Is tap water bad for you?
With so many bottled water options on the market these days, you would think that we all have forgotten that we have water right out of our home taps in our kitchens and bathrooms. But if you are anything like me, you might often wonder if drinking water straight from a tap is bad. You too may wonder is tap water bad for you.
Why is our water source so important?
You probably have heard news reports in which someone has been lost in a forest or in a desert for days and weeks at a time. Or in disaster-stricken areas of our country. What is the one most crucial thing for these unfortunate people? It is always there access to healthy water. That’s because the human body can go without food and other nutrients for long periods of time. But it can not go without water for more than five days.
Along those same lines, what happens when those same unfortunate people do have access to water, but only contaminated water so they drink it? They become ill and often times die!! So it goes without saying that the chemical makeup of what is in the water you are drinking is just as important as drinking water at all.
Why is water so important for our bodies?
Our bodies are made up of more than 50% water. A great deal of water is lost each and every day through sweating, breathing, urination, stool and normal bodily functions. If you exercise, you are sweating even more and thus losing even more water. Without water, you couldn’t maintain a normal body temperature, lubricate your joints, or get rid of waste.
What happens when you don’t drink enough water? If you are not in taking enough water it can lead to dehydration, which can cause your muscles to become fatigued and cramp. It can also cause a lack of coordination, and an increased risk of heat stroke. I explore all the reasons why drinking water is important in another article in my website here.
Is tap water bad for you if from a public source?
The environmental protection agency has authority to monitor all public sourced water. Quality reports are issued by each public source annually for this reason. There are certain minimum and maximum amounts of chemicals and contaminants that are either allowed or disallowed at the source of the facility that houses the water.
So your water, at the source, may for instance contain lead but just at an acceptable level per the EPA guidelines. After it leaves that water source, it has to travel through a lot of pipes and tubes to reach your faucet. Even though that water at its source may very well be within the EPA guidelines, its chemical and contaminant levels may be very different by the time it reaches your kitchen faucet.
Furthermore, a public water source is required by law to notify all users of its water within 24 hours if it finds that the levels of chemicals and contaminants are unsafe for public consumption. But that doesn’t mean that the water in your home does not vary in these levels as it most certain does. So the water from your faucet this week may very well have differing levels in its composition than it did last week or next week.
What contaminants are in my tap water?
Your tap water can be contaminated in various ways. It may contain microorganisms such as bacteria and parasites that get in the water from fecal matter (either human or animal). It can also be contaminated with chemicals from farm crop spraying or waste from industrial plants. Runoff from farm land may also be in your water, which can include nitrates from the fertilizer used. Your tap water can also contain allowable levels of minerals including mercury and lead.
These can all obviously lead to health problems. But it is a fact that allowable levels of these exist in public water sources. We may all want to believe that our tap water is clean and safe and it generally is per EPA standards, but the fact still exists that we are still consuming these chemicals and contaminants when we drink tap water.
Tap water from well sources
If these facts aren’t scary enough, the environmental protection agency only regulates water from public sources. It does not regulate well water sources. So if your tap water is from a well source, there is really no telling just what levels of these chemicals and contaminants you are consuming.
I come from a farming community and grew up on a farm with a well source, as do much of the residents of the area. There always seems to be a much higher incident of cancer in my hometown community than the cities I have lived. I can only speculate that there has to be a correlation between the two. Most of us have seen the movie Erin Brokovitch in which Julia Roberts plays a researcher who uncovers the dirty secrets of the effects of contaminated water in a small community. It goes without saying that there really is something to health risks from our water sources.
If you do have well water as your source, you should get it tested regularly so that you know what levels exist of harmful bacteria and contaminants. It is in your best interest for you and your family.
Bottled Water as an alternative
Unlike tap water from a public source, the EPA does not regulate the chemicals and contaminants in bottled water. Bottled water is regulated by the food and drug administration which has different guidelines. The FDA requires that the bottled water manufacturer provide its source of either spring or mineral and regulates the content’s of the water.
Can bottled water contain contaminants as well? Yes, the can and often do as well. We have all been lead to believe that bottled water that we buy in stores is somehow safer than tap water because it is pure and free of any contaminants. This is not true. It’s just that the FDA regulates bottled water instead of the EPA regulating this source.
So What is Safe Then?
My recommendation is to purchase is water filtration system. You can either purchase a good quality one that attaches to your faucet, a home system or one such as a Brita Water System. That is really the only way you will have some comfort that you know you are doing everything you possibly can to remove harmful chemicals and contaminates from your water.
Alarming But True
So to answer the question posed at the beginning of this article: Is Tap Water Bad for You? That really depends on a variety of factors, but do you really want to risk your health to find out? With so many variables in play, it is just safer to filter your home tap water so that you know you are doing everything you possibly can to assure that the water you and your family consume is safe.
If you have ever been on a diet (who hasn’t, right?), you know that eating at a restaurant is not a good idea. That’s because we really don’t know what goes on in the kitchen behind the scenes and whether that seared fish fillet is actually soaking in butter prior to them searing it for you. The best way to diet is to prepare your own foods at home so that you KNOW what is in the food you consume.
Wouldn’t you do the same with the water you consume to assure its utmost quality before putting it into your body?
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