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Archive for July, 2013

For more on how the SpiroFlo device takes biofilm from “too many to count” to statistically zero in just one pass, all with no chemicals and no additional power source/carbon footprint, see here.

SpiroFlo shares a conversation with a dentist office about biofilm (bacteria that grows wherever there is water—including in dental lines) and notes what treatments they’ve used in the past versus today.

Last time I shared some of the changing standards on biofilm treatment from the American Dental Association (ADA). Now knowing what I know about biofilm makes it even less pleasant to go to the dentist. It’s like a friend of mine who was a germaphobe before she became a microbiologist. Her researching just how wrong ‘the five-second rule’ with food is didn’t do her any favors. Thus, when I see areas roped off at the dentist or I’m sitting in the creepiest of their chairs (read: ALL OF THEM), I start asking questions.

So, yeah, pretty much every time I’m at the dentist I’m asking questions. The same thing happens when I visit doctors, but that’s a different train wreck.

Mmm, germilicious

This time though, I got an open hygienist and dentist, as this particular office recognizes that they have to stay ahead of the curve where biofilm is concerned. As mentioned previously, the standard chemical treatments of monochloramine don’t work, but as they’re largely the option for biofilm mitigation, many places stick with a “It doesn’t work, but keep doing it anyway” mantra. Instead, this dental office has daily treatment tabs for their water, and, once every few months, they use an overnight chemical treatment then flush their lines.

I think his shades have gotten bigger since this time…

Sterilex has a 100% kill rate for biofilm, but to get that title, they had to spend 10 years and millions of dollars with the EPA. (It’s part of the reason your bathroom cleaner claims it kills 99.9% of bacteria—because that last 0.1% claim is very costly to prove.) Thus Sterilex is expensive and the biofilm starts growing back right away, usually in the very same problem areas.

However, no matter how much this dentist office flushed their water lines after Sterilex, patients complained of a bitter aftertaste. As expensive as Sterilex is, I can’t see anyone who needs their water to taste right—i.e. dentists or drinking water companies—wanting to spend even more on treating the water again, especially as filters can be biofilm-prone areas (essentially perpetuating the costs and the cycle). In addition, Sterilex has a warning about not getting it in your eyes, so that’s not exactly encouraging when you’ve got a crap-aim hygienist hosing your pearly whites with reckless abandon. If nothing else, you better hang on to your Bono shades…

So this dentist, along with many others, uses a form of chlorhexidine instead. Chlorhexidine is a chemical antiseptic used as a rinse, a component of specialized mouthwash, and as a healing agent after dental surgery. Don’t use it too much though—prolonged use turns your teeth and your tongue brown.

Yummy.

However, some studies debate the efficacy of chlorhexidine, and the dentist I spoke with admits that, no matter what chemical treatment they’ve used, they’ve never gotten their bacteria count below 180 CFU (colony-forming units—a microbiological term for estimating bacterial numbers). While 180 may sound like a lot when you talking about bacteria, less than 500 CFU is the standard. Same goes for drinking water standards for acceptable bacteria count.

Bear in mind, this is a dentist office that takes biofilm treatment seriously, and there’s still so much further to go in terms of treatment.

As with any time I speak of biofilm, you have my pity if you’re visiting the dentist soon.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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For more on biofilm and its treatment see here.

SpiroFlo shares some recent updates from the American Dental Association (ADA) regarding their standards for the treatment of biofilm (water-borne bacteria).

Up until five years ago, biofilm—bacteria communities that grow wherever there is water—was the dirty little secret of the medical industry. However, these days I see a lot of articles acknowledging the tie between biofilm and staph infections. There are all kinds of other associated problems, too, including hip replacements and catheters.

Water municipalities and dentists, however, they’re still fairly quiet on their biofilm issues. Of course, if you do a little digging, you can find standards from the American Dental Association (ADA) on how much bacteria they’re allowed in their water lines (hint: it’s higher than zero, but below the standards for drinking water). This came after an otherwise healthy 82-year-old woman developed Legionnaires’ disease after a dental visit in 2012. While it sounds cool, Legionnaires’ disease can be acute or fatal as it’s essentially bacteria spreading and causing problems in your respiratory system. You can’t get it from other people either, so it was basically a gimme that the woman got it from dental surgery.

Thus the 2004 ADA standards on bacteria—from a time when hardly anyone spoke of biofilm—got a much-needed update.

