Water serves as a critical element of our survival. Yet, getting clean, uncontaminated water is not always as straight forward as it should be.
Several times throughout the 11 years I’ve lived in this house, a water testing company has left a little bottle on our front porch and offered to test our tap water, free of charge. I always tossed the bottle and thought the company was just trying to make a buck.
After all, our water supply flows through a highly regulated public supply. I always assumed it must be pretty safe.
I’ve had a number of experiences lately that have led me to research the safety and quality of our home water supply. What I found is that our tap water is highly regulated, but it still contains chemicals considered unsafe for human consumption.
No problem. We can all just drink bottled water, right? Wrong.
I recently watched the documentary about the bottled water industry called, Tapped. It provided an eye-opening look at the misconceptions about bottled water being safer than tap water.
If anything, bottled water is less regulated and can be more contaminated than tap water.
- The clear plastic bottles that hold bottled water leech dangerous chemicals — like Bisphenol-A (BPA) — into the water we drink. This is especially true if the bottles become heated (e.g., left in a hot car).
- Bottled water plants aren’t required to meet the FDA’s regulations for safe drinking water if they’re producing and selling the bottled water within the same state (making up 60-70% of all bottle water sales). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for testing and publicizing the results from municipal tap water.
- After a four-year study conducted by The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), it was concluded that an estimated 40% of bottled water is nothing more than straight tap water, sometimes without any further treatment. The study also revealed that many bottle water samples had higher levels of bacteria and other contaminants than deemed safe by the FDA.
These are just a few points Tapped made about the safety of tap water over bottled water. The points listed above don’t take into account the sustainability of using tap water rather than bottled water to avoid polluting the Earth with all of the discarded plastic bottles.
Not to mention the cost. Obviously using tap water will cost you only fractions of what you’d pay for bottled water.
Because we can’t always be at home, we purchased an insulated Klean Kanteen reusable stainless steel water bottle for each family member. That way we can take our filtered water with us when we leave and we won’t have to worry about chemicals from plastic leeching into our water. As an added bonus, the insulated bottle keeps our water icy cold all day!
While public drinking water is required by law to be checked often by the EPA, there is always a chance that the water can become contaminated by your household plumbing.
If you receive public water, your water company is required to publish an annual water Consumer Confidence Report. You can also see what contaminants are showing up in your water by searching the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database.
Even if your water is under the allowable limits for things like bacteria, nitrates, lead, chloroform, arsenic and chlorine, the EPA doesn’t test for pharmaceuticals, which are almost guaranteed to show up in your water.
If you have well water, you’ll definitely want to test your water periodically since it’s not regulated and regularly tested like municipal drinking water. You can order a home water test kit for about $20, but having your water tested by an accredited water testing lab is a more reliable option.
Even if you’re fairly confident that your water is safe enough, having a water filtration system is always a good idea. After all, not much is more important to good health than the air we breathe and the water we drink.
There are a variety of different water filtration options available depending on your family’s needs. The following article from Healthy Child, Healthy World provides some really helpful information on selecting a home water filter as well: Which Water Filter System is Right for Your Home?
One thing I just discovered, is the importance of filtering shower or bath water. Apparently when the pores in our bodies open up in a warm shower or bath, the chloroform, chlorine and other toxins present in virtually all public water absorbs right into our skin. This is especially dangerous for children.
This YouTube video from Dr. Oz gives some more compelling information about why we need to filter our household water supply — including the water we use to bath ourselves and our children.
There appears to be some good and inexpensive charcoal water filter options that attach right to a shower head. I haven’t tried one yet, but I plan to visit my local hardware store this week to see what our options are.
In addition to implementing water filtration for your drinking, cooking and bath water, you can also take the following steps to help lower the level of contaminants present in your water:
- Check the confidence report published from your municipal water source.
- Let your cold water run for several minutes before using to flush out any lead, rust or other contaminants that may have been in your plumbing system.
- Only use cold water to drink and cook with. Hot water contains more contaminants because of the additional time spent in a hot water tank.
Being presented with all of this information can be overwhelming. Because of the sheer magnitude of what’s at stake (my family’s health), I’ve decided to take immediate action — in baby steps.
- We now use reusable stainless steel water bottles filled with filtered water from home when we’re out and about.
- We are researching water filtration systems for our shower heads and kitchen sink.
Protecting the safety of the water my children use to hydrate and cleanse their bodies is of great importance to me. I feel it is my duty to take action and provide the cleanest drinking and bath water I can as an investment in the health of my family.
Of course doing this requires a small investment on our part. We’ll likely spend about $100 after installing charcoal filters in our shower heads and purchasing a new water filter for our kitchen sink (we already use a charcoal filter in our refrigerator water line).
To me this is a small price to pay to protect the safety of my family’s water supply. It may even be one of the most important conscious spending choices I’ll ever make.
How about you? Do you worry about clean drinking water? Have you ever considered the safety of bathing in publicly treated water? Or is that a new concept to you like it was to me? How do you protect the safety of your home’s water supply?