Despite federal standards, an estimated *1.1 million people are annually treated for illnesses
directly resulting from contaminants in drinking water. These chemicals cause a whole host of health issues. Chlorine, one of the most widely used chemicals can cause breast, bladder, and rectal cancer, and asthma. Fluorine, or Fluoride is so toxic, it is banned in most European countries and has been linked to various forms of cancer. Accumulation of lead in the body causes developmental disorders in children and impairs learning abilities. Sulphates and Nitrates can cause respiratory problems and contribute to asthma and heart disease. If there is a sanitation breakdown in your city, the tap water is all the more a health risk as ingestion of bacteria and protozoa can lead to gastrointestinal diseases.
Where Water Comes From
Less than 1% of Earth’s water is freshwater, usable for human consumption. The US has 4.5% of the world’s population, and 8% of it’s fresh water resources. Jardine Water Filtration Plant, located on the Michigan Lake front in Chicago, Ill is the world’s largest water filtration plant by volume. It pumps about 1 billion gallons of purified drinking water through thousands of miles of piping to 5 million Chicago, and surrounding area residents. Fundamentally, water from sewers, drains, and streams runs off into the lakes and rivers. The surface water runs through the city treatment plant where it is treated with chemical processes to eliminate harmful bacteria and bring the water to levels considered potable, (drinkable), by Federal Standards which are enforced by the EPA, (Environmental Protection Agency).
Common Chemicals Contents of Tap Water
The most common chemicals found in tap water include:
Chlorine; Fluorine; Tritalomethanes; Sodium; Potassium; Iron; Calcium; Sulphates; Phosphates; Salts of: Arsenic, Radium, Aluminum, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Cadmium, Barium; Hormones; Nitrates; Pesticides.
Copper, Zinc, and Lead can often be traced to plumbing systems. Iron and Lead are linked to corroded pipes in old houses. PAH, (Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons) are a direct result from corrosion of linings in old cast iron mains. Water flowing through limestone, absorbs Calcium deposits. Aluminum and Nitrates are an agricultural bi-product which runs into lakes and rivers from farm waste.
Healthy Drinking Water Solutions
Testing your tap water gives you a perspective on the standards that you want from your drinking water. A TDS meter can be purchased on-line. When you test the water, you test for Total Dissolved Solids, (TDS). The test will give you a read-out in parts per million, (PPM). Over 500 is not suitable for human use. Most tap water falls between 150-420 PPM TDS. The process of Reverse Osmosis usually results in a TDS of 90-95%.
Carbon Block Filters are highly recommended for filtering water. They can capture up to 100% of toxins. You can install carbon filters in your home. Additionally, there are portable filters available on the market.
Buying Bottled Water
There is a large number bottled water companies, and even larger number of brands available on the market. Generally they fall in one of four categories:
1. Spring Water – This category has one key distinction from the others. It’s source is
underground, as opposed to surface water. The springs flow to the rivers on the surface. The
water is then processed by ionization and carbon filter.
2. Purified – Source: Either from a spring or surface water. Purified through Reverse Osmosis,
Distillation, or De ionization. Contains mineral additives.
3. Filtered – Source: Surface water. Filtered through Carbon Filter, Micron Filter.
4. Distilled – Source: Surface water distilled using high boiling points to kill bacteria.
Pay Attention to the Source
Whatever class of your bottled water selection, always pay close attention to the source. The source is usually printed on the back of the label. In some brands of water, the source will change from time to time. This affects the taste and content of the water, as not all sources are the same, regardless of whether they are underground or surface derived.
Bibliography: * Lambertine E, et AL. “Risk of Viral Accute Gastrointestinal Illness from Non disinfected Drinking
Water Distribution Systems”. Environmental Science Technology. 2012; 46 (17): 9299-9307
Water and Health. “What’s in your Drinking Water?” [HTTP://Freshlysqeezedwater.org.uk/waterarticle_watercontent. php][06/20/2017]; “Types of Water”. [HTTP://Drinkmorewater.com/Types-of-water][06/20/2017]; Wagner, Jamey. “What Chemicals are in Tap Water”. [HTTP://www.Healthguidance.org/Entry/14913/1/What-chemicalsare-
in-tap-water.htm][06/20/2017]; Grace Communications Foundation. Water Program. “How the United States Uses Water” [06/20/2017]; Schaper, David. NPR [10/29/2014]. “As Infrastructure Crumbles Trillions of Gallons of Water is Lost”. NPR. [HTTP://Npr.org/2014/10/29/359875321/Asinfrastructure-crumbles-trillions-of-gallons-of-water-lost].