Safe drinking water is something we Americans tend to take for granted, until a crisis like the contamination of the water in Flint, Michigan makes us stop and think: is MY drinking water actually safe?
August is #nationalwaterqualitymonth and we thought we would acknowledge the occasion by taking a literal 'dive' into a glass of water just so we can tell you the common contaminants actually lurking in there, and the harmful effects they can have on your body & health....
Remember Erin Brockovich? Well, Hexavalent chromium-6 is the very chemical made famous in the 2006 film when they uncovered that it was leaking into the town’s ground water. It is a carcinogen and a reproductive toxicant...good job it was only in Hinkley, California right? wrong!! A recent study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an independent advocacy group, found at least 200 million Americans across all 50 states have been exposed through their tap water to higher than recommended levels of chromium-6. The report found that if left untreated, chromium-6 in tap water will cause more than 12,000 new cases of cancer. (side note: you might be interested to read more about what happened to Erin Brockovich’s home town of Hinkley, California in this article here)
Nitrate is one of the most common groundwater contaminants in rural areas. In high levels it is especially harmful to babies & infants when it is reduced down to nitrite. In this toxic state it can affect the babies capability of the blood to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Another reason why using tap water is not recommended when mixing up baby formula.
This carcinogen needs no introduction but I bet you are shocked to learn it's in your water too! 5 states in the US have been identified as having higher than acceptable levels of arsenic in their groundwater: these are California, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois and Maine. Prolonged ingestion of arsenic-containing drinking water is associated with an increased risk of bladder cancer and skin cancer, and medical exposure to arsenic has been clearly associated with skin cancer, premature aging and other skin issues among a long list of other health problems.
These are usually present in trace amounts in natural waters but many of them are toxic even at very low concentrations. Metals such as lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury, chromium, cobalt, zinc and selenium are highly toxic even in minor quantities. Heavy metal contamination in drinking water poses a threat to humans and is often the root cause of various severe health issues such as cancer, organ damage, nerve damage as well as growth and developmental issues in children.
One of the most commonly found contaminants in all disinfected drinking water and often the cause of water having an unpleasant taste and smell. Short-term exposure to chlorine has been associated with enhanced weight gain. Since it is a disinfectant, chlorine can kill the good gut bacteria in your digestive tract just like antibiotics, which also puts you at a great risk of illness and a weakened immune system. Long-term exposure, meanwhile, has been linked to higher cholesterol levels and an increased risk of bladder disorders.
Microorganisms are organisms (such as bacteria, viruses, yeast, mould, fungi, prions, protozoa and their by-products) that are too small to be seen without a microscope. Microbiological contamination refers to the non-intended introduction of these microbes into our water system, usually by contaminated human and animal waste…..(I don’t think we need to explain the effects of bacteria and viruses on the human body do we?)
Pesticides & Fertilizers
Across the U.S., agriculture contaminates millions of Americans’ drinking water every single day. Chemicals from pesticides & fertilizer runoff and the waste seeping from huge factory farms have also been blamed for today’s toxic algae blooms that keep cropping up across the US, that has also decimated the crab fishing industry in a lot of coastal towns and cities. These pesticides and chemicals in our drinking water have been linked to a number of health problems including increased bladder & thyroid cancer risk, birth defects related to brain and spinal development, and other reproductive problems.
If you read our previous blog post on plastic pollution you will know that It takes at least 400 years to degrade and most plastic can never fully bio-degrade, it just continues to get smaller and smaller until it is microscopic in size. This means some of these plastic particles are small enough to pass through the body’s protective tissues and into the bloodstream and organs when consumed in drinking water. Kind of scary to think about all of that plastic accumulating in our bodies, and nobody really knows what the long term health effects will be.
Just how many of these contaminants are in our water supply is hard to determine as it depends a lot on where you live and the protections put in place by your local, or city water treatment facility. But I think we can agree that nobody wants any of these contaminants in their water at all, and the thought of these making their way into our drinking water on a regular basis is a scary thought indeed.
The good news is that water filtration systems such as the water dispensers that we supply can remove almost all of these contaminants, giving you peace of mind every time you pour yourself a glass of water. Our machines use a 5-stage filtering process, including Reverse Osmosis to remove 99.9% of all contaminants resulting in the cleanest and purest water you can drink.
If you want to learn more then visit our page here to learn how our 5-step water purification process works and exactly how we are improving the quality of the water for business in and around Northern California. Something that is definitely worth thinking about when you consider the very real, and damaging impact not paying attention to the quality of your water can have on your health.
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