Courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/kuroha/638778686/Like all ogres, Shrek is a greedy and covetous beast. He has millions of fine, fine goblets, but should you attempt to drink from any one of them, you risk becoming the target of one of his powerful cancer spells.
“But, Shrek,” you say. “You have so many wonderful cups, brought to us by McDonalds and Shrek 4 Eva. Why can’t I drink from just one of them?”
“Because,” Shrek would surely reply, “they’re all mine. All of them! That’s why I put cadmium in them. Ogres are immune to cadmium, but it is a carcinogen in humans.”
“A carcinogen? In your cups?” you ask.
“Yes, a carcinogen. With long term exposure, carcinogens can increase your chances of developing cancer!” says Shrek.
“Cancer?” you say.
“Yes. Cancer,” says Shrek.
And it’s not only Shrek’s goblets that are cursed; drinking from the cups of Princess Fiona will soften your bones, and sipping from the vessels of Puss in Boots will cast the hex of severe kidney damage upon you. And you should never drink out of something called “Donkey,” no matter what it’s made of.
Fortunately, all of the cups are being recalled to Ronald McDonaldland, to become a part of Ronald’s personal collection. Because clowns feed on poison.
Los Angeles, in particular, is doing things with balls I’d never even thought of. They’re putting them in the water… by the millions! Millions of balls in the water, I guess, will make it better to drink.
The issue here is cancer. Or carcinogens—materials that can cause cancer. So the issue here is cancer.
Bromide, a naturally occurring ion of the element bromine, happens to be found in Los Angeles’ reservoirs. Bromine isn’t much to worry about on its own, but it turns out that the ion interacts with chlorine and sunlight (both of which are also found in the LA reservoirs) to form bromates, a group of chemicals that contain carcinogens. I couldn’t find a reference that explains it fully, but it looks like this is how it (basically) works: chlorine dioxide, the form of chlorine we use to treat drinking water, breaks down in sunlight into chlorine and oxygen. The bromide ions end up grabbing on to some oxygen to form BrO3, the bromate anion (“anion” just means that it’s a molecule with a negative charge). When that negatively charged bromate anion combines with a positively charged ion, a bromate is formed. And those are, as we’ve established, often bad. The combination of sunlight, bromide, and chlorine in LA’s reservoirs means that their water sources are becoming contaminated with bromates.
So thank goodness for balls, lots of balls. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power means to solve the problem by removing sunlight from the situation. In about five years a huge underground reservoir should be finished, but until then LA has decided that the best way to block sunlight from the water is to cover it with millions and millions of black, plastic balls. They’ll float, and allow most things, but not sunlight, to pass through them. And they’ll look super crazy.
As we all know, however, you don’t just fill up a couple 10-acre reservoirs with balls in a weekend. Plus, the ball-making company can only produce about 100,000 balls a day, and there’s no doubt a great demand for balls beyond LADWP’s 6.5 million ball order. So this going to be a lengthy project. Over the next four years the Ivanhoe and Elysian reservoirs will be filled with about 3 million balls each. And then the underground reservoir will be ready. I expect there may be some spare balls around LA at that point.
Here’s more on the trouble with Bromates in drinking water.
And here’s more on balls.