Wary of Your Water
When doctors recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day, they certainly don’t expect us to put our health at risk in the process! You see, although our water is processed it is far from pure. In fact, sometimes it contains many different toxins, chemicals, pesticides and organic material that may jeopardize our health, even if it is just absorbed by our skin in the shower.
When water arrives at our homes from the public water supply, it already has lived a long life and seen many things. After undergoing a series of filtration processes during which solid material settles and is separated out, drinking water is commonly treated with chlorine and fluoride. Chlorine is one of the most widely used public-water-supply disinfectants and is used to kill harmful pathogens. Fluoride was once thought to be beneficial because it helped treat dental deficiencies, but now dentists warn against using it in infant formula because it is known to cause discoloration of the teeth, arthritis, bone cancer, osteoporosis, and increase bone fractures.
You know there is chlorine present when you get that funky taste in tap water. In the past it was used to rid our water system of typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery. Today, chlorine is known to cause respiratory complications, according to the American Council of Industrial Hygienist, and when combined with organic material such as decaying leaves, it creates a toxic byproduct called trihalmoethanes (THMs), a known carcinogen.
It is particularly important to filter chlorine in your bathrooms–especially in your shower. When water is heated, the chlorine is more readily released as a gas so when the shower gets nice and steamy, we inhale this toxic gas. Also, hair-stylists say that 50 percent of their clients have chlorine-damaged hair. In addition to hair, skin suffers from chlorine as it is known to heighten the appearance of premature aging. Installing a filter on your showerhead will help protect your health while persevering the natural beauty of your hair and skin.
The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for setting the National Primary Drinking Water Standards. The EPA claims that more than 90% of America’s tap water is safe to drink and exceeds drinking water standards; some public water utilities monitor up to 103 contaminants, but the EPA only requires that standards be met for the 80 most harmful toxins and neglects to test for many agricultural and industrial pollutants.
In addition to concerns about chlorine and fluoride in drinking water, there are other pollutants that occur outside the water-treatment plant. The EPA estimates that 20% of lead exposure is from drinking water which is contaminated by old-house plumbing and can cause major neurological damage. Dartmouth University found that arsenic, a known carcinogen, is a common contaminant in New Hampshire, Maine, the Southwest and the Rockies because it enters from the surrounding bedrock. Private residences in these areas with their own wells often have an arsenic problem that goes undetected for a long period of time.
If you are interested in purchasing a more comprehensive filter system than just a showerhead, consider carbon filters, which target contaminants that cause unusual odors and tastes, such as chlorine. There are several types of carbon filters–
- Point of Entry filter: attached where the water supply enters the house and provides filtration for the entire house.
- Faucet Mounted filter: attached at the faucet-head, providing individual filtration.
- In-line filter: located underneath the sink and attached to the cold water line it leaves the hot water unfiltered.
If you have more serious contamination issues such as arsenic or lead, there are other options. A reverse osmosis system is an all-in-one unit that incorporates filters, membranes, and tanks and is effective at removing inorganic compounds such as nitrates, along with sediment and unusual odors and tastes. This system tends to be expensive to install and costly to repair. Another option is a distiller that purifies your water as steam condenses onto distillers and then cools and drips into a separate container, leaving impurities behind. This unit can be expensive to install and maintain and requires electricity to run. For arsenic problems, a specialized filtration system is required.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery said it best in Wind, Sand and Stars (1939), “Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.”
Authored By Maura Yates