An Ocean of Plastic

Plastic Ocean Jacob Gonzalez Solis An Ocean of Plastic

Photo Courtesy of Jacob Gonzalez Solis

How about a swim in the beautiful plastic sea? In what is being described as “the most scientifically rigorous estimate to date,” scientists have more accurately estimated how much plastic is floating in the Earth’s oceans. After gathering data from 24 ship expeditions from around the globe, including the five subtropical gyres, coastal Australia, the Bay of Bengal, and the Mediterranean Sea, researchers estimate that there are 5.25 trillion particles of plastic litter in the oceans – or 269,000 tons of plastic!

“Scientists have now estimated that if you look under a microscope, there’s 4 to 6 times the plastic than there is plankton, marine life,” said Dr. Craig Gilman, Coastal Carolina University’s Associate Professor of Marine Science.

Researchers gathered data on microplastics, which comprise 92% of the ocean’s plastic pollution, gathered using nets as well as large plastic debris from visual surveys. Larger plastics are more abundant near the coastlines while more degraded microplastics were found in the five subtropical gyres. But researchers also found tiny plastic particles, down to the size of a grain of sand in the remove polar regions!

“Our findings show that the garbage patches in the middle of the five subtropical gyres are not the final resting places for the world’s floating plastic trash,” said Marcus Eriksen, research director for the 5 Gyres Institute, who led the study. “The endgame for micro-plastic is interactions with entire ocean ecosystems.”

Help eliminate the plastic from the oceans by eliminating the plastic from your workplace. Switch to a Quench bottleless water cooler! Replacing one traditional office water cooler with a Quench bottleless water cooler prevents as many as 2,100 5-gallon plastic jugs from entering landfills each year!

Weird Water News – December 12

The Quench Weird Water News recaps the week’s top 5 weird water news stories. Come back each Friday for the latest stories!

  • Walking on water?! Two hikers in the High Tatras Mountains in Slovakia walked across a frozen lake with ice so crystal clear that it looked like they were walking on water!

A Single Exposure to BPA Can Affect Your Health

BottledWaterBan 150x141 A Single Exposure to BPA Can Affect Your HealthNew research from the Seoul National University’s department of preventive medicine in Korea has found that even single exposure to BPA can have a direct and immediate impact on cardiovascular health. The study found that when people drank soy milk from a can with BPA linings, the levels of BPA in their urine as well as their blood pressure rose within two hours. However, when the same individuals drank soy milk from glass bottles, which do not use BPA linings, there was no significant change in their BPA levels or blood pressure.

The study, published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, was a random controlled trial. Researchers recruited 60 older subjects, majority of them women, to drink soy milk from cans or glass bottles on three separate occasions, weeks apart. Most of the subjects had no history of high blood pressure, though some did.

Soy milk does not have any properties that are known to increase blood pressure and is considered fairly neutral making it less likely to leach BPA from containers, like soda, fruit juice or other acidic beverages.

The study found that when the subjects drank from glass bottles their urinary BPA levels remained fairly low, but when they drank from BPA-lined cans, their urinary BPA levels were about 16 times higher. As their urinary BPA levels rose, so did their systolic blood pressure readings – on average by about 5 millimeters of mercury. In general, every 20 millimeter increase in systolic blood pressure doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease.

While a single instance of increased blood pressure may not be harmful, the findings suggest that multiple exposures on a consistent basis may contribute to hypertension over time. “I think this is a very interesting and important study that adds to the concern of bisphenol A,” said Dr. Karin Michels, an expert on BPA who was not involved in the new research. “It raises a lot of questions. We have such a high rate of hypertension in this country, which has risen, and we haven’t really thought of bisphenol A and its use in cans as one of the causes of that.”

Previous research has found that BPA is an endocrine disrupter that can mimic estrogen, leading the Food and Drug Administration to ban BPA in baby bottles and children’s drinking cups. Canadian regulators formally declared BPA a toxic substance in 2010 and banned it from all children’s products.

Ban BPA from your office by switching to bottleless water coolers! Bottleless water coolers are like miniature water purification plants in your office: the good stuff (like minerals) stay in while the bad stuff (like chlorine, lead, phosphates, and bacteria) comes out, providing your office with the cleanest, best-tasting water delivered to your glass!

