The occasion was a tour of a facility that burns human waste and produces water and electricity (plus a little ash). I have visited lots of similar sites, like power plants and paper mills, so when I heard about this one—it’s part of the Gates Foundation’s effort to improve sanitation in poor countries—I was eager to check it out.
The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle. And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe.
Here’s a short video from my visit in November, which explains how it all works:
Why would anyone want to turn waste into drinking water and electricity?
Because a shocking number of people, at least 2 billion, use latrines that aren’t properly drained. Others simply defecate out in the open. The waste contaminates drinking water for millions of people, with horrific consequences: Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically.
If we can develop safe, affordable ways to get rid of human waste, we can prevent many of those deaths and help more children grow up healthy.
Western toilets aren’t the answer, because they require a massive infrastructure of sewer lines and treatment plants that just isn’t feasible in many poor countries. So a few years ago our foundation put out a call for new solution.
One idea is to reinvent the toilet, which I’ve written about before.
Another idea—and the goal of the project I toured—is to reinvent the sewage treatment plant. The project is called the Omniprocessor, and it was designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm based north of Seattle. I recently went to Janicki’s headquarters to check out an Omniprocessor before the start of a pilot project in Senegal.
The Omniprocessor is a safe repository for human waste. Today, in many places without modern sewage systems, truckers take the waste from latrines and dump it into the nearest river or the ocean—or at a treatment facility that doesn’t actually treat the sewage. Either way, it often ends up in the water supply. If they took it to the Omniprocessor instead, it would be burned safely. The machine runs at such a high temperature (1000 degrees Celsius) that there’s no nasty smell; in fact it meets all the emissions standards set by the U.S. government.
Before we even started the tour, I had a question: Don’t modern sewage plants already incinerate waste? I learned that some just turn the waste into solids that are stored in the desert. Others burn it using diesel or some other fuel that they buy. That means they use a lot of energy, which makes them impractical in most poor countries.
The Omniprocessor solves that problem. Through the ingenious use of a steam engine, it produces more than enough energy to burn the next batch of waste. In other words, it powers itself, with electricity to spare. The next-generation processor, more advanced than the one I saw, will handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of potable water a day and a net 250 kw of electricity.
If we get it right, it will be a good example of how philanthropy can provide seed money that draws bright people to work on big problems, eventually creating a self-supporting industry. Our foundation is funding Janicki to do the development. It’s really amazing to see how they’ve embraced the work; founder Peter Janicki and his family have traveled to Africa and India multiple times so they can see the scope of the problem. Our goal is to make the processors cheap enough that entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries will want to invest in them and then start profitable waste-treatment businesses.
We still have a lot to learn before we get to that point. The next step is the pilot project; later this year, Janicki will set up an Omniprocessor in Dakar, Senegal, where they’ll study everything from how you connect with the local community (the team is already working with leaders there) to how you pick the most convenient location. They will also test one of the coolest things I saw on my tour: a system of sensors and webcams that will let Janicki’s engineers control the processor remotely and communicate with the team in Dakar so they can diagnose any problems that come up.
The history of philanthropy is littered with well-intentioned inventions that never deliver on their promise. Hopefully, these early steps will help us make sure the Omniprocessor doesn’t join the list. If things go well in Senegal, we’ll start looking for partners in the developing world. For example I think it could be a great fit in India, where there are lots of entrepreneurs who could own and operate the processors, as well as companies with the skill to manufacture many of the parts.
It might be many years before the processor is being used widely. But I was really impressed with Janicki’s engineering. And I’m excited about the business model. The processor wouldn’t just keep human waste out of the drinking water; it would turn waste into a commodity with real value in the marketplace. It’s the ultimate example of that old expression: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
According to recent reports issued by the FDA, there are as many as 5 deaths and 40 illnesses linked to consumption of the drink called Monster Energy. Moreover, there are two permanent disabilities and 13 illnesses linked directly with the consumption of the Rockstar Energy Drink.
Energy drinks do not only have an adverse effect on the dental health by creating cavities and teeth staining, but they can also harm general health. The 5-Hour energy drinks are also quite dangerous, and the FDA reported that there are 92 illnesses and 13 deaths linked to consumption of this particular drink.
The AERs or the Adverse Event Reports can be filed by anyone- family members, personal doctors or even by the patient himself. These reports actually say that the consumption of the given energy drink might have caused illnesses and even the death of the patient. However, until detailed investigation shows these illnesses and deaths have been really produced by the energy drink, the FDA cannot remove the products from the market.
Officer Shelly Burgess, an FDA representative says that until they find a direct link between the regular consumption of these energy drinks and the general health harm produced by them, they cannot eliminate these products from the market.
