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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

UV-Irradiated Water Doesn't Alarm San Francisco Alarmists

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 3:15 PM

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San Francisco's elected officials are worried that the radiation from cellphones will melt your brain. Our citizenry is certain that the radiation from PG&E Smart Meters will melt your brain. Our school board is terrified that irradiated meats will melt your children's brains

So the city's new policy of blasting all the tapwater with ultraviolet radiation will ... be fine! Just fine!

Actually, federal regulations now require cities to employ a second line of disinfection for their water systems. San Francisco already puts chloramine -- that's, essentially, chlorine and ammonia -- in its water. Now it's zapping it with UV radiation as well. UV systems have been used in Europe for years; along with our continental cousins' enjoyment of unpasteurized cheeses and offal meats, it's never been proven to do them a lick of harm.

Still, this is San Francisco. There's always someone worried his brain is going to be melted, right?

When it comes to UV disinfection, apparently not. Public Utilities Commission water quality engineer Eddie So pointed out that UV systems are one of three methods of filtering the federal government insists upon; San Francisco could have chosen ozone or chlorine dioxide as well. Julie Labonte, the PUC's water systems improvement director, says the city went with UV radiation because, unlike ozone or chlorine dioxide, it doesn't add anything to the water, which can lead to disinfection byproducts -- potentially harmful compounds formed by disinfectants and organic materials already in the water.

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If anyone's been yammering about how irradiating San Francisco's water supply is going to kill us all, such complaints haven't reached So or Labonte's ears.

"This is not a supernew technology," says Labonte. "I am not aware of any research or any complaints raised by any groups."

Well, here's one. While the EPA mandated San Francisco implement such a system, it didn't help pay for it. The price tag: $114 million. That's enough to melt your brain.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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