Spring 2010 Newsletter

Don Labonte, Carney, Jr., William A.  |  3/5/2010 10:00:26 PM

Dr. Brian LeBlanc -- Dairy Effluent Research and Outreach

Picture 1

Faculty from the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center (LeBlanc, Carney, Iqbal and Martin) have been collaborating with scientists and faculty from other AgCenter units (Sheffield, Biological and Agricultural Engineering), (Moreira, Southeast Research Station), (Achberger, Department of Biological Sciences) on studies and outreach related to non-point pollution from dairy and livestock operations in the state.

Traditionally, wastewater from southeastern Louisiana dairy grazing operations has been collected from within parlor and holding pens and stored in anaerobic/facultative lagoons for long periods of time (up to 5 years) before manure is recycled onto pasture and/or croplands. Milking parlor wastewater contains diluted amounts of manure, milk and residues of cleaning products (ammonium, phosphorus, chlorine). There are numerous reasons for hydraulic management of dairy waste and for the widespread use of anaerobic/facultative lagoons in the southern United States. High pluvial rates, lower equipment and energy input requirements, and easy handling of liquid manure are some of the most important of those characteristics. As dairies expand, they relatively reduce treatment effectiveness, thus increasing the risk of nutrient and pathogen losses to the environment. Application rates (L/ha) are typically high because nutrient concentrations in wastewater are generally low. This results in very large quantities of wastewater necessary to replace nutrients otherwise provided by commercial fertilizers for optimum plant growth. The immediate consequence of high liquid-waste application rates is an increased risk of air, soil and water pollution through volatilization, leaching and runoff/erosion.

Another major consequence of urban sprawl is that dairymen struggle with land availability and costs, further limiting the area onto which waste can be safely spread. Considering nutrient value alone, spreading manure onto land for recycling costs twice as much as commercial fertilizer for comparable application rates. There is mounting pressure on dairy producers to adopt management practices that improve wastewater treatment and reduce threats to the environment and human health. Minimizing the practice of manure application rates above agronomic recommendations will reduce nutrient and pathogen contamination of Louisiana waterways. Reducing nutrient content in treated wastewater by improving treatment will result in less land requirement for safely spreading waste at agronomic rates.

Anticipating potential for stricter regulation and recognizing that it may be more economical to remove nutrients from wastewater in some circumstances, we have begun a collaboration with Floating Island Environmental Solutions located in Baton Rouge. This project, in its early stages, is designed to test the treatment effectiveness for selected physical, chemical and microbiological characteristics in a multistage treatment system located at LSU AgCenter’s dairy in Franklinton, La., and is composed of anaerobic/facultative lagoon, aerobic lagoon and constructed wetland using this floating island technology. The use of these floating islands to grow plants in a multistage wastewater treatment system should improve nutrient removal from wastewater, thus reducing the risk of environmental hazards. This system will facilitate harvesting of plants of economic value to producers and hopefully boost technology adoption. Similarly, traditional wetlands plants with little to no economic value comprise the second part of this test. Despite the fact that the biomass grown on these islands may not be marketable, the pollution abatement may be too great when compared to traditional agronomic crops to rule out the value in cultivation of small amounts of these plants for their ability to mitigate pollutants in lagoon water. That phase of testing will begin immediately following this first phase.

One of the perceived additional benefits of the floating island system over traditionally planted-emergent wetlands is the ease of wetland remediation after a wetland becomes saturated and nutrient uptake slows, stops or in some case begins to actually leach pollutants back into the waterway. Traditional wetlands systems must be periodically evaluated to determine if nutrient uptake is still continuing and at what rate. New systems are always productive because the plants are in an active and vigorous growing stage. However, at some point these systems slow or stop as the plant community and the wetland meet or exceed their carrying capacity.

Remediation, in order to restore pollution uptake, often requires drying out of the wetland and clipping the emergent tops or the complete removal of the plants. One perceived value of the floating island concept is that these floating island substrates can be removed from a lagoon or wetland system by using cables and a tractor to bring the system up onto land to work. These floating islands can be clipped back to any stage, and the substrate with the concentrated mass of roots and rhizomes can be quickly redeployed by pulling the mass back into the waterway, and nutrient uptake can begin again quickly with little downtime or disruption to the lagoons. This same principal can be applied to any type of wastewater-treatment system -- not just agricultural systems -- including storm water retention ponds and similar applications.

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES: The main goal of the proposed research is to develop and evaluate newer, more effective wastewater treatment systems for the dairy industry in Louisiana. The specific objectives of this project are to evaluate multiple-stage wastewater treatment (anaerobic?aerobic?constructed wetlands) coupled with hydroponic plant growth (floating islands) for nutrient and pathogen content amelioration; to compare two densities of hydroponic wastewater treatment according to their abatement efficiencies for nutrient and pathogens; and to determine and compare seasonal variability of coliforms and nutrient loads in the influent and the mitigation effectiveness of the systems.

For more information contact Brian LeBlanc at (225) 578-6737 or by email.

Dr. Brian LeBlanc -- Equine Water Quality Program

Equine Water

Dr. Brian LeBlanc and unit head Dr. Bill Carney recently collaborated with Dr. Ron Sheffield (Biological and Agricultural Engineering), Dr. Vinicius Moreira (Southeast Research Station), Carol Franze (Southeast Region), Lacy Urick (Washington Parish) and Dr. Ed Twidwell (School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences) to develop a program to target horse owners and farms with educational resources to mitigate non-point pollution from these sites.

