The US has the best municipal water supply in the world. EPA/Environmental Protection Agency monitors the quality of your tap water at least once a year.
At the US, water goes through several purification processes before it comes to your tap.
- First, a chemical is added to water which sticks to the impurities and settles down at the bottom.
- Then, the clear water on top goes through several rounds of filters such as sand, charcoal, and gravel. These processes remove the dissolved impurities such as disease-causing organisms: virus and bacteria, dust, and harmful chemicals.
- Then, chlorine is added which kills disease-causing organisms that may enter from pipelines.
In spite of all this, one in four US citizens are receiving contaminated tap water says the latest report! However, we also need to note that the polluted tap water is mostly in the rural areas. The impurities include arsenic, lead, and nitrate and all of them are toxic. Lead is the most harmful toxin to babies and hampers their growth even in the lowest concentrations. Most of the times lead enters tap water via the pipelines which supply municipal water. Long-term exposure to Arsenic causes diseases such as heart diseases, cancer, and impaired growth in kids. Nitrate affects babies and causes the blue baby syndrome. Nitrate disturbs the oxygen capacity of the body leading to bluish skin colour and breathing problems.
You can use a home water filter which:
- Removes the dissolved impurities.
- Improves the taste of your water.
- Can be especially more useful for an immunocompromised family member.
Types of home filters
At point of entry
As the name suggests they purify the water before it enters your home and is installed near your water meter.
At point of use
These filters filter the water in batches and send to tap.
Household water treatments that you use are usually of the following types
- Water filter
It may have a physical barrier which may use a chemical or biologic process.
- Water softener
It reduces the hardness of water by replacing magnesium and calcium ions with sodium and potassium.
These filters boil the water and collect the steam and condense it for use.
Here you disinfect the water using disinfectants such as chlorine or ozone.
Disadvantages of filtered water
Certain filters especially RO/distilled, remove all the dissolved minerals whether good or bad.
Certain filters remove fluoride which prevents tooth decay.
You have to maintain the filters as per the instructions. If you do not clean/ sanitize them on time, you may be risking the safety of the water.
Is bottled water safe?
- Long shelf life provides an environment for the growth of bacteria. Secondly, multiple people handle bottles which may expose them to bacteria.
- Plastic bottles are harmful to you (some may contain BPA) as well as to nature.
- Tap water is checked more often than bottled water.
- Bottled water is a lot more expensive.
- FDA/ Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water which does not have norms as stringent as EPA. FDA hasn’t made it mandatory to list the sources of water/ treatment processes/ contamination reports.
What can you do to provide safe water for your family?
Make an informed decision. Request a local water company for a copy of the annual water quality report of your tap water.
World Health Organization says long-term consumption of RO water is bad for your health. Be sure to add the right amount of minerals such as calcium and magnesium to your distilled water.