Think You Don’t Need a Water Filter?
Water almost always looks pure and clean coming out of the tap. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over 90 percent of Americas drink safe water. But a recent article by the New York Times claims millions of Americans are drinking unsafe tap and ground water. So does that mean you are one of the millions drinking contaminated water?
When Water Comes out of the Tap, How do you know it’s Pure?
Just looking at it certainly won’t do the trick when hazardous pollutants and dangerous contaminants are smaller than one part per million (PPM) and even one part per billion (PPB). To give you an idea as to how small one part per million is, if you could stretch a glass of drinking water over a sixteen square mile area, one part would equal one square inch. When translating parts per billion, the particles are even smaller. If you spread a glass of water over 16,000 miles of square footage, only one square inch would equal one part. That’s small!
Is My Water Alright to Drink?
So with impurities being invisible to the naked eye, how can you tell if your homes water is good to drink? The answer involves chemical testing. A sample of your water can be given to nearly any water purification installer for testing. You can also test your own water with a water testing kit from World Water Monitoring Day. A water purification installer can let you know exactly what impurities and contaminations may be in the water. Just be wary of what they claim to be bad for you and what you can drink without danger. Here’s a list of a few impurities and contaminations that are unsafe to drink and use:
- Heavy Metals– Lead and copper contaminants are commonly caused by low PH levels in the water, causing older lead soldered pipes and copper to corrode and release toxins into the water supply.
- Coliforms like E. Coli- Most tap water has some form of small bacteria colony called coliforms. Dangerous coliforms like E.Coli are caused by feces contamination from a nearby septic tank or cow pasture.
- Radon– Radiation occurs naturally in surrounding bedrock in many areas of the country. Contamination from radon, radium 226/228 and uranium can ruin well water forever.
- Nitrates– When high levels of nitrates enter the water supply from too much fertilizer or excessive levels of human waste, serious illness and even death can occur.
- Low PH Levels– Low PH levels can be very acidic. Corrosion from copper pipes and lead soldering can quickly corrode and enter the water supply, making it dangerous to drink.
- Salt– Sodium and chloride levels that exceed optimal levels can instantly ruin tap or well water, making it much too salty to consume safely.
- High Levels of Fluoride– While some municipalities add fluoride to the drinking water to reduce pathogens and whiten teeth, high levels of fluoride can weaken joints and cause permanent bone damage.
- MTBE– Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether or MTBE is commonly released from leaking underground gas storage tanks. High levels of MTBE can cause liver damage, stomach illness and has even been known to cause some rare forms of cancer.
- Arsenic– Many times, arsenic doesn’t come from outside contaminants, it’s occurs naturally in the ground. The EPA has determined arsenic to be a known carcinogen.
Other Water Concerns
While many contaminants can enter your water supply, most of these are rare. Many times, other impurities are concern for installing a water filter or filtration system. While these impurities aren’t necessarily going to cause you harm, they can leave a bad taste in your mouth:
- Hard Water– According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the majority of water in the United States has hardness. Hardness occurs when too much magnesium and calcium is dissolved in the water.
- Turbidity and Suspended Sediment– Some well waters or local supplies have a cloudy appearance. This can be caused by numerous reasons and can easily be removed using a basic water filtration system.
U.S. Geological SurveyWater Properties and Management.
“Water on Tap” (pdf), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).