The impetus for the program came from Carol Franze in the Southeast Region, who serves on several environmental committees. One such committee led by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality related concerns about the number of horse owners in the Florida parishes. DEQ is concerned that given what they have found in their water quality assessment of the region, horse farms and even small parcels of land that hold horses could be major contributors to runoff in the region's lakes and tributaries.

This concern prompted Ms. Franze to inquire about possible solutions the AgCenter could consider. As a result of those meetings, the above faculty collaborated on an “Equine Water Quality Series,” which consists of nine individual topics covered in multi-page color factsheets that are available both in print and on the Web. The series focuses on practical cost-effective methods to reduce potentially harmful runoff from buildings and grounds where horses are kept.

Additionally, for each factsheet, the group put together 15- to 30-minute PowerPoint presentations for each topic covered to give more detailed information to consumers. A tabletop banner along with the printed facts sheets is available for use at horse shows or other equine events. The group has selected several educational programs and shows for the upcoming year to present this information. To date,the group has presented some of this material at two equine events in Louisiana.

To obtain these factsheets, go to www.lsuagcenter.com or call Dr. Brian LeBlanc at (225) 578-6737 or e-mail. For more information on the PowerPoints and to possibly set up presentations at equine events, contact Carol Franze at (985) 543-4129 or e-mail.

Ernest Girouard -- Louisiana Master Farmer (MFP) Update

The 64th annual meeting of the Louisiana Association of Conservation Districts in Baton Rouge on January 14, 2010, was the ideal venue to recognize the 23 Louisiana farmers who recently attained the status of Certified Master Farmer. This status means they have implemented conservation practices that protect all the natural resources at an accepted standard in a Resource Management System, developed by NRCS, along with completing the Phase I and II requirements for certification of the Louisiana MFP.

The list of new certified master farmers and the parish where they farm follows:

Russell Barfield, Dubach, Union Parish
Damian Bollich, Jones, Morehouse Parish
Kimberly Chapin, Winnsboro, Franklin Parish
W. Frank Chapman, DeRidder, Beauregard Parish
Ed Crawford, Winnfield, Winn Parish
Rubin Dauzat, Marksville, Avoyelles Parish
Walter Davis, Natchez. Miss., Concordia Parish
Conery Durand, St Martinville. St Martin Parish
Vendal Fairchild, Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish
Charles Fontenot, Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish
Marty Frey, Morganza, Pointe Coupee Parish
Randy Gregory, Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish
Jon Hardwick, Newellton, Tensas Parish
Ronald Hebert, Jeanerette, Iberia Parish
Sam Hill, Tallulah, Madison Parish
Wesley Jones, Pt. Coupee Parish
Cullen Kovac, Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish
James E. Moreland Jr., Homer, Claiborne Parish
J.A. Rummler, Pt. Coupee Parish
Jens Rummler, Pt. Coupee Parish
Donavon Taves, Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish
Angie Tyler, Dubach, Lincoln Parish
Scott Tyler, Dubach, Lincoln Parish

The Louisiana Master Farmer Program (Louisiana's conservation partnership) includes the LSU AgCenter, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

Javed Iqbal and Shelly Martin -- Article in Louisiana Agriculture Magazine

Making biodiesel fuel from vegetable oil or animal fat is a simple process, according to the article "Quality Control Aspects of Biodiesel Ensuring Engine Safety" published in the Fall 2009 issue of Louisiana Agriculture MagazineTo read the full article click link below.

Javed Iqbal -- Water Quality Analysis


This paper offers information on water quality analyses performed by W.A. Callegari Environmental Center Water Quality Laboratory. The information will help determine the purity of your water for drinking, habitation or agriculture use. Manmade or natural processes continuously add chemical and biological contaminants to water. These contaminants can impair the water quality for public health, damage growing plants or cause diseases. These contaminants can be either removed or rendered harmless once identified. Regulatory agencies are concerned with setting up appropriate standards to protect public health while farmers are interested in the effects of irrigation waters on the chemical, physical and osmotic properties of soils, particularly as they influence crop production. Similarly, aquaculturists are interested in the quality of water influencing the growth and production of their stock. Certain contaminants produce adverse effects only when consumed regularly over a long period and must be monitored regularly to avoid or minimize the adverse effects. Chronic effects are usually produced with such longer exposure.

Setting Standards -- Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs)

Standards set under authority of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) are called Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). An MCL is the highest amount of a specific contaminant allowed in the water delivered to any customer of a public water system. An MCL may be expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/l), which is the same for the purposes of water quality analysis as parts per million (ppm). The MCLs can also be expressed as micrograms/liter (µg/l), which is equivalent to parts per billion (ppb). One thousand micrograms per liter (1,000 µg/l) is equivalent to one milligram per liter (1 mg/l). MCLs have been set by the U.S. EPA and the DEP to provide a margin of safety to protect the public health.

What do the maximum contaminant level numbers mean?

