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Water: Not as Healthy as You Think

Everyone knows water is essential to life, but what if the water we are drinking is actually bad for us? Recent research suggests just that. Read more about the dangers of tap water below.
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Taking in enough liquid is vital to health, and yet millions of people around the world still do not drink enough water. Many people still do not even have access to clean drinking water.

Doctors and health professionals across the nation encourage Americans to drink more water to retain their health. Switching to water rather than drinking sugary sodas is one of the easiest ways to improve your health.

Even though water in the United States is safe to drink on the surface, it may be more dangerous than it looks from the outside. According to research, American water may contain unsafe levels of pollutants, chemicals, and medication.

What is in Our Drinking Water?

According to studies, water pollution comes from a variety of sources. Today’s water filtering technology does not eliminate all of these contaminates from the water, leaving tap water drinkers susceptible to numerous problems. The accusations against pollution in groundwater and drinking water are not fanciful. Several high-profile lawsuits have been filed in recent years against farms and manufacturing companies for contaminating water.

Individuals living in Des Moines, Iowa recently filed a lawsuit in 2015 against local factory farms for polluting the drinking water with nitrates. Nitrates have been linked with cancer, reproductive problems, and autoimmune diseases.

In Washington State, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and the Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) won a 2015 lawsuit against four farms in the state accused of unlawful water pollution.

A 2012 report had found that 20 percent of the water tested had too-high nitrate levels above legal limits.

In Ohio and West Virginia, Teflon manufacturer DuPont has been hit with hundreds of lawsuits since 2013 and earlier accusing the manufacturing plant of contaminating the groundwater and causing residents to suffer from cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, pregnancy-related high blood pressure, and even death.

Some of the biggest sources of water pollution are listed below:

Animal Waste, Pesticides, Fertilizer, and Byproducts

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), large-scale agricultural farms and confined animal feeding operations (large animal farms) are largely responsible for the decline of both the water quality and the quantity of water available to drink.

According to a 2010 report by the EPA, these farms are responsible for contaminating groundwater with animal waste, chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics. Farms also produce large quantities of toxic gas and are responsible for using 70 percent of the entire world’s fresh water.

Factory Chemicals and Waste

Many factories produce byproducts that leech or are dumped directly into nearby water supplies. Just like in the C8 case, these chemicals can have dangerous effects on humans and nearby animals. The EPA states that byproducts from coal mining, fracking, industrial plants, metal refineries, electrical plants, and many other sources cause health risks in our drinking water.

Surprisingly enough, some of the biggest contaminants in modern drinking water come from the water sanitation process, and can include increased risks for cancer, nervous system disorders, high cholesterol, kidney damage, bone disease, hair loss, and many others.

Medical Waste

A lot of medical waste is constantly added to the water supply. For example, fluoride is commonly added to drinking water to protect against cavities (in studies, topical fluoride is shown to be beneficial in boosting the mineral absorption of teeth, but the same benefits are not seen when it is ingested, making fluoride in drinking water almost pointless), but a 2013 study by a former scientist for the EPA found that the current source of fluoride, known as fluorosilicic acid, contains high levels of arsenic. The high levels of arsenic are believed to cause about 4 cases of cancer per year. Medications also contaminate water.

In 2011, Harvard Health published a report stating that the large amount of birth control pills and medications present in the water has had a negative effect on fish and aquatic life, such as causing male fish to produce too-high levels of estrogen which interferes with their reproductive abilities. The researchers suggested that we take action now to prevent similar damaging effects in humans.

Other drugs medications commonly found in water supplies include antidepressants, testosterone supplements, blood thinners, synthetic hormones, heart medication, and pain medication.

Household Chemicals

Household chemicals are dangerous when consumed, which is why most cleaners and chemicals carry warning signs both not to ingest the chemicals but also to not dispose of them down the sink and drains. However, far too many people ignore the warning to dispose of chemicals safely, which increases the amount of chemicals in drinking water. Many of these chemicals are filtered out during water treatment, but traces of the chemicals are left behind.

Some water treatment plants also use outdated filtration methods that do not completely clear the water of smaller compounds and chemicals that were not in use until recent years. Chemicals used in sunscreen, soap, perfume, and other cosmetic products are also an issue.

Our Pipes Are Unsafe

As if the above contaminates were not enough, in many cases, the pipes themselves are a source of pollution and contamination. Many pipes contain lead, copper, BPA, and may even harbor diseases in porous surfaces. According to researchers studying the case for damaged, dangerous pipes, the water systems in many American cities are not being upgraded to modern health standards.

A 2013 study from the American Society for Civil Engineers stated that most of the pipes used in the United States today are in danger of collapse.

