I have written in the past about the many hazards of tap water. The water that comes out of the faucet in our homes is loaded with chemicals, microoganisms, fluoride, heavy metals, and pesticides, just to name a few. (See previous article for more detail.)
Unfortunately, the quality of our tap water gets worse every year. If you are still drinking tap water or even water from your refrigerator dispenser, you are putting toxins into your body.
Many people think they are covered because their refrigerator has a filter, but refrigerator (and Brita-type) filters are not enough. Even reverse osmosis systems, which I personally used for years, is no longer a good option if used on its own.
Your body is 50 to 60 percent water, water that is used for many processes on a daily basis. If you are not drinking and cooking (and even bathing) with quality water, you will have a harder time optimizing your health.
The Worst Tap Water Offenders
Below are some of the more recent tap water offenders that could potentially cause problems.
Chloramines – More and more communities are switching from chlorine to chloramine as a means of killing pathogens in tap water. For example, our water in Nashville changed from chlorine to chloramines in 2014. The names may sound similar but they create different issues. Chlorine by itself creates chlorine disinfection byproducts (known as DBPs) which are more toxic than the chlorine itself. Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia and it is cheaper for water treatments facilities to use. When combined chlorine and ammonia produce other types of DBPs.
Chloramines have not been studied as extensively as chlorine. However, we do know that chloramines are more difficult to remove from water. Chlorine can easily dissipate over time; chloramines do not. Chloramine can also constantly shift into three different forms; all three forms are known respiratory irritants. Other potential health problems include skin problems, digestive issues, and dangers to those with a compromised immune system. (Click here for more information.)
Glyphosate – Glyphosate is one of the most common pesticides in use today. Not only is it heavily used on genetically modified (or GMO) crops but it is also sprayed on a wide variety of standard crops just before they are harvested – crops that include wheat, sugar cane, legumes, sunflowers, apples, among other things. (More on that in a future blog article.) Glyphosate and other pesticides run off into our water ways and get into our drinking water, creating many of the same health problems as GMO foods.
Glyphosate depletes the minerals in our body, creates digestive disorders, contributes to autoimmune issues, disrupts our hormones, among other things. Scientist are just beginning to learn the widespread health ramifications of glyphosate. (To learn more about GMOs in food see my previous article here.)
Radiation – More radiation is being found in our drinking water. Radiation can occur from natural sources in the earth, but others are released from laboratories and nuclear power plants. Recent nuclear power plant disasters like Fukushima has release unknown quantities into our oceans and ultimately into our drinking water. Communities on the West coast of North and South America are especially noticing Fukushima’s affects.
(You should also know that in 2014, federal standards increased the permissible levels of nuclear radiation allowed in our drink water.)
Another source of radiation not typically discussed is the radiation used for cancer treatments. Whether radiation is administered externally or implanted internally, after a person is treated at least some of the radiation ends up in the toilet, in the waste water, and eventually in our drinking water.
Medications – Chemotherapy, antibiotics and other medications work similarly. When they leave the body through a person’s urine and bowel movements, some of the active ingredients as well as the preservatives used in the medications end up in our water ways. With so many new drugs being introduced on a yearly basis, there is no way the utility companies and water regulations can keep up. Medications are in our tap water
A water treatment plant can only removed so much. And there are few standards for all the chemicals, microorganisms and other toxins found in our water. That is why we, as the consumer, need to be diligent and purify our water at the drinking and cooking source.
What Type of Filters Are You Using?
There are a wide variety of filtration systems available. The quality of a filter can also vary from company to company so you need to do your homework.
If you are using a carbon-based filtration system like those found in your typical refrigerator water dispenser or in a Brita or Pur pitcher, you are not removing enough contaminants from your drinking water. It may taste better but this is mainly because it is removing the chlorine along with some other particulates, certain bacteria, and some heavy metals. It is not removing much else. The carbon filter should be used in combination with one or more filters.
Many alkaline (ionizing) systems use a basic carbon filter as their main filter. Some companies may use an enhance carbon filter or provide add-on filters for additional protection. Be sure to get the specifics of what these filters remove.
If you are using a reverse osmosis (RO) system, which typically consists of four different filters, you are getting water with many impurities removed. However, a typical RO system definitely does not remove chloramines. You may want to check with the company that makes it to see if they sell an add-on filter for the chloramines.
When we moved to a new house last year, we eventually switched from a RO system to a new filtration system – one that incorporates some of the best qualities of other systems. The filters included are not only a step up from a reverse osmosis system, but it also includes a copper-based filter (called a KDF filter) that removes chloramine. This filtration system from Living Waters also has the added benefit of keeping the minerals in the water, making it more alkaline than RO systems, and not creating waste water. It does not require an electrical outlet, a holding tank, or high water pressure.
It is also important to use filtered water when bathing. I am still on the lookout for a better shower filter option. In the mean time, in our house we continue to use the Sprite filter as shown here. It at least removes the chlorine part of the chloramines. Shower filtration companies are just starting to address chloramines but they are quite expensive. (If you have more than one bathroom, you may be better off with adding a whole house system.)
Adding a whole-house filtration system is another option. There are whole house systems that include KDF filters and, therefore, remove chloramine. If used in combination with a quality RO system, you may get the protection you need. Be aware, however, that a whole house system by itself does not typically provide enough filtration for optimal drinking water. You will still need a filtration system at the drinking and cooking source.
What Are Your Options?
Drinking quality water is a huge part in maintaining optimal health. You should seriously consider your options and get a water filtration system if you do not have one. Finding the correct combination of filters is the key. (To learn more about each type of filtration system and the pros and cons of each, see my previous article here.)
Unfortunately, buying water in plastic bottles is not a long-term solution. First of all, you are still putting your trust in another entity to purity your water in an industry that has few quality standards. You are also ingesting the chemicals from the plastic that stores the water. The chemicals used to make plastic are toxic and they leach into the water, especially when bottles get warmed during shipping or in the trunk of your car. The plastic chemicals (such as BPA, BPA substitutes, dioxin, etc.) are known endocrine disruptors and are even considered carcinogenic.
While determining your filtration options, a better short-term solution is to purchase one-gallon refillable glass bottles and find a commercial water dispenser where you can refill multiple bottles at one time. Many health food stores (like Whole Foods and other local stores) have these machines. I was even recently surprised to see one in our local Walmart. My family filled gallons this way for a whole year while remodeling our current house.
If you have an existing filtration system, be sure to check with the manufacturer and/or installer to see if it removes as much as you think. Ask the tough questions: does their filter(s) remove chloramines (not just chlorine), does it remove radiation, does it remove glyphosate, does it remove fluoride, etc. Either modify your existing system accordingly or upgrade your system to something you can trust.
Note: If you have well water be sure to have it tested, because many of the same toxins can be found in it. You may also find you need a filtration system.
(Life Design for Health is not affiliated with any water filtration company and does not receive remuneration from the systems mentioned above. It is for informational purposes only.)