Antimony MCL 6 µg/l

Antimony occurs naturally in soils, groundwater and surface waters and is often used in the flame retardant industry. It is also used in ceramics, glass, batteries, fireworks and explosives. It may get into drinking water through natural weathering of rock, industrial production, municipal waste disposal or manufacturing processes. This element has been shown to decrease longevity and alter blood levels of cholesterol and glucose in laboratory animals such as rats exposed to high levels during their lifetimes. EPA has set the drinking water standard for antimony at 0.006 ppm to protect against the risk of these adverse health effects. Drinking water which meets the EPA standard is associated with little to none of this risk and should be consid­ered safe with respect to antimony.

Arsenic MCL 50 µg/l

Areas with elevated levels of arsenic in geologic materials are found throughout the United States. Most of the arsenic produced is a byproduct of smelting copper, lead and zinc ores. Arsenic has been found in both groundwater and surface waters from both natural processes and industrial activities, including smelting operations, use of arsenical pesticides and industrial waste disposal. Arsenic compounds have been shown to produce acute and chronic toxic effects, which include systemic irreversible damage. The trivalent (+3) compounds are the most toxic and tend to accumulate in the body. Chronic animal studies have shown body weight changes, decreased blood hemoglobin, liver damage and kidney damage. Arsenic has been classified in EPA’s Group A (human carcinogen), based upon evidence of human carcinogenicity through inhalation and ingestion exposure. Arsenic is regulated because of its potential adverse health effects and its widespread occurrence.

Barium MCL 2,000 µg/l

Barium is a naturally occurring metal found in many types of rock, such as limestones and sandstones, and soils in the eastern United States. Certain geologic formations in California, Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois are known to contain barium levels about 1,000 times higher than those found in other portions of the United States. Areas associated with deposits of coal, petroleum, natural gas, oil shale, black shale and peat also may contain high levels of barium. Principal areas where high levels of barium have been found in drinking water include parts of Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Georgia. Acute exposure to barium in animals and humans results in a variety of cardiac, gastrointestinal and neuromuscular effects. Barium has been classified in EPA’s Group D (not classifiable), based upon inadequate data from animal studies. Barium exposure has been associated with hypertension and cardiotoxicity in animals. For this reason and because of the widespread occurrence of barium in drinking water, it is regulated.

Beryllium MCL 4 µg/l

Beryllium occurs naturally in soils, groundwater and surface waters and is often used in electrical equipment and electrical components. It generally gets into water from runoff from mining operations, discharge from processing plants and improper waste disposal. Beryllium compounds have been associated with damage to the bones and lungs and induction of cancer in laboratory animals such as rats and mice when the animals are exposed at high levels over their lifetimes. There is limited evidence to suggest that beryllium may pose a cancer risk via drinking water exposure. Therefore, EPA based the health assessment on noncancer effects with an extra uncertainty factor to account for possible carcinogenicity. Chemicals that cause cancer in laboratory animals also may increase the risk of cancer in humans who are exposed over long periods of time. EPA has set the drinking water standard for beryllium at 0.004 ppm to protect against the risk of these adverse health effects. Drinking water that meets the EPA standard is associated with little to none of this risk and should be considered safe with respect to beryllium.

Cadmium MCL 5 µg/l

Cadmium is found in very low concentrations in most rocks, as well as in coal and petroleum and often in combination with zinc. Geologic deposits of cadmium can serve as sources to groundwater and surface water, especially when in contact with soft, acidic waters. Cadmium uses include electroplating, nickel-cadmium batteries, paint and pigments, and plastic stabilizers. It is introduced into the environment from mining and smelting operations and industrial operations, including electroplat­ing, reprocessing cadmium scrap and incineration of cadmium-containing plastics. The remaining cadmium emissions are from fossil fuel use, fertilizer application and sewage sludge disposal. Cadmium may enter drinking water as a result of corrosion of galvanized pipe. Landfill leachates are also an important source of cadmium in the environment. Acute and chronic exposure to cadmium in animals and humans results in kidney dysfunction, hypertension, anemia and liver damage. The kidney is considered to be the critical target organ in humans chronically exposed to cadmium by ingestion. Cadmium has been classified in EPA’s Group B1 (probable human carcinogen) based upon evidence of carcinogenicity in humans through inhalation exposure. However, since cadmium has not been shown to be carcinogenic through ingestion exposure, the compound is regulated based upon chronic toxicity data. Because of cadmium’s potential adverse health effects and widespread occurrence in raw waters, it is regulated.

Chromium MCL 100 µg/l

Chromium is a naturally occurring metal that in drinking water forms com­pounds with valences of +3 and +6, with the trivalent state being the more common. Although chromium is not currently mined in the United States, wastes from old mining operations may enter surface and groundwater through runoff and leaching. Chromate wastes from plating operations also may be a source of water contamina­tion. Fossil fuel combustion, waste incineration, cement plant emissions, chrome plating and other metallurgical and chemical operations may result in releases of chromium to the atmosphere. Chromium III and chromium VI have greatly differing toxicity characteristics. Chromium III is a nutritionally essential element. Chromium VI is much more toxic than Chromium III and has been shown to produce liver and kidney damage, internal hemorrhage and respiratory disorders. Also, subchronic and chronic exposure to chromium VI in the form of chromic acid can cause dermatitis and ulceration of the skin. Chromium has been classified in EPA’s Group A (human carcinogen), based upon positive inhalation data for chromium VI in humans and animals. However, since chromium has not been shown to be carcinogenic through ingestion exposure, the compound is regulated based upon chronic toxicity data. Chromium exposure at high levels has been shown to result in chronic toxic effects in animals and humans by ingestion; thus, it is regulated.

