Tap water. We drink it, we cook with it and we shower in it. But do we know what’s in it? And are we getting the most out of it?
We are lucky enough to live in a country that has a high standard of water quality due to public water treatment however, for several different reasons, mainly environmental pollution, tap water has been found to contain all sorts of nasties like heavy metals, disinfectant by-products, additives and pesticides – just to name a few. Most areas of Australia also have added fluoride in the water, which although embraced by some members of the community for dental health reasons, is a red hot point of contention with many members of the alternative health community.
(Side note – I personally try to avoid fluoride, but I don’t have small children, so if you’re a parent, I encourage you to do your own research and make your own informed choice).
It’s also possible for chemicals from farming and industry to make their way in to water supplies. While water authorities do screen tap water for a small percentage of chemicals there are a lot of others that are not screened for and these are quite often detected in tap water.
Consumption of contaminants, chemicals and heavy metals have been linked to many modern diseases particularly breast, colon and bladder cancer, endocrine disruption, skin irritation, Alzheimer’s, fatigue, infertility and many more. I’m also seeing more and more cases of copper toxicity in Australia, most likely due to the increase in patients presenting with pyrrole disorder. For these people, excess copper in the water (which comes from our copper pipes) may need to be avoided while we take steps to get the excess levels down in the body.
So you’ve got “stuff” in your water that you don’t want – what next?
Unfortunately to combat the issue of contaminants in water, more and more people are turning to bottled water to ensure purity. Australians alone spend half a million dollars on bottled water a year. This is not a solution! It’s estimated that 40% of landfill is made up of plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups – that’s massive!! Also – most bottled water is stored in plastic bottles, which leach toxic chemicals like bisphenyl-A (aka BPA). And even if your bottle is labeled “BPA Free,” chances are that another equally alarming chemical has been used in its place, like other bisphenyls (BP-S, BP-D and more). These chemicals can have an impact on your endocrine system, and especially female reproductive hormones, and are best avoided. And yes, that includes those large plastic bottles at your water cooler station in the office (eek!).
The best way to ensure the purity of your water is to use a filter. However, a simple google search will reveal the overwhelming amount of information that’s available online about water filters. There are LOTS of different types. So, I’ve done the hard work for you and summarised the facts:
Choosing a filtration method
There are a few different methods of filtering water and each are more effective at filtering certain contaminants than others. Once you know what’s going on with your water then you can make a more informed decision about which filtering method is going to be the most effective for you.
Choosing a filter system
There are four main filter structures that all have their own pros and cons. Choose one based on what suits your lifestyle. Choosing a filter structure mostly depends on how much you’re willing to invest and how much room you have. Check out this website for more info about specific brands, product comparisons and reviews http://www.consumersearch.com/water-filters/reviews
Pros: Small, convenient, filters are easy to replace.
Cons: Can be slow, easy to get clogged, filters can have short filter lives so can be expensive over time.
Pros: Convenient, easy to use, easy to switch between filtered and unfiltered, easy to replace.
Cons: Cannot be used on all taps, can slow the flow of water.
Pros: Fast- Can filter large amounts of water at a time without needed plumbing modifications, doesn’t get clogged as easily as jug or tap mounted filters.
Cons: Takes up bench space, cannot be used on all taps.
Pros: Fast- can filter large amounts of water, doesn’t clutter the bench, doesn’t need to be attached to the existing tap, doesn’t get clogged as easily as jug or tap mounted filters.
Cons: Expensive! Requires plumbing modification, takes up space under the sink, needs regular services.
Lastly, look for certification
If you’ve decided to use a filter due to health reasons then make sure you pick a filter that you can rely on for its performance. Certification is the best way to ensure this. Make sure that a filter is certified with the accreditation standard of Australia and New Zealand (AUS/NZS 3497: 1998). Keep up to date with accreditation standards at www.standards.com.au
Want to get extra nerdy? Have your water tested
Where you live will determine what combination of additives or chemicals may be present in your tap water. The best way to find out exactly what those are is to have a water sample tested. There are lots of labs that do this so have a look for one in your area and make sure you have a look at the list of things they test for to make sure it’s a comprehensive one. Here’s an example of a testing lab in Australia http://envirolab.com.au/water-testing-32.htm
If you would like to find out more about the water in your area and the process that occurs before the water reaches your tap, most water authorities will post regular water quality reports on their websites.
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