Do you ever admire a glass of water before you drink it? If you’re thirsty, it likely looks hydrating, refreshing, and even precious to your survival. In fact, as much as two-thirds of your body might be water at any given time. Three days without any, and you might die. Still, before you fill a glass at the sink or push the button on a water fountain, you might want to stop and think for a second. How do you know that water doesn’t have contaminants or even organisms that cause disease? The worst estimates suggest that only 10 percent of people can usually be sure that their water supply is actually clean enough to be safe to drink. Even when it’s not going to kill you, is it still all that healthy? Water quality has a tremendous impact on your broader health.
Many people don’t stop to think about the water that they’re drinking. They just turn on their tap, fill up their glass, and then drink away. Is that water safe and healthy? Or would it better to filter it first? What would you do if your tap water suddenly had some contaminants? Even in a supposedly first-rate nation like the United States, issues can happen with the water supply. Drinking water sources might get polluted, sanitation can get inadequate, especially when foul weather strikes and testing sometimes get slack with poor results covered up. You need to look no further than Flint, Michigan to see what can happen even in the richest nation on Earth. It’s even worse outside the country. Diarrheal disease resulting from unsafe water is a leading cause of global death for kids under the age of 5. Per a 2010 UN report, every year more people die from microbial water-borne illnesses.
Over a billion glasses of American tap water are drunk every day. A lot of that water is quite potable, but there are variations between wealthy urban and suburban areas and the rural regions. Water can be drinkable, and yet be in excess of legal limits for contaminants. Even when water is consumable, it can also just taste awful without filtration.
Over 76 million Americans, nearly a quarter of the population, live in locations where water systems have some kind of safety regulation violations. Also, many rely on systems that just aren’t compliant with public health standards. Many water suppliers don’t even test water safety appropriately. Even more egregiously, some don’t bother reporting their test results to the applicable health authorities.
- Fluoride is one contaminant common to tap water in America. The federal government wanted it added to the water supply decades ago in order to prevent dental problems. However, this is also a chemical used in rat poison. The EPA considers it a class 4 hazardous waste product, and it’s not legal to dump anywhere. That’s why many cities have banned it in recent years. For that matter, research indicates that tap water fluoride is actually known to damage tooth enamel. It can even increase the risk of fractures and cancer while suppressing immune system functions and disrupt the functions of the pineal and thyroid glands.
- Chlorine is another common contaminant that water treatments facilities use to disinfect water since it is known to kill off bacteria. It’s also common in swimming pools for that reason. However, it doesn’t really know when it should stop killing organisms because it has a toxic impact on the human body. Known correlations include premature skin aging, birth defects, asthma, rectal cancer, breast cancer, and bladder cancer.
North Americans take pharmaceutical drugs a lot. Psychiatric medications, painkillers, antidepressants, birth control pills, and antibiotics are taken (or flushed) so much that they’re showing up in the public water supply. This mainly happens due to urine.
Remember the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan? You might be drinking the radioactive fallout since it’s been detected in over a dozen water supplies across the United States. The health implications aren’t known yet, and the levels were low. Still, the radioactive tellurium and cesium isotopes have obviously traveled ways and are here to stay.
- Heavy metals wind up in the water a lot, largely due to older pipes corroding over the years. Some places are still using lead pipes. Heavy metals and lead contamination can lead to learning disorders in kids, developmental delays, nerve damage, kidney damage, and even brain damage. Other sources of contamination can include industrial and agricultural runoff that can lead to heart issues and even death. Some rivers have ‘dead zones’ once they hit the ocean where fish and plants are unable to live underwater for many miles, just given all the nastiness that’s going through the natural plumbing of the continent.
Most municipal water supplies across the country have to meet state and federal standards for drinking quality, but they aren’t consistent. What reports are available might honestly scare you. Still, you need to drink water to stay alive, be healthy, and even keep cool through replenishing your sweat.
Drinking enough water can even help you stay full longer so you lose some weight. Having the right filter, filtration system, or filtration products is usually more than enough to turn American tap water into something you won’t have to fear and even look forward to drinking. A long-lasting filter can give you a lot more liters of enjoyable beverages than a two-liter bottle of soda ever will.