Tap Water: Do you know what’s in your drinking water?
Based on this report, you have reason to be concerned.
The Environmental Working Group’s analysis of nearly 20 million drinking water tests conducted in the US between 2004 and 2009 detected 316 pollutants in the tap water. For most, the government has set no safety-based legal limits. Many other contaminants were found in drinking water at concentrations above government-issued advisory health guidelines.
In this article we’ll look at the kinds of contaminants that are most often found in tap water, showing how purification processes greatly improve the quality of your water.
The quality of tap water varies greatly between different countries and cities, depending on:
- The water sources available in the region
- The types of natural and man-made infrastructure near the water sources
- The type of water treatment processes being used and the chemicals involved
- The water quality standards set out by the government and health authorities
- The age, conditions, and materials of water delivery infrastructure
When you turn on a tap, you can’t be absolutely certain of its quality. The water dispensed often contains microbial, organic and inorganic contaminants that are difficult to detect. The most common pollutants found in tap water include:
Tap water contaminant #1: Chlorine and derivatives
Chlorine is a man-made chemical often used by water processing facilities to sanitize water. It is highly effective at killing bacteria, viruses and protozoa including Giardia, salmonella and E. coli.
Unfortunately, chlorinated water negatively impacts our health. Researchers have discovered that chlorine consumption increases the risk of bladder, rectal and breast cancers. Other long term effects associated with chlorine consumption include respiratory problems, cell damage, memory loss and impaired balance.
Tap water contaminant #2: Fluoride
Fluorides are compounds that combine the chemical fluorine with other substances. They’re often added to tap water by water processing facilities in an effort to reduce tooth decay.
High levels of fluorides can possibly lead to skeletal fluorosis, a painful condition that results in joint stiffness and pain. Researchers have also linked fluorinated drinking water with certain types of cancer, thyroid gland dysfunction, and hormone disruption.
Tap water contaminant #3: Bacteria and Viruses
Water processing facilities cannot prevent all bacteria and viruses from contaminating tap water, neither can they remove all these harmful organisms from the water. Some are naturally occurring. However, sometimes runoff from farms, improperly treated water, or holes in water distribution pipes introduce the danger. The most common bacteria and viruses found in tap water include E. coli and faecal coliform, Enterococci, Legionella, polioviruses, and echoviruses.
Tap water contaminant #4: PCBs
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of manmade chemicals used for industrial purposes, including the production of capacitors, television sets and refrigerators. PCBs then enter the air, water, and soil during manufacture and use. Wastes from the manufacturing process that contained PCBs were often placed in dump sites of landfills. Occasionally, accidental spills and leaks from these facilities could result in PCBs entering the environment.
Traces of PCBs can be found worldwide, detected in people and animals around the world – not only in heavily populated areas such as New York City, but also in remote areas as far as the Arctic. They are highly toxic to the environment and classified as a persistent organic pollutant, based on their long lifespan. These findings of such widespread and persistent contamination contributed to the banning of the chemical in 1979.
Once they enter water supply, they can be difficult to remove. PCBs act as neurotoxins in the human body, disrupting hormone production, interfering with the immune system and causing cancer.
Tap water contaminant #5: Lead
Lead contamination of tap water occurs as a result of industrial pollution or the presence of corroded pipes in the water distribution network. So even if municipal water treatment facilities do their part in supplying clean water, lead found in water taps, water pipes, or pipes connecting a house to the main water pipe in the street can still re-contaminate your tap water.
Lead is extremely toxic to the human body. Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults.
Its consumption can result in brain damage, behavioural problems, deafness, prostate cancer, reproductive illnesses, and autism. It also damages the kidneys and other organs.
Tap water contaminant #6: Pesticides and herbicides
Pesticides and herbicides often find their way into groundwater or surface water from agricultural uses. They can be very toxic to humans and are capable of persisting in the water supply for years.
Tap water contaminant #7: Nitrates
The agricultural sector uses nitrates to provide nitrogen to plants. The nitrates get washed from the surface soil of farms into waterways and eventually pollute drinking water.
Nitrates in your water are particularly dangerous to infants and can cause an illness called methemoglobinemia, which affects the body’s ability to transport oxygen in the blood. Nitrate contamination of tap water is very common across the United States and Europe.
Tap water contaminant #8: Mercury
While mercury is a naturally found element, it can be extremely toxic to the human body. Mercury levels may be organically high in some areas and some activities like mining can artificially raise mercury levels. When mercury contaminates water, it can cause nerve damage, brain damage, cognitive dysfunction, muscle atrophy, memory loss, and skin problems.
Tap water contaminant #9: Drugs & Hormones
Researchers know for sure that there are small amounts of drugs and hormones in tap water. These substances usually enter the water supply through urine or faeces. Throwing medicines into a drain or toilet also does it.
Some of these substances are very difficult to filter out of tap water by public water facilities and consequently, they persist in the supply for long periods. Researchers first became concerned after noticing fish swimming around with both male and female characteristics due to hormones in the water.
Tap water contaminant #10: Toxic heavy metals
In addition to lead and mercury, a variety of other toxic heavy metals may be found in drinking water. They include chromium, cadmium, barium, and arsenic. These substances form poisonous soluble compounds when mixed with water and they can be carcinogenic.
You can protect yourself by converting tap water into clean, healthy water with a water purification device. There are many types of water purifiers available. Among them are systems that filter, distill, or disinfect water to remove contaminants.
Plastic water filter pitchers are perhaps the most common form of water purification device in the home. Unfortunately, they are often ineffective and use wasteful plastic filters. They only remove a small number of contaminants and often lead people to mistakenly believe the water they are drinking is safe.
We’re developing the Mitte water purification and enhancement system to combat the dangers of tap water and transcend the limits of traditional household water filters.
Our water purifier vaporizes incoming water and removes any contaminants it contains – it does this 60x more reliably than traditional filters. It produces pure water, free of any dangerous contaminants. On top of that, our system mineralizes the pure water with essential minerals so it becomes healthy for daily consumption.
You can learn more about Mitte here.