Weird Water News – December 5

The Quench Weird Water News recaps the week’s top 5 weird water news stories. Come back each Friday for the latest stories!

  • Forget a partridge in a pear tree! Stolichnaya Vodka has created the pristine water series vodka just in time for the holiday season. The Andean edition costs $3,000 a bottle!
  • Turn seawater into drinking water by adding sunlight? Desolenator, an award-winning British-based company, has developed a machine that turns seawater and other dirty waters into pure, distilled water just by adding sunlight.
  • Lobster eligible to collect Social Security! Biologist Forrest Galante caught a 12 pound, 70-year old lobster off the coast of Santa Barbara, CA!

Good Music – No Plastic

PlasticPollutionCoalition Good Music   No PlasticPlastic Pollution Coalition is on a mission. Headed by environmental activist and artist Dianna Cohen, Plastic Pollution Coalition has launched Plastic Free Touring in an effort to clean up the carbon footprint of live music events.

Plastic Pollution Coalition has worked with Jackson Browne, Ben Harper, and Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival to provide concert-goers with reusable, stainless-steel containers to use instead of disposable cups. As Cohen recounts, after 7,500 reusable cups sold out, “people started stealing them from each other. They were very coveted.”

Cohen’s focus on plastic began almost 25 years ago when she started to create three-dimensional works of art and she learned that “all the plastic we’ve ever made is pretty much still around, either as micro-plastic of incinerated in particulate pollution.” After trying to work to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, Cohen decided to focus her efforts on eliminating the need for single-use plastic in the first place.

Even musical artists and festivals unaffiliated with the Plastic Pollution Coalition, including Phish, have started to work to reduce plastic at concerts. Over the next couple years, Cohen hopes to see all the major music festivals hand concert-goers a reusable container as they enter the concert though her longer term goal is to “break people from their addiction to bottled water.”

Most offices aren’t live music events. However, you can join the movement by eliminating plastic from your water cooler! Switch to a bottleless water cooler and enjoy a virtually endless supply of clean, great-tasting water delivered straight to your glass. It’s the greener solution that saves you green!

Weird Water News – November 26

Happy Thanksgiving! One of the things we are thankful for is Weird Water News! To celebrate Thanksgiving, we have put together a list of the week’s top 5 Weird Water News stories. Enjoy!

  • Move over Nessy; there is a new sea monster in town! Scientists were able to catch the black seadevil on film and it is truly terrifying.
  • Don’t drink the water! Toyota’s Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car produces heat and water as byproducts instead of carbon dioxide, but Toyota does not recommend drinking the water as it is not sterilized.

Bottled Water is Tap Water?

FaucetToBottledWater CraigCutler Bottled Water is Tap Water?Nearly half of all bottled water sold in the U.S. is tap water! Nearly half! According to Food and Water Watch, tap water’s share of the bottled water market grew from 32.7% in 2000 to 47.8% in 2009. In all 2.5 billion gallons of municipal water – which taxpayers pay to treat – is bottled and sold for at least $1 per gallon, often much more. Conveniently this same water is delivered directly to your home for a penny or less per gallon.

As Food and Water Watch executive director, Wenonah Hauter explained, “These figures reveal that more and more bottled water is basically the same product [that] flows from consumer taps, subsidized by taxpayer dollars – then poured into an environmentally destructive package, and sold for thousands of times its actual value.”

Also the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the nonpartisan research organization that serves Congress, has recently concluded a yearlong investigation surrounding the bottled water industry. The investigation looked into the concerns about bottled water: bottled water is not necessarily safer than municipal water and plastic bottles are environmentally destructive.

The GAO found that perceived health benefits are the reason for the increase in the consumption of bottled water. On paper, the Food and Drug Administration limits contaminants in bottled water to mirror the limits the EPA enforces. However, the GAO found that what is on paper isn’t always what is happening. For example:

  • The EPA has set limits on phthalates in water, but the FDA has stalled for over 15 years on publishing a limit on DEHP (a phthalate) in bottled water. DEHP is an ingredient in plastic and studies have linked it with obesity, male fertility, and other problems relating to hormonal imbalances.
  • The EPA requires drinking water supplier to use certified labs to test municipal water, while the FDA does not have this authority. And does not require test results to be reported!
  • The EPA requires public drinking water systems to publish annually the results of their water quality testing, but the FDA does not require this of bottled water companies.
  • Many states encourage the recycling of carbonated beverages, like soda and beer, with deposit laws. However, these “bottle bills” are much less common for bottled water, resulting in about 75% of water bottles being thrown in the trash, rather than the recycling.

