Good Health Requires Clean Water
Yearly we see Red Flags about toxic drinking water raised across the US for different reasons from location to location.
A Key problem is aging water pipes, which have become an increasingly common source of toxic exposure.
In fact, in a Y 2013 report, the American Society for Civil Engineers warned that most of the drinking water infrastructure across the nation is “nearing the end of its useful life.”
The American Water Works Association estimates it would cost more than $1-T to update and replace all the water pipes in the US money that many water utilities do not have.
Water pollution is another grave concern, as water treatment plants cannot filter out all of the toxins now entering the water, from firefighting chemicals and agricultural chemicals, to drugs and microcystins, nerve toxins produced by freshwater cyanobacteria.
While the US has many water quality concerns, it does not really matter where you live anymore, as many dangerous chemicals find their way into the ecosystem, spreading from one continent to another.
The take-home message is that, if you care about your health, filtering your household water is more a necessity than an option these days.
Ideally, filter the water you use both for drinking and bathing, as immersing yourself in contaminated water may be even more hazardous to your health than drinking it.
Chemicals absorbed through your skin go directly into your blood stream, bypassing your digestive- and internal filtration systems. Unfiltered water can also expose you to dangerous chlorine vapors and chloroform gas, which can cause dizziness, fatigue, asthma, airway inflammation and respiratory allergies.
Chlorine can vaporize from every toilet bowl in your home and every time you wash your clothes or dishes, or take a shower or bath, so if you get your water from a municipal water supply and don’t have a whole house filter, be sure to open windows on opposing sides of your home to cross ventilate. Keep the windows open for five to 10 mins a day to remove these gases.
Most water supplies contain a number of potentially hazardous contaminants at varying levels. Among the worst are DBP (disinfection byproducts).
In water treatment facilities that use chlorine or chloramines to treat and purify the water, toxic DBPs form when these disinfectants react with natural organic matter like decaying vegetation in the source water.
These byproducts are over 1,000X more toxic than chlorine, and of all the toxins and contaminants present in your water, such as fluoride and miscellaneous pharmaceutical drugs, DBPs are likely the most hazardous.
THMs (trihalomethanes), one of the most common DBPs, are Cancer Group B carcinogens, meaning they have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. They have also been linked to reproductive problems in both animals and humans, such as spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and congenital malformations, even at lower levels.
These types of DBPs may also do the following;
- Weaken your immune system
- Disrupt your central nervous system
- Damage your cardiovascular system
- Disrupt your renal system
- Cause respiratory problems
If you have well water, it would be prudent to have your water tested for arsenic and other contaminants.
If you have public water, you can get a local drinking water quality report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA regulates tap water in the US, but while there are legal limits on many of the contaminants permitted in municipal water supplies, more than half of the 300+ chemicals detected in US drinking water are unregulated, and some of the legal limits may be too lenient for safety.
For a more objective view of your water quality, check out the Tap Water Database created by the EWG (Environmental Working Group).
In a Y 2017 analysis, water samples from nearly 50,000 water utilities in 50 states revealed more than 267 different kinds of toxins in US tap water.
Of the 267 chemicals detected, as follows:
- 93 are linked to an increased risk of cancer
- 78 are associated with brain and nervous system damage
- 63 are suspected of causing developmental harm to children or fetuses
- 38 may cause fertility problems
- 45 are linked to hormonal disruption
Alarmingly, nearly 19,000 public water systems had lead levels above 3.8 parts per billion, which would put a formula-fed baby at risk of elevated blood lead levels.
Other chemicals of concern include the following;
- Chromium-6, an industrial chemical that is not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act but is found in drinking water in all 50 states at levels above those that may pose a cancer risk
- 1,4-dioxane, an industrial solvent, was widely detected at levels above what the EPA says could pose a cancer risk
- Nitrates, stemming from industrial agriculture, were also found at potentially risky levels
Unless you can verify the purity of your water, seriously consider installing a high quality, whole-house water filtration system.
Ideally, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use, meaning filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink and shower.
As for the type of filtration system to get, there are a variety of options, most of which have both benefits and drawbacks.
Below are a few of the most common options, as follows:
•Reverse osmosis (RO):In addition to removing chlorine, inorganic and organic contaminants in your water, RO will also remove about 80% of fluoride and most DPBs. Drawbacks include the need for frequent cleaning, to avoid bacterial growth.
Your best alternative is to use a tankless RO system with a compressor. The expense is another factor, as you may need the assistance of a plumber to get the system up and running. RO will also remove many valuable minerals and trace elements along with harmful contaminants.
•Ion exchange: Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system also softens the water and helps prevent the creation of scale buildup. The ion exchange system was originally used in boilers and other industrial situations before becoming popular in home purifying units, which usually combine the system with carbon for greater effectiveness.
While advantages include a high flow rate and low maintenance cost, Sciencing points out the disadvantages, which include “calcium sulfate fouling, iron fouling, adsorption of organic matter, organic contamination from the resin, bacterial contamination and chlorine contamination.”
•Granular carbon and carbon block filters: These are the most common types of counter-top and under-counter water filters. Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals. One of its shortcomings is that the loose material inside can channel, meaning the water creates pathways through the carbon material, thereby escaping filtering.
Carbon block filters offer the same superior filtering ability but are compressed with the carbon medium in a solid form. This eliminates channeling and gives the ability to precisely combine multiple media in a sub-micron filter cartridge. By combining different media, the ability to selectively remove a wide range of contaminants can be achieved.
Ideally, you want a filtration system that uses a combination of methods to remove contaminants, as this will ensure the removal of the widest variety of contaminants.
Good water is important for good health.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively.
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