Exactly what Flint doesn't need: Mike Adams and his secondhand mass spectrometer

My state is screwed up, and the epicenter of the fallout from the dysfunctional mess that is the Michigan state government is the city of Flint. As you probably recall, around the holidays a story that had previously been mainly a Michigan story broke nationally in a big way. It is the story of how a combination of the imposition of an emergency manager on the city, epic incompetence at the level of the state and local government, and outright denial of a problem for several months by the veyr state agency (the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) charged with making sure that things like this don't happen lead to a truly horrific decline in the quality of tap water in Flint. The CliffsNote version is that in 2014, thanks to a state-imposed emergency manager, the city of Flint its water supply to Flint River water, which was more corrosive. Compounding this problem, the water was not properly treated. So it leeched lead from old lead pipes, leading to high levels of lead in many parts of the city with older pipes, which, not coincidentally, happened to be in the poorer areas of the city. Also as a result, the percentage of Flint children with elevated blood lead levels increased alarmingly. The situation in Flint is serious, the "don't worry, be happy" dismissals notwithstanding.

Oh, and a lot of people got Legionnaire's Disease, very likely thanks to the water, and ten of them died.

There were two major heroes in this story. The first was Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards, who in response to a plea from a Flint resident ran his own test on multiple samples of water and was the major voice in the wilderness saying that, hey, this is bad, way worse than what the state government is claiming. Eventually, despite dismissal and attacks by various state officials, Edwards was vindicated. The second hero was a pediatrician at Hurley Hospital named Mona Hanna-Attisha, who carried out the study that found the aforementioned alarming increase in the number of children with elevated lead levels. As a result, she, too, was attacked by the DEQ and the governor's spokesperson. She persevered, and ultimately she, too, was vindicated. Now national and international attention remains focused on the city, with numerous celebrities and charitable organizations donating bottled water. In the meantime, Governor Snyder and the state government are alternating between blaming the EPA (which, it is true, is not entirely blameless but is not by any means the main culprit here) and dithering about fixing the problem.

So things are still bad in Flint. The water can be used for bathing, but it has still not yet been declared safe to drink, and hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to be required to replace a lot of those old pipes that have probably been permanently damaged and likely to continue to leak lead for a long time even after the water supply was switched back to the non-corrosive Detroit supply, which comes from Lake Huron. What the people of Flint really don't need is this:

Two citizen scientists who lead a non-profit food and water laboratory in central Texas have teamed up to prevent children across America from being poisoned with lead in municipal water supplies. Forensic food scientist Mike Adams has teamed with a former NASA contract scientist to conduct nationwide scientific analysis of heavy metals in the tap water of U.S. cities.

The effort is being organized by the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (ConsumerWellness.org), with executive director Mike Adams leading the scientific analysis. Over the next three months, the team plans to test the water of at least 100 large U.S. cities, reporting the results to the public on the website EPAwatch.org.

The water tests are being conducted via ICP-MS using an Agilent 7700x instrument and EPA methodology 200.8. Analysis is sensitive to low parts per billion concentrations for lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic, copper and other toxic elements. Results will be published on EPAwatch.org and NaturalNews.com.

Here's the accompanying video:

It's amazing how many mistakes are just in the first minute and a half of this video. First, the water supply from the Flint River wasn't contaminated with lead; the lead contamination came from the higher level of corrosiveness of the Flint River water, which was not properly treated and as a result corroded lead pipes, releasing lead into the water. Second, the water supply to Detroit is not contaminated with lead. Detroit water comes from Lake Huron and is not corrosive. In fact, Flint got its water from the Detroit system for decades before this without a problem. It's also rather curious that Adams blames the whole thing on the Environmental Protection Agency, when in fact the primary failure was with the Michigan DEQ and those running the local water system. In fact, it was an EPA official, Miguel Del Toral, was a whistleblower who helped bring the story to light. He discovered that Flint wasn't using proper corrosion control, and his interim report was scathing. As a result, the Michigan DEQ's spokesperson at the time Brad Wurfel referred to him as a "rogue employee." Now, it's true that the EPA’s Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman, Del Toral's boss, apologized for how the report got out to the press, but one notes that she was forced to resign not too long ago. As I said, the EPA was not blameless, but it was far from the main problem. Certainly having Mike Adams "take over the job of the EPA" with what he calls "citizen-scientists" will not be an improvement.

When I learned about the lead crisis in Flint, I figured the quacks would descend. I didn't predict this, though. I figured that the quacks who would descend on the city would be peddling all sorts of pseudoscientific "detoxification" to rid people of the lead they have ingested. Instead, we have arch quack Mike Adams rushing in to test water for lead, all in the name of...well what it's in the name of isn't exactly clear, other than that he apparently hates the EPA. I'm sure it's also part of his business plan, just as running assays for heavy metals on supplements sold by rivals, which serves an obvious marketing function for him to sell his supplements. In this case, I'm guessing he'll soon be selling water filters and the like, but this probably also serves Adams' hyperlibertarian political purpose in demonizing a regulatory agency as big as the EPA and "proving" that he and a bunch of "citizen-scientists" can take over its function.

