What’s in your drinking water?
Contaminants in our tap water is nothing new. The government allows a certain amount of contaminants in the water as those levels have been deemed as “safe”. In a perfect world, we would all have perfectly clean drinking water, but municipalities must consider cost. Your water may look clean or taste fine, but it could still contain a number of different contaminants. Moreover, if there is a leak or spill nearby, or a change in water source as what happened in Flint, Michigan, you could be exposed to some very bad chemicals or toxins.
So, with this in mind, here are the top 10 contaminants typically found in many people’s drinking water.
Chlorination is one of the most common and popular ways to treat water for bacteria, viruses, cysts and worms. However, some protozoan cysts are resistant to chlorine. While chlorine is an effective disinfectant, it remains in the water and has been linked to rectal, bladder and breast cancers. Additionally, trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), which are the most common chlorination by-products, can cause cancer in laboratory animals. Trihalomethanes is a slow release chlorine used as a pipe disinfectant. Chlorine causes fat to grow around the heart. Chlorine causes stress on the body and the body uses fat to protect itself according to Joseph Price, author of Coronaries Cholesterol Chlorine.
VOC’s, Volatile Organic Chemicals, are carbon containing compounds. Volatile Organics are lighter than air. VOC’s include benzene, acetone, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, most solvents and others. Long term high exposure to VOC’s can result in liver and kidney damage as well as cancer. VOC’s have gotten into the water supply via landfills, septic tanks, industrial facilities, and improper oil disposal. With an AquaNui Distiller, VOC’s are first absorbed by the carbon in the pre-filter, however should any remain, since they are ‘lighter than air’ they would be vented off harmlessly via twin the dual volatile vents, (but be aware other brands of distillers may not have dual volatile vents).
The primary source of lead in drinking water is old pipes. There is no safe level of lead in one’s water. Lead accumulates in the body over time and will be stored in the kidneys, bones, brain and other organs. Excessive amounts of lead can lead to cancer, high blood pressure and stroke.
The primary source of lead in drinking water is old pipes. There is no safe level of lead in one’s water. Lead accumulates in the body over time and will be stored in the kidneys, bones, brain and other organs. Excessive amounts of lead can lead to cancer, high blood pressure and stroke. Lead is very dangerous for children to ingest as they develop and can lead to lifelong problems.
“Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.” (epa.gov)
Check out this interactive map of lead levels across the United States to see lead levels in your area. (source: vox.com)
Nitrates & Nitrites
Ammonium nitrate is used in large quantities for crop production. It stands to reason, then, that we find higher levels of nitrates in drinking water in farming states. Still, it is not confined to just a few states. In fact, about half of the U.S. has high levels of nitrates in their ground water. A lot of this is also due to lawn fertilizers. Being exposed to higher levels of nitrates and nitrates over time can cause cancer.
Pregnant women and babies are at higher risk of experiencing health problems related to high nitrite levels because anaerobic bacteria are present for conversion to nitrites. Those with well water should be sure to test for both nitrates and nitrites. In addition to that the elderly, or anyone with a weakened immune system is at risk.
Arsenic is a real problem for a lot of people in Texas, Idaho, California, Minnesota, Wisconsin and those in the northeastern parts of the United States, although it can be found in every state. Arsenic finds its way into your water mainly via minerals dissolving from weathered rocks and soils. Many areas have exceeded the legal limit over the years, and arsenic is a known carcinogen. The reality is that, man-made or not, pollutants can make their way into your tap water.
“There are many sources of water contamination, including naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, and uranium), local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, and concentrated feeding operations), manufacturing processes, and sewer overflows or wastewater releases.” Source: Center for Disease Control
Pesticides & Herbicides
Large scale farming has produced a great deal more food. The downside is that pesticides and herbicides have had an effect on the land and water. According to the EPA, health risks depend on how toxic and how much can be found in the water. However, many pesticides are not regulated contaminants. The chronic effects of some pesticides are possible liver and kidney damage, cancer, and genetic mutations. Source: Cornell University Pesticide Safety Education Program
Mercury gets into our drinking water by naturally being released from soil and rock, by the burning of coal, metal smelters, and the incineration of items that contain mercury like batteries. Mercury can cause damage to the kidneys, brain and nervous system in high amounts. It is especially important for well owners to test for mercury.
Many people do not think about pharmaceuticals in their drinking water, but did you know that certain types of drugs can’t be taken out from tap water through traditional methods of purification that are in place in most municipal water treatment plants? Our bodies only metabolize a fraction of the drugs we take. The rest is excreted in urine or feces. Additionally, hormones given to livestock end up partly in the water supply. Furthermore, sewage plants are not designed to remove pharmaceuticals from water. “There’s really not much question that some pharmaceutical pollution persists and does wind up in the water we drink.” Source: Harvard University
Bacteria, Parasites & Viruses
No one wants bacteria, parasites or viruses in their water, but every consumer should know the facts. There are thousands of boil alerts sent out every year to areas where the water has become infected or infested. Some common outbreaks are from giardia, norovirus, legionella and shigella. These can cause a variety of symptoms including fevers, diarrhea, muscle aches, vomiting, bloody stools, and unfortunately, even death. Legionella can take the life of 1 to 6 people out of 20, according to the CDC.
For those of us who are aware of the risks of short and long term exposure to contaminants, distilled water is the only answer. Distillation produces 99.9% pure drinking water. Reverse Osmosis systems (RO) do not reach the same level of purity and they cannot remove all contaminants. Additionally, they typically waste up to four gallons of water to produce one gallon of treated water. Pitcher filters merely remove organics (things that you can taste or smell) but don’t do an effective job of removing much more harmful contaminants.