Did you realize that there are more than 2 dozen flavors to water, not all of which are as yummy as say, rocky road ice cream?
Would you like your glass of water with a little iron it? Or do you prefer a copper taste? Possibly manganese? Did you realize that there are more than two dozen flavors to water, not all of which are as yummy as say, rocky road ice cream?
Amanda Sain, right, works with Andrea Dietrich, left, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. Dietrich's research includes aspects of cancer therapy, obesity, health effects of certain elements in drinking water, and special risks to people over 50.
Credit: Virginia Tech
For several decades Andrea Dietrich, who trains utility staff and managers around the U.S. and across the globe on how to use sensory analysis to detect changes in water quality, has worked in the area of assessing taste, odor, and visual perception of chemical elements in water. Dietrich, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, has received numerous grants in this area, including one from the National Science Foundation. This $1.6 million contract asked her to investigate connections between corrosion of home plumbing materials, tastes-and-odors in drinking water, economics, and consumer health concerns.
For her research efforts, Dietrich has registered a number of firsts with journal papers reflecting her work on such diverse topics as: improving cancer therapy through odor and taste intervention; prevention and treatment of obesity by drinking more water; health effects of iron and copper in drinking water; and risks to people over 50 for unhealthy over-exposure to iron in water.
So when Amanda Sain of Concord, North Carolina, arrived as an environmental engineering graduate student at Virginia Tech, and she started reaching out to faculty, she found the public health element of Dietrich's work fascinating. In turn, Dietrich was able to secure funding for Sain's studies, using resources from the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science(ICTAS) and the Water INTERface Laboratory at the Blacksburg, Virginia University.
Sain's main project with Dietrich has focused primarily on a specific aspect of human health ¬– what is the impact of exposure to manganese in water and air. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, manganese is naturally ubiquitous in the environment, and exposure to low levels in one's diet is nutritionally essential. However, chronic exposure to high levels of manganese by inhalation in humans may result in central nervous systems effects. Children have exhibited some negative neurological impacts correlated with ingestion of manganese.
The EPA does allow a certain level of manganese in drinking water. To consumers, the permitted 0.05 milligrams per liter might seem non-existent. And interestingly, this amount is mostly for "aesthetic" reasons, Sain noted. This contaminant level was set, reportedly "based on bitter metallic taste, black-brown particles in water, and undesirable black or brown color of fixtures and laundry." But, in actuality, there is not a bitter metallic taste for manganese at that level, Sain and Dietrich revealed in a peer-reviewed journal paper, "Assessing taste and visual perception of Mn (II) and Mn (IV)." Undergraduate researcher Ashley Griffin of Franklin, Tennessee also contributed to the article that appeared in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Water Works Association.
Mineral content in drinking water "is acknowledged to be the major chemical factor affecting taste and likeability of drinking water when no off-flavors are present," Sain and Dietrich wrote. But the problems occur when a mineral such as manganese is not detected by the human senses. They estimated that 50 percent of the population taste threshold for manganese II, the simplest ionic manganese oxide, to be more than 1000 times the current EPA allowable level. As it is "visually undetectable in drinking water, even at concentrations much greater than those typically found in groundwater…it could lead to ingestion of water with high manganese II concentrations."
With their findings, Sain and her adviser wondered about doubled contamination – water and air. They posed the question of what happens when one inhales a drinking water that is contaminated with manganese. Suppose the contaminated water is used to operate humidifiers in residential homes. The contaminants theoretically could be more than just the manganese, but they focused on this mineral as a starting point.
If the problem in the drinking water goes undetected, and then it is released into the air via the use of humidifiers, is it indeed a threat? If so, their findings could lead to "informed recommendations for the safe use of humidifiers and open the door to looking at water safety not only in the glass, but in the air as well," Sain said.
In the early part of 2014, Sain played an investigative role when the National Science Foundation awarded Dietrich a Rapid Response Grant to determine the overall effect of a chemical spill into the Elk River in West Virginia. In that study, they found that the nature of the chemicals that were released into the water subsequently became a problem with the air quality in nearby residents' homes.
Lynn Nystrom | Eurek Alert!
Breast cancer drug beats superbug
13.10.2015 | University of California - San Diego
Allergic asthma: UFZ researchers identify a key molecule
12.10.2015 | Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ),
Physicists of TU Berlin and mathematicians of MATHEON are so successful that even the prestigious journal “Nature Communications” reported on their project.
Security in data transfer is an important issue, and not only since the NSA scandal. Sometimes, however, the need for speed conflicts to a certain degree with...
Having a light touch can make a hefty difference in how well animals and robots move across challenging granular surfaces such as snow, sand and leaf litter. Research reported October 9 in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomimetics shows how the design of appendages – whether legs or wheels – affects the ability of both robots and animals to cross weak and flowing surfaces.
Using an air fluidized bed trackway filled with poppy seeds or glass spheres, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology systematically varied the...
Nondestructive material testing (NDT) is a fast and effective way to analyze the quality of a product during the manufacturing process. Because defective materials can lead to malfunctioning finished products, NDT is an essential quality assurance measure, especially in the manufacture of safety-critical components such as automotive B-pillars. NDT examines the quality without damaging the component or modifying the surface of the material. At this year's Blechexpo trade fair in Stuttgart, Fraunhofer IZFP will have an exhibit that demonstrates the nondestructive testing of high-strength automotive body parts using 3MA. The measurement results are available in a matter of seconds.
To minimize vehicle weight and fuel consumption while providing the highest level of crash safety, automotive bodies are reinforced with elements made from...
The MICADO camera, a first light instrument for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), has entered a new phase in the project: by agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding, the partners in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and Italy, have all confirmed their participation. Following this milestone, the project's transition into its preliminary design phase was approved at a kick-off meeting held in Vienna. Two weeks earlier, on September 18, the consortium and the European Southern Observatory (ESO), which is building the telescope, have signed the corresponding collaboration agreement.
As the first dedicated camera for the E-ELT, MICADO will equip the giant telescope with a capability for diffraction-limited imaging at near-infrared...
Self-driving cars will be on our streets in the foreseeable future. In Graz, research is currently dedicated to an innovative driver assistance system that takes over control if there is a danger of collision. It was nature that inspired Dr Manfred Hartbauer from the Institute of Zoology at the University of Graz: in dangerous traffic situations, migratory locusts react around ten times faster than humans. Working together with an interdisciplinary team, Hartbauer is investigating an affordable collision detector that is equipped with artificial locust eyes and can recognise potential crashes in time, during both day and night.
Inspired by insects
01.10.2015 | Event News
30.09.2015 | Event News
17.09.2015 | Event News
13.10.2015 | Life Sciences
13.10.2015 | Life Sciences
13.10.2015 | Health and Medicine