7 ways contaminated water is making you sick
Generally speaking, the water that comes through the faucets in our homes are supplied by local municipalities. Although this is more convenient than buying bottled water or getting water from a well, there are some risks associated with drinking this water. Of course, this is not to discount the filtration process that most municipalities implement before the water is made available to us, but it is worth noting that the process can add chemicals and other contaminants to the water that could jeopardize our health. In this article we will detail some of the contaminants typically found in local water and ways to minimize the health associated with drinking it.
HOW DO CONTAMINANTS END UP IN OUR WATER SUPPLY?
The process that most municipalities use to remove microbes, particulates and other contaminants from water require using disinfectants, additives, and other chemicals. While such procedures are generally safe, they can sometimes replace one form of contamination with another. Some of the additives commonly are applied to drinking water include fluoride, chloramines, and chlorine. To further put all of this into context, let's take a look at how some of these additives affect drinking water:
Fluoride – While fluoride may be great for our oral health, it can also be toxic in high amounts. What causes high levels of fluoride in drinking water? Well, inadequate monitoring, naturally-occurring deposits, and faulty equipment can all play a role. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), high levels of fluoride can damage tooth enamel and also lead to joint pain and reduced bone density.
Chloramines – If you are not already familiar with chloramines, they are disinfectants commonly used in water filtration. Basically, chloramines are the byproduct of combining chlorine with ammonia. Although they do a remarkable job in filtering drinking water, chloramines can be harmful to fish and other wildlife and may pose some health risks if consumed in large amounts.
Chlorine – While effective in destroying harmful viruses and bacteria in our drinking water and making it safe for consumption, chlorine can negatively affect how water smells and taste. Also, studies have shown that bathing in chlorinated water can result in dry or itchy skin. Similar to chloramines, consuming large amounts of chlorinated water can pose some health risks.
HOW PIPES CAN CONTAMINATE DRINKING WATER
Along with the additives and contaminants that enter our drinking water during the filtration process, the pipes that work to deliver water to our homes can also contribute to making us sick. How can pipes contaminate drinking water, you ask? Well, contamination occurs as water travels through brass or copper pipes. This contamination can adversely affect the taste, smell, and color of the water we drink.
Copper toxicity can occur if we drink water that has passed through corroded copper pipes while traveling to the faucets in our homes. Exposure to high levels of copper can cause stomach pain as well as nausea and vomiting. In severe cases, copper can impact kidney function and may also lead to anemia.
Lead poisoning can be difficult to detect in drinking water, but it can cause serious health problems if consumed in large amounts. The onset of health problems caused by drinking water containing lead typically occurs slowly and with little to no warning signs. Similar to copper toxicity, lead poisoning occurs when water travels through corroded pipes either in our homes or through local municipalities. How does lead poisoning impact our health? Well, it can cause a series of health problems including constipation, stomach pain, and vomiting. In severe cases, lead poisoning may result in brain damage and decreased kidney function.
IS WELL WATER A SAFE ALTERNATIVE?
While not as common as it was a few decades ago, well water is still being used in some communities. And although it is not subject to the filtration process used by local municipalities, it carries its own set of health risks. Some of the contaminants found in well water include
Minerals and chemicals – Although naturally-occurring, high levels of minerals and chemicals found in well water can be dangerous to our health. That said, the chemicals and minerals found in well water is a byproduct of pesticides and fertilizers that have leached into the water supply. It is also worth noting that these contaminants do not alter the taste or smell of the water; however, they can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting when consumed in large amounts.
Waste material – In addition to pesticides and fertilizers, most well water also contains fecal matter that is produced by animals and leached from nearby septic tanks. These two types of waste materials can result in E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria, which can significantly impact one's health.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM WATERBORNE CONTAMINANTS
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself from waterborne contaminants would be to only drink bottled water; however, this is not always a practical or convenient solution for some people. While the filtration process provided by most municipalities is good, there is obviously room for improvement. That said, investing in a personal water filtration may be a good idea. What is a water filtration system, you ask? Well, they are systems that can be attached to your existing faucet to help remove harmful particles and contaminants from your water. They are also available as stand-alone systems. Some of the more popular filtration systems include
Activated carbon charcoal filters – These systems are predicated on reverse osmosis, which entails using a purification technology to help remove impurities and larger particles from drinking water.
Stand-alone filtration systems – These systems are similar to that of Activated carbon charcoal filters, which are attached to your faucet and designed to remove contaminants commonly found in drinking water. However, they can be placed on your countertop where they don't impede the use of your faucet.
If you are concerned about the drinking water in your home, you should consider investing in a filtration system. To find the best brands and models for you and your family, consider doing an internet search using the keywords online water filtration.