erica: Whoa!

Doug: So that's been making the news recently because they've been finding microplastics everywhere which are small fibers that come from plastic. It might just be from a water bottle or plastic whatever, but it also is in things like clothing. A lot of the synthetic fabrics that exist these days actually have plastic woven in with the fabric. I know yoga pants are supposed to be some of the worst offenders for that. But apparently the microplastic fibers are everywhere. They're in the water, they're in the air. I remember reading something about the estimate of 80,000 tons of microplastic dust falls on a city in any given year.

Erica: Yeah, it's in 90% of table salt. We talked a little bit about it in our salt show. They move up the food chain so especially if you eat seafood you're going to have microplastic contamination. We did do a show on it called Not to get Drastic But the Plastic is Making Us Spastic. It talks a lot about the microplastic issue.

Doug: Plastic doesn't break down very well and even when it does break down it leaves these little microplastics everywhere. It's in our food, it's in our water, it's in the air, we're breathing it in. It's in our bodies and we don't really know the full extent of what that actually does to us. Apparently microplastics are very good for harbouring bacteria, or microorganisms, that they'll actually latch onto it and ride it around. So as we're getting all this microplastic we're probably getting some infections as well.

Erica: It is so concerning.

Doug: Yeah. Dryers are apparently very bad because as your clothes go through the dryer, you look at the lint trap afterwards and you see all that lint that's there, a lot of that is plastic and a lot of that just gets ejected because you've got the outflow of your dryer just blowing out of the house. A lot of that air coming out of there is going to have microplastics in it, not to mention those dryer sheets. I don't know if they have microplastics but those things have got to be toxic.

Erica: It's 400 million tons of plastic are produced globally each year and it's estimated that 1/3 of all plastic waste ends up in soil and freshwater. So that's not even the ocean. Most plastic degenerates into what they call nurdles, one of the names that they talk about with ocean contamination. But it's smaller than 5 millimeters. In one article called The Underestimated Threat of Land-Based Microplastic Pollution, terrestrial microplastic pollution is actually much higher than marine microplastic pollution. They say sewage is an important factor in the distribution of microplastic and 80-90% of the particles contained in sewage are from garment fibers in that sludge.

Doug: How much?

Erica: 80-90% of particles contained in sewage.

Doug: That's crazy!

Erica: Yeah.

Doug: 80-90%!

Erica: Yeah.

Doug: That just shows you how much is just going through our entire environment, in the air, in the food. Wow!

Erica: What he mentioned about California I found really fascinating because they produce 50% of the food for the United States. But one thing that they were doing in California was using sewage sludge to fertilize food.

Doug: Human sewage.

Erica: Yeah.

Doug: Oh my god!

Erica: It was actually products being sold at Whole Foods and there was an article, I'll put it in the chat. It was called Don't Ask, Don't Tell- Concerned Citizen Uncovers Whole Foods Policy on Selling Food Grown With Sewage Sludge. I don't know, maybe grow your own? {laughter}

Doug: Oh my god!!

Erica: Because California is essentially a drought-stricken state and where they're growing, where he mentioned in central California is dry. They don't get a lot of water there. They maybe get 10 days of rain a year. They are diverting a lot of water from the Colorado River but lord have mercy!

Doug: So just think, what does the average American eat and then think about that being used to fertilize food. Talk about all the pharmaceutical medications and all that kind of stuff, oh my god! That's really disgusting to think about.

Erica: And that bioaccumulates, depending on the kind of vegetable you're eating. If you're eating lettuce, that's just going straight into the lettuce.

Doug: And then they're surprised when they have to recall romaine lettuce for e-coli infection.

Erica: Yeah. Alright, what other good news do we have? {laughter}

Doug: Well, what about microorganisms? We talked a little bit about that with the Flint, Michigan thing, but there was a case recently where a woman from Seattle was using regular tap water to do her neti pot. I don't know if all of the listeners know what a neti-pot is but it looks like a little teapot and it's used for using nasal irrigation to clean out your sinuses. She was just using regular tap water, which they always say not to do and she ended up getting a brain-eating amoeba called balamuthia. I don't know if I'm pronouncing that right. She ended up dying actually. The surgeons said when they cut her open - because they saw it on an MRI and thought that it was a tumour - a couple of days later they were doing surgery to get it out and the surgeon was saying that there was a section of her brain that was just mush because apparently these microorganisms eat the cells but they also excrete something that almost jellifies proteins I guess so that they can eat it. But this whole section of her brain was just mush because she got this brain-eating amoeba.

