What’s in Your Water?
I am the first to admit, I have been doing this all wrong. Sometimes it takes a little time and a little of your own research to open your eyes to what you are putting into your body. I was all gung-ho about writing something up on the tap water athletes in the gym were gulping down. Little did I know, my gallon of bottled water could be nothing more than glorified tap water…in a fabulous plastic container (which is a another monster for another day).
Let’s keep this basic. I tell people to drink more water all the time. How healthy is this? Sure it is healthy and essential to drink water but what about the extra stuff that is contaminating our drinking water these days?
I have known for a long time that I probably should invest in some sort of water filter for my house, but I have waited and waited and bought gallons upon gallons upon gallons of water from the grocery store. Funny story about this is every time I pull my cart up through the checkout line with 14 gallons of water, I get some priceless looks and comments.
A few of the more common comments are as follows:
“You must be thirsty.”
“Stocking up on water huh? Is there a hurricane/storm coming?”
“Woah…that’s a lot of water!”
“What are you going to do with all that water?”
At first I would get irritated and respond with some snarky comment:
“YOU should be drinking this much too.”
“No storm, just purchasing my weekly water intake, no big deal. How much water do you drink?”
“I am building an ice rink in my back yard.”
“Super thirsty, can’t wait to crack one open and chug it down.”
You have to understand how seriously annoyed I get every week when I cart 14 gallons into my house from my car. That’s 2 gallons per hand…which was no problem in sunny Florida, but let’s face it, now I live in Chicago and who has time for that in the cold and snow. So out of pure laziness, which is hard for me to admit, since we moved I’ve tried to leave the waters in the car…that doesn’t work in Chicago in the winter unless you plan on licking the ice block to get it to melt.
So here’s the deal. I found some pretty scary stuff in my research especially about my beloved bottled water. This quote from a Precision Nutrition blog was eye opening; “Bottled water doesn’t appear to be any better, safer, or purer than tap water. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., less than one person is regulating the entire bottled water industry.” I also found 2 differing percentages one implying 25% of bottled water is just bottled tap water and another implying 40%….bummer. Not super reassuring.
What’s so bad about tap water? Take a look for yourself at the list of contaminants and their MCLs (Maximum Contaminant Levels)…I don’t need to reinvent the wheel here especially if someone else can explain it better and in more detail http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/. The good news is this stuff is being monitored, but personally I find it pretty scary to think about.
Here is a quick cheat sheet of a few potential heavy hitters in the contaminant department:
Arsenic (semi metal element that is tasteless and odorless, enters water supply through agricultural and industrial practices and natural deposits)
Long-term exposure could lead to skin issues, problems with circulatory systems, and potentially increases risk of cancer.
Long term exposure could be associated with cardiovascular system or reproductive problems. Associated with “de-masculinizing” male amphibians.
Check out this map on Estimated Atrazine Use in 2011 in the US. This does not imply that this is the amount in your drinking water in these areas just gives you an idea of where this herbicide is used in the US.
Lead (toxic metal found in and around homes i.e. lead-based paint, corrosion of plumbing)
Long term exposure (infants and children) could be linked to delays in physical or mental development. Additionally, kids could show minor deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Long term exposure (Adults) could be associated with high blood pressure and kidney problems.
Pharmaceuticals (Prescription and OTC Drugs, enters water supply through flushing, urine & feces of consumers, and disposing in landfills)
According to a media report small amounts of pharmaceuticals (hormones, mood stabilizers, antibiotics and other drugs) are in our drinking water supplies.
Although both sides of this debate agree there isn’t enough evidence of substantial health effects as of now, this became a growing area of concern when some fish, when exposed to estrogenic-like substances, showed both male and female sex organs (testes and an ovary). More research still needs to be done.
I completely understand we are exposed to a crazy amount of toxins on a daily basis and it is unrealistic to live in a bubble. That is not what I am suggesting, what I am suggesting is to do the research and make an informed decision about the water you are drinking. Again, water is essential and I am happy to stay hydrated and healthy, but what I realized through this process is I need to make some of my own changes. If I plan to drink the amount of water that I am now, I need to clean it up. Here is a quick list of some common household water filters if you are interested in doing more research.
Solid Block Carbon
Pitcher Water Filters