YOUR BODY DEPENDS UPON WHAT YOU DRINK!
The EPA released to the news media Dec.14, 1988 information
that stated there is some kind of toxic substance in our ground
water no matter where we live in the US! We have all heard
some reference to problems resident in our drinking water
in past decades. Even materials added to our drinking water
to "protect" us (such as chlorine) are linked to
certain cancers, and can form toxic compounds (THM's) which
adversely affect us. The old adage "If you want something
done, do it yourself" applies to our drinking water also.
The most sensible solution to pollution is a point of use
water purification device. Point of use refers to the tap,
which is the location from which we draw our water. The tap
is the end of the road for water which is consumed by ourself,
or our family. There are no more pipes or conduits which can
leach elements into our drinking water beyond this point.
To help us make the best choice for a water purification system
which will suit our needs, let's summarize the problems we
are faced with:
Bacteria, Virus, and Parasites -- Years ago, waterborne diseases
accounted for millions of deaths. Even today in underdeveloped
countries, an estimated 25,000 people will die daily from
waterborne disease. Effects of waterborne microorganisms can
be immediate and devastating. Therefore, microorganisms are
the first and most important consideration in making water
acceptable for human consumption.
Generally speaking, modern municipal supplies are relatively
free from harmful organisms because of routine disinfection
with chlorine or chloramines and frequent sampling. This does
not mean municipal water is free of all bacteria. Those of
us with private wells and small rural water systems have reason
to be more concerned about the possibility of microorganism
contamination from septic tanks, animal wastes, and other
problems. There is a little community in California, where
4,000,000 gallons of urine hits the ground daily from dairy
cows! Authorities say that at least 4000 cases of waterborne
diseases are reported every year in the U.S. They also estimate
that much of the temporary ills and everyday gastrointestinal
disorders that go routinely unreported can be attributed to
organisms found in our water supplies.
Dirt and Sediment or Turbidity -- Most waters contain some
suspended particles which may consist of fine sand, clay,
soil, and precipitated salts. Turbidity is unpleasant to look
at, can be a source of food and lodging for bacteria, and
can interfere with effective disinfection.
Total Dissolved Solids -- These substances are dissolved
rock and other compounds from the earth. The entire list of
them could fill this page. The presence and amount of total
dissolved solids in water represents a point of controversy
among those who promote water treatment products. Here are
some facts about the consequences of higher levels of TDS
1. High TDS results in undesirable taste which could be salty,
bitter, or metallic.
2. High TDS water is less thirst quenching.
3. Some of the individual mineral salts that make up TDS
pose a variety of health hazards. The most problematic are
Nitrates, Sodium, Sulfates, Barium, Copper, and Fluoride.
4. The EPA Secondary Regulations advise a maximum level of
500mg/liter (500 parts per million-ppm) for TDS. Numerous
water supplies exceed this level. When TDS levels exceed 1000mg/L
it is generally considered unfit for human consumption.
5. High TDS interferes with the taste of foods and beverages,
and makes them less desirable to consume.
6. High TDS make ice cubes cloudy, softer, and faster melting.
7. Minerals exist in water mostly as INORGANIC salts. In
contrast, minerals having passed through a living system are
known as ORGANIC minerals. They are combined with proteins
and sugars. According to many nutritionists minerals are much
easier to assimilate when they come from foods. Can you imagine
going out to your garden for a cup of dirt to eat rather than
a nice carrot; or drinking a whole bathtub of water for LESS
calcium than that in an 8 ounce glass of milk?
8. Water with higher TDS is considered by some health advocates
to have a poorer cleansing effect in the body than water with
a low level of TDS. This is because water with low dissolved
solids has a greater capacity of absorption than water with
Toxic Metals or Heavy Metals -- Among the greatest threats
to health are the presence of high levels of toxic metals
in drinking water - Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, and Silver.
Maximum limits for each are established by the EPA Primary
Drinking Water Regulations. Other metals such as Chromium
and Selenium, while essential trace elements in our diets,
have limits imposed upon them when in water because the form
in which they exist may pose a health hazard. Toxic metals
are associated with nerve damage, birth defects, mental retardation,
certain cancers, and increased susceptibility to disease.
