Letters to the Editor

Waldorf students thank community for generosity

The Lake Champlain Waldorf High School would like to thank residents of Charlotte for generously donating items for their recent Martin Luther King food drive.

Withstanding the force of winter last Monday, students from Lake Champlain Waldorf High School walked door-to-door through neighborhoods in Shelburne, Charlotte and South Burlington to collect food for those in need. Residents generously responded! Approximately one thousand pounds of items was collected by the students, and then given to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

Our high school’s day of community service began in 2008, and is a fitting tribute to Martin Luther King, who once said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

The students and faculty are grateful to the community Charlotte for helping to make the day such a success.

Danielle Drogalis, Waldorf High School Coordinator

Hinesburg water and nanotechnology

Alarmed by the alacrity with which the Hinesburg Selectboard appears to be endorsing a relatively unstudied method to treat the Hinesburg water supply through nanotechnology, some friends have been researching the proposal and posing questions that I would like to share with you.

  • Will the contractor certify in writing that this system will never result in harm to the public, especially children?
  • Will the contractor certify in writing that this system does not and will never incorporate the use of nano-particle coatings on filtration membranes or in any part of the equipment as this technology continues to develop?
  • Does the contractor have experience providing nano-filtration water treatment systems for towns the size of Hinesburg?
  • How many water treatment companies were considered for the design and installation of this system in Hinesburg?
  • How many sources are there for this technology?
  • How many years has this nano-filtration system been on the market and used for municipal water supplies in the United States?
  • Which towns in the United States have used this system and for how long?
  • How is the federal government monitoring the health and environmental risks and consequences as nano-filtration rapidly develops?
  • What are the downsides of this system?
  • Has a long-term, in-depth study on the proposed system been performed by an established, independent, certified engineering firm?
  • What are the long-term costs – equipment replacement, supplies, maintenance, and repair?
  • Why is a reverse osmosis system, offered as an option by the bond vote, not being presented to the public for comparison and consideration?
  • What is the percentage of wastewater created when comparing the ion exchange salt-based system, the reverse osmosis system, and the nano-filtration system? Is nano-filtration being recommended in order to reserve Hinesburg’s limited wastewater allocations for future development?
  • Have the risks and consequences of nano-filtration waste water on the environment been adequately and independently tested and studied by the scientific community?
  • Who will be legally and financially liable if something goes wrong?

The following statements are offered from Urvashi Rangan, PhD, director of Consumer Reports website GreenerChoices.org.

Many of today’s consumer products are made using nanotechnology, including food packaging, pots and pans, and personal care products such as sunscreens.

What is nanotechnology?  Nano-engineered ingredients are slightly larger than the size of atoms and molecules, or about a hundred thousandth of the width of a human hair. When particles are that tiny, they behave differently.

Are nano-ingredients safety tested? Not adequately. If a compound has been determined to be safe, then different-sized versions are considered safe. Although that is the rule in general, it breaks down on the nano level.

Should we be worried? Yes. Their tiny size means that they might be able to breach the blood-brain or the placental-fetal barrier and cause damage. Recent studies found that when swallowed, nano-titanium dioxide can cause a type of DNA damage that could lead to cancer.

You will have an opportunity to ask some of these questions or pose your own at the Feb. 2 public information session at the Hinesburg Town Hall. If you are concerned about this issue, please pass this information on to family, friends, and neighbors.

Karl Novak, Hinesburg