Another thing about the video and article above is that Adams shows way more of his "laboratory" than he ever has. I haven't worked in a chemistry lab in a long time, and I haven't done mass spectroscopy for even longer—decades. So I'm hoping that a reader with analytical chemistry experience who is familiar with mass spectroscopy technique will look at the photos and video and comment. Personally, I know from past activity that Adams is pretty incompetent at science. Oh, sure, he can probably follow the instructions and run the machine, but designing experiments is not as easy as he makes it out to be. For example, Marc Edwards explained in detail how water samples need to be taken and how the DEQ's and City of Flint's methodology actually minimized the amount of lead detected.

Now let's see the instructions Adams gives for collecting water samples:

The Consumer Centers Lab is calling on licensed practitioners of the healing arts, including chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, complementary medicine doctors, TCM and acupuncture practitioners, massage therapists, holistic dentists and others who are licensed by state boards to send in water samples.

Water samples should be sent in Karter Scientific 50mL centrifuge vials. They are inexpensive and can purchased on Amazon.com through a link at EPAwatch.org. Do not send by air. Changes in pressure can cause leaks in vials. Ship or mail your 50 mL water sample to the address below:

CWC Labs
P.O. Box 224
8760 A Research Blvd.
Austin, TX 78758


  1. Fill the vial completely with water from your sample source (tap water, for example), affix the screw top and shake the vial vigorously. Then pour out the water. This is a rinse.
  2. Fill the vial a second time, all the way to the top. Affix the screw top firmly.
  3. Please write the zip code of the water sample on the lid of the vial, using a permanent marker.
  4. Apply a strong tape around the perimeter of the screw top to create a tighter seal with the vial.
  5. Pack the vial in a padded envelope or a small box. This will help prevent damage during shipping.
  6. Print and fill out the water custody form which you can access here.[PDF] Include it with your water sample shipment.

Adams is calling on chiropractors, naturopaths, acupuncturists, and all manner of quacks to send him water samples. Yes, I'm sure this will go well. (Yes, that is sarcasm. Good pick up!)

There's also the issue of how the water samples are collected. One concern is that the water samples will not be random, coming as they will from quacks and people who are aware of Mike Adams. For instance, a mere 1,000 samples from all over the country would be highly unlikely to produce enough water samples from any one city to produce a statistically valid picture of the situation in that city. It took Marc Edwards more than 250 samples just from Flint to show the alarming results that he did, and Edwards was very careful to try to make sure his sampling was as scientifically valid as possible. He supplied collection kits. He provided detailed instructions to citizens on how to collect water samples, along with an instructional video. Ironically, Adams instructions are likely to underestimate the amount of lead in water. (Shhh. Don't tell him!)

Let's just put it this way. Citizen science can produce useful results, but it has to be guided by actual scientists, like Marc Edwards, not by epically incompetent quacks like Mike Adams. Mike Adams might have a nearly empty laboratory with a little bit of equipment in it and a (probably) used mass spectrometer, but that doesn't make him a scientist. He's proven that time and time again. Perhaps the most hilarious example is when he put some McDonalds Chicken McNuggets under the microscope and was, to my great amusement, shocked to learn that they looked very different under the microscope. In a bit of comedy gold, he took his results to Alex Jones. As for his mass spectrometer, Adams has used it to measure—whether accurately or not, who knows?—heavy metals in rivals' supplements. In a particularly risible bit of wasting a perfectly good piece of scientific equipment, Adams turned his mad mass spec skillz on a vial of flu vaccine containing thimerosal and was shocked—shocked, I tell you!—that it contained a lot of mercury compared to, say, tap water, labeling it as 25,000 times the maximum allowed by the EPA. In reality, he found roughly the same amount of mercury as the vaccine manufacturer says is in there.

Given his epic incompetence at anything resembling science, his conspiracy theories, and his sheer opportunism, Mike Adams is the last thing Flint needs.

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... am I a bad person for actually chuckling a bit at this shirt?

*his shirt. damn auto-correct....

Oh, and a lot of people got Legionnaire’s Disease, very likely thanks to the water, and ten of them died.

False-flag op. Yes, it was the water, but the showers were full of sewage, IIRC. Legionella is an innocent victim. Or doesn't exist, or something.

I want to dump a bunch of homeopathy supplements into vials and send to him, just to see what his fancy science machine will tell him. And also to waste a bunch of his time.

Fill the vial completely with water from your sample source (tap water, for example), affix the screw top and shake the vial vigorously. Then pour out the water. This is a rinse.

Is this the normal protocol for the US?
In my young years, and admittedly it was the protocol for collecting water for microbiological analysis, but the protocol I was taught was:
- let the water flow for 2 min
- and then collect it.

