Food allergies are on the rise, estimated to be affecting at least 250,000 Australian’s. According to a new study published in the United States in the December issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), pesticides and tap water could be partially to blame.
This authorative study reported that high levels of dichlorophenols, a chemical used in pesticides and to chlorinate water, when found in the human body, are associated with food allergies. “Our research shows that high levels of dichlorophenol-containing pesticides can possibly weaken food tolerance in some people, causing food allergy,” said allergist Elina Jerschow, M.D., M.Sc., ACAAI fellow and lead study author. “This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as tap water.”
In the United States where 10,348 participants in a US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2,548 had dichlorophenols measured in their urine and 2,211 were included into the study. Food allergy was found in 411 of these participants, while 1,016 had an environmental allergy. “Previous studies have shown that both food allergies and environmental pollution are increasing in the United States,” said Dr. Jerschow. “The results of our study suggest these two trends might be linked, and that increased use of pesticides and other chemicals is associated with a higher prevalence of food allergies.”
It is generally accepted that similar results would be seen within the Australian population where water is treated in a similar manner and similar pesticides are utilised by farmers. To reduce the likelihood of developing an allergy the options are:
- drink bottled or filtered water
- purchase natural or organically grown fruit and vegetables
Whilst opting for bottled water instead of tap water might seem to be a way to reduce the risk for developing an allergy this is not the whole answer. More often than not bottled water is not a solution it is a problem because it is estimated about 40 percent of bottled water is in fact regular tap water.
Australians spend over $500 million every year buying bottled water. Potable drinking water from Gold Coast City Council costs $3.27 a kilolitre. Bottled water here is 1070 times more expensive than the water Gold Coast City Council pipes directly to your home. Australian bottled water costs around $3500 a kilolitre and Italian bottled water around $9600 a kilolitre.
The only solution with respect to water is installing a whole of house water filtration system because Gold Coast City Council potable drinking water distribution pipe line systems contain bacteria killing chlorine. The intent is simply to provide you with bacteria-free water. Unfortunately, they’re doing more than that because every time you consume tap water from the Gold Coast City Council distribution system you are ingesting a measure of chlorine. Every time you shower or bathe in tap water you are ingesting the free chlorine gas in the water supply. The telltale signs of unacceptably high levels of chlorine? Dry flaky skin, and the odour you often detect in your shower, bath, or drinking water.
Chlorine does not kill all the bacteria in the water supply pipelines as scale still builds up inside the pipes requiring the council to regularly clean them. Far worse, chlorine is a chemical and a poison. Once ingested, it randomly targets what it kills off in your body. Simply put, chlorine kills all bacteria…good and bad. It can kill off the natural flora in your stomach. It can negatively affect your digestion. It can build up in fat deposits. It can settle in your arteries and lead to heart disease. What’s more, chlorine can cause bladder cancer as the human body is not designed to filter out chlorine. And yet for the foreseeable future, it will remain in the Gold Coast City Council potable water distribution pipe line systems.
To take control of an important area of managing your own health by purifying your water supply Whywait Plumbing strongly recommend the installation of whole of house water filtration systems to remove one major threat of developing an allergy.
With the advent of the EnviroSeal system for Zero Flush waterless urinals the days of malfunctioning urinals are over. The ongoing development of Zero Flush waterless urinals signals the end of wasted water and energy in public toilets everywhere. Building owners everywhere are praising the benefits and reaping the rewards of finally having efficient, problem free waterless urinals installed by Whywait Plumbing Services.
For those who are not aware, a Zero Flush waterless urinal utilises gravity and an incredibly smooth porcelain surface to do the work that used to take up to 12 litres of water. While this concept may seem foreign and completely unappealing, a Zero Flush waterless urinal eliminates odour by separating waste from air meaning that foul smells will stay in the drains where they belong.
Zero Flush waterless urinals have hygienic benefits, economic benefits, and environment benefits, some of which are listed below:
- No flushing: When a traditional urinal is flushed, you might think that all the waste is transported directly down the drain. Actually, the rushing water creates a mist that contains waste and contaminates the air. Since waterless urinals don’t flush, they don’t contaminate the air.
- No touching: Traditional urinals rely on flush valves to expel the waste. These valves can have thousands of dirty hands touching them over the course of their life-cycle. Zero Flush waterless urinals have no valves so there’s no touching and no spread of germs.
- Water bills: The name is no exaggeration; a Zero Flush waterless urinal literally uses zero water to operate. With the water bill alone, a Zero Flush waterless urinal could easily pay for itself within a year if not sooner.