The Water Supply is Diminishing

As if the above health risks for water were not enough, another serious problem with today’s water supply is that it is rapidly shrinking. As stated above, modern agriculture uses about 70 percent of all freshwater per year. That leaves 30 percent for all non farming-related uses, including drinking water. To date, the world has used about one-third of its groundwater aquifers.

A 2015 study published in Water Resources Research stated that many researchers are unsure of how much water is left in the remaining groundwater sources, making the issue of even greater concern. A water scientist from NASA, James Famiglietti, has stated that the world is “past sustainability tipping points,” meaning that unless we cut back on water use fast, we will soon deplete all natural water sources.

If Water Isn’t Healthy, What Now?

This data indicates that the refreshing, healthy drink of water you think you are drinking every day may actually be causing negative side effects in your body. What can you do to reverse the damaging effects of polluted water? It starts with water filtration.

Water Filtration Essential for Your Health

Water can be home to far more than H2O and minerals. It can also house e. coli, chemicals, drugs, arsenic, lead, copper, and plastic byproducts. This makes water filtration essential for good health. There is a lot of debate about what kind of water filter is best. Some health experts prefer a reverse osmosis filter. Others prefer a carbon block filter. Still others prefer distilled water. Below is a brief overview of each type of filter and the pros and cons of each:

Pitcher/Cartridge Filters: This is the most basic form of water filtration. It removes some of the biggest particles from water, like chlorine and some medications. However, it cannot remove things like VOCs, heavy metals, or fluoride. The biggest advantage to this filter is that it is the most affordable.

Distillers: A water distiller heats the water and converts it into steam, then cools it and converts it back to water, which acts as a decent filtration system. Water distillers remove most contaminants like fluoride, heavy metals, and chemicals. The biggest issue with water distillers is that they also remove minerals from the water, which can be dangerous.

Reverse Osmosis Filters: Reverse osmosis filters remove chemicals and other contaminants from water using a membrane combined with a charcoal filter. The biggest disadvantage to an RO filter is that they waste water. They may also remove too many minerals from the water.

Carbon Block Filters: These filters just run water through a block of carbon, which sort of acts like a HEPA filter to remove contaminants as the water travels through the block. Since it is a block, it removes almost all contaminants from the water, but leaves some of the vital minerals behind. The biggest problem with a carbon block filter is that it is expensive and slow.

Drink Liquids from other Sources

You don’t have to just drink water to obtain maximum health. According to a 2010 review of several studies from Europe and the United States published in Nutrition Reviews about water consumption, there is little to no difference between how water in food and water alone affects the body. For example, if you eat a lot of soup in a day, that counts as water intake and will provide the same nourishing effects.

This is helpful to realize, as not only are water supplies diminishing globally, but too much water is also damaging for the body, causing problems like edema, sluggish muscles, headaches, concentration problems, and in extreme cases, death. Additionally, water found in fruit and vegetables is likely to be less contaminated with chemicals and other byproducts, particularly if the produce is organic.

Eat for Good Health

Some of the contamination that comes from water can be counteracted with a healthy diet. Foods like onions, garlic, herbs, and turmeric help repair toxic damage in the body. Although many health fads would have you believe that a body is forever damaged by every toxic material that enters the body, this is not the case. Your body is in a constant state of healing and repair.

Therefore, if you provide your body with plenty of healthful foods, then you will counteract much of the damage from unhealthy water.

Get Those Minerals

Many water filtration systems remove healthy minerals from water. Since water is one of our largest sources of minerals, if we are not getting minerals from water, it is important to make sure we get them elsewhere. A daily supplement of common minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and manganese can help counteract any effects of low-quality water.

Even while consuming tap water many Americans are still deficient in minerals, because some of the water processing used today greatly diminishes the mineral levels in water. The right balance of minerals can reverse the effects of many common health issues, such as PMS, thyroid problems, attention disorders, insomnia, joint pain, and even digestive disorders.

Drink Water Wisely for Your Health

Water is necessary for life. You cannot live without it. But it is important to find healthy sources of water that nourish the body without side effects. Investing in a good water filter and supplementing for any missing minerals are two simple ways to protect your health against the side effects of tap water. Following this simple health improvement will help fight common health problems like PMS, thyroid problems, cancer, and high cholesterol.

Sources


http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/Docs/Understanding_CAFOs_NALBOH.pdf

http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org.php53-2.ord1-1.websitetestlink.com/files/320--order-granting-in-part-msj-11415_78926.pdf

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/01/12/376139473/iowas-largest-city-sues-over-farm-fertilizer-runoff-in-rivers?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=health

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