It’s an article of faith here in the U.S. We have some of the cleanest tap water in the world.
If you have your own well, it’s up to you to have the water tested regularly. But if you’re part of a municipal system, your local water authority treats the water to ensure clean, safe water for you and your family.
Except, as the fiasco in Flint, MI showed us, that’s not always true. Not even close to true. Tap water contamination is one of the great hidden health issues of our generation. And the problem is far worse than you’d imagine.
Flint Was Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Flint was in deep financial trouble, and the city was switched to a cheaper source of drinking water – one that used old lead pipes. The result was an alarming rise in the number of children poisoned by lead.
In adults, lead poisoning can lead to reproductive problems, high blood pressure, memory and cognitive issues, moodiness, and more.
Children – especially those under 6 – are more sensitive to lead. They can experience cognitive issues, fatigue and weight loss, digestive problems, anger, seizures, and even death.
Thousands of children in Flint showed high levels of lead. Their drinking water was slowly but surely killing them. After a public outcry, the water source was changed. But for many children, it was too late.
In the wake of this disaster, Scientific American reports almost 3,000 areas in the U.S. have tap water levels of lead double Flint’s at its worst. And children in 1,100 of these areas are four times more likely to have high levels of lead in their blood.
Plus, Britain’s Guardian newspaper found at least 33 U.S. cities had “cheats” in place to lowball lead levels in tap water. These cheats ranged from testing methods that yielded low lead levels… to simply warning water departments to give themselves extra time to replace samples with “better” ones.
If it were just lead, America would have a drinking water crisis. But various studies show high levels of prescription drugs, dangerous bacteria, and a multitude of chemicals in our drinking water.
We can’t cover them all, but here’s one that may just shock you.
Disinfected Tap Water Could Make You Sick
All across America, cities add chlorine to tap water to kill dangerous bacteria. Chlorine is no bargain, as I’ve reported before. It’s unhealthy for your skin… and to drink.
But adding chlorine and other disinfectants to water does something more. It generates a class of chemicals called “disinfection byproducts” (DBPs). So far, more than 600 of these DBPs have been identified.
Although we don’t know which one(s) are involved, DBPs are known to raise your risk of bladder cancer. And they may have other toxic effects.
For example, haloacetaldehydes – HALs – are among the most common DBPs. And studies show they’re cytotoxic. That is, they kill living cells. So chlorine and other disinfectants are a balancing act. Your local water authority wants to add enough to kill bacteria and algae… but not enough to kill you.
Your best defense against these problems? A water filtration system. But choosing a system is more easily said than done.
Finding the Right Water Filter for You
There are several types of home water filter. For example, ceramic filters keep “particulate matter” out of your drinking water. That is, they filter out sediment. But not drugs, chemicals, and other contaminants.
Before you can choose a filter system, you need to know what’s in your water. Here’s where there’s good news.
Municipal water systems publish an annual analysis of the water they provide. This analysis shows which contaminants are found in your water and at what levels. They don’t cover all contaminants… but give you a good idea of how healthy your water is.
Once you know what your concerns are, you can select the most appropriate filter system.
UV and ozone filters kill bacteria and other tiny organisms in your water. If this is your main concern, one of these systems may do the trick.
Distillation filters use heat to turn water to steam and then condense it back again. These systems remove many contaminants, but can’t eliminate chlorine and many other chemicals from your water.
Reverse Osmosis systems are very popular. They remove some contaminants charcoal filters can’t… but leave others charcoal removes. Plus, they’re expensive to operate.
Activated charcoal (carbon) filters remove chlorine and many other chemicals. But the cheapest don’t do much more than filter chlorine and improve taste. Some makers offer multi-stage charcoal filters – or several grades of cartridge – to remove more contaminants.
If you choose a charcoal filter, be sure to change the cartridge at least as often as the maker recommends. Over time, the charcoal “wears out,” and loses its ability to filter.
As the aftermath of the Flint fiasco proves, you can’t always rely on your government to protect you. Besides, why take chances with your health? Quality in-line filter systems can cost as little as $50.00 with self-installation.
That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
About the Author: Jason Kennedy is a celebrated investigative health writer and the author of The X-Factor Revolution and Beyond the Blue Zone. With over 10 years of experience working with today’s leading alternative and anti-aging doctors, Jason shares his insider status and access to the latest breakthroughs with thousands of readers from around world.
Pell, M.B. and Schneyer, J., “Thousands of U.S. Areas Afflicted with Lead Poisoning beyond Flint’s,” Scientific American. (Undated)
Milman, O. and Glenza, J., “At least 33 US cities used water testing ‘cheats’ over lead concerns,” The Guardian. Jun 2, 2016.
Li, X.F. and Mitch, W.A., “Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) and Human Health Effects: Multidisciplinary Challenges and Opportunities,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 2018; 52 (4): 1681–1689.
Jeong, C.H., et al, “Occurrence and Comparative Toxicity of Haloacetaldehyde Disinfection Byproducts in Drinking Water,” Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015; 49 (23): 13749–13759.
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