- Maintenance: No flush valve to fix. No blocked pipes that need unblocking. Little to clean. A Zero Flush waterless urinal is so efficient it needs next to no supervision.
- Price: With all their benefits, Zero Flush waterless urinals are in higher demand. Zero Flush have been producing urinals in larger numbers, which means the prices are lower. You can now even purchase a waterless urinal for nearly half the same price as a traditional urinal.
- Potable water supplies: Yes, the world is almost covered in water so it seems like we can use it as we please. The truth is, we only have so much potable water that we have access to. With Zero Flush waterless urinals, wasting water is unnecessary.
- Energy efficiency: Some people take it for granted that water is available in pipes all the time but it doesn’t get there by accident. It takes a great deal of energy and electricity to move water. Zero Flush waterless urinals save the environment by conserving energy.
For building owners Zero Flush waterless urinals installed by Whywait Plumbing Services are a smart choice for hygiene, budgeting and the environment.
Water is just water is just water, but many people spend an inordinate amounts of time considering which brand they should buy, whether it is still or sparkling and whether it is flavoured or not. Even more bizarre is the fact that they are willing to pay the same price for a 600 millilitre bottle of water that Gold Coast Water charge for 1000 litres of humble tap water. All of this is despite the significant damage to both their wallet and the environment.
The worldwide bottled water market value increased from $64m in 2005 to $80m in 2009 and is expected to grow to $100m by 2014. This rapid increase in bottled water sales in mature markets that have good quality tap water such as in most of Australia raises the question of how has humble water, a homogeneous chemical element, become a multimillion-dollar business? Furthermore how has it eventuated that water can be sold as a differentiated product at distinct price points and then be shipped all around the world?
Apparently it is all about the bottle and the way the bottle is branded. Firstly because bottled water provides a level of perceived convenience that is not enjoyed by tap water. Secondly it is about convenience because we are all too busy to turn on a tap and use a reusable bottle so buying a throwaway bottle of water is easier than carrying around a reusable bottle and refilling it as required. Even more bizarrely for the success in bottled water sales is the combination of branding and packaging. The design of the water bottle communicates desirable values such as health, purity and exoticism with the key factor being the ability of the bottle’s design to symbolically bestow social status upon the person consuming it.
These desirable values of bottled water originated in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries where the unique mineral compositions of springs at water hospitals or spas were used to cure ailments and maintain the health of the wealthy. As a result people began to take these healthy waters home with them due to the development of bottling equipment and machines that could manufacture and fill the bottles. The symbolism and culture of the spas remains a vital part of the marketing strategy of many brands today. Bottled water packaging lined up on the shelves is a wealth of imagery in service stations, convenience stores, supermarkets and even in drink dispensing machines. Bottled waters strongest selling points remain mountains, springs, and lakes in shades of blue and white symbolically expressing purity and health.
As more and more brands of water invade the market there has been diversification into the luxury market. Bottle designs have begun imitating the shape of wine bottles and has created a culture of high social status that rivals the wine cellar in many restaurants, hotels and bars with the images of health and luxury being created by the marketing.
Almost universally every scientific study reveals that there is little to no difference in actual health benefits derived from bottled water and tap water. Even more tellingly is the revelation that there is little difference between individual brands of bottled water. Unfortunately the prevalence and the symbolic power of bottled water marketing is overshadowing scientific findings by appealing to something of great importance to consumers of bottled water and that is their self-identity. Such is the power of the marketing of bottled water that symbolism studies have shown that many people draw on the symbolic values of bottled water to not only create their self-identity, but to decipher the characteristics of other consumers of bottled water. This symbolism has created the illusion that bottled water is more of a fashion accessory than just something to drink when you are thirsty.
The marketing symbolism of bottled water has increasingly come under threat by the even more symbolic environmental image as bottled water has a large environmental footprint due to the cost of manufacturing the bottle and transporting cartons of bottled water all over the world. The major target of environmental criticism is the actual plastic bottle which has an increasingly negative image. This has resulted in a re-design of the bottles to symbolically express environmental friendliness by using alternative materials such as bio-degradable plant based plastics, recyclable cartons and tetra-paks. Marketing is also using the symbolism of colour to express its new eco-conscience with green now common on bottled water packaging along with messages on the labels about all the wonderful environmentally friendly practices used to manufacture the bottles and bottle the water.
