Water is incredibly important to the human body. The average adult human body is 55-60% water. A baby’s body is closer to 75% Two crucial organs in the body, the brain and the lungs, are 70% and 90% water respectively. For this reason, the quality of the water you drink greatly impacts your overall health.
Modern society has degraded the quality of the water around us due to our poor environmental habits. This has led us to a point where high quality drinking water can be difficult to find. While the argument is made that tap water is amongst the best water available to us, a series of testing for the ingredients in our tap water would tell almost anyone that it is certainly not of high quality.
Recent analyses of municipal drinking water have shown that, despite government regulations, there are still many dangerous contaminants present in our water. There are many chemicals that are not regulated and there is no legal specifications to restrict what amount of certain chemicals can be in the water. This means that certain chemicals can be found in any given amount.
To make matters worse, many municipalities in Canada and the United States voluntarily add fluoride to their water supplies without the consent or vote of the citizens. In fact, most citizens and government officials are drastically misinformed about fluoride. I personally tested this out by calling my local water company here in Toronto. At the municipal and provincial level, (equivalent to state level) they were unable to provide me with any information regarding the safety of fluoride, nor were they able to provide any documentation to suggest that water fluoridation helps to prevent tooth decay. After chasing The Dental Association of Canada, I received a long-winded answer that also did not address whether or not water fluoridation has any effect.
The Safe Drinking Water Act only regulates 91 potential water contaminants. In the US alone, over 60,000 chemicals are used that can find their way into water supplies. Many of them have been identified as possible carcinogens. Current estimates suggest that there is more than 2,100 known chemical toxins present in U.S. tap water. Cities with older pipelines also face problems as chemicals leach from the lines as the water travels.
What’s in our tap water?
Fluoride is one of the biggest, dare I say, ‘shocking calls’ that has ever been made when it comes to voluntarily polluting our water with toxic chemicals. Most may not know, but the fluoride used in water fluoridation practices is a mix of a number of highly toxic chemicals, including radioactive chemicals, that are formed during aluminum and fertilizer production. The substance is considered a class 4 hazardous waste product by the EPA and it is illegal to dump anywhere in the environment. Allow me to say, this is not a conspiracy theory, the chemical used in our water, hydrofluorocilicic acid is in fact a class 4 hazardous waste substance that is ILLEGAL to dump in the environment. Yet for over 50 years, the U.S. government has mandated that fluoride be added to the water supply to prevent dental problems. What we don’t realize, is we are still dumping this waste product into the environment, but under the guise of a “health practice.” While there has never been research to suggest the safety or effectiveness of water fluoridation, current research has shown that fluoride has been shown to damage tooth enamel, increase fracture risk, suppress immune and thyroid function, increase cancer risk and disrupt the function of the pineal gland.
The good news, cities all over North America have been banning the chemical over the last few years and it is expected to continue. Many European countries have banned the use of fluoride altogether. We have quite a few articles about this on our website.
We have all heard of chlorine, not only is it found in our water, but also in most swimming pools. In both uses, it is called upon as a disinfectant as it effectively kills microorganisms. The trouble is, chlorine does not know when to stop killing organisms, which leads to toxic effects for the body. Chlorine has been identified as a leading cause of bladder cancer, and has been associated with rectal and breast cancers, asthma, birth defects and premature aging of skin. We covered this topic in great depth in the January issue of CE Magazine.
3. Radioactive Contaminants
Remember the Fukushima nuclear accident? Since then, radioactive fallout from Japan has been detected in drinking water supplies throughout the U.S. Radioactive iodine-131 was detected in drinking water samples from 13 U.S. cities. In some cities, radioactive cesium and tellurium isotopes have also been detected at low levels. (You can view this data on the EPA’s website.) The health implications of this radioactive contamination are not known yet.
4. Pharmaceutical Drugs
Pharmaceutical drugs are consumed in great numbers in North America. Inevitably, these drugs find their way into our water after being flushed or discarded via urine. Investigations have demonstrated that an increasing number of pharmaceutical drugs are finding their way into our drinking water and this should pose some concern. Anything from antibiotics and birth control pills to painkillers, antidepressants and other psychiatric medications are showing up in most municipal water supplies.
5. Hexavalent Chromium
An Environmental Working Group report revealed that hexavalent chromium, a chemical identified as “probably carcinogen by the EPA,” is present in high concentrations in 31 U.S. cities. If you are unaware of this chemical, it was made famous by the movie, Erin Brockovitch, which chronicled the truth story battle against Pacific Gas and Electric for contaminating the water in an area of Southern California. The chemical poisoned thousands of people yet there are still no regulations for hexavalent chromium in drinking water.
6. Lead, Aluminum & Heavy Metals
Lead and other heavy metals can make their way into our tap water as a result of the corrosion of pipes in our plumbing systems. Lead consumption has been linked to severe developmental delays and learning disorders in children. Aluminum and other heavy metals have been linked to nerve, brain and kidney damage. In the United States, some municipalities still transport water in lead pipes.
Arsenic is a well known poisonous element known to be extremely carcinogenic. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, it is estimated that as many as 56 million Americans drink water containing unsafe levels of arsenic. Considering the carcinogenic nature of Arsenic, this can greatly increase the rate of cancer. To find out what areas contain more arsenic, see the following link, USGS website.
What Can You Do?
In my opinion you have a couple of choices. One would be to, at the very least, begin getting your water from a store that offers reverse osmosis water. Due to the lack of minerals in RO water, it would be beneficial to add minerals back via supplements. This solution is not overly expensive and you can begin the change today. You can also buy a ‘under-the-sink’ reverse osmosis system for about $250-$400. To solve the mineral issue, ask your filtration provider about a PH balancer or re-mineralization stage that can be added for another $100 – $150. Both will remineralize the water with magnesium and calcium as it would be produced in nature. I would not recommend a Brita filter as a solution as it does not remove many of the contaminants nor does it truly solve the chlorine problem. This is covered in depth in the January issue of CE Magazine. There are costs involved in any solution, but what is your health worth to you?