This post is for your information only and is meant to be a spring board for you to investigate more about water in your own region. It is not intended to fill you with fear, but to encourage you to understand a bit more about the water we need to survive. You and I have a role to play in protecting the world’s water supply. There are things all of us can start doing TODAY that can help this generation and future generations on this planet. Also, much of the data gathered here is from the Environmental Working Group website. There are links at the bottom of this post for more information.
What’s in Your Water?
This is a brief list of possible contaminants in your water supply and what you may be able to do about it. It is by no means exhaustive. At the bottom of this post is a link to the Environmental Working Groups plug-in for checking out what your municipal water supply is declaring to be in your water. I highly recommend you check out the link to assess what is in your specific municipal drinking water. For those on wells, you should have a private test done (preferably from a company that does not stand to profit from you purchasing their water system).
We live in a throw away society. Most of us give no thought to what happens to our trash after it leaves our homes and businesses. Somehow we believe that this ‘waste’ is being managed properly by the people who haul our garbage away. This is just not true. Often our trash is piled up in heaps and covered over with soil. You would be appalled to know what toxins are being disposed of and covered over with soil. When our garbage decomposes where do you think the toxins are going? Yep. . . . into the ground water. There is an interesting documentary called Chemerical that follows a family on a journey to switching over to using all homemade non-toxic cleaners and body care. They also tried to waste less and remove old toxic chemicals from their home in a responsible manner. It was an intriguing documentary.
Some examples of the home waste chemicals that are found in our water supply:
1. Shampoos and conditioners and other hair care products
- phthalates – hormone disruptor
- parabens and acrylamide – cancer causing
2. Laundry, dish and dishwasher detergents; car soaps; spot and carpet cleaners
- trichloroethylene - organ system toxicity
dichloromethane – organ system toxicity
- dioxins – which cause developmental, reproductive and immuno-disorders
3. Lawn fertilizers and pesticides
- cadmium – cancer
- phosphorus – creates levels that are too high for a balance in nature
- nitrogen – creates levels that are too high for a balance in nature
4. Paints and thinners
- hexane – cancer causing, neuro-toxin
5. Car motor oil, batteries
- petroleum – cancer causing
benzene – cancer causing, reproductive disorders, etc
- lead – nervous system, mental disorders, kidney problems, blood disorder, etc
- cadmium – cancer
6. Carpets, resins, treated wood
- formaldehyde – cancer causing
TO REMOVE THESE CHEMICALS: (See end of industrial chemicals list. The processes are the same.)
Industrial chemicals are chemicals that come from manufacturing, agricultural, or military sources. In my opinion, these are the scariest pollutants. Not only because they are the cause of many autoimmune diseases and cancers that are rampant in this country, but also because we have little to no control over these toxins on an individual basis. We must be vocal with our local politicians about our desire to keep these chemicals out of the water supply and force companies that make these messes to clean them up.
Some of the industrial waste chemicals that are found in our water supply:
1. Benzene – Cancer, Organ system toxicity
2. Hexane - cancer causing, neuro-toxin (byproduct of the petroleum industry also used in MANY processed foods, even organically labeled)
3. Toluene -problems in central nervous system, gastrointestinal problems, bone malformation
4. Heavy Metals – there are MANY heavy metals that can be toxic in large enough doses, often have reproductive and auto-immune complications.
5. Cyanide – creates oxygen deficiency to cells and often affects heart and brain first.
6. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – birth defects, developmental disorders, cancer, endocrine system failure, reproduction problems, immune-sensitivity (allergies)
TO REMOVE THESE CHEMICALS: Many of these household and industrial chemicals can be removed with a higher end whole house filter (check the specs for products you research) or a Berkey or RO filtration system. Just note that Berkey and RO systems remove most all the minerals which need to be added back in to properly absorb water into your cells. I personally use the Aquasana Whole House Filtration System (see my explanation at the end of the article).
Medications are often found in the water supply. Why? Because our waste water, which is our urine, eventually finds its way back to our drinking water. So when you take a medication, whether it’s a statin or a birth control pill, some of that medication comes out in your pee. Waste water is often converted to fresh water, but many of these medications are not filtered out of the water. Public officials and ‘scientists’ will tell you that these amounts are so minute that it will not harm people. But ask all the women who are part of the rising epidemic of infertility in this country if they believe that. I know I don’t.
Evidence of pharmaceuticals are not part of the required tests in public water supplies. This is extremely unfortunate because I am not sure how we can talk about ‘comprehensive healthcare’ solutions when we can’t even know we are actually ingesting. Our heath problems could be just about anything based upon the water we are drinking!
Some of the medical waste chemicals that are found in our water supply:
1. Birth control hormones
2. Statin meds
3. Antibiotics — MRSA anyone?
4. Mood altering drugs
5. Heart meds
6. Pain meds and more!
TO REMOVE THESE CHEMICALS: Some pharmaceuticals can be removed, but please note that there are no specific tests being done to check for these at this time as the EPA law does not require municipal water companies or filtration systems to test for these compounds. You really have to just go by what a company says or do an independent test yourself — if you find an independent testing source of medical contaminants, let me know!