The Adverse Event Reports mostly point out that consumers of 5-Hour energy drink, Monster or Rockstar have suffered the following health problems:
-5-Hour energy drinks- deaths caused by heart attack due to consumptions of the energy drink, one miscarriage, deafness and internal bleeding
-the Monster Energy Drink- loss of consciousness, heart attack, hospitalization of the patient because of arrhythmia, and vomiting
-Rockstar energy drink- irregular heartbeats, psychotic disorder, loss of consciousness or stroke
Even a document issued by the Government has shown that the number of people who need medical care after consuming energy drinks has considerably increased. Most of the energy drinks manufacturers state that they do take very seriously all these reports, but that their products are safe for the health, if consumed as directed.
Many youngsters combine energy drinks with alcohol consumption or consuming drugs combined with energy drinks and these mixes are specifically dangerous for the health.
Relaxation drinks are not so favored as energy drinks, but they are coming on fast, according to makers illustrating their goods at the Natural Products Expo Friday in Anaheim.
Energy drinks are extremely popular. But some have got a bad rap for potential side-effects, particularly in kids and young adults, eg agitation, heart throbbing and hypertension.
Which has opened the door to relaxation drinks, some of that may trigger their own set of health issues.
Such drinks contain herbs like valerian root and the hormone melatonin, which can produce feelings of relaxation — and will even prompt sleep.
That is the problem.
Some health mavens stress about folk grabbing a drink off the store shelf and then driving an auto, attending a session or operating machinery while beginning to get increasingly unfocused or maybe groggy.
The drinks generally have alert labels, but clients may not notice.
Chillout, a new “natural relaxing drink,” made its debut at the Expo. The 8.4-ounce canned drink contains chamomile, valerian, lemon relief and vitamins.
The drink doesn’t come with an alert label. Chillout isn’t to be confused with Just Chill, another new drink that does not contain valerian or melatonin of kava. Just Chill, the product of a grouping of Southern California surfers, has selected to circumvent the arguable ingredients, asserted Caleb Davidge, the L. A. representative of the Chill Group Inc.
The drink contains the amino acid L-theanine as the important ingredient for relaxation. “We see our drink as more for stress relief,” he announced.
Predicted by the World Food Organization, in 2025 1.8 billion people will live in countries and regions suffering from water scarcity.
In total, two thirds of the world’s population will be faced with this problem.
Over the past century, the growth rate of water consumption is almost twice faster than population growth.
Researchers tell that today 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water, 2 billion are constantly faced with scarcity of supply and another 2.6 billion do not have at their disposal necessary sanitary facilities (e.g. water supply).
70% of water consumed by mankind is used in agriculture.
In some developing countries agriculture’s zone reaches 90%.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), today four out of every ten people in the world do not have access to common toilets with dump wells and two out of ten are forced to constantly use contaminated water.
WHO operates the following statistics: 1.8 million people die each year from diarrhea diseases (including cholera), 90% of whom are children under 5 years old.
These diseases in 88% of cases are caused by using contaminated water and inadequate sanitation.
Improved water supply reduces diarrhea morbidity by 6-25%. Improving the quality of drinking water may reduce the incidence of diarrhea by 35-39%.
Improving access to safe water sources and hygiene practices can reduce trachoma morbidity by 27%.
According to Peter Piper, professor from Sheffield University, carbonated drinks contain a substance which harmful effects are still being underestimated.
Many of the problems that are associated with age-related changes or alcohol abuse, such as cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson’s disease can be caused by usual soft drinks.
After spending a huge amount of time on experiments in his laboratory, Professor of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, P. Piper came to the conclusion that sodium benzoate (E211), a widespread preservative in food industry being accepted by relevant authorities in different countries, can be very dangerous for your health.
Sodium benzoate has already been the subject of concern, but at that time it dealt with its carcinogenic effect.
The fact is that in conjunction with vitamin C in soft drinks, sodium benzoate produces benzene – a carcinogenic substance. There are even cases of withdrawing of some brands of drinks from the sale due to increased benzene content.
However, in general E211 is considered a safe additive, of course, with respect to current regulations at its maximum content in products.
Peter Piper has checked the effect of sodium benzoate on living yeast cells and found that this agent affects an important area of DNA in the mitochondria. He reported that these chemicals cause severe damage to DNA in the mitochondria and completely inactivate it.
Mitochondria give you energy and if you hurt them in large quantities, the cells start to malfunction. There are many diseases that are associated specifically with defect of this part of DNA: Parkinson’s disease and several neurodegenerative diseases; and yet it is associated with aging.
As a result of his experiments, the scientist proposes to revise standards of levels of E211 in food.
He believes that the existing methods for determining the damage from sodium benzoate are not quite true. Piper is particularly concerned of children who consume carbonated drinks in large quantities.
