DEAR DR. BLONZ: I read your recent column on cans, solder and BPA. For years, I have been boiling water for tea or coffee in an old kettle, which has green stuff all around its exterior bottom surface. It is obvious that part was soldered. Does the boiling of the water act as a deterrent to any toxins from the kettle's solder? If not, what would the health consequences be in the short or long term? -- H.D., Rio Vista, California
DEAR H.D.: Although the green substance is on the exterior of the kettle, it may have resulted from minerals in your water accumulating over the years. The green color can be from limescale and mineral elements such as copper. You can see whether lead is involved by using a test kit, available online or at most hardware stores.
If you haven't already, review the mineral content of the water coming to your house.
Six ground wells supply the water in your city of Rio Vista, California. If your home is on that municipal supply, you can access your local water report. (Check with your supplier, whose name and contact information should be on your water bill.) The next element to consider is the state of your home's plumbing, which will take more research as it will not be reflected on a municipal water report.
Boiling can destroy microbial elements such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa and parasites. But it does not destroy or remove potentially toxic minerals such as lead, chlorine, arsenic, copper, nitrates or radon, nor does it destroy other toxic chemicals. The only way to eliminate them is through a quality water filtration system.
It isn't easy to generalize about short- and long-term health impacts, as that will depend on the exposure type, level and duration, and your overall state of health. But it is best not to be in the dark about your water.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency publishes an annual consumer confidence report on drinking water quality. Check that out (visit b.link/hslf3y), and then look at the CDC's page on water quality and testing (visit b.link/6zbdbg).
DEAR DR. BLONZ: Please settle a dispute at our house. Does removing the skin from chicken before you eat it get rid of a good proportion of the cholesterol? -- F.R., Anderson, South Carolina
DEAR F.R.: No. There is a small amount of cholesterol in the skin and its layer of fat. Once this is removed, however, the greater amount of cholesterol remains; it is present in every muscle cell of both light and dark meat.
This holds true for all animal products, including beef, pork, lamb and seafood. Buying leaner cuts of meats can reduce total fat, but it only slightly affects the dietary cholesterol in the meal.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.