Water tests reveal staggering levels of E. coli in some WNC waterways

Lab tests conducted last week of E. coli levels in waterways around Western North Carolina show extremely high levels of E. coli in creeks, lakes and rivers popular with swimmers, tubers and paddlers. E. coli is a bacteria that makes its way into our waterways from animal and human fecal matter. Coming into contact with the bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea and skin infections.

According to the EPA, safe E. coli levels are below 235 cfu’s per millimeter and 23 cfu to swim. Water samples taken at 28 sites in WNC found only two sites with safe levels of E. coli. In samples taken of the French Broad River at Hot Springs, E. coli levels were 47 times the EPA recommended levels (10,935 cfu) and samples from the French Broad River at Bent Creek sowed E. coli levels of 8,900 cfu. The DEQ points out that high bacteria levels are expected after high flow events like storms. No swim advisories have been issued. 

Australian study finds that people around the world ingest a credit card’s worth of plastic every week

Hungry? How about some plastic? A new study out of Australia has found that, whether you want a serving of plastic for lunch or not, you’re getting it. The study, conducted by the University of Newcastle, suggests that the average person could be ingesting about 5 grams of microplastic per week, the equivalent of a credit card’s worth of plastic. 

Researchers found that most of that microplastic is being ingested through the food and beverages we consume, such as shellfish, salt and beer. The largest source of plastic ingestion is drinking water, from which humans consume as many as 1,769 particles of plastic each week. While the long-term effects of plastic ingestion is not yet known, some plastics are made with toxic chemicals and additives that have been shown to influence sexual function, reproduction and cause cancer.