Newark Water Filters Are Working, Tests Suggest
Newark water is safe to drink, if you use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved filters issued by the city, according to new test data that city and state officials announced Monday.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that more than 1,700 samples were taken from 300 homes. The tests showed that the filters were tested and 97 percent of the filters worked effectively once the tap was turned on. That number rose to 99 percent when the tap was allowed to run for five minutes before a sample was collected, as the AP reported.
"These results are a welcome jolt of positive news that allows us collectively to charge ahead in implementing our short-term, midterm and long-term solutions," Murphy said at a news conference on Monday, as The New York Times reported.
Newark officials had handed out more than 38,000 lead filters to address the issue, but two filters tested last month showed levels of lead as high as 57.9 parts per billion — nearly four times the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion, as the New York Post reported. The failed test spurred the city and religious groups to distribute bottled water to nearly 14,000 homes.
The PUR filters issued by the city reduce traces of lead to less than 10 parts per billion, the test showed, according to CNN. However, scientists say there is no safe level of lead in water. High blood lead levels may impair a child's mental development and damage organs, while even small amounts can affect a child's intellectual development, according to The New York Times.
"We thank God that the filters work, but we are not in any way having a victory lap," said Ras Baraka, Newark's mayor, as the New York Post reported. "It is good news in a long and arduous task to make sure we have clean drinking water."
Baraka is looking to lead by example, insisting that he drinks the water now, as WCBS reported.
Since it is not a victory lap, the city will continue to distribute bottled water until a final report on the test samples is issued and all doubt about the efficacy of the filters is removed. Additionally, the city will launch a community assistance program to help ensure all affected residents are using the filters correctly, according to the AP.
New Jersey recognizes the scientific consensus that there is no safe level of lead in the water, so it is waiting for President Trump to sign a bill that allows $100 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to be used to replace lead pipes in New Jersey, as CNN reported.
Gov. Murphy said that 6,500 households in Newark have signed up for lead service line replacement, and so far more than 900 service lines have been replaced. The city is replacing the lines at no cost to homeowners thanks to funding recently secured by Essex County. The Essex County Improvement Authority announced in August that it will lend $120 million to Newark to replace lead pipes, which will allow the city to fix 18,000 lead service lines in two to three years, instead of the initial expectation of eight to 10 years, as CNN reported.
The National Resource Defense Council, which has sued Newark over lead levels and its mismanagement of its water problems, welcomed the results, but expressed caution.
"We say 'trust, but verify,'" Erik Olson, a senior director at the group, said, as The New York Times reported. "The city, state and federal Environmental Protection Agency should provide all test results and the protocols used to test the filters to the public so Newark residents can feel confident that filters will protect their health. Anything less than full transparency will breed further distrust and skepticism."
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
A Pattern in the Rings<p>The <a href="https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/coppice-standards-0" target="_blank">coppice-with-standards</a> management practice produces a two-story forest, said <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Bernhard_Muigg" target="_blank">Bernhard Muigg</a>, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."</p><p>That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."</p><p>Muigg and his collaborators characterized that <a href="https://ltrr.arizona.edu/about/treerings" target="_blank">dendrochronological pattern</a> in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak <a href="https://eos.org/articles/podcast-discovering-europes-history-through-its-timbers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">timbers from buildings and archaeological sites</a> in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.</p>
A Gap of 500 Years<p>The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.</p><p>It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.</p><p>These results were <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-78933-8" target="_blank">published in December in <em>Scientific Reports</em></a>.</p><p>"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said <a href="https://www.teagasc.ie/contact/staff-directory/s/ian-short/" target="_blank">Ian Short</a>, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."</p><p>In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."</p><p><em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Katherine Kornei</a> is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.</em></p><p><em>This story originally appeared in <a href="https://eos.org/articles/tree-rings-reveal-how-ancient-forests-were-managed" target="_blank">Eos</a></em> <em>and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.</em></p>
Earth's ice is melting 57 percent faster than in the 1990s and the world has lost more than 28 trillion tons of ice since 1994, research published Monday in The Cryosphere shows.
By Jewel Fraser
Noreen Nunez lives in a middle-class neighborhood that rises up a hillside in Trinidad's Tunapuna-Piarco region.