What’s in Your Water?

Glass of Water

We use water every day for cooking, drinking, showering, and cleaning clothes, dishes, and various surfaces – we’d all agree water is vital to life. Our bodies are made of more than 60% water (the brain and heart contain 73%, lungs are about 83%, skin is 64%, and even our bones are 31% water), we’ll simply die without clean water for more than a few days. Yet, often in developed societies we take for granted our easy access to water – just turn the faucet knob – and assume it’s clean and safe.

Before water reaches your sink, surface or ground water supply goes through a series of cleaning and disinfecting processes that separate sentiments and destroy harmful bacteria and parasites. The exact process and disinfecting agents used differ among water treatment facilities, but the principles are the same – remove dangerous material for safe consumption. Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect system and usually various levels of contaminants remain and our clean water supply isn’t as clean as many of us think.

Harmful Toxins in Tap Water

  • Chlorine & Chlorine by-Products:  Liquid chlorine is part of the water disinfectant process because it is effective at killing most bacteria and parasites, is relatively cheap, and stays in the water supply to continue destroying bacteria throughout the transportation process. Unfortunately, this also laces our clean water supply with chlorine and its harmful by-products and exposes us whenever we use tap water (both on skin and inside the body).
  • Plastics & Pesticides:  Chemicals residues from plastics and pesticides enter the water supply from agriculture, industry, and households and the cleaning process doesn’t always remove them. Studies show that fish exposed to these toxins experience gender disruptions, and many believe plastic and pesticide residues effect neurological and reproductive functions in humans.   
  • Heavy Metals:  Aluminum, lead, copper, and methane are just some of the heavy metals found in tap water. Water treatment facilities add aluminum to the clean water supply to make it look cleaner. However, research shows aluminum exposure may be a link to Alzheimer’s disease. Lead and copper exposure affects physical and mental development in children and can cause high blood pressure in adults.  
  • Fluoride:  Many cities in the United States put fluoride in their water supply to help prevent cavities. However, very few other countries in the world add fluoride due to its various adverse health effects and moral, ethical, and political concerns.  
  • Pharmaceutical Drugs:  Ever since the late 1990’s pharmaceutical drugs including antibiotics, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, cholesterol medications – just to name a few – are turning up in our clean water supply. This creates serious health concerns because all pharmaceutical drugs come with some adverse side effects and can potentially not mix well with other medicines. Not to mention, you don’t want to randomly be taking pharmaceutical drugs without your knowledge.

Having running water is something no one wants to give up, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept these toxins entering your body. And if you’re like me and water is your favorite drink (one sec as I take a big chug), you really need to protect yourself so you don’t get a build-up of these and other toxins in your system.

Protect Yourself

  1. Find out exactly what contaminants are in your water by getting a copy of your local annual water quality report at EPA.gov.
  2. Invest in a water pitcher filter, faucet filter, or whole house water filtration system. I don’t own my own house yet, but you can bet I will be investing in a whole-house system when I do. Don’t forget your skin absorbs chlorine and other toxins too.
  3. If your local water contains fluoride, take action to get it removed from your water supply. Start a petition in your neighborhood and talk with family and friends about the problems of putting fluoride in our drinking water. Unfortunately, most inexpensive water filters don’t filter fluoride, so you can only get rid of it with a more comprehensive filter.
  4. If you haven’t turned a water faucet on in a day or so, run it for a few extra seconds before using the water. Also run it longer if you notice a funny smell or texture, and when in doubt, contact your public water department.
  5. While I don’t love using bottled waters (when you drink as much water as I do this is both costly and bad for the environment), it’s the best option when you are on the go or at a restaurant.

After all this water talk, go grab yourself a glass and drink up! Keeping yourself hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. I’ll be drinking one with you…cheers!

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