Fortunately the use of environmentally-friendly symbolism to appease the concerns of consumers about the environment are increasingly failing to convince the symbolically aware consumers who are the main purchasers of bottled water. These consumers have turned their back on bottled water at the same time as government agencies have begun to raise concerns about the cost to the environment when an equal product is already available in everyones tap. Worldwide the trend is for environmentally aware companies to hand out their own branded bottles which allow for easy refill from any domestic tap. This move in many ways is a tribute to the power of design of the bottle and its perceived convenience.
The reusable water bottle gives these companies the ability to differentiate themselves through water and give it unique appeal though packaging and graphic design. The bottle has given bottled water manufacturers an edge over tap water which can be easily eliminated by consumers beginning to utilise the convenience and symbolic appeal of the bottle combined with the simple convenience of turning on a tap and refilling the bottle.
Are solar powered toilets the future? Well Bill Gates is betting it is and putting his money behind its development. The “Reinvent the Toilet Fair” held in Seattle this week at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s campus gave first price to Professor Michael Hoffman of the California Institute of Technology for their work on a self-contained, sun-powered toilet system that recycles water and breaks down human waste into storable energy.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has focused on developing a new type of toilet since last year as part of the push to improve health in the developing world. This is due to Bill Gates recognising that despite all the staggering medical breakthroughs and scientific advances the seemingly mundane advance of reliable sewage and reliably clean water supply was judged the greatest medical advance.
Bill Gates has constantly focused on the need for a new type of toilet as an important part of his foundation’s push to improve health in the developing world. About 2.6 billion people, or 40 percent of world’s population mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia lack access to safe sanitation and are forced to defecate in the open. Open defecation leads to sanitation problems that cause 1.5 million children under 5 to die each year, Gates said, “western style toilets are not the answer as they demand a complex sewer infrastructure and use too much water.”
As Bill Gates has realised what plumbers have always known is that fundamentally toilets have not changed since the invention of the flush toilet in 1775. For this reason Bill Gates has launched the reinvent the toilet program to inspire research into new inventions in toilet technology. “Imagine what’s possible if we continue to collaborate, stimulate new investment in this sector, and apply our ingenuity in the years ahead,” Bill Gates said at his foundation’s Seattle headquarters on Tuesday. “Many of these innovations will not only revolutionise sanitation in the developing world, but also help transform our dependence on traditional flush toilets in wealthy nations.”
Bill Gates presented prizes on Tuesday to the teams that showed the most progress on research new toilet technology. Caltech won the first prize of $100,000 for its working model of a solar powered bathroom. The Caltech model uses a solar panel to produce power for an electrochemical reactor that breaks down faecal matter and urine into hydrogen gas which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells to provide a backup energy source for night operation or use in low sunlight conditions. The workings of the toilet are designed to be installed underground beneath a conventional looking toilet stall and urinal setup. Water recovered from the continuous process is pumped up again to provide water to flush the toilet.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is hoping many of the leading universities will work together to develop the best technologies and is aiming to get new style toilets into use in the next two to four years as they are already spending about $80 million a year on water, sanitation and hygiene issues. These are areas where it thinks it can make a marked difference in people’s lives by doing what plumbers have always provided, a hygienic toilet facility.
Mould is a common problem in bathrooms in South East Queensland due to our sub-tropical climate. Like most problems prevention is vital and often very simple.
Black mould on bathroom tiles
Because your bathroom and especially the shower area are the wettest areas in your home it is not uncommon to see black mould growing in the grouting and silicon sealants. Mould loves your bathroom because it is the perfect atmosphere to create the ideal conditions for mould growth in the cracks and gaps in the tiling. Consequently black mould grows in behind and through the grout joints on the tiles. As can be seen on the photo on the right black mould loves getting in behind the silicon seal on the internal corners whether it be the wall or the floor.
The most common area to find mould is in your shower where it is nourished by your body oils, shampoo and soap residue that are left behind every time the shower is used.
Poor air circulation actively assists mould growth as the warmth and moisture created in the enclosed area of a shower offer further ideal conditions for mould growth in the dark areas of the shower around the internal corners and the shower floor drain. Poor air circulation is easily resolved by ensuring you install a good quality bathroom extraction fan above the shower that turns on automatically to remove all of the steam and water particles while you are using the shower.
If you are suffering from black mould growth in your bathroom then Whywait Plumbing recommend that you act early to remove it before permanent stains are created. To get rid of early mould growth the best solution is to use a paste of baking soda and vinegar. Simply mix one cup of water with white vinegar and water to create a smooth paste. Then apply the paste to the areas where mould is growing, gently scrubing it with an old soft tooth brush until it starts to turn white and then leave it. After half an hour rinse off all the paste using your shower spray and if any mould still is visible you will need to repeat applying the paste and scrubbing it until all of the mould has disappeared.
