IMPORTANT: Water purification update, facts you need to know

Retailers and volunteers in the field have begun asking SNEWS® to clarify how water purification should be used and when it is not appropriate to be relying on filters and tablets.
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Retailers and volunteers in the field have begun asking SNEWS® to clarify how water purification should be used and when it is not appropriate to be relying on filters and tablets.

As of this morning, the EPA issued an advisory warning against human skin contact for all flood waters in and around the New Orleans area due to off-the-scale registrations when the agency began testing for possible contamination in the water. Fuel, chemicals, and raw sewage have created a most hazardous cocktail.

We contacted Shawn Hostetter at Kadadyn, and he confirmed that hand-held and tablet water treatments are NOT appropriate or safe for waters that contain high levels of chemical mixed in with microbiological contamination. Please be sure to advise all individuals who are receiving donated filters and water treatment tablets that the filters and tablets are intended only for use with fresh water that is considered suspect, but generally considered free of serious petroleum and chemical contaminants. They are NOT suitable for the brackish (salty) water that is currently flooding the Gulf and New Orleans region. Typically, water that is suitable for treatment still is coming from a tap, but because water treatments plants are not working or not working properly, the community remains under a "boil water" advisory.

In short:

1) The New Orleans area is indeed flooded with extremely contaminated water which has a high level of chemicals, oil, gas, and microbiological contamination. While water filters can handle the biological contamination and the turbidity (dirt, etc), they are not suited for the many chemicals, etc. Of course carbon in the filters will reduce chemicals, however portable filters are not meant for that type of water. This is the area where bottled (or trucked in) water is needed.

2) The military, National Guard, relief organizations and State Emergency Operation Centers are using water filters and tablets to purify water in the periphery regions where water is suspect and where water treatment facilities are not up and running. Many counties in Mississippi (and other states) have issued "boil only" orders, however some of these areas are still without power. This is the perfect example where water filters and purification tablets are needed. Many of these areas are not receiving bottled water. People could become ill in these areas if they cannot properly treat their water.

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