These Balls Stop Cancer

DWP drops 400,000 balls onto Ivanhoe Reservoir

The agency started dumping thousands of floating plastic balls into Ivanhoe Reservoir -- the dwarf sibling next door to Silver Lake Reservoir, the neighborhood's crown jewel -- to protect the drinking water supply needed for summer.

The water needs to be shaded because when sunlight mixes with the bromide and chlorine in Ivanhoe's water, the carcinogen bromate forms, said Pankaj Parekh, DWP's director for water quality compliance. Bromide is naturally present in groundwater and chlorine is used to kill bacteria, he said, but sunlight is the final ingredient in the potentially harmful mix.

Resembling a stream of oversized caviar, the black balls rolled thunderously down the reservoir's slopes. "Water quality doesn't get more exciting than this," Marina J.F. Busatto, a DWP biologist, said smiling.

Ivanhoe and Elysian reservoirs will be blanketed by about 3 million balls each for about four years, Parekh said.

There's a video, but their embedded player is stupid. It seems to be not on Youtube yet.

Previously, etc. (Time for a "balls" tag?)

Tags: ,

21 Responses:

  1. mackys says:


  2. detritus says:

    Not sure why they needed hardhats for that.

    I can not believe there is no video on the 'net from The State's "dip my balls in it" sketch.

    • killbox says:

      I suspect the hardhats are required incase of slipping and falling, and they are probably handy for keeping the hot early summer/late spring sun off their head.

    • dygel says:

      If they don't wear the hard hat, how will they stop the OSHA sexual menace from having its perverse way with their soft, furry heads?

  3. perligata says:

    I wonder why it never occurred to me that the only thing more fun than a ballpit would be a ballpit pool. Plan: recreate this experiment in my bathtub.

  4. It makes sense, but I wonder about the plasticizers and mold release leaching out of the balls. They're carcinogenic too, right? All I can figure is that the leaching is less of a problem than the one they're solving, there's already so much plasticizer in the water that it dwarfs what this will add, or this is a special plastic which somehow doesn't have that problem. Or, of course, number four: nobody thought of that.

    • nightrider says:


      Immediately, when I saw "plastic balls" and "carcinogens" I thought, "Ooh! They found a way to infuse carcinogenic material into the water supply of Los Angeles! Hooray!" But, alas, that is not the case. They didn't figure it out at all. It just "happened."

      Oh, well. At least we'll get to see some interesting new mutations in the next 5-10 years.

  5. discogravy says:

    a "balls" tag seems only prudent, really. It's not like there are going to be less balls in the future.

  6. chrismclaren says:

    Does it seem weird to anyone else that they used black balls?

    Wouldn't they absorb more energy, get hotter, and transfer that heat to the water, resulting in more evaporation?

    Wouldn't white balls have made more sense--still blocked the light from getting into the water, but also kept evaporation down?

    Or am I missing something?

    • strspn says:

      Thermal energy does not catalyze the same reactions as ultraviolet light. White balls would probably reflect most of that UV and diffuse much of it into the water.

      What they really need is multicolored balls that still absorb all the UV. Or a layer of non-toxic sunscreen oil. Not sure if that would be as cool as balls, though. It's really hard to beat balls.

      • dygel says:

        What they really need is multicolored balls that still absorb all the UV.

        The immediate problem I see with that is that people would confuse the multicolored plastic ball layer for a gigantic pit of plastic balls, stop what they're doing, and dive in. Incidental drowning deaths would be through the roof.

        Studies have shown that black plastic balls are less primally entertaing than multicolored ones.

    • don_negro says:

      White plastic (and really pretty much any color other than black) has serious problems with solar degradation. White balls would crumble to bits inside six months.

  7. bloodrage says:

    Self-assembling pseudocrystalline matrix.

    How does that score on the Jargon-o-meter?

  8. If anyone is having issues with the video player, I've mirrored it at

  9. lohphat says:

    ..and switched to chloramine so that these sort of nasty byproducts don't form. Why can't they?

  10. moonracer says:

    This just looks like an article from the Onion. I thought that the article was going to be a parody of that whole drop a lot of balls down stairs as a message.

  11. krellan says:

    Wow, that's a lot of balls! Reminds me of pinball. Is there enough room for a pinball machine at DNA Lounge?