Copper 1500 µg/l (Action Level)

Copper, a reddish-brown metal, is often used to plumb residential and commer­cial structures that are connected to water distribution systems. Copper contaminat­ing drinking water as a corrosion byproduct occurs as the result of the corrosion of copper pipes that remain in contact with water for a prolonged period. Copper is an essential nutrient, but at high doses it has been shown to cause stomach and intestinal distress, liver and kidney damage, and anemia. Persons with Wilson’s disease may be at higher risk of health effects due to copper contamination resulting from the corrosion of plumbing materials. Public water systems serving 50,000 people or fewer that have copper concentrations below 1,300 parts per billion in more than 90 percent of tapwater samples (the U.S. EPA action level) are not required to install or improve their treatment. Any water system that exceeds the action level must also monitor its source water to determine whether treatment to remove copper in source water is needed.

Lead 15 µg/l (Action Level)

Materials that contain lead frequently have been used in the construction of water supply distribution systems and plumbing systems in private homes and other buildings. The most commonly found materials include service lines, pipes, brass and bronze fixtures, and solders and fluxes. Lead in these materials can contaminate drinking water as a result of the corrosion that takes place when water comes into contact with those materials. Lead can cause a variety of adverse health effects in humans. At relatively low levels of exposure, these effects may include interference in red blood cell chemistry; delays in normal physical and mental development in babies and young children; slight deficits in the attention span, hearing and learning abilities of children; and slight increases in blood pressure of some adults. EPA’s national primary drinking water regulation requires all public water systems to optimize corrosion control to minimize lead contamination resulting from the corro­sion of plumbing materials. Public water systems serving 50,000 people or fewer that have lead concentrations below 15 parts per billion (ppb) in more than 90 percent of tap water samples (the U.S. EPA action level) have optimized their corrosion-control treatment. Any water system that exceeds the action level must also monitor its source water to determine whether treatment to remove lead in source water is needed. Any water system that continues to exceed the action level after installation of corrosion control and/or source-water treatment must eventually replace all lead service lines contributing in excess of 15 ppb of lead to drinking water. Any water system that exceeds the action level must also undertake a public education program to inform consumers of ways they can reduce their exposure to potentially high levels of lead in drinking water.

The following steps can be taken to minimize your exposure to lead:

  1. Flush your plumbing to counteract the effects of “contact time.” Flushing involves allowing the cold faucet to run until a change in temperature occurs (minimum of one minute). Water drawn during flushing doesn’t have to be wasted. It can be saved for other uses such as washing dishes or clothes and watering plants.
  2. Do not consume hot tap water. Hot water tends to aggravate lead leaching when brought in contact with lead plumbing materials.
  3. For private wells, steps can be taken to make water noncorrosive. Water-treatment devices for individual households include calcite filters and other devices to lessen acidity.
  4. Insist on lead-free materials for use in repairs and newly installed plumbing.
  5. Lead can be removed from your tap water by installing point-of-use treatment devices now commercially available, which include ion-exchange filters, reverse osmosis devices and distillation units.
  6. Bottled water can be purchased for drinking and cooking purposes.

Lead has been classified in EPA’s Group B2 (probable human carcinogen) based upon evidence of kidney tumors in rats by the oral route.

Mercury MCL 2 µg/l

Mercury exists in two basic forms -- the inorganic salt and organic mercury compounds (methyl mercury). The major use of mercury is in electrical equipment (batteries, lamps, switches and rectifiers). Mercury may also enter the environment from mining, smelting and fossil fuel combustion. Inorganic mercury is poorly absorbed through the gastro-intestinal tract. The principal target organ of inorganic mercury is the kidney. Exposure to inorganic mercury compounds at high levels results in renal effects. Because inorganic mercury is the form of mercury detected in drinking water, has widespread occur­rence and may have adverse health effects, it is regulated.

Selenium MCL 50 µg/l

Selenium occurs in U.S. soils in the western states. The more alkaline soil tends to make selenium more water-soluble, and increased plant uptake and accumulation occur. Most of the commercial selenium has toxic effects at high dose levels and is nutritionally essential at low levels. Acute and chronic toxic effects have been observed in animals. In humans, few data exist on acute toxicity. In animals, sele­nium deficiency results in congenital white muscle disease and other diseases. Sele­nium has been classified in EPA’s Group D (not classifiable) based upon inadequate data in animals and humans. Selenium exposure at high levels results in chronic adverse health effects, and thus it is regulated.

Thallium MCL 2 µg/l

Thallium is found naturally in soils and is used in electronics, pharmaceuticals, and the manufacture of glass and alloys. Thallium compounds have been shown to damage the kidney, liver, brain and intestines of laboratory animals when the animals are exposed at high levels over their lifetimes. EPA has set the drinking water standard for thallium at 0.002 ppm to protect against the risk of these adverse health effects. Drinking water that meets the EPA standard is associated with little to none of this risk and should be considered safe with respect to thallium.