Soda is not good for you. The high-calorie, sugary drinks have been linked to obesity and a host of other health problems. Soda can be particularly dangerous to children, who can consume lots of calories quickly through colas and other pop without feeling full. And then there’s the dental toll — it doesn’t take a peer-reviewed study to tell you that drinking lots of sweetened soda isn’t great for your teeth.
But soda isn’t just water, corn syrup and carbonation — a can of Coke or Pepsi also contains chemical additives for coloring and flavoring. And according to one public health group, those additives could increase your chance of getting cancer.
That’s the message from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a Washington-based consumer watchdog group. CSPI has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the “caramel coloring” that is used in Coke, Pepsi and other sodas, on the grounds that the chemicals are carcinogenic.
CSPI says the artificial brown coloring — which doesn’t have much to do with actual caramel, despite the name — is made by reacting corn sugar with ammonia and sulfites under high pressures and at high temperatures. (Just like Mom used to do it!) Those reactions produce the chemicals 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole — chemicals that government studies have found to cause lung, liver or thyroid cancer in lab rats or mice. “It’s a small but significant risk, and it’s the kind of thing that government agencies should deal with,” says Michael Jacobson, the executive director of CSPI.
Is Jacobson right? A 2007 study by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) in male and
female B6C3F1 mice based on increased incidences of alveolar/bronchiolar neoplasms,” otherwise known as lung tumors. The state of California has also concluded that 4-MEI is a carcinogen, and is in the process of crafting regulations that may require food and drinks containing significant levels of the chemical to bear cancer warnings.
According to California’s regulators, a level of more than 16 micrograms per day would pose a significant risk — meaning it could result in at least one excess case of cancer per 100,000 exposed people. Given that there are roughly 130 micrograms of 4-MI per 12-ounce can of soda — and given that the average American drinks 14 ounces of soda a day, with young men drinking far more — that would mean that most of us would be at some risk.
As a result, CSPI has been petitioning the FDA to change the name or ban the use of the chemicals in soda and other foods, or at least force manufacturers to put warning labels on their packaging. “We think industry can solve this problem,” says Jacobson. “They don’t want to put warning labels on their products.”
The soda industry, however, is fighting back. In a statement the American Beverage Association — an industry group that includes soda makers — denied that 4-MEI posed any danger to human health:
4-MEI is not a threat to human health. There is no evidence that 4-MEI causes cancer in humans. No health regulatory agency around the globe, including the Food and Drug Administration, has said that 4-MEI is a human carcinogen. This petition is nothing more than another attempt to scare consumers by an advocacy group long-dedicated to attacking the food and beverage industry.
In California a number of industry groups — including the American Beverage Association — have filed a lawsuit against state regulators to block efforts to list 4-MEI as a carcinogen:
The state agency’s decision does not reflect sound science and failed to follow its own regulations. Also, it did not take into account all the data available on the subject in this process.
Energy drinks, many of which contain too much caffeine, may be harmful to children, according to a new study published on Monday.
The finding was based on a review of the literature on energy drinks, researchers at the University of Miami said in the study appearing in the journal Pediatrics.
Many of the energy drinks reviewed contain three times the caffeine of a cola and some of which have five times more, said the study.
The study showed that caffeine in the drinks can exacerbate cardiac conditions, especially in children with eating disorders, and interfere with calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents.
Energy drinks produce extra calories which can contribute to diabetes, high body mass index and dental problems, according to the study.
Also, energy drinks contain additional ingredients which may boost caffeine levels, said the study.
The study also found that many children and young adults in the United States have tried energy drinks, and some consume them heavily.
A survey of college students reported that 51 percent regularly consumed one or more of the drinks per month, and a majority of those students drank them several times a week.
Insufficient sleep and a desire for more energy were cited as reasons for such consumption, said the study.
The drinks are unregulated in the United States, and the number of overdoses of caffeine from drinking them remains unknown, the study said.
But in Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, officials have reported cases of liver damage, kidney failure, seizures, confusion and arrhythmias associated with energy drink use, according to the study.
Have you ever wondered if a cup of coffee or tea and milk can substitute as one of your recommended eight glasses of water a day?
Most drinks do a good job of hydrating, but the components of some common drinks sharply reduce their hydrating ability.
Which drinks are the best hydrators, and which the worst? Here are the three most hydrating and the four least hydrating drinks.
Drinks That Are Strong Hydrators
Water is the preeminent beverage for correctly hydrating the body.
Herbal Teas (Infusions)
The leaves from plants such as mint, verbena, linden, balm, and so on give a pleasant aroma and flavor to the water in which they are steeped, which makes infusions a satisfying alternative to people who don’t enjoy drinking plain water.
The medicinal properties of the plants do not have a negative effect on the body’s assimilation of the water.
