Enviro-Test Laboratories - An Evaluation of the Polar Bear Water Distiller For Removing Toxic Industrial and Agricultural Contaminants
 
 

Introduction
Objective of this study was to test the efficiency of the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER at removing contaminants (inorganic, organic, radionucleotides) from water. The contaminants included in this study were heavy metals, ammonia, nitrate, chloride, fluoride, radium 226, industrial organic contaminants and pollutants, as well as commonly used insecticides and herbicides.

 

Methods
Toxic chemicals (organic and inorganics), as well as the radionucleotide radium 226, were added to a pressurized tank containing approximately 40 liters of distilled water. All the organic chemicals added were certified reference materials obtained from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (e.g. priority pollutants) or Agriculture Canada (e.g. herbicides).

The priority pollutants were added to water concentrations ten to twenty times the regulated level in the United States. These regulations pertain to industrial effluent discharge limits. Upon addition of these chemicals, the tank was mixed by 'rocking' back and forth. Samples of contaminated water were taken from the tank for chemical and radionucleotide analysis. Following the collection of samples, a feed-line pump was activated and raw contaminated water was fed to a POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER. The distiller was activated and allowed to operate for seven (7) hours. At the end of this time period, samples of distillate were taken for chemical and radionucleotide analysis.

Analysis for metals and nutrients were conducted using United States Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) and ASTM approved methods. Chemical analysis of organic contaminants were conducted using US-EPA approved methods and validated using US-EPA certified reference materials. Raw and distillate samples for organic analysis (volatiles, base/neutrals, phenols, insecticides and herbicides) were taken in duplicate and then analyzed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Results reported represent the mean of two analyses. The inorganic analysis represents a single determination.

 
Test Results
Table 1 summarizes the results obtained for inorganic parameters:
 
Table 1: Determination of Inorganic Parameters in Raw and Finished Water
 
NOTE: ND means non-detected.
*To convert from Bq/L to pico-curries/L, multiply by 27. From TABLE 1, it is apparent that the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER is very efficient (greater than 99%) at removing inorganic contaminants and radionucleotides, such as radium 226, from the water.
 
 
 
Table 2 summarizes the results obtained for volatile organic compounds. These volatile organic compounds are part of the US-EPA priority pollutants which are currently regulated in the United States. Through the MISA (Municipal Industrial Strategy for Abatement) initiative in Ontario, these chemicals will also be regulated in Ontario and through Federal Environmental Protection Act (currently tabled in the House of Commons), these chemicals may be regulated federally in all the provinces of Canada. Because of their extreme volatility, (high vapor pressures), these compounds are an excellent test media for the extraction efficiency of the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER.
 
Table 2:  US-EPA Volatile Compounds Tested
 
NOTE: ND means non-detected.
From TABLE 2, it is apparent that the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER is efficient at removing volatile pollutants from contaminated water.
 
 
 
Table 3 summarizes the results obtained for the US-EPA priority pollutant phenols. Again, these chemicals are regulated in the United States and may be regulated in Canada in the near future.
 
Table 3:  Removal of Priority Pollutant Phenols
 
NOTE: ND means non-detected.
TABLE 3 reveals that no priority phenols were detected in the distillate.
 
 
 
Table 4 summarizes the results obtained for the US-EPA base/neutral priority pollutants. These compounds are also regulated in the United States and may be regulated in Canada in the foreseeable future.
 
Table 4:  Removal Efficiency for the US-EPA Base/Neutral Priority Pollutants
 
NOTE: ND means non-detected.
TABLE 4 reveals that the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER is efficient at removing US-EPA base/neutral priority pollutants raw water contaminated with such material.
 
 
 
Table 5 summarizes the results obtained for the insecticides and herbicides. These pesticides are commonly used in Western Canada. We focused our study on the herbicides (triallate, trifluralin, 2,4-D, dicamba, bromoxynil, and MCPA) because sales records indicate that these chemicals are used to a much greater extent than insecticides in Western Canada (personal communique with Environment Canada).
 
Table 5:  Removal Efficiency for Insecticides and Herbicides
 
NOTE: ND means non-detected.
From TABLE 5 we can see that the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER is efficient at removing insecticides and herbicides from contaminated water.
 
 
 

Conclusion
In conclusion, we can see from the data that the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER is efficient at removing inorganic and organic contaminants from contaminated water. Analysis of raw water fortified with inorganic chemicals, US-EPA priority pollutants, insecticides and herbicides, as well as the radionucleotide radium 226, revealed levels 10 to 20 fold above regulated U.S. effluent discharge limits. When this fortified raw water was distilled using the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER, and the resulting distillate was analyzed for these same parameters, no detectable levels were observed.

Concentrations of chemicals and/or pollutants reported for the raw water were determined experimentally and as such, have experimental error associated with them. For example, the concentration reported for phenol was 42 ug/L, when in reality over 100 ug/L was added to the tank. The low value reported for phenol (and other chemicals/pollutants) is a function of the poor extractability of some of the chemicals and other aspects of the complex methodology employed to analyze for these chemicals and/or pollutants. For phenol, extraction efficiencies of 30 to 40% are commonly reported. These errors associated with the analyses were taken into consideration when calculating extraction efficiencies. Extraction efficiencies are a function of the concentration of a chemical in the raw water and the method detection limit for that chemical.

Some organic compounds may be missing from this evaluation; compounds which we outlined in our original proposal. Careful study of the original study revealed some redundancy because all isomers of some compounds were included. It is not necessary to analyze all isomers because the vapor pressures of the isomers are similar. For example, we only analyzed for 1,3 dichlorobenzene and excluded 1,2 dichlorobenzene and 1,4 dichlorobenzene. Furthermore, some compounds that we outlined in our original proposal were not available to us and so we substituted similar chemicals. We feel that the list of chemicals included in this study is representative of the type of chemicals likely to be associated with industrial and agricultural pollution. Addition of more chemicals may well result in a case of overkill.

One comment regarding the ability of the POLAR BEAR WATER DISTILLER to remove asbestos from contaminated water - although this chemical was not evaluated in our tests, it is our opinion that this chemical would be removed by distillation since it has a relatively low vapor pressure.

 
References
1. United States Environmental Protection Agency (1984). Guidelines Establishing Test Procedures for the Analysis of Pollutants Under the Clean Water Act; Final Rule and Interim Final Rule and Proposed Rule, Method 625-Base/Neutrals and Acids, Federal Register, 49:153-174.Certified by D.A. Birkholz, Environmental Toxicologist.