By Nurse Mark
It used to be when you turned on your tap, you assumed the water was safe to drink.
That was then – this is now.
Is there anyone who hasn’t heard about the tragedy of the Flint water contamination? Or that Flint is not an isolated case? As new information becomes available it is becoming obvious that dozens and perhaps hundreds of American cities and towns are serving up contaminated tap water.
Even “treated” water can contain heavy metals and environmental pollutants such as lead, mercury, pharmaceuticals, herbicides and pesticides. We’ve written about these dangers in previous HealthBeat articles:
- Drugs Are Ending Up In Our Water!
- Guys: Is Your Water Turning You Into a “Girlie-Man”?
- Are There Female Hormones In Your Drinking Water?
- Gender-Bending Water – It’s Old News!
- Do You Perform This Deadly Daily Ritual?
For those readers who just want a quick review of the problem, here are the top five toxins we think you should pay attention to in your water.
1) HEAVY METALS (LEAD / MERCURY)
Lead is a neurotoxin and there is no safe level of ingestion. It is toxic at any level. Think “Flint, Michigan.”
Mercury is a neurotoxin (think “Mad Hatter’s Disease”) and is stored in your kidneys, blood, brain and liver.
2) PHARMACEUTICALS / DRUGS
It’s not a pleasant thought, but the fact remains that pharmaceuticals are in drinking water. Whether from old or unwanted drugs flushed down the toilet, or drugs that end up going down the toilet after they have been taken by patients (Ewww… Ick!) or drugs and hormones that end up in our streams, lakes, and groundwater from livestock, (Ewww… Ick, again!) most public water treatment systems are powerless to remove pharmaceuticals from water. Many studies over the last decade have found pharmaceutical compounds in treated wastewater and a recent government study showed that over 80% of waterways tested in the United States have traces of common drugs such as acetaminophen, hormones, blood pressure medicine, codeine, and antibiotics.
3) HERBICIDES / PESTICIDES
Whether it’s the stuff your neighbor used to kill his dandelions, or that you put on the weeds in the cracks in your driveway, or the Roundup that Big Agribusiness sprays over it’s fields, an estimated billion (that’s right – billion with a ‘B’) pounds of pesticides are used each year in the U.S. and much of it ends up as runoff in streams, rivers, and lakes. A United States Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment study showed that pesticides are widespread in streams and groundwater sampled across the country. The USGS found more that 90% of water and fish samples from all streams sampled in the U.S. contained at least one pesticide. Fresh-caught trout anyone?
4) CHLORINE / CHLORAMINES
Chlorine is used to disinfect water and is part of the sanitation process for sewage and industrial waste. Sure, it may be commonly used, but it is also a very serious contaminant. Chlorine is a chemical that your body doesn’t need or like.
Chloramines are a combination of chlorine and ammonia. Water filtration plants usually use the safest form known as monochloramine, but chloramines also exist in two more dangerous forms, dichloramine, and trichloramine. Monochloramine can inadvertently convert into one of the more dangerous forms, depending on pH, temperature, turbulence, and the chlorine to ammonia ratio.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows water utilities considerable latitude in choosing the most effective approach to disinfecting water as long as it meets EPA standards. Most use chlorine or chloramine as their primary disinfectant or sometimes even a combination of both.
Chlorines and chloramines are especially problematic since they are toxic (they are used to kill stuff – remember?) and they are absorbed readily through skin and mucous membranes. Think “steamy, hot morning shower”…
5) INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS
is it a surprise that industry is a huge source of water pollution? Or that most conventional water treatment systems are poorly able to deal with many of industry’s nasty contaminants?
Whether it is chemical contamination from small repair shops or local factories or refineries or from fracking efforts or mining, refining and smelting operations, some truly frightening chemicals find their way into our earth’s waters. (remember the Animas River in Colorado that turned orange from toxic spill?)
There may not be much we can do about the quality of water provided to us by our municipalities and their water treatment contractors, except to continue to be vigilant and hold them to the highest possible standards. We can do everything in our power as citizens and taxpayers to hold government and industry accountable and to fight pollution and polluters in every way available to us but in the end, we still must deal with what comes to us as tap water, contaminants and all.
One solution is to use a high quality water filter for drinking and bathing water. This can be as comprehensive as a whole-house filtration system, or as simple as a high-tech filtering pitcher and a showerhead water filter for the bath. Even the most comprehensive whole-house systems are surprisingly affordable when you consider the health benefits of truly pure water, versus the dangers of blindly consuming the contaminants discussed in this article – especially if there are children involved!
Dr. Myatt maintains an apartment in Phoenix – a city that has some especially heavily chlorinated and unpalatable water. Because it is an apartment she does not have the option of installing a whole-house filtration system which would be her first choice. Instead, I installed a countertop filter at her kitchen sink and a showerhead filter in her bathroom. Total cost? Less than $200 and an easy do-it-yourself installation job. She saves even more by being on a program that automatically supplies her with replacement filters.
She obtained these filters from a company called Aquasana. Their service is great, their prices are reasonable, and they regularly run sales and specials that will save even more on their products.
For example, here is a link that will save you 30% on the shower filter system that Dr. Myatt uses in her apartment:
And if you want a counter-top filter like Dr. Myatt uses, this link will give you a good discount:
If you own your home and want the security for your family of knowing that all your water has been filtered of impurities – drinking water, bathing water, cooking and washing water, then this link will help you to get 30% off on whole-home systems:
Aquasana has been very good to deal with for us – and please do take advantage of their “Water for Life” discount: to get this extra (big) discount, you just sign up for regular delivery of replacement filter cartridges for your water filter. They really do need to be replaced regularly (every 6 months), this program means you won’t forget like you forget your smoke alarm batteries every year (well, I almost always forget our smoke alarm batteries, at least until the alarm begins to ‘chirp’…) and, you can cancel at any time. However, I’m betting that once you taste the difference between your old water and your filtered water you are going to never want to go back to the old stuff – so you’ll want to replace those filters every 6 months. I can say from experience that they really do get clogged up with gunk that you would be drinking otherwise!
If you use a counter-top or showerhead filter system in an apartment or rental, these can move with you. If you install a whole home system, you have substantially increased the value of your home. Either way, you are also providing yourself and your family with the security of healthy, toxin-free water.
Animas River pollution incident:
National Resources Defense Council article on safety of city water supplies:
National Institutes of Health (N.I.H.) on lead in drinking water:
EPA water contaminants list:
New York Times article: Lead Contamination Not Limited To Flint Michigan:
Posted in Family Health | No Comments »