The paste above will work perfectly on mould that is detected and removed early but if you have a real infestation then use a 50/50 mix of water and bleach in a spray bottle. Ensure you have adequate ventilation in the bathroom before you begin lightly spraying the mould. Once again spray then leave for half an hour, rinse off and spray again until all of the mould has disappeared.
Mould behind the silicon sealant on the internal corners will require more thorough work. First use a utility knife to scrape off all of the silicon and you may need to use a blade to scrape the remnants clear off the tiles. Once all of the silicon has been removed spray the mould with the 50/50 bleach until it has all disappeared. Once the mould has gone rinse the area clean and dry it thoroughly with a hot air dryer to ensure there is no moisture trapped in the open joint. Finally reapply a good quality mould resistant silicon to the joint which is specifically designed for high moisture areas.
If mould reappears within a few weeks then you may have problems with leaking pipes or fittings that require a thorough investigation by Whywait Plumbing to ensure you are not damaging internal frames and wall linings.
Remember mould is only a sympton of a bigger problem and ignoring will not make it disappear. If in any doubt call Whywait Plumbing for advice on how to deal with mould in your bathroom.
Plumbing is health as plumbing protects the whole community, and individually plumbers protect the health of the nation.
Whywait Plumbing Services has always promoted the importance of excellent plumbing practices combined with sustainable plumbing exercises based on plumbing is health. Whywait Plumbing was the first GreenPlumber in Queensland and remained the only fully licensed GreenPlumber on the Gold Coast.ation.
At the 2011 National Plumbers Regulators Forum, Dr Barry Gilbert, a Specialist in Public Health, spoke on the costs of poor plumbing confirming that plumbing is public health. Issues highlighted by Dr Gilbert were at the heart of future plumbing practice and were:
- The complex global problems of scarce potable water, the use of recycled water, global warming, climate change, together with the influence that man has on the environment all determine the risk to the population. In the future plumbing will have an even more critical role in mitigating those risks as plumbing is health.
- Plumbing is a significant part of the public health solution and always has been.
- Plumbing is at risk of being a victim of its past success since the population at large do not appreciate the vital role that plumbing plays in everyday community health.
- Just as vaccination protects individuals and the community, plumbing protects the whole community, and individually plumbers protect the health of the nation.
- Plumbers have an obligation to impart the knowledge and experience to the community and to demonstrate clearly the potential impact of that poor plumbing will have in the future.
- Plumbing is public health, now and in the future.
Ray Herbert CEO of MPMSAA
Whywait Plumbing has always been at the forefront of sustainability so being part of GreenPlumbers was a natural choice when MPMSAA founded it in 2001. Ray Herbert, CEO of MPMSAA, worked with RMIT University to develop the training and recruited Gary Workman to run the courses.
MPMSAA or Master Plumbers and Mechanical Services Association of Australia is one of Australia’s oldest Associations having been founded in 1891 when 57 Melbourne plumbing contractors paid a £5 ($10.00) entrance fee and £1 ($2.00) subscription to enable the establishment of the Associated Master Plumber of Victoria. Therefore it was only natural that MPMSAA has taken the lead to ensure plumbers are at the forefront of water sustainability and water conservation.
Most of the plumbers at Whywait Plumbing have now completed their GreenPlumbers training of the five basic courses which are focused on plumbing is health:
- Climate Care – how to take care of our climate, including gas emissions in home and business that cover hot water heating, energy consumption, heating appliances, and cooling appliances.
- Caring for Our Water – an introduction to the water cycle process and the new technologies and behaviours that contribute to conservation through topics like water-efficient products, reducing household water consumption, stormwater runoff pollution and prevention, and household water audits.
- Solar Hot Water – the latest information on new technology in the solar hot water industry, rebate information, retrofit sizing and installation.
- Water Efficient Technology – an overview of the ever-changing technologies that shape future conservation efforts through the use of Recycled Water, rainwater, Greywater, Septic Tanks/Wastewater Treatment Systems, and Environmental/Public Health/Safety Regulations.
- Inspection Report Services – overview of domestic and commercial water auditing, inspections and reporting, assessment and strategies—including water and energy audits, commercial/industrial and residential buildings, and creating a master plan for future improvements.
Whywait Plumbing is the only fully licensed GreenPlumber on the Gold Coast as we are committed to promoting plumbing is health. As a Licensed GreenPlumber, we differ from an Accredited GreenPlumber as we have committed to requiring all licensed plumbers working for the company to become fully accredited GreenPlumbers to protect your health.