How Safe Is The Water From Your Tap?
Water is an essential requirement for our daily living. And to keep the tap water that comes to our homes safe, high health standards are put in place.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to monitor all public water systems and to ensure that these health standards are enforced regarding contaminants in your drinking water.
Do you know what may have happened to that water as it flowed to your home?
Of course, some form of accident could have happened, for example, breaks in the water line, which may have resulted in your water becoming contaminated.
Besides, where there are no breaks, lead is a potential hazard as this can get into your drinking water from pipes – it doesn’t matter if those pipes are “lead-free” because even these can contain as much as 8% lead!
But beyond leaks or lead getting into your water from pipes, there is another more serious problem and that is the effect of chlorine in drinking water. This is really worrisome since chlorine is a common component of municipal water supply.
How Does Chlorine Affect Drinking Water?
Since the early 1900s chlorination of drinking water has become an accepted norm. This is because it has helped in eliminating typhoid, cholera, and dysentery which were commonly carried in water.
However, there are some negative effects of chlorine on humans. Here are some of the negative effects:
Risk of hydrocarbons – In July, 1992 the American Journal of Public Health reported that people who regularly drink tap water containing high levels of chlorinated hydrocarbons have a greater risk of developing bladder and rectal cancers than people who drink un-chlorinated water. It further estimated that about 9% of all bladder and 18% of all rectal cancer cases are associated with long-term consumption of these hydrocarbons.
It will interest you to know that as of today European water treatment systems has largely shifted to ozone and filtration instead of chlorination and the results are truly amazing as they now have about 10 times less chlorine residuals in their drinking water than is obtainable in US water.
The problems of trihalomethanes – This is another problem associated with the intake of chlorine treated water. Though the concentrations are monitored and are generally quite low, chloroform, one example of trihalomethane, is known to cause an allergic reaction in about 10% of the population. Liver and kidney damage are also related to Chloroform, or trichloromethane. Another trihalomethane known as dibromochloromethane, is associated with cancer risk of one per million at 0.6 micrograms per liter. Of course, that may be negligible but considering the fact that most people ingest large quantities of drinking water daily is something calls for concern.
Is Bottled Water an Alternative?
Considering the issues mentioned above many people have turned to bottled water as an alternative. But, does this mean you can avoid this problem by drinking bottled water?
Of course, bottled water is regulated in the US by the FDA, and must generally comply with the same standards as public drinking water. In many cases it is better because reverse osmosis, or distillation has removed any potential contaminants. However, using bottled water as an alternative also have its own problems as water in plastic bottles are known to absorb small quantities of phthalates which studies have shown can cause cancer.
Though the trace levels of phthalates in bottled water are within EPA safety levels and may not pose a concern for human health, it is still a good thing to be on the safe side.
How About Boiling Contaminated Water to make it safe?
Boiling contaminated water to make it safe for drinking has been practiced by many people for a long time but is this really an alternative? Of course, boiling drinking can help but it depends on the contaminant.
Boiling drinking water can kill germs, but things like lead, nitrates, and pesticides will never be affected. In fact, boiling water may even increase the concentration of these contaminants since boiling reduces the volume of water. So, if you must boil your drinking water to overcome any form of contamination, first know what contaminants you are dealing with.
Using Water Filters for Improving Your Drinking Water Quality
Considering the different challenges of contaminated water a lot of people are presently using water filters in their homes at home. Water filters have proven really useful in treating contaminated water that they have now become a household name.
However, considering the fact that there are different types of water contamination and no one system will remove all types, the water filters used fall into four main kinds:
1. Activated carbon filters: These can remove certain organic contaminants that affect taste and odor. Some systems are also designed to remove chlorination byproducts, solvents, and pesticides, or certain metals such as copper or lead.
2. Ion exchange units with activated alumina: These are good at removing minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which make water hard.
3. Reverse osmosis units with carbon: These can remove nitrates and sodium as well as pesticides and petrochemicals.
4. Distillation units: These filters are designed to boil water and condense the steam, creating distilled water.
Before choosing any of these filter types it is important that you have your water tested by a certified laboratory in order to know what’s in your water.
Drinking water directly from a running tap may be economical however if you live in an area where there are concerns about the safety of your water the best option is to get a good water filtration system. Bottled water is definitely a good alternative but it is costly. A good home water filter – refrigerator water filter, whole house water filtration system, salt free water softener, etc – on the other hand, will only cost you a few additional cents a day, overall.
So, do you really need a water filter or should you simply drink water from your running tap? Share your thoughts on our facebook page.