5 Contaminants That Might Be In Your Drinking Water!
If you get your tap water from a community water supply, you have the security of knowing that this water is tested on a regular basis to ensure that it means minimum safety standards. However, that doesn't mean that using unfiltered tap water can't pose health hazards. Following are five contaminants that are frequently found in city water supplies that have the potential to negatively affect the health of you and your family.
Chlorine is a common additive in municipal water systems because it's an effective way to keep population levels of certain microbes down. However, it may also cause significant health problems in humans -- research has linked it to several different types of cancer. Many people turn to bottled water as a solution to the chlorine conundrum, but chlorine levels in bottled water closely resemble that of tap water. Canadian and European cities are beginning to replace the chlorine in their community water systems with liquid ozone, which does the same job without creating health risks, but until the United States follows suit, you can protect yourself from the chlorine found in tap water by using a simple water purifier that fits right onto your tap.
Arsenic often ends up in water supplies as a result of natural erosion because it's a common component, and it can also be the by-product of agricultural run off and industrial waste. Small amounts of arsenic. Too much arsenic is associated with elevated cancer risks, circulatory disorders, and skin damage. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors public water supplies for elevated levels of arsenic, water suppliers have as long as 30 days to notify customers of any violations that may have caused them to experience increased exposure to arsenic and other contaminants.
Lead is another contaminant that is sometimes found in drinking water that can cause significant health issues. However, lead in your tap water is most likely to be caused by passing through corroded plumbing pipes rather than anything that occurs at your municipal water treatment facility. If your household water has tested positive for high levels of lead, it's probably time to have your plumbing replaced. Although water filtration systems can help cut down on the amount of lead in your drinking water, it's best to err on the side of caution where lead is concerned and have corroded pipes replaced as soon as you can -- consumption of lead can cause brain and peripheral nerve damage in small children and infants.
If you live in an area that has a high degree of agricultural activity or in a residential area where homeowners use lots of pesticides and fertilizers, the chances are good that toxic chemicals have leached their way into the groundwater and ended up in the municipal water supply. Although the EPA monitors pesticide levels in public water supplies, some pesticide products aren't regulated and therefore aren't included in testing. Also, keep in mind that certain chemicals, such as DDT, can remain in the soil for decades after their use is discontinues. Even if you and your neighbors practice strictly organic farming methods and techniques, there could still be significant amounts of toxic chemicals in your tap water due to farming practices of the past.
Although the addition of chlorine is supposed to eliminate the presence of pathogens, some microorganisms are resistant to traditional disinfectants. Cryptosporidium, for instance, occurs frequently in areas with substantial livestock operations or where wildlife populations are high and does not respond to traditional water treatment techniques.
It's also important to realize that even though community water supplies are tested on a regular basis, failures can and do occur. Even if you've got confidence that your local water supply is clean and relatively toxin free, a good water purification system will add an extra layer of protection.