By CDC/ William Cherry [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lung tissue during legionellosis / Legionnaires’ disease

Here it is in layman’s terms: When a doctor or dentist is cutting you open—be it your body or your gums—that part of you is exposed to bacteria. Then, when you get sown up, infection can be locked in to grow, often at a time when you’re immune system is down. The effects of this infection can be as minor as an upset stomach the day after or as major as some of the issues above.

Regardless, it’s not the kind of stuff you want to know about before your six-month check-up or a surgery, since, there’s nothing you can actually do to stop the infection. Freak out with hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes (and please videotape if you do) — it’ll make no difference.

Of course, I went to this dentist this week and started asking questions. More on that next time.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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By United States Senate [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsVortex Tools explains why the latest trends in environmentalism have little sway.

I realize my interest in environmental regulations news has waned.

I know, it’s not something most people would pick to be interested in to start with, but given I work in the water and oil & gas industries, this type of thing has at least somewhat of a foothold in my worldview.

So take President Obama’s recent environmental speech. I thought about blogging live reactions and ramifications. I thought about spoofing a mock drinking game based on overused environmental buzzwords (but then figured I might get someone killed from alcohol poisoning). I thought about doing a lot of things to respond in the moment, but I didn’t, and here’s why:

  1. Political parties often determine environmental policy: Like it or not, there’s a reason why people largely vote along party lines, not for individuals. Majority determines policy, and based on who’s controlling what, I know what I’m getting without having to hear the latest promises.
  2. If you want to know what a politician will do, check their voting/implementation/funding record: This ties back to #1, but you can monitor the individual over time. It’s hard to find a list without some form of spin on it, or with enough context to make sense as is, but you can get a good feel for what a politician favors and opposes.
  3. Passing environmental law =/= a change in reality: Again, look at the history. Heavily subsidized companies fail (sometimes without a workable product—the kind of thing you figured would be researched before handing them millions of dollars); laws get passed on green alternatives that no one can meet even if they wanted to do so; then agendas/political party power changes and so do the laws.

In short: Whether by statement or legal implementation, the latest environmental intent doesn’t mean anything.

So all these views about what this politician meant by x, what this latest movie/study on climate change/fracking/whatever-hot-button-issue-it-is-this-week, and any other environmental niche you can debate all day—take electrical power from potatoes; I’m begging you: please take on the electrical power from potatoes mantra—it’s all for naught.

It also doesn’t help that all this analysis, theory mongering, and strategizing get trumped by that thing called ongoing reality.

I suppose that’s a sad thing to say for a fella like me who likes to follow and comment on this bent, but it’s not like I wasn’t a cynic before…

Do I believe that enough little changes over a long enough timeline can change the big picture? Certainly, but I think that the change count and timeline is far higher and longer than even the most hopeful want to admit. But hey, I’m just one voice among many. This is the information age, which means everyone has the right be misinformed.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at environmentalist concerns over the chemicals/materials in fireworks, and how these health concerns impact military weaponry.

No matter the holiday, I like to look up the environmentalist stance (or other niches, like the horrors of tofurkey at Thanksgiving). Given that it’s the 4th of July, things will be ‘splodin’ all over the States today. Blowing things up is a worldwide heritage (see also: the 5th of November in the UK and just about every glorious holiday in China).

Blowing crap up is also good way to make most people care about chemistry. Potassium nitrate? Sodium chlorate? Eh.

Oh wait, these oxidizers help things go boom-boom? Now I’m interested. Environmentalists are interested, too, and they’re noting the impact of fireworks on both people and the planet.

Most of us have naturally figured out that the smoke from fireworks can make it hard to breathe. Thus I aim them at the sky, not at my face.

But what of less obvious effects? The EPA has scrutinized the use of perchlorate “because it can substitute for iodide in the thyroid gland, disrupting the production of hormones. It can also cause growth abnormalities in embryos.” Barium is also a health hazard, as “it can interfere with heart function and constrict air passages to impair breathing.”

While I can understand concerns over the use of flares, criticizing the use of these materials in IM-28—an incendiary mixture added to armor-piercing bullets to mark the impact point—seems a little off.

You know what harms your health more than perchlorate and barium? Getting shot with armor-piercing bullets…

Regardless, researchers Jared Moretti and Jesse Sabatini are working on safer replacements (and yes, these do work for potentially meaningful switches like in civilian fireworks). The key is using nitrates that don’t contain barium, like strontium nitrate.

Others argue that blowing fireworks up all over town causes harmful chemicals and plastics (used to make fireworks safer, larger, and more boomtastic) to contaminate and litter your town. You can check out photos of July 5th cleanups if you need more crispy evidence.

In the mean time, Happy Independence Day!

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

Read Full Post »