The idea was to avoid the water left sitting in the pipes for an unknown length of time before collecting. It could easily have accumulated whatever is being measured and that will skew the results toward higher values.
As to rinsing a theoretically clean tube before use, why not? But that step doesn't seem necessary to me.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

"Do not send by air."

This gave me a good chuckle. My understanding is that the Post Office flies everything over a certain distance (750 miles?).

It should be fun opening those packages.

By Michael Finfer, MD (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Yeah, that whole "do not send by air" bit is hilarious. Unless you overfill the vial, it won't make a difference.

It figures Adams would try to wedge his con game into this situation. The Governor of Michigan is playing games, trying to get his cronies into more government contracts, and now he's talking about not doing anything until another study by his hand-picked engineering firm. This is kind of like the guy with a gunshot wound to the belly wanting a third opinion on if he needs surgery, except it's not hurting him, it's hurting thousands of poor people.

i like your article

By the best unive… (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Watching that video hurt me inside. Let's just say his "lab" and mass spectrometer look pretty weak.

@ Helianthus
Actually this is homeopathic dilution, the reason why one must shake the vial vigorously.

By Daniel Corcos (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Water samples should be sent in Karter Scientific 50mL centrifuge vials.
3. Please write the zip code of the water sample on the lid of the vial, using a permanent marker.

So, that's a 30 mm diameter vial?

*looks at supply of permanent markers*
*writes on polypropylene recyclable*
*rubs with finger*

I'm going to need a finer-point Sharpie.

Truly a quack. Just because you have the equipment does not mean you know what you are doing!

It reads like something the Onion would do on a bad taste day.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I wonder if he could even figure out a sample of heavy water on his mass spec.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

@ Amethyst:

At least he was wearing a shirt.

About 7-8 years ago, he posed in a body builder-type sleeveless tank in order to show off his fabulous physique
( Health Ranger.com/ since scrubbed clean) with precise details of his height, weight and blood chemistry.

So you missed that. Not that it was all that much.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I wonder what he would find in distilled water.

His very first step is bad. Obviously the intent of shaking is to dissolve or dislodge any surface contaminants in the sample vial. Filling it completely full so that there is little or no air makes the shaking much less effective than it would be if the vial were half filled. For a given quantity of rinse water, multiple small-volume rinses are much more effective than a single full-to-brim rinse.

Is this the normal protocol for the US?

The sampling method laid out by Marc Edwards I consider to be much more appropriate to the specific situation in Flint, whether it is "normal" or not. Where the expectation is that contaminants, leached lead in the case of Flint, originate within the fixtures and pipes it is critical to collect samples of water that has been sitting in the pipes for some time, reflecting what would happen if someone drew a glass of drinking water from a tap without allowing the line to flush. A flushed-line sample would be appropriate if the intent were to sample residual chlorine content in the water in the mains, for example.
If I were doing the sampling and had lots of money to do the testing, I'd want to turn on the tap at some moderate flow rate and collect a sample every few seconds for a couple of minutes - essentially building a full longitudinal profile from tap to water main.

More seriously, has anyone noticed how he ( like the other idiot at prn.fm) has series of new projects, new businesses and websites ( now, EPAwatch) rolled out endlessly?

I could probably reconstruct the entire list of stunts he's tried to interest his audience and drive up sales.
He has the 'lab', a gravity-based hydroponic system, a spirituality site, prepper supplies, music videos, 3d printing, news sites, a charity, an encyclopaedia of natural health, publishing, internet radio, an Inner Circle club, a store etc
Most have their own websites.

He occasionally partners with people who sell woo-based foods or other products. He even sells wool baby bedding and shampoo! I swear.

Orac's newer readers may not be aware of Mike's attempt to establish a new age colonia in Ecuador. he was involved with a real estate company and a former astronaut, giving seminars and leading mountain nature treks into the great green jungle where vaccines and pesticides are not at all required by fascist governments.

HOWEVER that didn't last long: the other idiot, in response to a radio caller about re-location to Ecuador said that a well-known natural health advocate was threatened by kidnapping
( I don't know the whole story but Mikey abandoned his estate and 'food forest' in short order).

And looking briefly at his lab, I wonder if it is in his warehouse for his products' shipping to customers?
He once mentioned having warehouses.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

So, that’s a 30 mm diameter vial?

Which, for a five-digit zip code, works out to about 17 points per character. Which is pretty small for something hand-written with a ballpoint pen, let alone a Sharpie.

Do not send by air.

In principle one could use UPS Ground shipping within the 48 states. But that's not an option in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands--everything between those locations and the mainland US goes by air. There are parts of Alaska where surface transport isn't even theoretically an option--no roads, and far enough inland that shipping by boat isn't practical (even if seasonal ice were not an issue, which it is for North Slope and inland locations).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

He " detected mercury in dog treats made with fish"

" Real science should not be controlled by the few"

" No one gives me a paycheck or a government grant"

( from the video)


Like the other idiot, he hints that he uses his earnings from selling stuff to do work that benefits humanity, thus, we get labs and documentaries.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

he was involved with a real estate company and a former astronaut You can't make this ish up.

