Recently, Flint, Michigan was another city in the US that revealed their municipal water supply was not safe to drink, cook or bathe in. Last year, Toledo, Ohio temporarily shut down their municipal water supply when it was learned that a toxin from an algae called Microcystin contaminated the entire municipal water supply. The severity of the Flint, Michigan situation is that the high level of lead that contaminated the water supply has exposed the most vulnerable of our society, their children, to potentially future devastating neurological developmental problems. Apparently, the water there has been contaminated for the past 14 months, occurring after the city changed their source of water.
Why is lead so dangerous?
Lead has long been considered to be a harmful environmental pollutant. We are exposed to lead in many ways. These include through the air, drinking water, food, contaminated soil, deteriorating paint and dust according to the Department of Health and Human Services. In fact, lead was banned in 1978 from home paints after it was discovered that flaking paint was being ingested by children and they were becoming ill from the lead. The problem with lead ingestion is that it takes time for the symptoms to appear. It only stays elevated in the blood for about a month assuming the lead exposure stops. If it continues, the lead may remain in the blood for longer periods. It may take one to three years before the neurological symptoms to show up after the lead exposure.
Tap water is safe, right?
Our watchdog for treated water supplies is the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Bottled water (40 to 60% comes from tap water) is regulated by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The municipal water companies are required to produce annual reports showing what is in their water. These are available to download from their web sites or from the EPA. The Clean Water Act specifies the levels of heavy metals and other pollutants that are allowed in treated water. The reasoning is that even though there are low levels of these pollutants, it is still safe to drink. We do not fully understand the consequences of repeated low level exposure to these pollutants, since some pollutants like lead, take years to develop symptoms.
What other options do we have?
There are many ways to insure that the water you drink is safe. These include:
- Bottled water – Bottled water is for the most part, just tap water in a plastic bottle. Forty to 60% of all bottled water, including Desani and Aquafina, comes from tap water. It is expensive and may have chemicals released into the water when these bottles are exposed to heat (like in a car trunk for sporting events).
- Reverse Osmosis Filtration (RO) – RO filtration removes all of the minerals in the filtered water. It actually creates a “hungry water” which may cause the body to lose more minerals. Most water in the US already contains too little magnesium, so removing all of the minerals may further lower the mineral content in the body.
- Distilled water – Contains nothing but water. Not safe to drink as your only source of water.
- Pur or Brita Filters – Removes 99.9% of impurities according to their ads. The amount of impurities remaining is still significant.
- Puritii Water Bottles/Filters – This filter removes up to 99.999994% of all impurities including heavy metals, bacteria, viruses, parasites and protozoa. Each filter can filter up to 100 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. Each filter yields more than 400 equivalent bottles of bottled water. Cheaper than bottled water.