Two issues that have been in the news in the past week are stuck in my head - the possibility of contaminated water coming from abandoned mines in Leadville, Colorado and the probability of contamination in supplements.
First, the issue closest to home for me is the potential disaster looming in Leadville, Colorado. I fell in love with the mountain town in 2005 when I did my first Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race. I've done some reading on the town, the history, successes and struggles. The National Mining Museum is located in Leadville and is worth a visit.
Leadville, like many of us, has an issue in that the very thing that makes us successful - has strong potential to be a problem. The mining industry that made fortunes (such as the Guggenheim fortune), supplied needed raw materials to many industries and helped provide community livelihood to the town, is now causing problems.
Before you go all high and mighty on me regarding the mining industry, take a hard look around you to see how many of the items you enjoy every day are a product made from the bowels of the earth.
That written, while the minerals such as gold, silver, and molybdenum extracted from the mines are valuable in manufacturing; poisonous chemicals are present as well. Leadville has been a Superfund site and 98 percent of the work has been completed.
More recently, within the past six months, a collapse was detected in one of the drainage tunnels causing a massive build up of water. This water pool contains over one billion gallons of toxic, heavy metal-laden water. If a blowout in the tunnel occurs, the water could spill out into the Arkansas River and would likely endanger the lives of over 400 Lake County residents.
The Arkansas River Basin provides over two million acre feet of water for Colorado agriculture a year, and is a key source of water for Colorado Springs, Aurora, Pueblo and the Front Range. The potential damage to the Colorado ecosystem is obvious.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the Environmental Protection Agency are working to secure the funding, estimated at between five and ten million dollars, to avoid disaster. More information can be found here.
I hope they can get the job done.
For the supplement issue, the study that was released in 2007 titled, "[Investigation into Supplement Contamination Levels in the US Market|http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hfl-supplement-research-report-pdf]" made a big splash late last year on several news sites including Fox and USA Today. An excerpt from the report,
"Of the 54 samples that were successfully analysed by LCMS, 6 showed the presence of stimulant contamination. This corresponds to 11.1%. Of the 52 samples that were successfully analysed by GCMS, 13 showed the presence of steroid contamination. This corresponds to 25.0%."
(If you are unable to link to the actual investigation pdf, first click on the title of this blog, then access the attachment at the bottom of the blog.)
Manufacturing practices at supplement companies are obviously not up to snuff. A study done by the US Olympic Committee between 2000 and 2002 found that 18% of the 240 supplements purchased in the US contained steroids.
If you take supplements, know that they are NOT controlled by the tight standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).