So, how do we tell this is bollocks?

Lead levels are more than 1,000 times the US Environmental Protection Agency drinking water standard and levels of other heavy metals such as aluminium, iron and manganese are above the international average.

Well, if someone tells us that aluminium is a heavy metal then we’re entirely, wholly and absolutely certain that they’ve no clue of the subject under discussion.

Manganese too but given that even I had to look it up (atomic number 25) we’ll give them a pass on that one. Iron isn’t normally thought of as a heavy metal but again, we can offer a pass. In one manner we can think of it as the halfway point. Yes, it’s only 26 out of 92 and counting however, it is the last one made by straight fusion in stars, we have to go to weirder manufacturing methods after that.

It’s a dirty river, no doubt, but this isn’t true, or at least not across time:

Rotten river: life on one of the world’s most polluted waterways – photo essay

Because:

Despite the filth, fishing is still widely practised along the river. The catch, contaminated with heavy metals and microplastics, is sold and eaten as much in areas adjacent to the river as on the tables of Jakarta. The number of fish species in the Citarum has decreased by 60% since 2008.

The Thames reached the point that there was – slight rhetorical exaggeration – nothing larger than an amoeba living below Teddington Lock.

But that claim about aluminium is all we need to know that we’re being preached at by the ignorant.

19 thoughts on “So, how do we tell this is bollocks?”

  1. Astonishing story! There appears to be absolutely no attempt to explain how this is really all the fault of the West/capitalism/President Trump. How’d it get past the editorial board?

  2. We want our rivers clean. How clean? Most of us are happy if they support life and don’t poison us. But an enviromentalist wants them cleaner than ever, regardless, else he would need to find another occupation.

  3. @ Pat
    The environmentalist’s dream is that the river is devoid of life because the fish have to get out to shit. (and as for fucking fish…yeuk)

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    Hallowed Be November 2, 2020 at 10:21 am – “isn’t everything but Hydrogen a metal?”

    The centre of Jupiter is made up of metallic hydrogen.

  5. @Hallowed Be “isn’t everything but Hydrogen a metal?”

    Depends who you talk to. To a chemist, Hydrogen IS a metal! It’s the first of the Alkali metals, above Lithium. It takes high pressure for the metallic form to show: the core of Jupiter is thought to be metallic hydrogen.

    If you talk to a cosmologist, everything from Lithium up is a metal (including Oxygen, Sulphur, Carbon!), only Hydrogen amd Helium aren’t metals. Strange people, cosmologists.

    The one thing all are agreed is that Helium is not a metal. So that’s sorted.

    But to describe Aluminium as a heavy metal: daft. No more heavy metal than Chris de Burgh.

    The whole story probably just shows the USA is so rich it can set stupidly low level of contamination for drinking water. Just try the water in Bangladesh: quite naturally, it’s full of arsenic.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Just try the water in Bangladesh: quite naturally, it’s full of arsenic.

    Not only is arsenic naturally occurring in the water in greater Bengal, but arsenic pre-dates 1865 or whatever date the Organic movement picked, so it is entirely acceptable to the Organic movement.

  7. You need around 10 mg of Iron per day and it can be beneficial to drink Iron-rich water if you are not getting enough from other sources. To suggest that levels “above the international average” (how far above?) are inherently dangerous is laughable.

  8. Aluminum compounds are generally not water soluble and the main exception is aluminium sulphate, which mainly comes from rock weathering. (Java is very rainy.) Does anyone know if AlSO4 is a common waste product of the textile industry?

  9. So, How Do We Tell This Is Bollocks?

    The link starting https://www.theguardian.com/ is a sure sign.

  10. I, for one, can’t wait for a science journo to list lithium as a heavy metal…

    The cherry on the cake would be if it were the “science journalism award-winning” Tom Chivers…

  11. @ Hallowed Be
    No, most of the lighter elements are non-metals – all the inert gases, all the halides, hydrogen (when you replace the metallic element in a salt with hydrogen you get an acid, which makes it fairly clear that it isn’t a metal: if you don’t believe me try replacing some NaCl with HCl on your porridge or potatoes), most of the other common elements like Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon, Sulphur …

  12. “is it higher than the safe limit?”

    For Iron at least I’m not sure there is a set safe limit, on the basis the water would be undrinkable on palatability grounds well before it reached a harmful concentration of Iron.

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