Asbestos -- Asbestos exists as microscopic suspended mineral
fibers in water. Its primary source is asbestos-cement pipe
which was commonly used after World War II for city water
supplies. It has been estimated that some 200,000 miles of
this pipe is presently in use to transport our drinking water.
Because these pipes are wearing, the deadly substance of asbestos
is showing up with increasing frequency in drinking water.
It has been linked with gastrointestinal cancer.
Radioactivity -- Even though trace amounts of radioactive
elements can be found in almost all drinking water, levels
that pose serious health hazards are fairly rare--for now.
Radioactive wastes leach from mining operations into groundwater
supplies. The greatest threat is posed by nuclear accidents,
nuclear processing plants, and radioactive waste disposal
sites. As containers containing these wastes deteriorate with
time, the risk of contaminating our aquafiers grows into a
toxic time bomb.
Tastes and Odors -- If your water has a disagreeable taste
or odor, chances are it is due to one or more of many organic
substances ranging from decaying vegetation to algae; hydrocarbons
to phenols. It could also be TDS and a host of other items.
Pesticides and Herbicides -- The increasing use of pesticides
and herbicides in agriculture shows up in the water we drink.
Rain and irrigation carry these deadly chemicals down into
the groundwater as well as into surface waters -- There are
more than 100,000,000 people in the US who depend upon groundwater
for sources whole or in part of their drinking water. As our
reliance upon groundwater is escalating, so is its contamination.
Our own household use of herbicide and pesticide substances
also contributes to actual contamination. These chemicals
can cause circulatory, respiratory and nerve disorders.
Toxic Organic Chemicals -- The most pressing and widespread
water contamination problem is a result of the organic chemicals
created by industry. The American Chemical Society lists 4,039,907
distinct chemical compounds as of late 1977! This list only
is comprised of chemicals reported since 1965. The list can
grow by some 6,000 chemicals per week! 70,000 chemicals may
still be in production in the US. As of December, 1978, 50
chemicals were being produced in greater quantities than 1,300,000,000
pounds per year in the US. 115,000 establishments are involved
in the production and distribution of chemicals, with the
business being worth $113,000,000,000 per year. According
to the EPA, there are 77,000,000,000 pounds of hazardous waste
being generated each year in the US. 90 percent of this is
not disposed of properly. This would equal 19,192 pounds of
hazardous waste disposed each year on every square mile of
land and water surface in the US including Alaska and Hawaii!!
There are 181,000 manmade lagoons at industrial and municipal
sites in the US. At least 75 percent of these are unlined.
Even the lined ones will leak according to the EPA. Some of
these are within 1 mile of wells or water supplies. There
is still a lack of information on the location of these sites,
their condition, and containments. THIS IS A HORROR STORY
OF THE MILLENNIUM.
Chemicals end up in our drinking water
from hundreds of different sources. There are hundreds of
publications each year highlighting this problem. The effects
of chronic long term exposure to these toxic organics, even
in minute amounts, are extremely difficult to detect. Contaminated
drinking water may look and taste perfectly normal. The users
symptoms might include recurring headache, rash, or fatigue
- all of which are hard to diagnose as being water related.
The more serious consequences of drinking tainted water are
higher cancer rates, birth defects, growth abnormalities,
infertility, and nerve and organ damage. Some of these disorders
may go unnoticed for decades!! Just how toxic these chemicals
are may be illustrated by looking at two examples: TCE is
a widely used chemical which routinely shows up in water supplies.
Just two glassfuls of TCE can contaminate 27,000,000 gallons
of drinking water! One pound of the pesticide, Endrin can
contaminate 5,000,000,000 gallons of water.
Chlorine -- Trihalomethanes (THM's) are formed when chlorine,
used to disinfect water supplies, interacts with natural organic
materials (e.g. by-products of decayed vegetation, algae,
etc.). This creates toxic organic chemicals such as chloroform,
and Bromodichloromethane. A further word about chlorine: Scientists
at Colombia University found that women who drank chlorinated
water ran a 44% greater risk of dying of cancer of the gastrointestinal
or urinary tract than did women who drank non-chlorinated
water! Chlorinated water has also been linked to high blood
pressure and anemia. