Water is perhaps the most important fluid to human existence. We understand the importance of “clean” drinking water both in terms of health and well being. However, many of the sources we rely on for our water are not as clean as we think they are. If you rely on tap water and/or bottled water and think they are safe sources of water for you and your family then you will find some of what I’m about to tell you shocking.
Is tap water clean?
Most of us are led to believe that the water we get from the tap is good and clean enough to drink. This is true for the most part as tap water in most developed countries is indeed cleaner than the water available to people in poorer countries. However, when you drink tap water you’re likely drinking a lot more then you bargained for – fluoride, chlorine, trace hormones and the condition of your pipes might account for things like rust.
What is in tap water?
Think about it. The water has travelled through miles of old Victorian pipeline and possibly picked up a cocktail of contaminants along the way. Yes, the water has been disinfected and is technically safe to drink after proper disinfection. But very often the disinfection process has been carried out with things like chlorine among other chemicals. Also, governments routinely add fluoride to tap water as a way to improve oral health. For instance, in the UK there is approximately 10% of the population that is supplied with “optimally fluoridated water.”
Of course there is the argument that chemical disinfection is a necessary evil to remove water borne diseases and artificial fluoride is a painless way to improve the populations’ oral hygiene. But what if you don’t want to put these things in your body? The real problem with tap water is that these are just the things we know about. What about all the chemicals and added artificial minerals that we don’t know about?
Study shows tap water has many more pollutants
The Environmental Working Group conducted a 3 year study in 2009 that looked at US tap water quality. The results are simply jaw-dropping. The study found that the tap water available to about 85% of the population contained over 300 contaminants. The really scary part is that over 50% of the chemicals found were not subject to health or safety regulations meaning that they could legally be present in any amount. This also means that the long-term health effects of many of the contaminants in tap water are simply unknown.
Is bottled water better than tap water?
If you think you have managed to avoid all of the problems mentioned so far by drinking bottled water, think again. First, some of the large brands have admitted that their bottled water is nothing more than filtered tap water. Second, you are at serious risk from BPA contamination from the plastics used to make the bottled water. Check out this table if you want to know how to avoid BPA contamination by looking at the symbol labeled on the plastic. There is also the high cost and inconvenience of continually buying a product that might just be nicely packaged tap water. However, the biggest issue is the environmental cost. The creation of bottled water is insanely wasteful when it takes about 3 litres of water just to produce 1 litre. Plastics are notoriously difficult to recycle so chances are that your bottle is destined to clog up more space in landfill sites. Or worse, they end up in the ocean poisoning and polluting not just the water but wildlife too.
Does boiling water make it safe to drink?
The short answer is yes. Putting water in temperatures above 185° F (85° C) will kill most pathogens within few minutes. However, boiling water will not work on things like lead, pesticides and nitrates. Also remember that boiling water reduces the volume, which means that it will increase the concentration of the contaminants that it doesn’t kill. Finally, boiled water tends to have a horrible flat taste. This is not good if you’re brewing for tea or coffee as it will affect the taste. Let’s not forget that, in some cases, boiling tap water will ruin your kettle and coffee maker with limescale.
How can I make sure I always get good clean drinking water?
Of all the options for water treatment, water filtration is the best. A good water treatment product will not just clean and purify water but also improve the taste. It improves the taste because it doesn’t kill all the nutrients and minerals that naturally occur in water. Depending on your needs and budget you can get a whole house filtration system, under-the-counter filter, counter-top filter or portable filter in a jug or bottle. If none of these suit, there are many more water filter options to choose from.
Using a water filter device is a simple, no-brainer way to support good health by avoiding BPA’s from bottled water, potentially toxic contaminants in tap water and the flat taste of boiled water. If you have any concerns about the quality of your tap water or fed up with the expense of bottled water, a water filter is a must.
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