Water Resource Center
Why You Need to Know What's in Your Water
What's the first thought that comes to mind when you think of water? For many it evokes a sense of wellness, revitalization and purity. There are many possible replies, considering just how many ways we use water on a daily basis. We bathe and shower in it, brush our teeth in it, infuse our stocks and other recipes with it, and rinse our colorful fruits and vegetables under it. Not to mention, Americans drink 1 billion glasses of water from their taps alone each day. Yet, well over 2,000 chemical compounds have been found in U.S. drinking water, with more toxins lingering in our rivers, lakes and oceans. Among these hazardous chemicals, the EPA has established enforceable safety standards for only 87 of them- that's less than 5%. Take a moment to reflect: how do you think about water now?
Watch this video by Sarah, The Health Home Economist overviewing the importance of obtaining quality water in your home
What's Lurking in Your Water?
Most of us assume that the quality of the drinking water coming out of our taps must be fine. It's always available and seemingly protected, looks clean and smells normal. In reality however, the state of our drinking water is overall quite poor and steadily on the decline. Toxins, including those from agriculture, industry, oil spills, landfill waste and pharmaceuticals have permeated public and private water supplies. With old water treatment methods faltering under the burden of this increasing toxic load, harsh chemical additives are being sloshed into water reserves to counterbalance contaminants. As a result, there are thousands of accumulated chemicals lurking in well and city waters alike, and it is scientifically recognized that if 2 or more chemicals exist at the same time in your tap water, the cumulative toxicity greatly increases negative effects. Here are some of the most common water contaminants:
Acidic pH Levels—One of the most common causes of pipe and fixture corrosion on private water systems is low water pH. Water with a low pH (less than 7.0) may have problems by leaching copper and lead from residential plumbing.
Arsenic—This odorless and tasteless semi-metal element enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits, as well as agricultural and industrial wastes. Human exposure to arsenic can cause both short and long term health effects, including cancer
Bacteria—Nasty pathogens from human waste and soil runoff frequently contaminate well and city water, posing a risk for serious illness upon exposure. City water is commonly derived from treated sewage.
Chlorine—This free radical disinfectant can quickly damage our hair, skin, and lungs when we bathe or shower. It has also been shown to cause gastric upset upon ingestion and has been linked to malfunction of the liver and immune system with long-term exposure.
Chloramines—Now being added to nearly all municipal water districts, they are formed by the combination of chlorine and ammonia. Chloramines are so strong that they tend to dissolve the inside of your pipes and fixtures, releasing contaminants and heavy metals into the water. Chloramines have been linked to anemia, liver, kidney and central nervous system problems, as well as reproduction effects.
Fluoride—Many communities receive pretreated, fluoridated water to their homes. Fluoride, known as "The Devils Poison", has been shown to be less than effective in preventing tooth decay, while possibly contributing to a whole host of health concerns.
Gasoline—Easily absorbed into the soil, even a small gas spill or leakage can contaminate ground water sources. Considered a hazardous waste material, consumption has significant adverse effects on the central nervous system.
Hardness— Hard water is the result of calcium and magnesium present in the water. These minerals form white scale buildup creating problems for water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, and plumbing systems. This condition creates a lack of lather when using soap and can contribute to dingy laundry.
Hydrogen Sulfide and Sulfates—Hydrogen sulfide and sulfates occur naturally in rocks and soil and can result from organic material or occur when wells are drilled in shale or sandstone. Although not a significant health risk, these elements can be nuisance. Hydrogen sulfide gives off a rotten egg small and taste and can produce stains on appliances and fixtures. Sulfate can cause water to taste bitter and scale to build up in pipes causing damage to plumbing and appliances.
Iron—Iron in water will present red staining on tubs, sinks, showers, faucet fixtures and laundry
Iron Bacteria—Iron bacteria can be introduced to well water during drilling, repair or service. If there is a musty, moldy or swampy odor associated with well water, an iron bacteria analysis should be conducted. While iron bacteria does not pose a health risk to humans, it can damage a well system and dramatically impact water quality.
Manganese—If you experience problems with brown or black staining of your laundry, this may be due to high concentrations of manganese
Nitrates—These hazardous chemicals come from fertilizer runoff, leaking septic tanks, sewage and erosion of natural deposits. Nitrates are converted to nitrites in the body. High levels of nitrites have been shown to be deadly to infants under the age of 6 months, and to cause serious health risks in others.
Pesticides and Herbicides—Ground water is often polluted by poorly managed fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and pesticides. These poisons can easily seep into well water aquifers and municipal water reserves. Exposure has been linked to chronic illness, birth defects and immune system failure.
Radon—Radon is a high risk radioactive gas found in drinking water and indoor air. Exposure to radon in drinking water increases cancer risk, particularly lung cancer.
Ways to Remove Contaminants
Depending on what is in your home's water, there are various options to consider.
Drinking Water Filters—Clean, filtered water is the foundation of health and wellness. This section provides information about gravity systems, countertop systems, and under counter drinking water filtration systems for both municipal and well water. Product performance information provided here includes contaminant removal capabilities and comparisons between products to help aid in your selection of the best solution for your particular situation.
Drinking Water Purification Systems—If your goal is to attain 100% pure water, a comprehensive purification system is a requirement. A simple purifier is defined as a component that removes 90-95% of all contaminants in water. There are three recognized purifier technologies known today: reverse-osmosis, deionization, and distillation. Because of their sheer power, purifiers must form the foundation of any drinking water system to have a chance at creating truly pure water. When properly combining various purification technologies with different pre-filters and post-filters, an integrated drinking water purification system can emerge whereby your water can be 100% purified. This section provides insight into creating water that's not just totally pure but is also restructured, naturally re-mineralized, re-alkalinized and balanced.
Shower, Bath and Related Filters—Removing chlorine from your shower, bath and garden water can yield significant health and cosmetic benefits. This section provides product performance information including effect on water flow, chlorine reduction abilities, filter life and more.
Whole House Filters—Get healthy water throughout your home for drinking, cooking, bathing and showering with a properly configured whole house system. This section provides information about carbon based filters and special filtration products. Product performance information provided here includes contaminant reduction capabilities, the type of replacement media you’ll need as well as complete water testing, analysis, interpretation and recommendations.