You would think that cities who supply drinking water to their residents are providing a safe means of staying alive. After all, water is life.
And while most of us remain comfortable with the thought that the city cleans our water for us – that could be far from the truth. Industrial dumping, pesticide run-off, leaky storage tanks, and government mandates have created a scenario where the chemicals in tap water have got a little out of hand (and you’ll soon see why).
The Chemicals in Tap Water
I’ve provided a long list of chemicals in tap water in the section below, but I wanted to highlight a few key chemicals that are exposing you and/or your family to sickness every time you use the water.
Arsenic is one contaminant that has very lenient standards. In fact, arsenic is one chemical that is allowed (in small amounts) to creep into our water supply. According to The Center for Public Integrity, the CDC’s 2013 report states that most Americans regularly consume small amounts of arsenic. This poison can cause major health concerns, like cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also has negative impacts on cognitive development (1).
Pesticides are another concern that enter our water supply. Pesticides like atrazine and the infamous glyphosate (Round-up) have both been found in drinking water. According to the Pesticide Action Network of North America, Atrazine is present in 94% of US drinking water as per USDA testing (2). These pesticides are known endocrine disruptors and have also been linked to cancer.
Lead is also found in our drinking water, as one report demonstrated, with levels showing up higher than what should be deemed safe (3). Homes and buildings that were built before 1986 may be equipped with pipes and structures that contaminate the water with lead. Even low levels of lead are known to cause behavior and learning problems in children, as well as lower IQ and hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia. In older individuals, lead can result in decreased kidney function, reproductive problems and increased blood pressure. It can also result in reduced growth of fetuses in pregnant women, or cause premature births (4).
Fluoride if you haven’t already heard, isn’t actually necessary for healthy teeth. Even York University decided to do a review of existing studies that looked at the benefits of fluoride. The outcome? Scientific evidence trying to back up the argument that fluoride is beneficial for us was weak at best (5). They determined that more studies would have to be done to see if the benefits of fluoride really outweigh the risks. Over 90% of the fluoride added to our water supply is called fluorosilicic acid, which is actually a by-product of fertilizer manufacturing (6). Fluoride exposure has been linked to brain abnormalities, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, gastrointestinal effects, kidney disease, skeletal fluorosis and more.
Pharmaceuticals are also, unfortunately, found in our tap water. In fact, over 41 million Americans are drinking tap water that contains antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones (7). One study also found that wastewater treatment plants contained pharmaceuticals that ranges from oxycodone to Tylenol, with at least 25 drugs found in affected samples (8). How do pharmaceuticals enter our water? Runoff from pharmaceutical companies and improper disposal of drugs from hospitals, farms, cemeteries, and sewage. Basically, anything that goes down the drain can enter our water supply. What’s worse is that wastewater treatments don’t even take the necessary steps to remove all the drugs from the water.
The Shocking Truth of What’s Really in Your Tap Water
Not many people are made aware of the chemicals in tap water. If I told you that most tap water around the world contains heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides and pharmaceutical drug contaminants, then you probably wouldn’t be drinking it, would you?
Well, unfortunately, most tap water does contain these elements. This means they’re going into your body and settling in your fat tissue, where they build up and make us sick, diseased and ill as we age.
The chemicals in tap water may include some or most of the following (9):
– Chlorine Residual
– Free Chlorine
– Chromium 6
– Total Coliform
– Fecal Coliform
– E. Coli
– Ciprofloxacin HCl
– Erythromycin USP
– Bisphenol A
– Diclofenac Sodium
– Naproxen Sodium
Pesticides & VOC’s
– 1,1,1-Trichloroethane (TCA)
– 1,1-Dichloroethane (1,1-DCA)
– 1,1-Dichloroethylene (1,1-DCE)
– 1,2-Dibromo-3-chloropropane (DBCP)
– 1,2-Dichloro-1,1,2-trifluoroethane (CFC 123a)
– 2,4,5-TP (Silvex)
– 2-Butanone (MEK)
– 3,5-Dichlorobenzoic Acid
– Aldicarb Sulfone
– Aldicarb Sulfoxide
– Aroclor (1016, 1221, 1232, 1242, 1248, 1254, 1260)
– Bromoacetic Acid
– Carbon Tetrachloride
– Chloroacetic Acid
– Dacthal Acid
– Dibromoacetic Acid
– Dibromochloropropane (DBCP)
– Dichloroacetic Acid
– Dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC 12)
– Disulfoton Sulfone
– Disulfoton Sulfoxidea
– Ethylene Dibromide (EDB)
– Halo acidic Acids (HAA5)
– Heptachlor Epoxide
– Hexachlorobutadiene (CCC)
– Isopropylbenzene (Cumene)
– Lindane (Gamma-BHC)
– Methyl Paraoxon
– Methyl tert-Butyl Ether (MTBE)
– MGK 264
– Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)
– Tetrahydrofuran (THF)
– Tribromoacetic Acid
– Trichloroacetic Acid
– Trichloroethene (TCE)
– Trichlorofluoromethane (CFC 11)
– Vinyl Chloride
– Petroleum Products (Gasoline, Diesel, Crude Oil, Kerosene, Mineral Spirits, Refined Oil)
– Microplastics (10)
While some of these elements aren’t found in all tap water across different countries, a good majority of them are, so keeping yourself protected is important.
How To Protect Yourself
If you’re concerned about the chemicals in tap water, you can install a whole-house filter, or you can get a counter-top filter for drinking water. While whole-house filters ensure that all the water you use (on your skin, the stuff you consume, and the stuff you wash your dishes and produce in) is clean. If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, then counter-top filtration devices are your best bet.
My two favorite water filtration devices are:
The Berkey Water Filter
The Berkey is the water filtration device I currently use, because I am going to be moving in a few years, and it wouldn’t be worth it to me to install an entire home water filter system. I really love the Berkey water filter – it’s a countertop device that is easy to assemble, and removes essentially every contaminant listed above.
I’ve been using the Berkey for about one year now, and I’ve only had to scrub the black filters once, and replace the fluoride filters once. The black carbon filters only need replacing once every 4-5 years or so, and the fluoride filters need to be replaced once every 8 months to a year (pretty great, if you ask me!).
A Berkey system costs around 1.6 cents per gallon, whereas whole house distillation systems and RO systems (when properly maintained) cost between 35-65 cents per gallon.
The taste of the water that Berkey produces is incredible, and it allows all the minerals to pass through (so you’re not drinking dead water). It also saves the hassle of lugging in 18 liter jugs into your home (which, might I add, totally messed up my shoulder, which I’m still dealing with). So, all in all, I really love the Berkey and think it would be a great investment for anyone wanting to make a relatively cheap initial investment, for water that tastes good and requires little effort to make (just fill it up once it’s empty, and that’s it!).
Aquasana is an awesome water filtration company that offers countertop water filters, under the counter water filters and even whole house water filters. If you’d like to make sure that no fluoride is entering your water, then you can get their reverse osmosis (RO) system, which filters out all contaminants plus fluoride.
All Aquasana drinking water filters are certified to remove and reduce:
– Chlorine and chloramines
– Heavy metals
– Chlorine resistant cysts
– Herbicides and pesticides
– and more…
You can also collect local spring water, or buy an 18 liter jug and fill it up with reverse osmosis water at your local grocery store. There are lots of options, you just need to find the right option that fits your budget! Let me know in the comments below if you have a favorite water filtration device, or if you use any of those mentioned in here!