Here in the good ol' USA, we believe tap water is safe to drink and healthy to consume. However, there are many contaminants in American drinking water which can affect our health -- especially if we consume it every day.
Contaminants in our drinking water have been linked to a range of health problems, from infertility in women to reproductive problems in newborn babies. The scale of the problem is immense: one study has estimated that more than 200 million US citizens may have drinking water filled with toxic chemicals that won’t break down for thousands of years.
How much do you really know about the contaminants in your drinking water? Although there is debate as to whether chlorine and fluoride is good or bad, it can’t hurt to give your body a break from ingredients that come in other drinks. Here are some of the most common contaminants found in drinking water across the country.
One of the most dangerous contaminants in American drinking water is Lead. Levels of this cancer-causing found in drinking water are extremely dangerous for people of all ages, and can build up in your body over time. This means lead is very dangerous for vulnerable people, and especially pregnant mothers. This hazardous material can be detected in some American tap water – so much so that in some cities the Centers for Disease Control has warned against consuming it.
Tell-tale signs that your tap water is contaminated include discoloration of the water, shrinkage of teeth and gums, diarrhea, vomiting, and red eyes. Even just a few grams of lead can be fatal if you drink too much of it over a short period of time. Lead is naturally-occurring in many sources including soil, water and air. However, cities such as Pittsburgh have had some major problems with lead seeping from pipes into drinking water.
A lead service line can lead to health problems if eaten or inhaled. You should either remove the lead service line from your drinking water system or install a water filter that removes most of the lead from your tap water. The last thing we want is for people to be exposed to lead in their drinking water without knowing it.
Pesticides are used extensively in agriculture, and can disrupt normal ecosystem functions. They've been found to be harmful to our drinking water, and even linked to cancer. The American agriculture industry pours one billion tons of pesticides into the ground each year, affecting the groundwater which half the country depends upon. Pesticides can also seep into drinking water through leaks or direct intake from treated water sources.
Studies indicate that drinking water with pesticides can cause skin irritation, irritation of eyes, headaches, vomiting, muscle pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and skin infections. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention cautions pregnant women not to drink water that has been exposed to pesticides at any time.
Testing your drinking water for pesticides is easy and often free. In some cities you can get a water testing kit from your local authority. The testing kit is easy to use and will let you know whether or not your water is treated with pesticides. This way, you can avoid drinking water that’s been treated unnecessarily or contaminated with poisonous pesticides.
If you’ve noticed that your tap water tastes ‘funny,’ then there’s a chance that you might be drinking highly chlorinated water. Some Americans drink chlorinated water at levels that are too high and could experience harmful effects. Chlorine is added to water as a way to prevent people from getting sick; but, unfortunately, it can also have some negative health effects.
Researchers found that pregnant women who were exposed to chlorine at levels far greater than the amount that might be found in ordinary tap water were more likely to deliver babies with birth defects. Trihalomethanes are chemicals formed when chlorine reacts with water, amino acids and other chemicals. They are believed to be harmful to both a developing fetus and to an adult's health over long periods of time.
Have you ever wondered why tap water has such a high nitrate level? It's not just the chlorine from the tap that creates problems for your body, but also the bacteria and algae living in rivers or lakes. These organisms are food for certain types of fish and wildlife, but can be a nutritional nightmare for humans. Nitrate contamination occurs when wastewater from treatment plants enters rivers and seas…where it can be drawn into drinking water supplies and deposit in aquifers.
Nitrate is particularly dangerous for young babies, and consuming too much of it can lead to methemoglobinemia (also known as blue baby syndrome). This condition occurs when too much nitric acid builds up in the blood, which then becomes concentrated in tissues near the heart and lungs, potentially causing damage or even death. The symptoms of methemoglobinemia may include fatigue, pale skin and low blood pressure.
A screening test for nitrate is the easiest and cheapest way to identify potentially unsafe levels of nitrates in your drinking water. Anyone can perform this test at home even if they don't have a car or are not familiar with how it works. Simple precautions can help lower your risk of getting sick from drinking unsafe levels of water such as boiling water or drinking from unsafe tap water for short periods of time.
Arsenic is one of the least expected and most dangerous contaminants in American drinking water. Infections caused by drinking water contaminated with arsenic are now common worldwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it . People who drink water with arsenic also have a higher chance of developing lung cancer, which occurs when certain chemicals in the water turn on their cancerous cells. The CDC recommends that people who live in areas where there are significant amounts of arsenic talk with their doctors about whether they should move closer to sources of clean water or start taking steps to remove arsenic from their drinking water.
If you’re concerned about the chemicals coming through your kitchen tap, we can help. Check out our website and learn how you can create your own purified water without going through the tap.