When you accept tap water from a restaurant or in someone’s home do you ever notice how different it may taste from one location to the next? Sometimes the water tastes metallic and other times slightly earthy. The more I have studied the quality of our drinking water the more adamant I am about bringing my own filtered water, I never leave home without it.
In the past several years the amount of water related illnesses has risen. Often times these illnesses could have been prevented if water treatment plants improved the testing requirements, updated the water treatment technology and if citizens took an extra step and filtered their own water.
Municipal or private water treatment plants are regulated by different agencies. The EPA oversees the quality of tap water that comes through your tap while the FDA regulates the safety and truthful labeling of bottled water.
The most common water contaminants that may affect your health are bacteria, viruses, and chemicals. These are typically eliminated through the water treatment process if your water comes from a public water utility. This should not be a guarantee as seen with recent events in Flint, Michigan where lead in the drinking water has had a major health impact on it’s citizens. Risk is also increased after a natural disaster or environmental leak into the waterway that requires a boil water alert.
If your water comes from a well it is not may not be treated for the removal or elimination of any contaminants. A good water filter will help in the removal of harmful bacteria, viruses and chemicals. You can use a whole house system or a simple inexpensive water filter you can place on your counter or put in your refrigerator.
The EPA requires public water treatment facilities to reduce lead levels found in drinking water but do not require testing for pharmaceuticals or Superbugs that may not be eliminated through the water treatment process.
Studies have shown that the sewage released from hospitals have waste from those suffering drug-resistant infections mixed with high levels of antibiotics. Some bacteria like CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae) thrives in water. It has been found in hospital sink drains and lives in patients intestines where it passes with the waste. Treated water is then released into Oceans, creeks or rivers.
Testing is currently not required for drug resistant bacteria and the impact it has on treated water, however in the fall of 2015 EPA scientists found CRE in sewage treatment plants across the country. There is a rising concern for risk exposure and more needed testing.
A new study was completed by the American Chemical Society of Denver, in they found that chlorine (a common wastewater disinfectant) is not eliminating all of the pharmaceutical drugs in the treated water. Olya, Keen, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and lead scientist on the study stated, “Treated wastewater is one of the major sources of pharmaceuticals and and antibiotics in the environment”.
According to Dr. Keen is that the problem with this is that these drugs are getting into the environment and disrupting the hormone systems of aquatic life.
Exposure of antibiotics to the environment leads to antibiotic resistant superbugs, even if it is a low levels. The effects to humans is currently unknown. Disposal of pharmaceuticals is currently not regulated.
There are many contributing factors to drinking water quality issues. It could be due to old rusty pipes in your home, dated water treatment systems or infrastructure leading to your home, environmental contamination or a natural disaster.
Possible indicators that something may be wrong with your water are taste, color, odor, or the staining of clothes.
If you are connected to a public water system where your wastewater is monitored you can request a water quality report known as the Consumer Confidence Report. This report is typically sent once a year in July. The details of the report include information on contaminants found, possible health effects, and the source of water.
If you are on well water or a private water supply then it is your responsibility to have your water tested. It is important to know what is in your water. There are plenty of companies that provide water testing services.
There are many water filtration systems that will eliminate contaminants from your drinking water. Studies have found that the best way to target pharmaceuticals drugs in your drinking water is through a reverse osmosis system.
It has become increasingly harder to rely on the idea that our water is safe to drink because it comes out of the tap. Increase the quality of drinking water for you and your family today and invest in a water treatment system that works best for you.