Erica: And they're found in warm, fresh-water pools but that it gets up your nose and into your brain but then your brain will start to fight against it. So your immune system launches a counter-attack by flooding the brain with immune cells causing inflammation and swelling. Of the 132 people known to have been infected with these since 1962 in the US, only three survived.

Doug: Wow! They were saying that it's not the amoeba necessarily that's going to kill you although given enough time I'm sure it would but because the body mounts this immune defence and causes all this inflammation. That's actually what usually ends up killing people because it's trying so hard to fight the infection. I don't think they really have a way of dealing with it. Apparently it's pretty rare but they don't have a firm understanding of what they can actually do about that if they find a person is infected.

But it's not just from neti-pots that you can get this. Apparently, like you were saying, you can get it from swimming. You can get it in the shower, all those kinds of things. And it doesn't necessarily have to get to your brain because there's other types of amoeba that can actually cause skin infections, like flesh-eating bacteria. There was an incident where a man who got a tattoo and then went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico before it was fully healed ended up getting a skin infection. He actually eventually ended up dying although he did go to the hospital and they treated it but he actually died about a month later from complications. In this particular case the guy was already fairly weak because he had had liver disease. What was it, hepatitis?

Erica: His immune system was already compromised.

Doug: Yeah. But nonetheless, that's a possibility. They say when you've had a tattoo - because that is essentially a wound - you're not supposed to go into the water until it's fully healed which can take a couple of months. The type of bacteria he was infected with is vibrio vulnificus. So that can cause all kinds of problems. So even to the extent that people can't just swim in the ocean anymore, you've got to be careful if you've got any open wounds or anything like that, particularly if you're going in the Gulf of Mexico. It's not a good idea.

Erica: Again, it's the pollution of these sources. When my children were little we had a doctor that would say "If they have a wound, just have them go swim in the ocean and the salt and ocean water will clean it out". Then a few years later they kept getting an outbreak of what's called impetigo. Basically they say children getting it from touching toilet seats or whatnot. The doctor said "Well we're at a point now with the septic system runoff and agricultural runoff and whatnot that I'd say the ocean is the last place you want to go into with open sores." And that doesn't even touch the whole Fukushima radiation issue, but we'll save that for a different show.

Doug: Oh god! So maybe we should talk about what people can actually do about it.

Erica: Yeah, that might be good. We've got to find some light at the end of the tunnel here. {laughter}

Doug: Exactly. There are filtration systems that you can get that can take out a lot. I think the reverse osmosis is probably one of the better ones, if not the best one. What that does is passes your water through a membrane that has only tiny little micro-holes in it to allow the water through and it filters out most other stuff. I know it does get out chemicals like chlorine and fluoride. Very few filters will actually take out fluoride but reverse osmosis does. It will take out pharmaceutical medications, any microorganism it's supposed to take out as well. I don't know if it's small enough to take out all the microplastics, to be honest. I'm not entirely sure about that.

So that's one possibility. The unfortunate thing is that reverse osmosis filters are kind of expensive although it is an up-front charge that you then will benefit from and I think you only have to change the filters once a year or something like that. There is also distillation which is just a unit that will boil your water and it collects the steam. I know that it will take out chlorine. It will take out other chemicals, pharmaceuticals, that kind of thing. It will take out metals. You're supposed to combine it with a carbon filter as well. Most of the units actually have a carbon filter at the end just as a secondary precaution. I don't know about microplastics. Microplastics are so new and I haven't looked at water filters in quite a while. I would assume that it will take those out as well but again, I'm not entirely sure. I guess it will take out anything that's heavier than the steam that's collecting.

What else is there? There are other fancy kinds of filters as well, different technologies. I've seen one, a brand called Seagull that they would actually recommend for things like well water because it would get all the microorganisms and metals and industrial waste and stuff. Fluoride as well.

Erica: I have one and I can't remember the name of it. Maybe I'll go look here in a minute. I think it's called an AquaRain and it was specifically designed if you live on water catch. So a lot of people in the United States don't have municipal water, especially in rural areas because they use catchment tanks to catch water and those do get a lot of bacteria in there. This filter was created so that if you had river water, if you lived on a river and you wanted to drink the water, you could use it. It's sterling silver and clay filters. I don't know how much - like you were saying - of the microplastics. But I know we are on well water and it has turned our sink blue with copper.

Doug: Oh my god!

