We all know that we are supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day, and most of us prefer bottled water over tap. A typical glass of water contains eight ounces, so ideally we should each consume 64 ounces per day which is equivalent to four bottles of water.
In 2007 only about 14% of water bottles were recycled. If every person in the United States had received their daily recommended amount of water from bottles that year, over a billion water bottles would have been tossed in the trash per day.
Recycling is a great, simple solution to the high number of bottles in landfills. Recycling a ton of plastic water bottles saves about 3.8 barrels of petroleum that would otherwise be needed to manufacture the plastic. It would also save the energy equivalent of over 300 gallons of gas.
Recycling plastics and other solid waste saves enough emissions to equate taking 33 million cars off of our highways. When a single bottle is recycled, the energy saved would be enough to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours.
The best solution to the threat water bottles pose to the environment is to reduce the use of plastic water bottles altogether. There are some great reusable options on the market right now that are cost effective and safe for both the environment and our health.
Polycarbonate bottles are durable yet lightweight plastic bottles. It has been shown that some polycarbonate compounds can leach a synthetic hormone, bisphenol-A (BPA), so be should to check that your bottles is BPA-free.
Filtering water bottles are becoming very popular. These are typically plastic and have filters built-in so you can fill it up anywhere and know that the water you’re ingesting has been purified.
Bottled water is packaged in polyethylene terephthalate plastic, which emits harmful toxins such into our air and water during production. A single water bottle in a landfill can take as long as 1,000 years to biodegrade, meaning that all the plastic of every water bottle ever produced is still in the environment. In 2006, it took 17 million barrels of oil to produce water bottles that year; that amount of oil is enough to power over a million cars for a year.
In the wake of the tsunami and 9.0 magnitude earthquake, the fourth largest earthquake in the world since 1990 and the largest ever recorded in Japan, thousands are left dead, over 500,000 are recovering and people all around the world are fearing the release of radiation from four nuclear reactors in Japan.
Those who reside in the 19-mile radius around the leaking plants at Fukushima have been advised to wear masks and stay indoors; however it has been reported that the slightly elevated radiation levels are too small to threaten the community. About 100 times the normal levels of radiation were detected;however, this is still far from being fatal and would only pose a threat after a long period of exposure.
The two main threats of radiation exposure are the release of reactive iodine that can cause thyroid cancer and the release of cesium that is absorbed by the environment and human bodies, staying in organs and tissue. Cesium would be more of a threat on a broader scale because it can travel further being carried by rain and wind and accumulating in vegetation.
Two major groups are most at risk of radiation sickness: the cleanup workers at the nuclear reactor plants and the general Japanese population. Those under 18 are at a higher risk because their body cells
divide more actively.
Thankfully, there is little need to panic thus far. Only a small amount of cesium has been released because the reactors at Fukushima have containment vessels to minimize this dangerous type of radioactive material. Experts have said that for now, America is in the clear. If the states were to be affected, radiation could be detected in California but it’s certain that it would not be dangerous.
At this moment, there is little cause for concern of radiation exposure in America. If a change in this state occurs, it is important to be informed of the serious symptoms linked to radiation sickness. Nausea and vomiting are the earliest symptoms; these symptoms worsen with higher exposure of radiation. Radiation depletes blood platelets, so any spontaneous bleeding is a major concern. Skin that has been
exposed to radiation often has the appearance of a sunburn which may blister or develop open sores. Radiation damages hair follicles and those who received a big dose of radiation lose their hair two to three weeks later. The risks of bacterial, viral and fungal infections become heightened due to the reduction of white cells in the body as a result of radiation symptoms. Hair loss, severe fatigue, fainting,
and mouth ulcers are also serious signs of poisoning.
Anyone at risk should take potassium iodide at a protective measure. This would cause the thyroid glands to use the potassium iodide rather than the reactive iodide.