Aluminum SMCL 0.05-0.2 mg/l

U.S. EPA believes that in some waters, post-precipitation of aluminum may take place after treatment. This could cause increased turbidity and aluminum water quality slugs under certain treatment and distribution changes. U.S. EPA also agrees with the World Health Organization (WHO, 1984) that "discoloration of drinking water in distribution systems may occur when the aluminum level exceeds 0.1 mg/l in the finished water." WHO further adopts a guidance level of 0.2 mg/l in recognition of difficulty in meeting the lower level in some situations. While U.S. EPA encourages utilities to meet a level of 0.05 mg/l where possible, it still believes that varying water quality and treatment situations necessitate a flexible approach to establish the SMCL. What may be appropriate in one case may not be appropriate in another. Hence, a range for the standard is appropriate. The definition of "secondary drinking water regulation" in the SDWA provides that variations may be allowed according to "other circumstances." The state primacy agency may make a decision on the appropriate level for each utility on a case-by-case basis. Consequently, for the reasons given above, the final SMCL for aluminum will be a range of 0.05 mg/l to 0.2 mg/l, with the precise level then being determined by the state for each system.

Iron SMCL 0.3 mg/l

At 1.0 mg/l, a substantial number of people will note the bitter, astringent taste of iron. Also at this concentration, it imparts a brownish color to laundered clothing and stains plumbing fixtures with a characteristic rust color. Staining can result at levels of 0.05 mg/l, lower than those that are detectable to taste buds (0.1-1.0 mg/l). Therefore, the SMCL of 0.3 mg/l represents a reasonable compromise because adverse aesthetic effects are minimized at this level.

Manganese SMCL 0.05 mg/l

The SMCL was set to prevent aesthetic and economic damage. Excess manganese produces a brownish color in laundered goods and impairs the taste of tea, coffee and other beverages. Concentrations may cause a dark brown or black stain on porcelain plumbing fixtures. As with iron, manganese may form a coating on distribu­tion pipes. These may slough off, causing brown blotches on laundered clothing or black particles in the water.

Silver SMCL 0.01 mg/l

Silver is a relatively rare metal. Its major commercial uses are in photography, electric/electronic components, sterling and electroplate, alloys and solder. Environmental releases can occur during ore mining and processing, product fabrica­tion and disposal. However, because of the great economic value of silver, recovery practices are typically used to minimize losses. The only adverse effect resulting from chronic exposure to low levels of silver in animals and humans is argyria, a blue-gray discoloration of the skin and internal organs. Argyria is markedly disfiguring and is a permanent, nonreversible effect. Argyria is the result of silver deposition in the dermis and at basement membranes of the skin and other internal organs. There is no evidence that exposure to silver results in mutagenic or carcinogenic effects. Silver has been classified in EPA’s Group D (not classifiable) based upon inadequate data in animals and humans. The current SMCL for silver is based upon 1 gram of silver resulting in argyria.

Sodium SMCL 50 mg/l

Sodium is the principal cation in the hydrosphere. It is derived geologically from the leaching of surface and underground deposits of salts (e.g., sodium chloride) and from the decomposition of sodium aluminum silicates and similar minerals. The sodium ion is a major constituent of natural waters. Human activities also contribute sodium to water supplies, primarily though the use of sodium chloride as a deicing agent and the use of washing products. Based on the available studies, it appears that insufficient evidence is available to conclude whether or not sodium in drinking water causes an elevation of blood pressure in the general population. It has been estimated that food accounts for approximately 90 percent of the daily intake of sodium, whereas drinking water contributes up to the remaining 10 percent. In order to afford protection to a segment of the U.S. population on a sodium-restricted diet, in 1968, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended a level of 5 mg of sodium per 8 ounces of water or 20 mg/l. U.S. EPA is suggesting a guidance level for sodium of 20 mg/l in drinking water for the high-risk population as recommended by the AHA. When it is necessary to know the precise amount of sodium present in a water supply, a laboratory analysis should be made. When home water softeners utilizing the ion-exchange method are used, the amount of sodium will be increased. For this reason, water that has been softened should be analyzed for sodium when a precise record of individual sodium intake is needed. For healthy persons, the sodium content of water is unimportant because the intake from salt is so much greater. But for persons placed on a low-sodium diet because of heart, kidney, circulatory ail­ments or complications in pregnancy, sodium in water must be considered.

Zinc SMCL 5 mg/l

Zinc is found in some natural waters, most frequently in areas where it is mined. It is not considered detrimental to health unless it occurs in very high concen­trations. It imparts an undesirable taste to drinking water. For this reason, the SMCL of 5.0 mg/l was set.


General information on water testing

There are two types of sampling locations depending on the contaminant of interest. The sampling locations are point-of-entry (POE) and the water distribution system (consumer's tap in a house). The purpose of these two types of sampling locations is to differentiate between contamination derived from the source water and contamination derived from the distribution pipes.

The goal of drinking water sampling should be to collect a sample under the worst conditions; therefore, checking water a day after a heavy rainfall is a good idea. If corrosive water is suspected, a sample for lead or copper should be taken first thing in the morning without letting the water run. For other tests, wait until mid-morning after a good quantity of water has been used. Samples for bacteria (Total Coliforms) must be collected using sterile containers and under sterile conditions. In addition, keep a record of all your water test results; by observing any changes over time, you may be able to discover any problems.

