The local news.

Local for me is really local. i don’t care about much of which is in the press. There is various sporting events, and I’m not watching. The only reliable thing in the news is the weather. There is are rumblings that we should change our voting system, in part because of our doofus mayor.

In Auckland, (not that local, I know) We are losing big box stores. We were in a hardware big box store today, and it was empty. The salesmen are getting desperate. Kea thinks that the cash is drying up.

And we are looking at the 2021 flashy cars and thinking, noice, but far too flashy for the times.

Today’s wisdom comes from Didact.

The situation is, however, a rather good reminder of the fact that “green” energy is merely a byword for “anti-civilisational measures”. I’ve said it many times before, and I repeat this down below: widespread adoption of “green” energy, especially if done along with reductions in conventional energy generation methods like natural gas and coal, has about the same long-term effect as bombing a nation back into the early Stone Age. They used to rely on wind and solar energy back then too – at about one one-hundredth of one percent of our modern levels of productivity.
If that’s what the Greenies want to go back to, best of luck to them – let’s ship them all off to sub-Saharan Africa or rural India and see how they fare.
As for the rest of us – we rather like having modern internet and power and light and heat.

In case you are not aware, the Dunedin Mayor is a green. Perhaps he thinks the slow deterioration of our infrastructure is progress. I don’t.

Lead, or why I drink bottled water.

As I feared, Lead levels in kids who have been drinking the tap water in the towns north of Dunedin is high. Too high.

Public Health South has offered blood tests to the area’s more than 1500 residents in the days since.

Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Jack confirmed last night there had been some above the safe blood level – including children.

“As expected some people have come back with levels that are higher than the cut off of 0.24 micromoles per litre. It’s not very common when we look at the whole population that was tested,” Dr Jack told RNZ.

However, she would not be drawn on how many people had recorded high levels.

Further investigation was needed, particularly in the cases of children, she said.

“The first test usually on the children it was a finger prick or heel prick – it’s a screening test. Then we need to confirm that using a venous sample.”

All those showing concerning blood lead levels were contacted.

“We’re going through understanding what possible risk factors and exposures they might’ve had and then, especially for the children, we’re offering a visit out to their home to look at where there are other environmental risks. So is there lead paint, is there renovation, are they involved in hobbies, do their parents work in a place that might have exposure to lead,” Dr Jack said.

“There are many causes of elevated lead and we need to determine is water part of that or can it all be attributable to other causes?”

But some some good news.

New water test samples taken from the network servicing Waikouaiti, Karitane and Hawksbury Village have once again returned encouraging results, the Dunedin City Council says.
On Friday, results from 65 samples taken between February 12 and 16 all came back below detectable levels for lead.

That included eight different sample locations in the river, the plant and the distribution network.

Samples taken from sediment in the Waikouaiti raw water reservoir on February 10, before it was drained, showed lead levels of 17.025mg/kg.

A “do not drink” notice was put in place on February 2 for the area after six tests in the past six months showed concerning levels of lead.

The highest level detected was almost 40 times the acceptable limit.

Council group manager 3 Waters Tom Dyer said the new sediment results were significantly below Australia and New Zealand’s default guideline value for heavy metals in sediment, of 50 mg/kg for lead.

Results from sediment samples take on February 15, after the reservoir was drained, were still pending, but the February 10 results did not indicate any elevated lead readings within the reservoir, Mr Dyer said.

“We are continuing to investigate the source of the intermittent elevated lead levels, and will be updating the community on progress at the next public meeting on March 5,” he said.

The nearby Kiatoa Reservoir, which services part of the Waikouaiti network, will also be drained and inspected this week as part of the ongoing investigation, Mr Dyer said.

After conducting an aerial sweep of the catchment, searching for possible sources of contamination, council staff have also carried out more detailed testing as part of a catchment risk analysis.

Analysis of the results was continuing this week.

But here is the background, from Ian Shaw, a professor of toxicology, who lives well out of this region. I was talking to a bloke about his spa pool this week, and asked about chlorination. He said the chlorine in the tap water was sufficient that he did not use any chlorine or bromine. The local water is alkaline, most of the time.

To understand lead toxicity, we need to know a bit about its chemistry.

Lead is a heavy metal that forms inorganic compounds (e.g. red lead, previously used in paint primers) or organic compounds (e.g. tetraethyllead, formerly used as an antiknock additive in petrol).

Organic lead is intensely toxic (80mg tetraethyllead would be fatal) because it crosses the blood brain barrier and directly affects the brain. Inorganic lead mimics calcium and fools calcium carrier proteins into transporting it into cells, but this is not as efficient as organic lead’s uptake and so inorganic lead is much less toxic (40g red lead would be near fatal).

Lead played a key role in the ascent of man. Its malleable and ductile properties and low melting point mean that it could be melted on wood fires, which made it ideal for forming pipes to carry water and making cooking pots. The Romans relied on lead to support their civilisation. They brought water into their communities through lead pipes, and they cooked food in lead pans and ate off lead plates. Not only did lead underpin their prosperity, it arguably led to their downfall.

Roman cookery relied on acresta (verjuice — juice from unripe grapes) which is acidic and dissolved lead from their cooking vessels. This, plus lead-contaminated drinking water, led to a significant lead intake. Indeed, recent archaeological studies show high lead levels in Roman bones.

It is likely that Romans gradually developed the central nervous system signs of lead poisoning: malaise, insomnia, loss of memory, delirium, convulsions. This did not augur well for continued success as a civilisation. Interestingly, Vitruvius (about 80-15 BC) realised lead was toxic: he said, ‘‘Water conducted through earthen pipes is more wholesome than conducted through lead … ’’ But did anyone heed his advice? Clearly not. The Roman Empire collapsed.

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11 months ago

I have read that the accounts of lead poisoning among various cultures turn out not to be true. I can’t remember where I read this offhand, but I guess it is time for more reading.