Note: The benefit does not extend to sweetened infusions, or if the tea is made with plants that have diuretic properties, such as dandelion.
Fruit and Vegetable Juices
The water in fruits and vegetables–their juice–is one of the liquids nature has provided for hydrating our bodies. Juice is water bound to a substance. To maintain our harmonic balance with nature and avoid taking in too high a concentration of nutrients and sugars, we should consider juice a secondary resource to be used in moderation.
Drinks that Are Weak Hydrators
Coffee, Tea, and Cocoa
Drinks that have a base of coffee, black tea, or cocoa are quite high in purins, toxins that must be eliminated from the body by urine or sweat in the form of uric acid. Purines need to be diluted in large quantities of liquid to be evacuated without irritation. A good portion of the water consumed with these drinks is used to eliminate the toxins.
Milk is a food, not a drink, and its digestion by adults is frequently incomplete.
Whey, on the other hand, is very easily digested, but its diuretic properties are an impediment to its consumption as a daily beverage.
Soft drinks often have a high caffeine base, a diuretic, which makes a body lose water before it has time to make its way into the intracellular environment. The other problem comes from the high sugar content of most sodas. The body has a hard time properly metabolizing refined sugar. To correct the reaction to this, the body has to surrender water from the extracellular fluid. Because that makes a person thirsty, a vicious circle is created, as the thirst is being maintained by the very beverage that is drink with the intention of getting rid of it.
Alcohol itself has dehydrating properties, removing water from the tissues it contacts and drying them out and increasing the need for water.
Adapted from The Water Prescription, by Christopher Vasey, N.D.
In spite of the fact that the FDA has banned the drink Four Loko, students still want it, which makes the manufacturer of it very happy. Some students have had to find medical help as a result of the over consumption of this drink that combines alcohol and caffeine. Recently, some University students had to be taken to the hospital after they blacked out at party. It is becoming apparent that regular consumption of this drink could lead to alcohol addiction. This, in turn, will eventually require North Carolina alcoholism detoxification for regular Four Loko drinkers who live in the Tar Heel state.
At a recent music concert almost 30 people were treated an illness that was determined to be related to alcohol and 11 people were taken to the hospital. The drink Four Loko has also been involved of deadly automobile accidents. As a result of a study that was conducted and these incidents, the FDA sent warning letters four of the companies that manufacture the mixed beverage.
The drink Four Loko is the equivalent of 8oz. of coffee and four beers. Some health officials believe that the drink is dangerous since the caffeine hides the level of intoxication, which makes it hard for the consumers to determine their limit accurately. There have been some scientific studies that have even determined hat caffeine is a food additive that is unsafe.
Despite what the experts say, the makers of Four Loko disagree. Phusion Projects say that the drink Four Loko is no more concerning than consuming Red Bull and Vodka. They still believe the combination of caffeine and alcohol is safe. Further, popular drinks such as Irish coffees and rum and colas that have been consumed responsibly and safely or years should be facing the same scrutiny that the drink Four Loko have faced recently.
The FDA website recently reported that of the combined use of alcohol and caffeine among college student in the United States, the use was as much as 26%. Most college students don’t see a problem with the energy drink. Although the statement by Four Loko CEO might be considered by some to be a valid argument, others believe they see the social influences combined with the science of their product as a larger possible risk than any other mixed drink.
Sometimes we want something to chew. Not too caloric and not too sweet. Jelly beans candies are most suitable for this purpose.
Jelly beans are a different flavored type of confectionery. Generally they have fruit taste and are made of sugar.
They are small like groundnut. You can easy eat them at work or while moving. Nowadays jelly beans candy producers make also sugar free candies.
What one can drink with confectionery, particularly with jelly beans?
Kids love candy with juice. But don’t drink it with moderation with candies, if candies contain sugar and juice is acidic it can be not so good for your teeth.
You probably already know about mints and cola? Therefore be very careful mixing it with different candies. But I think there won’t be any problems with jelly beans. By the way, jelly beans may serve as an alternative to a cola beverage containing 50 gm of glucose, researches say.
Tea is good with any candies. Better to drink not so hot tea, it can be both black tea or fruit tea.
You can try to drink coffee or cappuccino with jelly beans.
Best water quality is that it can wash down absolutely everything, and even more.
Migraines affect more than 36 million Americans – that’s nearly one out of every ten people! It’s also in the top twenty disabilities that cause people to miss work. The thing is, if they all knew this secret to curing and preventing these chronically severe headaches, that number would see a drastic reduction.
Fruit tea - one word describes it - DELICIOUS and HEALTHY.
Fruit tea comprised of browned shredded quince which has been oven-dried, dry-grilled until brown, and stored ready to steep in boiling water.