The LSU AgCenter’s W. A Callegari Environmental Center is equipped with analytical instruments and dedicated professionals to serve you in analyzing water samples for copper contamination. We are committed to furnish results on your samples within a minimum timeframe. Submit your sample(s) in person or mail to: 1300 Dean Lee Drive, Baton Rouge, LA 70820. For more information contact the lab at (225) 765-5155 or e-mail.

Definitions of Terms

Administrative Authority -- the board of health having jurisdiction.

Carcinogenic -- producing or tending to produce cancer.

Contaminant -- any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substance or matter in the water.

Distilled Water -- water which has been purified by passing through an evaporation-condensation cycle. It contains minute amounts of dissolved solids. Multiple distilling will further lower the dissolved solids.

Ion -- an electrically charged atom or group of atoms that result when one or more electrons are gained or lost; resulting in either a positive (+) or negative (-) charge. It can be made up of one element or a group of elements; for example, the calcium (Ca++) or bicarbonate (HCO3- ) ions.

Microgram/liter (µg/l) -- a metric unit used to denote concentration of chemicals or other substances in water; µg/l is equivalent to parts per billion (ppb) or 10-6 grams/liter.

Milligrams Per Liter (mg/l) -- a unit used to denote concentration of chemicals or other substances in water. Mg/l and ppm are equivalent expressions of concentra­tion (10-3 grams/liter).

Milliliter (ml) -- a unit of volume denoting one-thousandth of a liter; 3,784 ml equal 1 gallon.

Mutagenic -- capable of inducing a mutation, a relatively permanent change in genes (hereditary material).

Parts Per Billion (ppb or µg/l) -- a unit used to denote concentration of chemi­cals or other substances. The unit implies a part of something in one billion parts of water or other substances e.g. one cent in $10,000,000 or 1 second in 32 years. The ppb and µg/l are equivalent expres­sions of concentration.

Parts Per Million (ppm or mg/l) -- a unit used to denote concentration of chemicals or other substances. The unit implies a part of something in one million parts of water or other substances e.g. one cent in $10,000 or 1 second in 12 days. The ppm and mg/l are equivalent expressions of concentration.

Javed Iqbal -- Biodiesel Fuel Management in Cold Weather

Figure 1

Cold-weather performance is one of the biggest challenges for the success of biodiesel as fuels in automobile industry. At low operating temperatures, the fuels may thicken and might not flow properly, affecting the performance of fuel lines, fuel pumps and injectors. The low-temperature performance is commonly defined by cloud point, pour point and cold filter plug point. The cloud point is especially important because it limits the cold-flow properties of the resulting biodiesel blend. The cloud point is the temperature at which a cloud of wax crystals first appears in biodiesel. The intent of the cloud point measurement is to obtain the temperature at which the liquid fuel begins to change from a single-phase liquid to a two-phase system.

The chemical composition of some biodiesel feedstock leads to biodiesel (B100) that may have higher cloud point. The cloud point can be predicted with knowledge of the esters (biodiesel) composition; however, it is hard to determine the esters composition of used vegetable oil used as the feedstock unless it is analyzed. The saturated methyl esters components of biodiesel (e.g. methyl palmitate, C16-0, and methyl stearate, C18-0) are the first to precipitate. The amounts of these esters are hence the determining factors for cloud point. B-100 generally has a higher cloud point than petroleum-based diesel fuel. This test can be in an automated instrument. The sample is cooled in a 1.5oC +/- 0.1oC/min device over the range from +70oC to -40oC, while being continuously illuminated by a light source.

Table 1: Cold Flow Data for various B100 fuels


Cloud point

ASTM D2500

Pour point


Cold Filter plug point

Fuel’s Feedstock







Soy methyl esters







Canola methyl esters







Lard methyl esters







Edible tallow methyl esters







Inedible tallow methyl esters







Yellow grease methyl esters







The cloud point can be modified via two ways -- through the use of additives retarding the formation of solid crystals in B100 by various mechanisms and by blending feedstock that are relatively high in saturated fatty acids with feedstock that have lower saturated fatty-acid content. The result is a net lower cloud point for the mixture. The cloud point of biodiesel produced from waste cooking oil at W.A. Callegari Environmental Center is found approximately -2oC (28.4oF) where the principal feedstock was canola oil. Fatty acid chains, particularly the saturated fatty acid chains, therefore, play an important role in determining the cold-flow properties of biodiesel fuel. A relationship exists between the cold-flow properties of biodiesel and saturated fatty acid methyl esters. As the content of the saturated fatty acid methyl esters increases, the cloud point of biodiesel occurs at higher temperature. The cloud point of animal fats occurs between approximately between 14oC to -1oC. If the biodiesel is derived from rapeseed oil, the cloud point is approximately between -2oC (28.4oF). Waste cooking oil that has less saturated fatty acids performs better than animal fats or other oils with higher amount of saturated fatty acid chains.

Commonly used biodiesel blends are B2, B5, B10 and B20 (numbers indicate the percentage of biodiesel in the blend) where B2or B5 have minimal or no effect on cold-flow properties of the finished blend. B20, however, freezes about 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit faster than No. 2 petroleum diesel, depending on the cold-flow properties of the biodiesel and the cold-flow properties of the petroleum diesel.

