You find a brand of drinking water the family can agree on, so you decide to stock up. No sooner
than your thirst hits you, you pour yourself a glass without hesitation, then spit it back out in alarm.
Where did you go wrong? The first lesson here: Complacency is not your friend. When it comes to
selecting water, your scrutiny is always rewarded, even after you have found a brand that is
compatible with your system, and agreeable with your palette. Staying ahead means discerning
information at every step of the selection process.
Where Water Comes From
Less than 1% of Earth’s water is freshwater, usable for human consumption. The US has 4.5% if
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. 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.
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.
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
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, then 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-