Just a little digging into the best way to filter your water can make your mind do cartwheels…tap, bottled, filtered (and what kind of filter?)—there are so many things to consider! Knowing the best filter to buy makes you wish you had a degree in chemistry. Today, I hope to clarify some things about water filtration to make the process of drinking the cleanest water a little less mysterious for you.
Thanks to the Safe Drinking Water Act passed in 1974 by Congress, we have some of the safest drinking water supplies in the world. And yet we still have our work cut out for us, as evidenced by the situation at Standing Rock, as well as in Flint, Michigan—both of which highlighted the vulnerability of our drinking water supplies.
When my wife and I were starting our family, we really started to think about this issue. Living in the Silicon Valley, we were aware of the numerous EPA Superfund sites that were contaminating groundwater due to the legacy of the tech firms in the 60s and 70s with electronics and semiconductor manufacturing. Heavy metals, pesticides, and VOCs from military and agricultural industry contribute to the contamination as well. Unfortunately the inheritance of this pollution decades ago is still felt today, not only in Silicon Valley, but around the county.
It goes like this: contaminated ground water gets filtered, and then this filtered waste gets transported to other waste treatment plants, creating more exhaust and pollution that’s then sent into the atmosphere. Naturally, the exhaust from this process is pretty toxic. From the atmosphere, it contaminates rain that then leaches into the soil that nourishes our food and water supply. This is not okay, especially for growing healthy families. It got me thinking more about water and how to get more of it clean and non-toxic.
Why worry about water?
If you’re reading this blog, concerned about how to best filter your water, you’re probably on board with the importance of drinking plenty of water.
After all, babies are roughly comprised of 75% water, while an adult human is about 60% and an elderly person about 50%. Water lubricates joints, flushes bodily waste products, regulates body temperature, and is the building material for all of your body’s cells. Even bones and teeth contain a substantial amount of water.
What does water do specifically for teeth? Water is the foundation of saliva, the foundation for remineralization, and can help prevent staining, and flushes away sugars as well as acids that can break down your teeth enamel. Water keeps your mouth moist and eliminates the dry environment that attracts bacteria. Just think about the difference between a grape and a raisin and we know you’ll appreciate the importance of drinking water.
So it’s obvious that we need water and we need it to be clean for our best health. Filtering the water that comes out of your tap is one important way that you can take responsibility into your own hands to improve your health.
Curious about bottled water? Sadly, this isn’t the answer and is creating more of a pollution problem for us! Check out the Story of Bottled Water to learn more about this here.
The minerals in food become the electrolytes which carry electrical signals to the cells of your body-this is one very important way your body sends and receives information. Electrolytes are involved in enzyme production, muscle function and hormone production. No wonder dehydration can have such widespread symptoms!
In order to absorb the water you drink and actually hydrate your cells, you need minerals like calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. The plants we eat uptake the minerals from soil, so it only makes sense that the healthier the soil your food is grown in, the more mineral rich your veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds will be. Healthy food is dependent on healthy soil and water.
Edit: for those of you who’ve been asking, these are the mineral drops that we add to our water at home.
Now, let’s talk about our options for hydrating our bodies.
Most US municipal drinking water comes from groundwater which is typically cleaner than surface water from lakes or rivers, because of the natural filtration process it undergoes as it passes through rocks and soil. Wherever your water comes from if you’re connected to a city municipal system (as opposed to a well water system, which doesn’t have the concern of added chemicals, but you still want to have it tested regularly and choose an appropriate filter method if necessary), the water will go to a water treatment plant that transforms it from its “raw” state to the drinking water that comes out of your tap.
The problem with this is that your water may include things like heavy metals including lead and arsenic, as well as fluoride, pesticides, VOCs, industrial byproducts, pharmaceuticals, disinfectants like chlorine or chlorine byproducts, and chemicals produced in the process of hydraulic fracking. There may also be bacteria and viruses. Yuck! Municipal city water treatment plants do their best (ok, not fluoride, that is actually added into the water supply at the treatment facility) to remove these contaminants, then test for (most of) them. Your water quality report will show you if these things are outside of the safe limits.
Curious what’s in your water? Visit the National Drinking Water Database to determine what’s in your water by entering your zip code. Or for a more current report call or visit your city’s municipality website to get a Consumer Confidence Report or an Annual Water Quality Report for a list of contaminants in your water supply.
Once you know what’s in your water, some of you might be curious to find our what each chemical does to your body so if this appeals to you check this out.
Spotlight On Fluoride
Being a dentist I get a lot of questions about the safety of fluoride. Fluoridation of municipal water supplies is one of the most controversial public health issues in the US today. We at Ask the Dentist are still formulating a definitive conclusion on whether it is safe to ingest fluoride in your developmental years. My belief is that the potential long-term serious side effects from ingesting fluoride needs to be weighed against having (potentially) a few cavities. Tune in to Part II of this discussion to learn more about why fluoride is such a controversy.
If you’d like to know how much fluoride is in your drinking water, visit the CDC’s website to fill in your zip code here.
There’s a lot of junky stuff in our tap water as is. We must have the proper water filtration system in place to protect our health. Attempting to make water safe on a large scale is a little like cooking for large crowds, the food is always tastier and safer when cooked for a small group. So, Part II of this blog series will focus on the options you have in order to make your water safer and taste better, while considering your health, budget and lifestyle.
I look forward to sharing more with you so please tune in!