We know that questionable lab tests are a big money maker in the alt med world. The FDA is clamping down on the clinical labs.

In hindsight, *of course* someone was going to take the alt med laboratory scam to Flint. I don't think the FDA regulates analytical chemistry labs.

What gets me ate the directions: throw out the first sample, this is a rinse? Why? Are your containers not clean? I csn see vslidity of getting water from deeper in the faucet or pipes. But why wouldn't you tell people to run the water for a set period of time?

By Camilla Cracch… (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Why are they labeling the lid of the vial?? Labeling the tube gives them a lot more surface area, plus there's no worries about keeping the each lid with its vial when the vials are transferred into trays (or whatever that instrument might use.)

@ Delphine:

I g--gled 'vilcabama** real estate natural news' and lo and behold! his posts are there.
I'm creative but not THAT creative.

** the Valley of Longevity or suchlike

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

The picture is not sciency enough. It needs a lab coat and a Bunsen burner, preferably boiling something green in an Erlenmeyer flask.

By justthestats (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Looks to me from the photo that Adams has put on weight.

Could it be the non-GMO heavy metal-free crullers?

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

More seriously, has anyone noticed how he ( like the other idiot at prn.fm) has series of new projects, new businesses and websites ( now, EPAwatch) rolled out endlessly?

I worked with a guy like that. There was always some new task force, committee, study group, business proposal etc. that usually fizzled out after a few weeks. The only time one of his projects actually went anywhere, it lost one million dollars.
Come to think of it, that's Lawrence Solomon's act as well. He puts together some important-sounding committee or task force or website, which goes dormant if not dead a short time later.
It's all bullshit.

Tisk, tisk, Tbruce #29. One probably shouldn't risk posting a link to a working NST Jacob's Ladder, in this day and age.

kids can put the apparatus into a glass tube and flow air across it to make nitric acid when their parents or their governments make more direct methods of procurement somewhat problematic.

Birkeland Eyde process:

Mikey has a nice lab space but in all my years of working in a lab, it looks awfully bereft of stuff and usage.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

For the love of God, is there a way to stop the picture of the supposedly syphilitic adult penis from popping up at the bottom of every post?????

By NH Primary Care Doc (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

On second reading, I noticed this statement (from what I infer, given that the link points to Natural News, is a press release from Adams):

Forensic food scientist Mike Adams has teamed with a former NASA contract scientist

Adams wants readers to assume that his unnamed partner's previous association with NASA lends credibility, but there is no guarantee the partner's degree is in anything relevant to the problem at hand--or even, given public confusion about the distinction between scientists and engineers[1], that the partner even has a Ph.D. While NASA has employed biomedical scientists (e.g., for the manned space program) and mass spectrometry experts in the past, they employ scientists in many other fields, most of which aren't relevant to what Adams claims to be doing. And some "former NASA contract scientist[s]" are "former NASA contract scientist[s]" because they turned out to be serious kooks[2].

[1]Those who follow the global warming "debate" may recall from a few years ago a supposed list of "700 NASA scientists" who claimed that global warming wasn't real. On inspection, it turned out that the overwhelming majority of these "scientists" were actually engineers, and only one person on the list had any sort of background in atmospheric science.

[2]Depending how Adams defines the term, "former NASA contract scientist" might include this guy, a notorious theoretical physics crank who is even more notorious for stealing moon rocks. His co-conspirator in the moon rock caper was his then girlfriend, whom he met while both were interns at Johnson Space Flight Center (she was a biology major). He's an extreme example, but nevertheless a warning about assuming that a "former NASA contract scientist" is a credible person.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

@NH Primary Care Doc: Are you running an ad blocker? If not, consider doing so. I run an ad blocker and suspect that that is why I have no idea what you are referring to. Failing that, clear your browser cache--ad servers tend to look at your browsing history for targeting ads at you, and I don't want to know what sort of search history might have led to an ad like that.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I'm an analytical chemist - well I was, but now I am in marketing. I am a product manager of chromatography columns for a significant manufacturer. However, my background is primarily in GC and GC/MS and NOT metals done by AA or ICP. But, I cut my teeth in an environmental lab and I visit labs. A lot.

First of, Agilent isn't a division of HP. They were spun off ~15 years ago. Agilent is arguably the 'original' HP, but that was a long while back. Minor little detail, but Agilent is arguably the biggest analytical instrument company out there and their instruments are legit.

Next, having a used or new instrument is pretty irrelevant. That looks like a rather new, or at least well-kept ICP-MS. I've seen instruments that are 20+ years old that still kick butt. It just depends on what your goals are. Maybe lots of reasons to trash the guy, but accusing him of getting a used instrument isn't effective or meaningful.

