The water you drink, whether it comes from your tap or a sealed bottle, might not be as safe as you think.
Public water sources, which are used to provide drinking water to your home, are prone to contamination from unused medicine, motor oil, pesticides and more. Many people dispose of harmful chemicals by using the sink or toilet, dumping the toxins directly into the water supply.
Bottled water is considered as safe as a public water source. But you should be aware that water bottling corporations don’t face many regulations requiring them to maintain safe and healthy standards, something typically overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Bottled water can also expose you to additional harmful chemicals that leach into your water from the plastic bottle.
If you get your water from a private or community well, you may think it’s perfectly clean. But remember, even private water sources can become contaminated with pharmaceuticals and bacteria.
Common toxins in drinking water include:
Fluoride: This is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause harm to the thyroid gland, impair cognitive ability and can lead to a bone disease called skeletal fluorosis, which increases the risk of fractures.
Chlorine: While useful for sanitizing your pool, this reactive chemical is linked to several types of cancer, can cause respiratory problems and damages cells. Long-term exposure can cause memory loss and impaired balance.
Lead: Over-exposure to lead can cause lead poisoning, which brings about symptoms such as hearing loss, developmental delays, fatigue, memory loss and even miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women.
Mercury: Mercury in water comes from the earth’s crust, which naturally degases, and pollution from corporations. Exposure to mercury can have long-lasting effects, including kidney damage, problems with memory loss and symptoms of ADHD.
How to Protect Yourself
You can start taking action today to prevent exposure to harmful chemicals and ensure your water is safe.
Maintain Your Plumbing
If you own your home, it might be time to check if your plumbing needs an upgrade. Home plumbing, especially in older homes, can contain lead pipes, which need to be changed out to prevent illness.
Copper pipes, though durable, can corrode as well. This leads to flakes of copper in the drinking water, which can cause major health issues such as liver damage and kidney disease.
Test Your Water
Many people get their drinking water from a private or a small community well. For those with a well, regular testing — at least once per year — performed by a state-certified environmental testing lab is essential for documenting the conditions of your water. A water test can determine if contaminants such as nitrates or bacteria are present in your water.
If you use your local municipal water supply, a test could still prove valuable. Some localities have concerns about too much lead in the drinking water, which can cause serious health concerns. Testing will determine how much lead is in your water and if the amount is harmful.
Install a Filter
Installing a water filter is a simple line of defense against toxins and contaminants that are present in your drinking water. You can choose from a design installed directly onto your tap or one that filters water stored in a pitcher.
Once you’ve decided on the right type, be sure you choose a filter that eliminates all toxic chemicals. You’ll want to be sure it removes both pharmaceuticals and E. coli.
Reverse osmosis filtration, which is a system that uses a porous membrane to trap and remove ions and particles from drinking water, comes highly recommended.
Treat Your Water
One way water can become contaminated is by the buildup of scum and residue on the inside of pipes. Water treatment options are available containing safe cleansing agents that remove and prevent this buildup, keeping your water free from harmful toxins.
When treating your water, remember that some treatment kits contain sodium, which can harm your health when over-exposed.
Go BPA Free
Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic synthetic compound used to synthesize plastic that has toxic side-effects. Unfortunately, BPA is found in many consumer goods, from water bottles to food packaging. To avoid BPA in your drinking water, you’ll want to drink from glass or metal bottles and avoid certain plastics.
All plastics have a recycling symbol on them, typically found on the bottom. This symbol will include a number. If your plastic has a one on it, that means it does not contain BPA. Plastic containers with the number seven are most likely to contain BPA.
Read Labels Carefully
Do you ever read the labels on your bottled water? Whether it says “artisan” or “natural spring,” it could be less sanitary than your tap water. That’s because these terms used by water corporations are not regulated by the FDA, which oversees the safety and compliance of products consumers eat and drink.
What you want to look for on your water bottle are terms like “reverse-osmosis treated” or “filtered,” as these are proven methods of water sanitation.
Boil Your Water
Boil your water if you think it might be home to harmful bacteria or if you’ve been directed to do so by the local government and health authorities. When public water advisories go into effect, it typically means contamination is a concern. This is especially common after a natural disaster or substantial system failure.
To avoid getting sick, bring your water to a boil for at least one minute before using it. Boiling will kill the bacteria and other harmful organisms. Remember, however, that this won’t remove traces of pharmaceuticals.
While boiling can provide you with safe drinking water, if you believe you might lack water for an extended period, consider making the change to bottled water or investing in a filtration system.
Does Your Water Contain Harmful Chemicals?
Once you’ve had your water tested and determined any problem areas, you can decide the right next step for ensuring the safety of your drinking water.
From upgrading your home’s plumbing to investing in chemical treatment solutions, plenty of options are available for those looking to stay healthy.