Have you ever drank water out of your sink and felt like it tasted a little funny? That’s because even with current regulations, all tap water contains contaminants like pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and petrochemicals.
And if you have just decided to use bottled water instead, you’d be surprised to know that they have even fewer regulations on testing their water than the water from our tap water!
So if you want to learn more about what could be in your water, different types of filtration, and what the best filtration system is available to you, keep reading.
Prior to last year, I drank water in whatever way was available to me – through the tap, from a bottle, through a Brita filter. I didn’t even think twice about it because I wasn’t getting sick and why would it be available to me if it wasn’t safe, right?
Then I had my eyes opened to all the things that are being put in our water whether it’s intentional or not and knew I needed to take that little extra step to make sure I was not drinking something that could lead to problems down the road.
Who Protects Our Water?
Water is regulated federally by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA). This organization regulates what toxins are to be eliminated from our water, sets quality standards, and carries out laws to protect our water from contaminants like arsenic, lead, and microbials.
One thing to always keep in mind with government regulations is that they have the tough job of making a standard for everyone in the country. This creates a standard that is just enough to keep people from getting sick or dying.
It is not a standard that eliminates all harmful contaminants in our water, it would be impossible to regulate that. This is where we need to be diligent in our own research and make sure we are doing what right for ourselves and our families.
What is in Our Water?
This is the million-dollar question! Does anyone really know what is in our water? Depending on where you live and what water system you are using, there could be hundreds of contaminants in our water. The Environmental Working Group(EWG) is a non-profit organization that tests and performs research on our water (and many other things) to educate people on what we are drinking.
The EWG has found over 160 unregulated contaminants in U.S. tap water as of October 2019. These contaminants are mostly from industrial or agricultural contaminants that can cause cancer, developmental changes in fetus, fertility problems, and/or hormone disruption. Things like lead from old pipes, runoff from farmlands, and pharmaceuticals that get mixed in with our water and are being consumed daily.
And this doesn’t go for just our tap water, our bottled water is being tested and found these same chemicals. Since bottled water is distributed by an independent company as opposed to readily available in our taps, they can run their own testing and what has been revealed is that their water is no cleaner than the water out of your sink.
Some of the most alarming substances in our water are fluoride, chloramines, and trihalomethanes. Each one of these is most commonly found in our water and can be the most harmful.
Now the topic of fluoride in our water. Fluoride has been added to our water for 75 years by the government with the claim that it helps dental health. There has been significant evidence to suggest otherwise yet we still continue to have this in our water. This is something I didn’t even know was being done until I researched the topic.
There are many reasons why fluoridation of our water is not good for us but I will touch on the basics here.
The FDA has classified fluoride as a drug so when it’s added to our water, we are forced to take a drug whether we have consented or not. Personally, I am not okay with this even if it is with good intention.
The dosage of fluoride we consume cannot be controlled when it is put into every person’s water. Think about water in general. We are told, generally speaking, people should get at least 8 eight-ounce glasses of water a day. We give those guidelines to our kids and let’s say our child only drinks water throughout the day and meets those daily water requirements.
For me as an adult, I follow that same guideline and consume the same amount of water. Now our children are receiving the same amount of fluoride intake as adults. How is it safe to give the same dosage to every person whether a newborn or an adult?
Only 50-60% of fluoride is excreted from the body which means the rest is accumulated into the body. Fluoride buildup can calcify your bones and the pineal gland. The pineal gland, located in the brain, regulates hormones including melatonin for sleep and fertility hormones. When it is calcified it can cause issues with circadian rhythms, fertility issues, and brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
It has been proven and recognized by the CDC that there are no benefits to consuming fluoride, it is only beneficial topically. So if we know that fluoride has no benefits when drinking it, why are we still putting it in our water?
Fluoride levels in mother’s milk have been tested and found in very little amounts. Babies who are bottle-fed using unfiltered water can receive up to 300 times more fluoride than a baby who is breastfed.
Some other factors like fluoride consumption and side effects are not tested, no randomized controlled trials have been done, and many studies have proven that fluoride consumption has not decreased tooth decay are cause enough for me to happily remove fluoride from my water.
All water is treated with chlorine to kill harmful bacteria. While it’s not ideal, it is necessary to avoid getting sick. But up until recently, water districts have started to add chloramines which is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia.
The mixing of these ingredients creates a whole new issue with our water. Once ammonia and chlorine are mixed together, they have the ability to leech metals like copper and lead from your pipes. Then the water is contaminated with those components and consumed by drinking, showering, and cleaning our clothes with that water.
Trihalomethanes are a mixture of chlorine and rotting organic substances that can come from farm runoff and sewage contamination. Shockingly, every water source that was tested by the EWG contains this mixture. With the need to use chlorine in our water coupled with the unavoidable contamination, trihalomethanes have now become a staple in our water.
The problem (besides the obvious) with these chemicals is that they have been suggested to have negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Bladder and intestine cancer have been linked to trihalomethanes in animals but enough research has not been concluded on humans.
Despite there not being enough concrete, I personally do not want any kind of sewage matter in my water that can potentially harm myself or my family.
How Can I Filter My Water?
There are many different ways that you can filter your water but the most common are faucet mounts, carbon filters, or whole home filtration systems. Let’s talk about each one and what each filters out.
A faucet mount is just like the name implies- it’s a filter that can be mounted to your faucet to filter your water. Water will pass through a non-woven screen that can trap sand and dirt in it.
Then, the water is passed through carbon and zeolite which can remove chemicals such as chlorine and lead. However, these filters are very basic and cannot filter out fluoride, trihalomethanes, and chloramines.
Similarly, purchasing a filter pitcher will yield the same results and are not very effective.
Carbon Block Gravity Filtration System
Carbon block filters work by their small porous carbon molecules trapping harmful pollutants and binding to the carbon. Filters that use carbon are great for removing trihalomethanes, bacteria, pesticides, VOCs, lead, nitrates, and mercury.
The only downfall to these is that they do not remove fluoride from the water. In order to remove the fluoride, you would need another filter specific to filter out fluoride. I personally use the Berkey Light system and add a fluoride filter to the system. That way I can filter my water at a high rate of removing the most harmful substances in my water.
Whole House Filters
This is definitely a more costly investment but this system will filter all of your water whether it’s for drinking, bathing, washing clothes, or dishes. This filter connects to your main water line and will filter out contaminants before it comes out of your faucet.
If you are living in your forever home and have the money to make the investment, I think this is the best option to avoid absorbing or ingesting any kind of contaminants in your water.
Protecting Your Family from Harmful Water Contaminants
I hope this gave you a little insight on what harmful contaminants may be in your current drinking water and action steps to create a cleaner water source for you and your family. Being that water is used in our everyday lives, it’s important to be proactive in making sure the water we drink is clean and safe for us.
What is the most surprising contaminant you found in drinking water? If you already filter your water, what is your favorite system to use? Let me know in the comments below!