Erica: And I was tasting it, you could really taste it and that's a distinct sign that there's something in the water when you can taste it, when it leaves almost a metallic taste in your mouth.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: So I got it out. It's kind of a survival thing that we have and I started making batches of water. I also recommend storing in glass and not plastic because of the BPA and all this other stuff. And then to clean it, every 10,000 gallons or something, you would take out the filters and scrub them down. So you scrub off a little bit of the clay and that's supposed to help. I don't know if it helps but it's comforting I guess in that sense.

Doug: One of our chatters asked "Can most water contaminants be excreted through the skin during sweating?" Very good question. I'm not entirely sure. I think that in general they're not. I think that they do have a tendency to bioaccumulate. That being said, I know if you're doing something like far infrared sauna therapy or near infrared sauna therapy where you are sweating, that is more efficient at stirring things up and getting them out of the system because you're activating mitochondria and really getting things going and having a good sweat. So maybe if you're doing sauna therapy it might but how good it is at doing that, I'm not entirely sure. Apparently doing sauna therapy can be better than just relying on your body to excrete things through the urine or the faeces.

It's really unfortunate that we live in a world where it's left up to the individual to do this. The authorities not only don't do anything about it, but don't tell anybody about it, don't recommend these things, maybe even mock them in some cases. "Oh you're just a stupid hippy", blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately it's the world we live in where an individual first of all has to encounter the knowledge and then decide to do something about it.

Erica: Yeah. Another thing is this whole idea of the precautionary principle. It's a little late for that now I would imagine. But if these companies that make all this toxic shit - excuse my language...

Doug: Tyrone Hayes said it, so.

Erica: ...actually gave a rat's ass about it, like he said, anyone that is concerned about the future of their offspring would think maybe this isn't the best choice. But I know I'm dreaming. It's my Christmas wish, you know?

Doug: It's kind of unbelievable really when you think about it. It's kind of like the system is set up where it pays more for them to game the system than anything else. It doesn't pay to care about this kind of thing. In the system we're in right now, the bottom line is all that matters. So it doesn't matter that we're poisoning this generation and all these future generations because our bottom line is all that matters.

Erica: Yeah. For those that are interested in one the precautionary principle is, UNESCO (United Nations Educational Science and Cultural Organization) describes the precautionary principle can be summed up this way: "When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm".

Doug: And how many people are actually living by that rule?

Erica: Exactly.

Doug: How many industries, how many companies? I'd say that it's a great idea but nobody is doing it. Even the medical system doesn't do that. The whole doctor's oath 'first do no harm', they don't do that.

Erica: One of our chatters said "You've got to think about the shareholders".

Doug: Yeah, exactly. But don't think about their health, just their pockets.

Erica: Well it's the normalization of pathology.

Doug: Yeah.

Erica: Let's just make sure and deal with that fossil fuel issue and don't deal with the water issue.

Doug: That's the thing. That's what pisses me off so much about the whole global warming thing. On the one hand, I think 'okay, you want to believe a bunch of bullshit go ahead' but the fact of the matter is it's just such a distraction from real issues like the water.

Erica: Yeah.

Doug: You're so concerned about putting carbon into the environment that you don't care about all the toxic - uggghh!

Erica; And you think about all that energy behind people, starting at a community level, just getting your water tested and then writing letters and saying "This needs to be addressed. This needs to be addressed." If people put that same energy in their own neighbourhood, you may actually see something change. Flint, Michigan was like that. It took people just outraged and not saying "We're just going to pretend like this isn't happening".

Doug: Yeah, exactly. So stop worrying about carbon.

Erica: Cow farts. {laughter}

Doug: Yeah, stop worrying about cow farts. Exactly.

Erica: Your Prius won't save you.

Doug: They end up polluting more anyway.

Erica: Well we could go on and on for more hours. We were going to share information about fracking but I don't know. I think that might be a whole other show in and of itself.

Doug: Yeah. Just look up some videos of people lighting their tap water on fire.

Erica: There is a documentary about fracking, if I can find the name of it.

Doug: Is it What the Frack?

Erica: No, but that's another one though. I just get so worked up about this. I'll have to find it after the pet health segment.

Doug: Well on that note, why don't we go to our pet health segment for today where Zoya's going to tell us about how to get your cat to drink more water.

Zoya: Hello and welcome to the pet health segment of the Health and Wellness Show. This week's topic is water and how to make your cat drink more of it. As it happens since cats started to eat kibble or dry food, all kinds of kidney diseases in cats skyrocketed. It is also because cats naturally don't drink that much. They get their water when they eat their prey fresh and almost whole but now we have a lot of cats that not only are fed inappropriate diets, many of them, especially all kinds of purebred ones, refuse to eat natural food. So considering this situation, here are several tips to help your kitty drink more water. Have a great weekend and good-bye.