Also, he has what appears to be a newer Agilent 1200 HPLC in the corner. If he wanted to generate crap data, he could have gotten an older 1100 series or another manufacturer. He has a pretty solid workhorse HPLC. His other equipment such as the Eppendorf and SPEX prep station are legit. In fact it looks like he may have some sort of calibration or IQ/OQ/PQ type of labels on the pipettes, which frankly is unusual in an enviro lab. I could be wrong on those labels, though.

The lab is clean. Maybe too clean? Almost no production enviro lab would look like that. At the surface, seems to be good lab hygiene. At one point in the video he lays down his Eppendorf with the tip hanging over the sink and not on the table himself, a pretty good technique. I'm unsure what he is doing in that particular step; bringing things up to volume, pHing, adding surrogates and/or internal standards? Maybe that scene is just for show.

Furthermore, you can see where he has calibration curves. There does seem to be a gap in the geometric middle of the curve, but you can see the cluster at the LOQ/LOD level. I can't see any numbers regarding r^2 values, linearity, and all of that, but just eye-balling them they seem reasonable.

From just looking at the analytical lab, it doesn't look disastrous. Maybe on further watching of this one can find obviously 'wrong' things, but I don't have the time or patience to re-watch it that much!

This is in no way commentary on his sample collections, duplication - EPA methods typically require a sample, sample duplicate, two more samples to be spiked in duplicate (matrix spike) as well as blanks, lab control spikes, continuing calibration curves, and a bunch of other quality control steps. Obviously none of that is shown on the video and I can't fairly comment on that.

One can have solid data from the instrument. However, if the experiment is designed poorly then you just have good data for a bad experiment.

Again, to re-iterate I am not a metals guy and haven't touched an ICP in ~14 years, and will gladly admit that I may have missed an obvious error regarding ICP sample prep and analysis.

I'm not as familiar with ICP-MS but I can tell you that anything with that much loose tubing waving around is installed incorrectly. Which tends to mean it is being used improperly or in a manner not approved for the EPA method cited.

I paused at the 4:37 mark to look at the system he is showcasing there. It's a Metrohm USA Ion Chromatography system. Anion specific. This a very low end system for the most basic water analysis under the EPA method 300.0. While capable for a small lab analyzing moderate concentrations, it's not designed or set up for ppb level detection or high sample output. Ppb level detection usually requires the higher end systems with concentrators and nearly clean room level protocols. Doesn't take much to contaminate a sample at ppb levels.

By Charles Mayer (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

"NASA contract scientist" dilutes it even further, since it means the person wasn't even employed by NASA at all, but by a contractor. And given how broadly he defines "scientist", I think I could call *myself* a NASA contract scientist, since I have a degree in computer science and am working on a contract for a spacecraft that NASA will use. ;-)

So yeah, that term means absolutely bupkis, even as used by Adams.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

It’s also rather curious that Adams blames the whole thing on the Environmental Protection Agency, when in fact the primary failure was with the Michigan DEQ and those running the local water system.

Mike Adams choose to ignore the fault of the Republican state government and instead blame a federal regulatory agency? Shocking.

Camilla Cracchiolo, RN@24

What gets me ate the directions: throw out the first sample, this is a rinse? Why? Are your containers not clean? I

Kind of makes sense since Mike is not providing vials himself but rather having people supply their own. Having a rinse step should ensure everyone starts with clean vials regardless of where they obtained them. That said this doesn't seem like the proper way to do it.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I think it's unwarranted to assume Mikey will actually DO this. As Denice pints out, he has an ever-expanding portfolio full of new projects. Last year he was going to revolutionize home food production with 3D printers or something. A press release goes up on NN, followed by more posts of hype, a 'coming-soon' website goes online... and, then, not much happens.

Really, one guy – no matter how fab his superfood diet – can't do anywhere close to everything Adams claims to be doing. I'd say it's at least even money that this is JUST a press release, designed to give Mikey a bigger 'wow' factor with his existing fan base, try to pull some new customers for his supplement store, and no significant amount of actual 'testing' will occur.

I wouldn't worry about issues with his test protocol, as we have no warrant he'll actually follow it. If he ever publishes any numbers, he might just make them up, or cop them from some other source.

I'd file this with Bill Posey's call for a Congressional hearing on #cdcwhistleblower as likely nothing more than woofing.

Will the numbers coming from Mike's lab will be reliable as contamination could have happened in numerous places from sampling and sampling container to contamination in the lab itself?

My understanding, based on popular non-fiction reading and not actual experience, is that testing for lead in samples fraught with difficulties since lead is so ubiquitous in the environment. Dr. Clair Patterson's story on his difficulties with lead testing and his successful attempts to remove lead contamination from the glass to the entire lead makes for some gripping reading (I think Bill Bryson even has a section on him in A Short History of Nearly Everything along with Thomas Midgley, the fellow who came up with the idea of adding lead to fuel in the first place).

No doubt it is easier to test for lead now, but I imagine there are some strict protocols to follow that Mike isn't likely to know about or even follow if he does.

