City water is supposed to be safe—after all, you’re paying for the service each month, so you expect the water to be of good quality. While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets limits for several types of drinking water contaminants, many of these components are still in many household water sources.
The amounts can vary, and by the time contaminants are found, it is often too late. Explore the primary types of water pollutants and learn how you can keep you and your family safe to avoid a potential health disaster.
The last thing people expect to get from their drinking glass is a dose of arsenic. However, if you are drinking untreated tap water, then this may very well be the case. Well water is especially vulnerable. Arsenic has no taste, so you don’t know how much of it you may be consuming.
PCB, TCE, Dioxin, MTBE and Hexavalene Chromium (Chromium-6) are but a few of the chemicals that can leach into a water supply. It may be fine today, but not next week.
As water races through the pipes in your home, it often leaves traces of minerals, namely magnesium and calcium. Not only are these minerals harmful when you ingest too much of them, but they can also destroy your pipes. A water softener system is the best way to prevent mineral buildups. Plus, softer water helps make your appliances run more efficiently.
Most often associated with swimming pools, chlorine is a substance added by city water officials to kill waterborne illnesses. However, chlorine can do a host of damage in the home. Not only does it taste bad, but it can dry out your skin and eventually cause kidney and liver disease. Chlorine also can combine with organics in the water and form trihalomethanes (THM’s) which are known carcinogens.
Fluoride is a source of much debate these days. It was originally added to drinking water by most cities in an effort to help prevent tooth decay among the general population. However, some argue that the fluoride isn’t necessary because of all the other fluoridated sources like toothpaste. Long-term fluoride consumption through water can lead to thyroid disease, neurological problems, arthritis, cancer, bone embrittlement, teeth mottling and heart disease.
Fertilizer is essential in farming, and many homeowners also use the material to help keep their lawns in top shape. However, the components of fertilizer run off into streams and rivers, which can eventually get into city water. Nitrates are the most common culprits, and long-term consumption can be fatal.
While these are the most common substances found in tap water, just about anything may be present. Bottled water isn’t much safer, and it is extremely expensive. A reverse osmosis system is the only way you can reasonably keep your family’s drinking water safe. It works through a filtration system that separates impurities like chemicals and metals. Just be certain that you change your filter at least once a year to maintain optimal effects of the system.
Jessica Stephens is content editor for US Water Systems, a leading provider of home and residential water treatment systems.
Image Credit: Zsuzsanna Kilian, http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1060207