As indicated in Figure 1, the cloud point of B100 starts at -2.8oC (27°F) for waste cooking oil, mostly canola oil that is made up primarily of mono- or poly-unsaturated fatty acid chains. Most of the animal fats or frying oils that are highly saturated has high cloud point as 66°For higher.

Graph below demonstrates that biodiesel, B100, produced at W.A. Callegari Center can safely be used during cold weather at around -2oC (28.4oF) or higher without using additives. However, because of strong solvent potential and to maintain the integrity of the fuel lines, B50 or lower is recommended, which reduces could point further down to -7oC (19.4oF), a temperature rarely observed in the South.

Figure 1: Cloud point of various biodiesel and petrodiesel blends using ASTM2500 method
     (See Image Above)

In order to ensure engine safety, B100 tanks and fuel lines should be designed for the cold-flow properties of the biodiesel being used and the climate they will see. Fuel pumps, lines and dispensers need to be protected from cold and wind chill with properly approved heating and/or insulating equipment. Fuel in above-ground tanks should be heated in a range that fluctuates between 5°F to 10°F above the fuel cloud point. Once crystals begin to form, they should go back into solution as the fuel warms up. However, that process could be slow if the fuel warms only marginally or very slowly. Crystals formed in biodiesel or diesel fuel can drift to the bottom of the tank and begin to build up a gel layer. Slow agitation can prevent crystals from building up on the tank bottom or, once present in the fuel, agitation can help to dissolve crystals back into solution. If B100 has gelled completely, it may be wise to bring the B100 temperature up to 100°F to 110°F to melt the most highly saturated biodiesel components if the fuel needs to be used right away. Lower temperatures can be used if enough time is provided for the mixture to come to its equilibrium cloud point. Further work is occurring in this arena. Some additive manufacturers have data that show their cold-flow additives can reduce the pour point of a B100 by as much as 12°C (30°F), but the treat rate is in excess of 10,000 ppm. At more typical treat rates (1,000 ppm), benefits were about 3°C. B100 found in the United States cannot be effectively managed with current cold-flow additives like some petrodiesel or European rapeseed oil-based biodiesel, especially in the northern regions. The U.S. oils and fats contain too high a level of saturated compounds for most additives to be effective. Cold-flow additive effectiveness can also change dramatically depending on the exact type of biodiesel or the chemical process it has undergone (Table 2); much like the situation found with diesel fuel. Cold-flow additives have been used much more successfully with biodiesel blends. Contact the major additive manufacturers for more information.

Mixing No.1 diesel fuel with biodiesel can help reduce most fuel-gelling problems. Other measures may include the addition of fuel-line heaters or in-tank fuel heaters, along with the use of anti-gel additives. Insulating the fuel filters and fuel lines from the cold also will help. These measures should eliminate most cold-weather operational problems associated with biodiesel ,especially in the South, assuming the biodiesel meets the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) specifications for biodiesel designated as ASTM D 6751. This specification covers pure biodiesel (B100) for blending with petroleum diesel at levels up to 20 percent by volume. The ASTM specification for petroleum diesel is ASTM D 975. Biodiesel that meets the American Society of Testing and Materials specifications is a safe and reliable fuel that can be used in most diesel engines. However, it is important to check with engine manufacturers about any impact of biodiesel use on engine warranties.

Best management practices in cold weather include:

  • Keep your tank close to full; a large amount of fuel will gel more slowly than a small amount.
  • Blend biodiesel with at least 50% diesel when using in cold climates.
  • Use a cold-weather additive with biodiesel in the winter, e.g. pour-point depressants, flow improvers
  • If your fuel lines do plug, try pouring hot water on them. Do not continue to crank your engine if your fuel system is plugged; this can damage the fuel pump
  • Proper fuel management and a clear understanding of fuel’s cold flow properties
  • Use quality fuel meeting ASTM D 6751 specifications
  • Blending biodiesel with kerosene (#1-D), which has excellent cold-flow properties

Testing your biodiesel quality:

The LSU AgCenter's W.A. Callegari Environmental Center offers affordable ASTM analysis for biodiesel fuels. For further information visit our website, call the lab at (225)765-5155 or e-mail.

Table 2. Cold flow properties of (B100) Biodiesel (Methyl and Ethyl Esters) (The Biodiesel Handbook)


Alkyl group

CP (°F)

PP (°F)









































Mustard Seed




No.1 Diesel



No.2 Diesel*



CP - Cloud Point; PP - Pour Point
*The cloud and pour point of the fuel varies based on the ambient (outside) temperature of where the fuel is used. This is determined and specified by the fuel supplier.

Shelly Martin -- Do I Have Hard Water?

Hard water is a nuisance that many people deal with. It is often found in municipal water supplies that are drawn from underground sources where minerals leach into the water as it travels through soil and rocks. Large amounts of dissolved calcium and magnesium picked up in this way are usually the cause of hard water.

Hard water is prevalent throughout the United States. Louisiana itself sits above 14 major aquifers that provide nearly half of the state’s drinking water. Six of these ground water systems, including the Chicot and the Mississippi Alluvial aquifers, have moderately hard to very hard water.

One of the telltale signs that your water is hard is the inability to work up a lather with your household soaps. This decrease in your soap’s effectiveness is because of a reaction of the calcium and magnesium in the water with the fatty acids in the soap. Although hard water is not seen as a health hazard, the carbonate salts that form can account for scum and scaly residue buildup in showers and bathtubs. And in high-temperature conditions, like those in your home’s hot water heater and piping, the carbonate salts can eventually cause clogs that can reduce efficiency and cause damage.