Dr Alex Avery: Does your cat have a condition like kidney failure or diabetes which means they need to drink more water? Are you just worried that your cat is being fed a dry kibble and you don't seem to see them drink much? Well it can be really difficult to know how to get your cat to drink more water. In this video I'll give you my top 10 tips on how to encourage cats to drink and really increase their water consumption.

Hi, I'm Dr. Alex from helping you and your pet to live healthier, happier lives. So if we're just meeting for the first time, consider subscribing and hitting that bell notification to allow me to continue to help you and your cat.

Cats are really desert animals and as a result are really good at conserving water. They are really great at extracting the moisture from their food and so actually they don't really need to drink very much in order to survive. Now this evolution also means that they can have a low thirst drive which is why you often won't see your actually drinking. This is also why getting your cat to drink more water can be really challenging. The problem with this is that if your cat becomes unwell for any other reason or if they have a disease that compromises their ability to conserve water, then they can very quickly become dehydrated.

Examples of this are diabetes, kidney disease and liver disease. Dehydration can be very dangerous. It compromises overall health and potentially makes the condition much, much worse. So what can we do to change this? Well here are my top 10 tips for how to get your cat to drink more water.

Number 1 is simply switch to wet food. Do you realize that 80% of wet food is water? So if you're currently feeding your cat a dry food which typically is about 10% water, then you can see how a simple diet change can really make a huge difference in the amount of water that your cat takes on-board.

Now clearly a diet change is not always as simple as just putting it in a bowl. Cats are notoriously fussy. So if you do struggle with this then make sure you check out my next video which will help change your cat's diet. Now if your vet has advised that a special diet is fed to your cat, then there's nearly always a wet version that you could choose instead of a biscuit. There will also always be alternatives should your pet not really like what you choose for them in the first place.

Number 2, I've got to refresh water bowls regularly. If water is left sitting around for a long time in your cat's bowl, it becomes less and less likely that they'll actually want to drink it. So the flavour will change. It might become full of bugs or dirt, other pets may have drunk from the bowl and none of these are really acceptable situations for your cat. This means that you should refresh your cat's water and also clean their water bowl every day. Now it's important to know that when you clean their bowl there's no residue from any dish soap used as this would really change the taste of the water and put your cat off drinking from that bowl. Keeping the water in the fridge may also help as many cats prefer cold water and then by regularly refreshing their bowl, they'll often have nice cold water more often.

Number 3 is to change the water type. Now to you and I, water is generally water. Most of it tastes more or less the same and very often we're adding a flavour to it anyway. Well cats can be very particular about the type of water they like and they're able to pick up and object to the subtle differences in flavours that depend on where the water is coming from. The tap water in your area might have too many chemicals or be too hard. Using filtered water or trying a different source of water may mean that they start drinking more. Collecting rainwater is another option that is pretty easy and free, depending on where you live.

So number 4, I've got to add some flavour. Now as I've already mentioned, we often add flavour to our water in the form of juice, coffee or tea and I'm not suggesting that you give these to your cat but instead you could try adding some tuna juice maybe or boil up some chicken and add the water from this to your cat's water. You could try something else that your cat might like. Just be sure to avoid anything salty or that has had salt added to it such as stock cubes. Now this liquid can be given undiluted but you'll probably find that that adding just a small amount to your cat's water will be enough for them to really enjoy the flavour and encourage them to drink. The leftover liquid doesn't need to be thrown away. Instead you could pour it into ice cube trays and freeze them.

This has several benefits. It means that you only have to make up this water additive maybe once a month, which makes it a really easy task. It also then means that when you defrost them it will provide nice cold water for your cat, which we've already mentioned, they might really enjoy. Now if you find that your cat is happy with plain water but just likes it cold then you can simply add plain ice cubes as a simple solution.

So number 5, I've got to use different food bowls. So by now you'll have noticed that cats' tastes are super sensitive and even very minor differences in flavour can really make a huge difference. On big flavour-determining factor is bowl type so glass, ceramic, plastic and metal bowls give the water a slight taste, especially in hot weather and if it's left unrefreshed for some time. Glass and china affects flavour much less which is why we prefer drinking from them as well.