So forget the plastic bottle! Instead fill your reusable water bottle with municipal water and save money! We recommend filtering the water first using our state-of-the-art filtration system to make sure you are drinking the cleanest, best-tasting water delivered to your glass!

Weird Water News – November 21

The Quench Weird Water News recaps the week’s top 5 weird water news stories. Come back each Friday for the latest stories!

  • Build it and plastic will come… The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world and until this week home to 57 tons of trash, including 1,469 plastic beverage bottles.
  • They made a left turn when they should have made a right – A pod of 40 whales are stuck in a shallow estuary off the Essex coast in England; police and marine biologists are gently nudging the whales to deeper waters.
  • Forget the blizzard – these are some righteous waves, brah! Two upstate New York athletes decided to surf the waves in Lake Erie while the area was slammed with a year’s worth of snow in 3 days!
  • Fire and Ice! The Mulligan Elementary School in Chicago is now a giant icicle – the school which first opened in 1890 caught fire and quickly became an icicle as the spraying water from firefighters froze.

Weird Water News – November 14

The Quench Weird Water News recaps the week’s top 5 weird water news stories. Come back each Friday for the latest stories!

  • Shots! Shots! Shots! Of water? Nightclubs across England are hiring “Water Angel” models to offer shots of water to partiers.
  • Wash your car without any water? Waterless Works, a water-free mobile carwash business, offers customers a car wash that actually saves 38 gallons water.
  • Going on a long bike ride? Leave the water bottle at home!  Austrian designer Kristof Retezar has created a self-filling bottle that hangs underneath a bike frame and produces half a liter of drinkable water in one hour.
  • Forget hiking around Victoria Fall – Lukas Irmler and Reinhard Kleindl walked across Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls using a tightrope!
  • Soggy predictions! Shuksan Middle School in Washington recently opened a time capsule that was buried in 1989; unfortunately it was filled with water.

Meet Quench – Ken Neelon

KenNeelonPicture Meet Quench   Ken NeelonFirst things first – Ken Neelon deserves congratulations!

Ken recently earned his WQA certification. Water Quality Association offers a voluntary credentialing process for individuals working in the point-of-use/point-of-entry water quality industry. Ken spent six months studying five textbooks in preparation for the required test, but he contends that it was his years of experience that helped him prepare for the WQA certification test. As Ken explained, “The hardest part wasn’t taking the test, I was prepared for the test. The hardest part was finding the time to study and staying focused while I was studying. When you have 6 kids, there is always a sibling argument that needs to be policed.”

In addition to being WQA certified, Ken is also NARDA (North American Retail Dealers Association) certified in Type 1 appliances, which includes refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners, under the counter ice makers, and drinking water coolers. Ken graduated from Central Montgomery County Vocational Technical School in electronics servicing in 1992. After working in the mental health industry for several years, Ken followed his passion and worked for AVM Services before joining the Quench family in June of 2004 as a field service technician.

While a field service technician, Ken received recognition as “Service Technician of the Year” two years in a row. Ken, then, moved off the road and worked as a warehouse technician, checking the quality of Quench machines. After working as a warehouse technician, Ken became the warehouse manager, warehouse purchaser, production floor manager to finally the role he has now as the Quality Control and Service Technician Liaison.

In his current role, Ken quality-checks Quench units before they are sent to field service technicians; he offers support for warehouse technicians and field service technicians, as well as tests new water filtration technologies and possible new Quench machines. As Ken explains, his favorite part of his day, is “working with the warehouse technicians to improve the quality of Quench products and to help train field service technicians to ensure the best quality machine and service for our customers.”

When Ken is not working on providing our customers with the best quality machine and service, he likes to go on adventures with his kids, and now his newborn grandson. (Congrats, Ken!). When he has free time away from his kids, he likes to get his hands dirty working on old cars, including his 1987 Cadillac Brougham. One day, when he doesn’t have to police sibling fights anymore, Ken hopes to explore his family’s heritage by visiting Ireland, specifically Limerick where his great grandmother’s quilts are on display in a cultural museum.

Congratulations, Ken! Thanks for being such an integral part of the Quench family!