You step out of the sweltering sun into your kitchen after an intense run. Sweat is running down your face as you reach for a glass in the cupboard. You turn on the faucet and watch the icy cold water run into your glass in anticipation. Your body tingles in delight as that first sip hits your lips. But wait! With every sip of water you take, do you know what else you could potentially be putting into your body? How about some Giardia lamblia... a little arsenic... a touch of lead and mercury... and some asbestos to top it off. That is just a small percentage of the toxins that could be lurking in your water legally under the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations.
Let's take a look at what can be found in your average unfiltered tap water:
This includes: Giardia lamblia (found in human and animal feces), Legionella (AKA Legionnaire's Disease - a type of pneumonia), E. coli and viruses.
This includes: bromate and haloacetic acids (which create an increased risk of cancer) and chlorite (which can cause anemia and effect the nervous systems of infants and young children).
- Disinfection Byproducts
This includes: chloramines and chlorine (which can cause eye and nose irritation and stomach discomfort) and chlorine dioxide (which can cause anemia and effect the nervous systems of infants and young children).
- Inorganic Chemicals
This includes: arsenic (may cause skin damage, circulatory system problems and increased cancer risk), beryllium (may cause intestinal lesions), cadmium (can cause kidney damage), cyanide (can cause nerve damage and thyroid problems), lead (which may cause irreversible physical and mental developmental problems in infants and children) and mercury (can cause kidney damage).
- Organic Chemicals
This includes: alachlor (may cause eye, liver, kidney and spleen problems as well as anemia and increased risk of cancer), benzopyrene (may cause reproductive issues), diquat (may cause cataracts), heptachlor (may cause liver damage and increased risk of cancer) and styrene (may cause liver, kidney and circulatory problems).
This includes: alpha particles (increased risk of cancer) and uranium (may cause kidney toxicity and increased risk of cancer).
(Note: this is just a short list of a fraction of the toxins that can be found in your water. For a complete list of toxins, where they come from, what they can do to your body and their legal limits set by the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations, click here.)
So, you might be left wondering what exactly you can do to ensure your drinking water is free of toxins. Many people feel that the only way to do this is to simply drink bottled water. However, there are many deceptions in this source as well. Many bottled water companies don't even list their source on their bottles; and according to industry sources, purified tap water is the source for up to 49% of the bottled water produced in the US.
Most common sources for bottled water include:
- Artisan Well Water
- Mineral Water
- Spring Water
- Well Water
- Tap Water
Bottled water can be expensive over time. Many people choose to put filters on their faucets instead. While there are many high tech and reasonably priced water filters on the market today, the options can be overwhelming. Each filter has a specific level of quality and effectiveness in removing toxins. Some remove up to 99% of certain toxins while others simply reduce them. If you choose to purchase a filter for your water, the Environmental Working Group has made it a little easier for you with their Water Filter Buying Guide. You can click on their link and answer a few simple questions about what is most important to you in a water filter, and they will direct you to your best options.
Reverse Osmosis is one of the most intricate and effective water filtration options out there. The idea for such a filter came from seabirds. They possess a certain membrane in their throats that allows water molecules to pass through, but blocks salt and other debris. This desalination allows them to drink fresh, filtered water. Reverse Osmosis is now used all over the world to desalinate water for everything from drinking to use in dialysis. Its complicated and detailed process makes it superior to other household water filtration systems. To learn more about how reverse osmosis actually works, click here.
There are so many toxins to protect your family against. Your drinking water should not be on your list of concerns. To find out which toxins could potentially be in your water, click on the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database and enter your zip code.
Photo credit: With A Red Bird On My Shoulder