As an aside, his shirt did make me smile. I'd like a shirt like that.

By Dan Andrews (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Let me reword my mangled first question,

"Will the numbers coming from Mike's lab be reliable as contamination could have happened anywhere along the line?"

By Dan Andrews (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Anyone want to give me odds on his lab space being a rental for the purpose of making videos and taking pictures? You never see him actually doing anything in them. All that lab footage in the video looks like stock footage. It never shows HIM doing the work, just a pair of hands (presumably with a GoPro on his head, just like every scientist works) and a voiceover. I call BS.

@Calli: Yes, by that definition, I'm also a "NASA contract scientist". I actually do have a Ph.D. But I know about as much about running that mass spectrometer as Mike Adams does: in a pinch I might figure out how to plug it in and turn it on, but if there is any kind of plumbing or special wiring (e.g., three-phase power) involved, that would be beyond my skill level. Given ideal conditions and a manual, I might even get as far as producing a result. I wouldn't trust my interpretation of the result any more than I would Mike's.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

On Mike and his lackeys incompetency, I remember one of his writers calling ethyl mercury inorganic. I pointed out (took three tries but the comment got approved) how stupid that was since the name tells you that it is an organic compound. They of course never corrected it. These guys don't have high school chemistry level knowledge and want to play with big boy tools.

NH Primary Care Doc@32

For the love of God, is there a way to stop the picture of the supposedly syphilitic adult penis from popping up at the bottom of every post?????

I agree with Eric Lund and recommend uBlock Origin.

Eric Lund@34
This is appartently an issue right now.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

@#32 Primary Doc

OH, thank you. I have been wanting to bring this up, but actually was reluctant to type the descriptive--not a prude, it's just so ewwwww! I cannot imagine what I searched that caused this. I'm an over 60 grandmother of six who spends my time traveling and knitting--and reading science blogs.

To the suggestion about AdBlock, I did that once and it ended up blocking a lot of other things--a side effect thing, so I had to stop it. Maybe this is different now? Also, it says at Google that if you block, you will,still,get ads, just not as targeted.

By darwinslapdog (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Mikey sciences so hard...

By Chadwick Jones (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Check out the "Two Droplets" story running around social media.

Be sure to skim down to where the author says her husband was getting inpatient therapy and then ended treatment due to the side effects.


Sounds like cancer to this layperson.

but if there is any kind of plumbing or special wiring (e.g., three-phase power) involved

Naa, plug-n-play; The days of 900 amp DC bussbars are long gone, I reckon.

Someone needs to publish an article in a credible local newspaper or get on a credible local TV station, ASAP, to warn people in Flint about the flock of quacks about to descend on them. First comes Mikey with his publicity stunt, and then will come all manner of "detoxifying agents" and similar garbage. Chances are some people will fall for this cr@p, and there's a reasonable probability that it will catch on more widely, in a manner analogous to anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. The public needs a meme-vaccine pronto.

As for Snyder, resignation is too good for him: he and his cronies and the entire chain of command that caused brain damage to a generation of children, should face serious prison time.

Fortunately there may be some prosecutions on the way.

Apparently the FBI and Postal Inspection Service are both conducting investigations related to Flint's water supply. For those who don't know this, the Postal Inspection Service is our nation's oldest federal law enforcement agency, and is highly respected by other agencies because they are ferociously effective and they do not lose cases. Their scope of inquiry here might be a) use of the mail to conduct fraud or other crimes, and/or b) intentional or criminally negligent infliction of harm to post office employees, such as would have occurred when local post office workers drank the contaminated water after its status was known but not disclosed. FBI might be going after a corruption case or a civil rights case, the latter based on the fact that the large majority of victims are black.

Federal law enforcement does not spend time on cases unless they expect to develop solid evidence for successful prosecutions. Some number of elected and appointed officials in Michigan state and local government will be getting surprises only slightly less unpleasant than what Cliven Bundy got when he was waiting for an airplane. I'd give it about six months for the investigations and grand jury proceedings, before the indictments and arrests begin.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

@NH Primary Care Doc (#34):

For the love of God, is there a way to stop the picture of the supposedly syphilitic adult penis from popping up at the bottom of every post?????

Initially, I thought I had the same problem, but then I realized that that picture was at the top of just this post.

By Richard Smith (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

He's obviously doing this to collect the contact info of "licensed practitioners of the healing arts, including chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, complementary medicine doctors, TCM and acupuncture practitioners, massage therapists, holistic dentists and others" to use for future business opportunities.

Whether or not he actually tests the water is secondary to the actual goal of expanding his mailing lists of alternative medicine practitioners receptive to future sales pitches.

By Jake Hamby (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

It would be a shame if mischievous elves were to flood Adams with bogus samples. I hope that doesn't happen.