To find out which bowl type your cat prefers you can simply put water in a bowl of each type and see which one your cat chooses. If the bowl is plastic, if they always drink from a glass of water by your bed, then you can probably already guess which one your cat will prefer. As well as bowl type, bowl shape can also play a role. Some cats really hate it when their whiskers touch the side of the bowl when eating or drinking. Some people think that this can actually cause pain when it's repeated over a long period of time. But regardless of this, using a wide, shallow bowl that is completely full will avoid this problem and may make all the difference in getting your cat to drink more water.

Number 6, I've got running water. A change of bowl might not be enough for some cats. Have you noticed that your cat likes drinking from the tap? Well, they're not alone and many cats actually do prefer to drink water from a running source. Unless you live by a stream or choose to leave the tap running all the time, this can really be difficult to provide and make sure it's always available for your cat.

So the solution to this and one that works in a lot of cats is to get your cat a pet drinking water fountain. These are indiscrete indoor fountains that are designed specifically for your cat to drink from. Once your cat gets used to having one, you might be surprised how often you actually find them at their water bowl. A cat water fountain can really make a huge difference.

So at number 7 is add water to your pet's food. Now whether your pet has kibble or a wet food, adding extra water is a great way to get them to take more in without relying on them actually drinking. Much like changing their diet, adding water may put your cat off eating so the best chance of success is by taking things slowly. Start off by just adding a few drops of water and then over a period of a couple of weeks or a month, just slowly increase this amount and before long you'll have added a significant amount of water to their food and really increased the amount of water that they're drinking. Remember though that wet food spoils sooner than kibble so it should not be left down for extended periods of time, especially in hot weather.

Number 8 is water location. Now competition for resources is a big cause of stress in cats living a multi-cat household. If there are not enough bowls and if they don't get on as well as you think they do with their housemates, then they may be too nervous to drink as often as they would like. So as a general rule there should be one more water bowl than there are cats in the house. So for example if you have three cats, you should have four water bowls.

Where you put them also has an effect. They should not be right by the litter tray. Instead, they should be in a quiet location that ideally should have a good view of their surroundings so that your cat can't be crept up on by another cat so that they're not just always looking around nervously. If you have more than one cat then also check out these other ways to reduce stress levels in my other videos.

So number 9 is to increase the number of meals. Very often after a cat eats something they will have a small drink so having food down all the time and feeding your cat ad lib while they simply help themselves may increase their water intake. It's not though a good idea because it will generally make them fat which in itself can be very dangerous. Now instead if you're home, try giving them just regular small meals. It's a bit more labour-intensive this, but it can help if it fits into your family's lifestyle.

Okay, so number 10 and my final point is to give subcutaneous fluids. For some cats with certain conditions, no matter how much they drink, they're just not able to keep up with the amount they are losing in the urine. So an example of this would be more advanced kidney disease and in these situations your vet may suggest that they're given fluids under their skin. Now this is not as scary as it sounds and it's very well tolerated in many cats. It can make all the difference in giving your pet an excellent quality of life for just that little longer before their disease becomes too bad and untreatable.

Now there's an excellent article and video that I'll link down below, by the International Cat Care Council and this gives you all the details of how to give subcutaneous fluids to your cat. Your vet of course will also discuss this option with you and if they feel it's suitable for your pet as well as demonstrate how to do it at home.

So implementing just a few of these tips should make all the difference in getting your cat to drink more water. If your pet has a condition that is prone to making them become dehydrated, then increasing their water intake might make all the difference in ensuring they have an excellent quality of life as well as extending their life.

So have you made any changes that has meant your cat has started drinking more? I'd really love to hear them in the comments down below just to help other people who may read them. Also sign up to my newsletter to make sure you don't miss out on in the future content and to get your free copy of my weight and diet calculator.

So until next time, I'm Dr. Alex from ourpetshealth because they're family.

Doug: Those are some well-hydrated goats.

Erica: Clean stream water somewhere in some remote part of the world. So I remembered the name of the documentary about fracking if any of our listeners are interested called Gas Land, about the fracking industry and the joys of what they're doing to the water. There's even archived footage from Dick Cheney himself who kind of is the secret villain behind the whole fracking industry and Haliburton organization.

Doug: Well that's unsurprising. Well I guess that is our show for today. Thanks everybody for tuning in and thanks to our chatters. We actually won't be back for another show next week. We are going to be gone for the next two weeks so everybody have happy holidays. Tune into the other SOTT Radio programs. Tomorrow there is The Truth Perspective and on Sunday, NewsReal. So until next time.

Erica: Have a great New Year.

Doug: Bye everybody.