What’s in our water? Most of us don’t even want to know. If it’s the public water supply, then it has to be regulated, right? And we can just buy bottled water instead…….Well the public water supply is regulated, but not very well at all. And bottled water? It’s barely regulated at all!
It’s important to know what is actually coming out of your kitchen faucet. Ignorance isn’t always bliss. Sometimes what you don’t know can really harm you.
Tap water is regulated, but the regulations are affected by industrial, military and pharmaceutical lobbyists.
Tap Water Toxicity
So the “legal” water we drink? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found 316 chemicals in tap water throughout the country, 202 of which aren’t regulated. And over 60 million of us have been exposed since 2004 to concentrations of chemicals or contaminations that don’t even pass outdated guidelines. And then the guidelines get tricky too.
Bromates, for instance, are on the list but they only require measurement if they leave a water treatment plant. Sunlight can cause compounds to form bromates. When the director of Los Angeles’ water quality division covered the city’s reservoirs with sunlight-blocking black plastic; residents objected. When the 2004 head of EPA’s Environmental Risk Analysis department found dangerous compounds from dry cleaning solvents, manufacturing degreaser and rocket fuel in our water; he was blocked every step of the way by legislators, industrial lobbyists and the military from changing water regulations. He was even called “unpatriotic” for wanting to do so and threatened with dismissal.
“It’s hard for me to describe the level of anger and animosity directed at us for trying to publish sound, scientific research that met the highest standards,” Dr. Preuss said. “It went way beyond what would be considered professional behavior.”
New research has also found that many chemicals bind to cells in our body and accumulate. The effect of this is still unknown as is what the combination of many different chemicals may do.
One of those chemicals is arsenic. When the EPA attempted to lower the allowable limit of arsenic in our water; they were prevented from doing so. L.A.’s Water Quality Division’s director says that today, arsenic poses more risk to the city’s residents than any other contaminant in the water.
A few more facts:
- “Each year in the U.S., lead in drinking water contributes to 480,000 cases of learning disorders in children and 560,000 cases of hypertension in adult males.” (EPA—Environmental Protection Agency)
- William K. Reilly, EPA administrator under the 1st Bush administration, classified drinking water contamination as one of the top 4 public health risks due to environmental problems.
- 560,000 people become ill each year from water.
- 10,700 bladder and rectal cancers may be associated with trihalomethanes (THMs) in water.
And endocrine-disruptors? Patricia Hunt, of Washington State University explains: “Birth control pills, hormone therapy medications, and a host of contaminants can all get into our water supply, and we haven’t figured out a way to affordably filter them out.”
Why Bottled Water Isn’t Always a Better Option
How much do we spend buying bottled water every year? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says that the cost of bottled water can be up to 1,900 times that of tap water, and the worst thing is: we really have no way of knowing what we’re getting for our money.
Bottled water manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the level of contaminants in their water, and in many cases, it’s simply tap water anyway. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimate that at least 25% of bottled water is really just tap water and 22% of the brands they tested contained contaminant levels above state health limits.
In a study of 10 leading brands of bottled water; EWG found 38 toxic pollutants overall with each brand containing an average of 8.
The chemicals they found included arsenic, chlorine byproducts, fertilizer, fluoride, fuel propellants, heavy metals, industrial solvents, pharmaceutical drugs, plasticizers and radioactive isotopes. Four of these leading brands also contained bacteria.
More than a third of these chemicals are not regulated whatsoever in bottled water. Two thirds are regulated on a “voluntary” basis, but some of the water tested contained known carcinogens that exceeded even those “voluntary” set limits. A study at the University of Missouri found that one of these leading brands of water increased breast-cancer-cell multiplication by 78%.
Another reason to be wary of bottled water is the amount of chemicals that leach from the plastic bottles.
TEDX is the acronym for The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. It is an agency compiled of doctors and scientists committed to informing the world about the dangers of low-level and chronic exposure to endocrine disruptors.
They believe that ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, diabetes, infertility, intelligence and behavioral problems, obesity, and Parkinson’s are due to the endocrine-disruption epidemic.
They posit “hormone disruption could pose a more imminent threat to humankind than climate change.”
When does bottled water make sense? Certain kinds of bottled water will be a far better option than drinking tap water. If you are on the go or are traveling, look for bottled spring water, NOT purified water or drinking water. Also stay away from bottled water from soft drink manufacturers.
There are 6 different kinds of water filters and 8 different filtering methods.
You can use a pitcher, a faucet-mount, a faucet-integration, a counter-top filter, an under-sink filter or a whole-house water filter.
Filtering methods include: carbon-activated, ceramic, ion exchange, mechanical filters, ozone, reverse osmosis, UV light and water softeners.
Carbon/Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon binds with many contaminants and removes them from water. It can remove asbestos, chlorine, lead, mercury and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). But, carbon filters cannot remove arsenic, fluoride, nitrate or percholate. Their effectiveness varies widely by manufacturer–some may only remove chlorine.
Ceramic filters work like spaghetti strainers, blocking sediment and large particles. They do not remove chemicals.
Deionization/ Ion Exchange Filters
An ion exchange filter can remove heavy metals, minerals and charged ions. It cannot remove chlorine byproducts, microorganisms or VOCs.
These strainers can remove large particles from water but do not remove chemicals.
Ozone can kill bacteria and microorganisms but does not remove chemicals.
Reverse osmosis filters use a semi-permeable membrane that can trap any molecule bigger than water. They are more effective than carbon filters since they are able to remove fluoride. A reverse osmosis filter is my personal recommendation for the kind of water filter that is best.
Ultraviolet light kills bacteria and microorganisms but does not remove chemicals.
These ion exchange filters remove barium, calcium, magnesium and radium. They do not remove other contaminants. They also add sodium to the water.