By Richard Bennett (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

More from Mikey today:

"The dark future of medicine:
Why your human doctor will be replaced by a pill-pushing robotic toilet tag-teamed with a Google Terminator hunter-killer drone"

Seriously, he wrote that
Supposedly the toilet will analyse urine to diagnose illness and then prescribe meds; compliance will be assessed in the same manner.

So the toilet is a few steps more advanced than Mike's lab.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I sent my sample and put in some thimerosal to preserve it. Hopefully, it doesn't flip his shit too much..or does.

I cannot imagine what I searched that caused this.

Nothing. It's as generic as, well, dіck. (I get it on my phone, which basically doesn't have a search history, when using Dolphin. It shows up at the bottom of the page in a gallery of links to recent posts. "Powered by G—le.")

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't websites linking to Amazon make a commission when something is purchased through that link? This:
"They are inexpensive and can purchased on Amazon.com through a link at EPAwatch.org."
is a money making enterprise.

By Greg Mead (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Eric: I've actually used a mass spectrometer! Well, sort of. Well, really I just gave my sample to the lab assistant, and she ran it -- us stupid freshmen were not allowed to actually touch the mass spectrometer. :-P (Which was probably a good thing, since in my class someone managed to ruin so many salt plates for the IR spectrometer by cleaning them with *water* that we were banned from that as well.)

Regarding three-phase power, Daily WTF had a great story last week about the importance of supplying the correct power:

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Orac, if you see this post, no doubt you'll have seen the funny typo in my username in the preceding one that's in the moderation queue (sheesh), if you can fix it before clearing the post, that would be nice. Everyone: it's worth reading that post when it's cleared, I found a new quack and he's a doozy.

By Gray Squirrel (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

So being a chemist this really pisses me off. He has so many facts wrong! Although I am not an analytical chemist (polymer chemist getting a PhD in the fall) I know that his methods are way off. I think that this can be a great concept, having more checkpoints for the sake of public health, but as the article states, it should at least be lead by someone who knows what they are doing. This guy has too much money and it is blatantly obvious that he is not in it for the right reasons.

@13 and 21: Come on, there's *tons* of room on the top of a 50mL tube! I just went into the lab to check: I could write my zip code both with a lab pen and with a sharpie just fine. Granted, you shouldn't write on caps, but on top of a 50mL there's room for at least 3 lines of text.

As for the mass spec and HPLC, I don't know much about them except that the one in the lab next door developed issues that changing the air, tubing, sound dampening and performing an exorcism couldn't fix. Something about the background. So clearly some can be very finicky.

By JustaTech (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Come on, there’s *tons* of room on the top of a 50mL tube! I just went into the lab to check: I could write my zip code both with a lab pen and with a sharpie just fine. Granted, you shouldn’t write on caps, but on top of a 50mL there’s room for at least 3 lines of text.

I could do the ZIP with an ultra-fine Sharpie, but three lines? Not even before I screwed up the ulnar nerve running to my dominant hand.

It would be a shame if mischievous elves were to flood Adams with bogus samples. I hope that doesn’t happen.

I thought about it, but his submission form requires the name and address of your health care business, and says that they will verify that you sent the samples prior to opening them. Miley says its to make sure that somebody doesn't send anything toxic. I wasn't going to do that, that path leads to Postal Ispectors and possibly prison. I was just going to send several water sources - you know, aquarium, distilled, shaken up with bird shot, laced with a drop of tequila, that sort of thing.

I think Jake Hamby @55 nailed it - he's building a mailing list.

There are distinctly different cap style used on 50 mL tubes. One style has a flat top, with lots of room for writing. One uses a different seal design with a deep, moderately wide circular "groove" that reduced the diameter of the surface that can be written on quite dramatically. Another uses a cap with the entire centre region set down.
A web search for 50 ml specimen tube will bring up some photos. An quit yer sqabblin and be grateful you aren't trying to label half mL centrifuge tubes.

For as long as I've been reading NN, they've always tried to get e-mail - to subscribe, to get special information or offers.

NN and prn.fm purport to be informational, non-commercial ( hah!) sites that have humanitarian purposes but really, it's all padding or prepping for sales pitches.

The so-called science is there to 'educate' consumers that they need supplements, superfoods or documentaries.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Mike Adams and his Mass Spec is nothing compared to the AIDS Denialists and their Electron Microscope. Yep, they have started a new lab called Viral Forensics and for a mere $1,200.00 they will scan your whole blood with EM for HIV and Hep C. And they guarantee you they will find you are negative for either one.

By J T DeShong (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I've avoided watching his videos until now. His reading style is incredibly strained, he sounds like he's having a difficult bowel movement while reading his script. His "lab" is way too clean and new for having been in existence for two years, and I agree with whomever above stated there is a whole lot of extra tubing flopping around on his equipment. He's also not big on wearing safety glasses in the lab which is somewhat amusing given that he's going to be testing all these toxic samples--you'd think you'd at least want to protect his precious eyesight. Let's hope he hooked up his fume hoods properly should he be actually using anything dangerous in there.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

Just mailed in my urine sample.