The Water Quality Laboratory at the W.A. Callegari Environmental Center can help determine if you have hard water. Samples are analyzed for metals (at a cost of $12 per drinking water sample), and your water’s hardness is then calculated from the levels of calcium and magnesium present. The general classification guidelines for distinguishing hard and soft water is as follows: water with a calcium carbonate level below 60 mg/L is considered soft, a level between 61-120 mg/L is considered to be moderately hard, between 121-180 mg/L is generally accepted as hard, and levels over 180 mg/L are very hard.

For more information about this and other analyses performed at the water quality lab, please give us a call at 225-765-5155 or visit our website.

Dr. Brian LeBlanc -- Manuscript for Publication

Vinicius R. Moreira, Assistant Professor, Southeast Research Station, LSU AgCenter, Franklinton, La.; Brian D. LeBlanc, Associate Professor and Roy and Karen Pickren Professor of Extension Water Resources, LSU AgCenter, Sea Grant and Callegari Environmental Center, Baton Rouge, La.; Eric C. Achberger, Associate Professor, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, LSU AgCenter, Baton Rouge, La.; Dale Fredrick, AgCenter Facilities Planning; and Claudia Leonardi, Biostatistician, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, La., recently had their manuscript entitled Design and evaluation of a sequential biological treatment system for dairy parlor wastewater in Southeast Louisiana accepted for publication in Applied Engineering in Agriculture.

Dr. Bill Carney -- Article in Louisiana Agriculture Magazine

Dr. Carney

Dr. Carney says, "You can make your own fuel to run in diesel engines for a fraction of what regular petroleum diesel costs. In fact, most people making biodiesel are making it for about $1 a gallon."

To read more of Dr. Carney's article, click on the link below.

Karen Nix -- Introduction

Karen Nix , Extension Associate, W. A. Callegari Environmental Center

Karen Nix has been appointed as State Pesticide Safety Education Coordinator. She will be responsible for coordinating state pesticide training within the LSU AgCenter's Cooperative Extension Service.

Karen has a bachelor of science degree from McNeese State University in biological sciences and a master of science degree from Louisiana State University in entomology. She is also a board certified entomologist.

Karen Nix -- Upcoming Events in Pesticide Education

The past 6 months have brought big changes to LSU AgCenter’s Pesticide Safety Education Program. One of the biggest was the retirement of our longtime leader, Dr. Mary Grodner. As her replacement, I have been busy learning the ropes, traveling the state meeting everyone, and speaking at and planning recertification/certification meetings. In addition to learning all my new job responsibilities, I’ve been working on bringing the pesticide program to the Web. At www.lsuagcenter.com/pesteducation you will find information on ordering manuals for taking new pesticide applicator exams, frequently asked questions, upcoming recertification meetings for both private and commercial applicators, pesticide updates and more. I’ll be updating it periodically, so keep checking back.

Below is a list of the upcoming recertification/certification meetings which have been approved by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.

March 16-18, 2010
Category 8
Louisiana Mosquito Control Association Spring Workshop

March 24-25, 2010
Category 3 Ornamental and Turf
Diamond Jacks Resort
Bossier City, La.
Day 1: Recertification, Day 2: New Certification
For more information visit www.lpca.org

April 13-14, 2010
Category 7B: Apartments/Multi-Family Housing
Category 7D: Schools/Apartments
Dewitt Livestock Facility on the Dean Lee Research Station
Alexandria, La.
Day 1: Recertification, Day 2: New Certification

April 20-21, 2010
Category 7C: Small Grains/Flood Plants
Dewitt Livestock Facility on the Dean Lee Research Station
Alexandria, La.
Day 1: Recertification, Day 2: New Certification

October 6-7
Category 3: Turf and Ornamental Lafayette, La. Cert/Recert
For more information visit www.lpca.org

Category 5a: Right of Way
Monroe, La.
Recert Only

Category 6: Aquatic

Category 5a: Right of Way
Pineville, La.
New Cert Only

Category 6: Aquatic
For more information visit www.lavma.org

RUP Salespersons
Alexandria, La.
Recert Only

November 17-18
Category 3: Turf and Ornamental
Kenner, La.
For more information visit www.lpca.org

Karen Nix -- Who to Contact

 The Louisiana State University AgCenter, in conjunction with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), works to maintain a successful pesticide applicator certification program to ensure the competency of all certified pesticide applicators working within the state. The LSU AgCenter Pesticide Safety Education Program works closely with specialists and various agencies and organizations to provide recertification to private and commercial pesticide applicators as well as information on pesticide education resources, integrated pest management in a variety of environments and information on pesticide safety awareness to applicators, regulators, extension staff, researchers, youth and the general public.

-- For more information regarding certification and to ensure you are taking the correct exam, contact LDAF at (225) 925-3787.

-- To view brief category descriptions and study guides needed, click HERE.

-- To order manuals, click HERE

-- For ordering manuals not available on our online store, please call (225) 578-5920.

-- To contact the pesticide safety education coordinator, Karen Nix, e-mail or call (225) 578-3018.

W.A. Callegari
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