- Toxin-Free Resources
Water is essential to healthy body function – in fact, water makes up more than 60% of the human body by weight. Most of us have heard that one of the simplest ways to improve health is to DRINK MORE WATER, but first you need to know what’s in your water!
It’s clear, it’s coming out of your tap, and it’s regulated by city officials… so how toxic can it be? I just listened to an interview with Donna Kasuska all about water, what’s in it, and simple things you can do to clean the water in your home and protect yourself and your family.
What’s in our water?
Well, it turns out that public drinking water may contain lots of contaminants including organic chemicals like pesticides, solvents, arsenic, and benzene; inorganic chemicals such as lead and mercury; microbes such as viruses and bacteria; radioactive compounds like radon (if you have well water), and even traces of pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants, oral contraceptives, and blood pressure medications!
So how do those toxins end up in the water that reaches our homes? Water is being pumped, often through miles of piping, which isn’t necessarily clean and may be really old, and can pick up bacteria and other toxins along the way. (According to the EPA, lead can enter tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials (homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder), and brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water.) And those traces of prescription drugs?… A bit gross but basically when people take the drugs and excrete some through urine, even though the sewage is treated in waste treatment plants, the pharmaceutical residues don’t get filtered out.
According to Donna, it’s impossible for a public water company to supply a city, town, or state with perfectly clean water every day (at least at a reasonable price), so the water companies focus on keeping the water from making us sick – basically their goal is to kill those pesky bacteria (definitely a good thing as you may know if you’ve ever gotten sick from drinking unclean water while traveling!) They add chemicals, usually chlorine, to the water that kills the bacteria and organisms that could make you sick…BUT, while chorine itself won’t hurt you immediately, according to Donna there are two problems with it if you are exposed over time:
1) When chlorine is mixed with an organic living substance of any kind such as plant material, bugs, or the human body, it forms trihalomethanes (THMs) that have been proven to be carcinogenic. The regulatory agencies require the water companies to minimize the THMs in the water supply, but even the water companies can’t control them once the water leaves the treatment plant and goes through all the pipes and comes into contact with lots more organic material. So when water gets to your house it probably has picked up extra THMs… and even if it doesn’t, the excess chlorine remaining in the water can form toxic THMs when it gets into your body.
2) Chlorine (like other chemicals such as bromine and fluoride that are called halogens for those of you who are chemistry buffs ) has a similar chemical structure to iodine and takes the place of iodine in receptors on cells in your body that need the iodine for healthy function (like the thyroid, for example).
So how can we clean up the water that reaches our house? There are some simple solutions.
Filtration and Purification
Donna’s recommendation is to purify your drinking water and filter your shower water. But filtering drinking water is better than nothing!
Filtering is the simpler method and will get out chlorine, radon (if you have a well) and bacteria. You may be familiar with Brita or Pur brand pitchers or other filters you can attach to your faucets.
And why filter shower water? Because you are absorbing the chemicals in the water through your skin (especially since the warm shower water opens your pores even more) and you’re inhaling the chlorine and THM vapors as the hot water creates off-gassing. (So good ventilation by opening a window or turning on an exhaust fan in your bathroom if you have one is also a good idea!). You can get a good shower filter at your local home improvement store or amazon for anywhere from around $20 – $30 that easily screws on to your showerhead and usually lasts about three months before it needs to be replaced.
But there are some things we can’t get out with a simple filter – such as the traces of prescription drugs, and you may want to consider purification for drinking water.
Purification – if you use purification there are two types:
Reverse osmosis and distillation. Reverse osmosis pushes water through a membrane that only allows water molecules through so that you get pure water on the other side – perfect for drinking and cooking water. Although reverse osmosis prevents so much from getting through that it also takes out good-for-you minerals, so you may prefer distillation which will remove most impurities but retains the minerals. (It’s a fairly simple process in which water is heated until it boils and turns to steam. The boiling action kills bacteria and other pathogens, and as the steam rises, it leaves behind waste material, minerals, heavy metals, and other heavier contaminants. The steam is then cooled and returns to water.)
Water Testing: Curious about what is in your local water supply?
If you’re thinking “I want to know what’s in MY tap water!” then simply enter your zip code on the search box at the top right of this page from the Environmental Working Group’s National Drinking Water Database. You’ll then be asked to select your local water utility (more than one utility often serves a single zip code).
Once you discover what chemicals are in your local water supply, you can visit EWG’s online water filter guide to help you pick the right filter that will reduce your exposure to those chemicals.
Drink Water Out of Glass Water Bottles
Lastly, if you get your filtered/purified water and take it with you, be sure to try to avoid those plastic BPA water bottles! A glass or stainless steel bottle is best… there are some BPA-free plastics, but I’ve recently heard that those may contain other chemicals including other types of bisphenol, which we may not want to ingest either. And if you do drink out of plastic water bottles, be sure to keep them out of the heat because that leaches the plastic into the water (if you’ve ever gotten that nasty plastic taste in your water after it sits in the sun you’ll be familiar with that)
Hope this has been helpful and wishing you clean drinking and showering!Please share this to spread the message of toxin-free health:
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I'm Stephanie and I'm on a mission to spread awareness about health-harming toxins in our daily lives and easy ways to reduce them. I believe that healthy living doesn't have to be hard and that we can all take simple steps to create healthier lives for ourselves, our families and future generations. If you're seeking simple solutions for toxin-free and natural living in the modern world, then you’re in the right place!
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