High quality drinking water is increasingly difficult to come by in this day and age. The health conscious amongst us know that drinking unfiltered tap water is generally not a great idea.
The EPA and Congress regulate about 100 pollutants and 91 chemicals through the Safe Drinking Water Act. Yet there are more than 60,000 chemicals used within the U.S., many of which have been identified as probable carcinogens. According to some estimates, there are now more than 2,100 known chemical toxins present in U.S. tap water. Recent analyses of municipal drinking water have shown that, despite government regulations, there are still many dangerous contaminants present in our water, even after it has gone through municipal water treatment facilities. In fact, these treatment facilities often contribute to the problem by adding dangerous chemicals like fluoride and chlorine to water as part of the treatment process. The water regulations and treatment methods used in the U.S. are old and outdated and do little to address the assortment of toxic chemicals that are currently present in our environment.
Here’s a rundown of some of the chemicals that are more than likely lurking in your tap water:
For decades, in spite of overwhelming evidence indicating that ingested fluoride is a bio-accumulative poison, the U.S. government has been mandating the addition of fluoride to the water supply. Fluoride’s ability to damage the brain is one of the most active areas of fluoride research today. Over 300 studies have found that fluoride is a neurotoxin (a chemical that can damage the brain). Based on this accumulating body of research, several prestigious reviews — including a report authored by the U.S. National Research Council, a meta-analysis published by a team of Harvard scientists, and a review published in The Lancet — have all raised red flags about the potential for low levels of fluoride to harm brain development in some members of the population.
“If this stuff gets out into the air, it’s a pollutant; if it gets into the river, it’s a pollutant; if it gets into the lake, it’s a pollutant; but if it goes right into your drinking water system, it’s not a pollutant. That’s amazing…” ~ Dr. William Hirzy, a former risk assessment scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Water treatment facilities use chlorine as a disinfectant. It effectively kills microorganisms, but also has toxic effects on the human body. Chlorine has been identified as a leading cause of bladder cancer, and has been associated with rectal and breast cancers, asthma, birth defects and premature aging of skin.
As of 2013, radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident had been detected in drinking water samples from 13 U.S. cities.
An Associated Press investigation shows that traces of 56 human and veterinary pharmaceuticals or their byproducts – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.
Lead, aluminum and other heavy metals
Lead and other heavy metals can make their way into drinking water supplies through corrosion of the pipes in the plumbing system. Lead consumption has been linked to severe developmental delays and learning disorders in children. Aluminum and other heavy metals have been linked to nerve, brain and kidney damage. Currently, some municipalities still transport water in lead pipes.
Arsenic in ground water is largely the result of minerals dissolving from weathered rocks and soils. It is a poisonous element known to be extremely carcinogenic. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates as many as 56 million Americans drink water containing unsafe levels of arsenic. The USGS has developed maps that show where and to what extent arsenic occurs in ground water across the country.
Safe Water Sources
The best source of drinking water is “purified water”. Purified water comes from two methods of filtration: distillation or reverse osmosis. Reverse osmosis systems may be mounted on top of the kitchen counter or under the kitchen sink. They typically consist of up to 6 stages of filtration, including: sediment filter to remove sediment and other particulate matter like dirt, silt and rust; carbon filter to remove chlorine and condition the water prior to the reverse osmosis membrane; reverse osmosis membrane to remove organic and inorganic compounds such as fluoride and reduces impurities such as arsenic, lead, parasitic cysts, copper and more; granular activated post-filter to polish the water to crystal clear perfection; and alkaline cartridge to raise the pH level, creating alkaline water. Reverse osmosis systems eliminate up to 99% of water contaminants such as chlorine, fluoride, nitrate, microorganisms, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) and mercury.
Reverse osmosis purified water may also be obtained from water bottling companies. You may buy purified drinking water in large bottles, preferably glass bottles, from delivery service companies and water service stores/clubs.
For part 4 of this blog series, click on Are You Sick or Just Thirsty? Blog Series Part 4