By MadisonMD (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

His shirt should have had element 116: Ununhexium, which is "Uuh"

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

So how hard do you guys think it will be to get a dog to piss into a 50 ml tube tomorrow?

I get the unfortunate penis with the chancre, too. Phone and laptop.

I thought about it, but his submission form requires the name and address of your health care business

I now have two reasons for wishing I hadn't been forced to change dentists last year. (Don't get me wrong, but I'd been seeing my previous one for around 15 years, and I'll bet he would've been all in on this one.)

I’ve avoided watching his videos until now.

I actually block Y—be embeds wholesale, but this item from the lab is priceless, and not in the usual vernacular sense.

^ Then again, I suppose the question whether he'd casually allow pictures of purportedly syphilitic black dong on his site remains open to speculation.

While testing the various cities water is a fine idea, publishing the results on NaturalNews is a mistake. That site is so full of woo woo unscientific hearsay that the only people that will read and believe him are the same people that believe underwire bras cause breast cancer or vaccines cause autism. Get with it, Mike.

By Chad Kassem (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

This is kind of like the guy with a gunshot wound to the belly wanting a third opinion on if he needs surgery, except it’s not hurting him, it’s hurting thousands of poor people.

There is a Buddhist story to this effect:

Guy shot by arrow: "Who shot this arrow? Who are his family members, what is his rank, why did he do this?"

Buddha: "Just let me get the arrow out of you first of all, stupid!"

After the electrical device, I think of this

IRT the ads - I've seen the unfortunate male member a time or two, but on the tablet, I mostly get a very angry Bill Maher in the first spot. The desktop doesn't get anything - praise ad block software.

It turns out that I am distantly related to Bill Maher, Bill O'Reilly, and Henery Lewis Gates. We all share the 'Y'. You never know what you will learn with genetic testing.

IRT the ads – I’ve seen the unfortunate male member a time or two, but on the tablet, I mostly get a very angry Bill Maher in the first spot.

Either way, a dick.

There is a Buddhist story to this effect:
Guy shot by arrow: “Who shot this arrow?

It wasn't Zeno, his alibi is unshakeable.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

So how hard do you guys think it will be to get a dog to piss into a 50 ml tube tomorrow?

Disguise it as a tree or something.
For a cat, disguise it as something you really really value.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 18 Feb 2016 #permalink

I think I am going to send him some ultrapure dH2O and see what he comes up with... Maybe my lab's filters need changing?

Re: The disgusting picture of a syphilitic penis that sometimes shows up after posts.

They're not really ads, I think At least they're not ads for other services. They appear to be references to other posts on ScienceBlogs, as in "you might also like" (and not just Respectful Insolence), and I too am getting tired of that picture of a syphilitic penis, which appears to come from an old post about syphilis(not mine!) elsewhere on the network. I've complained to the powers that be, but who knows how long it will take for a response. Hopefully they will take that post out of rotation in the near future.

I'm fine with it recommending me a blog post about "reverse bestiality" or the "traumatic effects of anal intercourse with a pig" - I got a chuckle out of the latter, for sure.

The diseased dong, however, is too much to bear, even for me.

@ Shirtless Searcher:

Oh thank you!
The photo is simultaneously hilarious and pathetic.

As a straight woman, all I can say is , " Uuh... is that all you've got?" Seriously, don't pose like a model/ body builder if you ain't one.
-btw- I've never seen the waterfall photo before.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Feb 2016 #permalink

@ Denice

I’ve never seen the waterfall photo before.

On the next picture, he was photobombed by Putin who was having his own shirtless scene down the stream.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 19 Feb 2016 #permalink

Hospital patients get wheeled past closets overflowing with trash. Stray dogs wander the hospital grounds. Doctors perform surgery without sutures and gauze...

Public hospitals in Caracas look worn and disheveled, with graffiti-tagged walls and broken windows. As crowds look on, relatives hoist their wounded out of cars and carry them on blood-stained stretchers or roll them in dented wheelchairs past soldiers guarding the doors.


Just throw in an angelic, Aielloic chiropractor named Loui and it'd make one heck of a creepy movie...

Jacob's Ladder (hospital trip)

Thanks for explaining about the nasty penis. I think I knew that but just casually refer to all this as “ads”. I am happy you’ve attempted to intervene. What ARE they thinking to run such a photo? The horribly angry Bill Maher is bad enough!

By darwinslapdog (not verified) on 22 Feb 2016 #permalink

I collected a lot of water samples over the years, and I know it can get complicated. For the testing done in this case, would it have been necessary to add preservatives to the samples? Would the citizen scientists have redistilled nitric acid they could add without contamination? Are samples to be chilled, stored in acid-rinsed bottles, or filtered? Should anything be measured in the field, and the measurement compared to a measurement made in the lab? Duplicate sampling? Have comparisons been made of results from Adam's lab and EPA-certified labs? Is Adam's lab EPA certified?