Although our home drinking water is sanitized to prevent disease, you should still filter it for truly healthy water. While treating tap water prevents disease from pathogens such Cryptosporidium and Giardia, it still contains abundant treatment chemicals and environmental pollutants.
Chlorine and chloramine are the two treatments used to treat drinking water. Chlorine is the most commonly used. Chloramine, which combines chlorine with ammonia, is not as common. Unlike chlorine, chloramine stays in the water longer and cannot be removed through boiling, distilling, or letting water sit uncovered.
Both chemicals kill organisms that cause diseases, but both are toxic in themselves, especially chloramine. It corrodes pipes, increasing the lead exposure in older homes. Chloramine-treated water should not be used in fish tanks, hydroponics, home brewing, or for dialysis.
Toxic pollutants in our water supplies
Although chlorine and chloramine prevent water-borne diseases, they unfortunately create carcinogenic compounds by reacting with organic particles ordinarily found in water.
In fact, they create byproducts that are more toxic than the either chemical alone. Studies have demonstrated that they cause cancer in lab animals, trigger inflammation, irritate the skin and mucus membranes, negatively affect the nervous system, and are associated with birth defects. It’s believed the thousands of bladder cancer cases annually are a result of chlorine and chloramine toxic byproducts.
But wait, there’s more. Not only are chlorine and chloramine a problem, so are the thousands of unregulated pollutants that reach our water supplies from the environmental contamination. It’s estimated more than 100,000 industrial chemicals and heavy metals get into our water supplies, coming from car exhaust, pollution, farming, and industrial waste.
Pollution also comes from human waste in the way of pharmaceutical drugs. So far researchers have found traces of almost 40 different pharmaceutical drugs in public water supplies. No regulation on pharmaceutical drugs in tap water exists, which experts say could cause health problems when they accumulate in people’s bodies or interact with medications they take. Drinking water could even contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Water bottles contaminate water
You may think the solution is to drink bottled water, but the plastic is another source of health-disrupting toxins. Plastic bottles leech hormone-disrupting and carcinogenic BPA chemicals into the water. BPA is linked to numerous health disorders, including thyroid autoimmunity. Plastic water bottles also create serious pollution, particularly of our oceans.
How to have healthier water
The best way to ensure your water is clean and safe is to filter it with a high-quality water filter. This will greatly reduce your exposure to industrial chemicals, their byproducts, and drugs. Look for a heavy-duty carbon filter that removes particles 0.8 microns or under. Check with your city to find out if your water has chloramine, and if so, use a filter designed to remove it.
You may also want to filter your bath and shower water as our skin is very permeable. Whole-house filters are also a good option for this. People who filter their shower water report softer skin and shinier hair.