Intentionally Added Chemicals
1. Chlorine and Fluoride are routinely added to public water supplies. One is a necessary evil and the other is a waste of MONEY and HEALTH to implement into the water supply. Chlorination is the necessary evil in my opinion. Why is chlorination used in municipal water supplies? Wikipedia says this: Chlorination is the process of adding the element chlorine to water as a method of water purification to make it fit for human consumption as drinking water. Water which has been treated with chlorine is effective in preventing the spread of waterborne disease.
If I personally had a well, I would not chlorinate my water, but I would have it tested frequently for dangerous pathogens. However, a public water supply is much different. Many communities are trying to conserve precious water resources now by recycling waste water. I know — EWWW, right? But in this case, I highly suggest the use of chlorination, don’t you? And, by in large, all of us are in some way drinking waste water anyhow. Where do you think all that processed waste water goes after it has been processed? That’s right, back into the ground or waterways that we drink!
I’d rather not have it, but chlorine is easily removed with a home filtration system. And it should be removed otherwise you will kill all that good probiotic flora that you are trying to ingest to improve your gut health. These compounds are the dangerous by-products of chlorination:
- Trihalomethanes (THMs): may cause cancer
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): central nervous system depression, skin irritant
- Haloacetic Acid (HAAs): probable human carcinogen
Fluoride on the other hand is an agricultural waste by product. There is weak evidence that it reduces cavities, yet there IS solid evidence that fluoride is harmful to the thyroid and various other organs and cells in the body. Dialysis patients must use water that is filtered with a reverse osmosis machine. Now if medical science knows that the sickest amongst us should not be using fluoridated water, why should the rest of us? Don’t they think that this may cause problems in the future? It always amazes me that science warns that the elderly and the young should stay away from ‘this or that’ because of compromised immune systems. But my common sense dictates to me that the rest of us should too for future health, no? I just don’t see how fluoridation improves the general health of the population and it is difficult to remove without removing other vital nutrients and minerals from the water.
And really, doesn’t it just make good sense in this economy to STOP fluoridating the water especially if there is potential risk? I don’t see how the benefits outweigh risk here. Someone, please explain this logic to me?
A few other pollutants of our waterways are listed below. My next post is dedicated entirely to the bottled water industry. And it really deserves a category all to itself as far as being major contributor to water pollution. Here are a few other miscellaneous pollutants not mentioned above:
1. plastic byproducts
2. human and animal waste
Environmental Working Group Database on Water Suppliers
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a fantastic non-profit organization that is focused on educating the public on toxins in the environment. Their website is a loaded with references for researching various pollutants in the environment (here’s a list of chemicals in the environment but not all are in the water, but many are), searching politics and policies involving environmental concerns, and offers several well researched databases of information. Did you know that your municipal water supplier must provide the data on the water testing in your area (if you are on a public water supply)? The EWG actually has a database in which you can search the health of your water for several years. Just place your water supplier and zip code into the widget on the right. This is a great place to start to find out what is actually in your particular water supply.
What I Use and Why
I use the Aquasana Whole House Filtration System. My husband added the additional filtration block on the filter as well to catch additional contaminants which I am extra grateful for.
1) They are NSF certified. Some filtration companies claim that they are NSF tested. This is NOT the same thing as being certified.
2) They offer several filtration points to remove various contaminants:
Our whole house water system comprises three carefully sequenced stages, each with its own unique formula of high-potency contaminant-grabbing media. It’s important to keep the media separate both to maximize contact time between the water and the media, and prevent mixing the different types of media. Mixing different filtration media can result in clumping and hardening over time, which causes channeling — where water flows through the same path through the media — minimizing effectiveness. We designed our sequenced three-stage, multi-directional flow system to optimize the contaminant reduction process and eliminate as much contamination as possible at each stage. Stage 1 is a sediment pre-filter that removes particles, dirt, and rust — essentially the easy stuff to get out. In stage 2, water flows up through a blend of a patented copper-zinc blend and crushed mineral stone. This stage greatly reduces chlorine, water soluble heavy metals, and scale. Then the water flows down to our third and final stage, where the high-grade activated carbon finishes the filtration process, reducing herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other chemical compounds that may be present in your water.
3) The system leaves in minerals that are supposed to help with assimilation of water to our cells. I personally feel this is important. I’ve said it before and I will say it again — Berkey and other RO systems remove minerals from the water. Most people using these systems will add the minerals back with drops. I know there is all kinds of back and forth on whether this is an acceptable practice. I honestly don’t know the right answer to this and I doubt anyone really does. However, I am not taking the chance of playing around with a mineral balance. I’m placing bets on my body’s ability to deal with the reduced amount of contaminants from a carbon-based system in hopes that my body will filter the rest the way it was created to do. I am a firm believer that over-supplementation can sometimes create imbalance. Eat well and let your body do what it is supposed to do to protect itself.
Petition Your Senators
There is some legislation that is pending about Clean Water Safety. I am not sure how old this petition is but I am pretty sure that it was just sponsored last year. I doubt it has moved along very far in the legislation. This is another thing you can do to voice your concern about our food/water supply.
Other posts in this series:
What’s in My Water? pt2 (this post)
Disclaimer: I have posted an Aquasana link in this post that is an affiliate link. I use them and I endorse them. If you feel so inclined to purchase from Aquasana and you would like to support Real Food Freaks then please do. However, this post is intended to inform about water issues and to explain to our readers how I am tackling the issues of water safety in my home. It is not intended to be a commercial advertisement for any particular company. I encourage you to research and source a water option that works for you and your family!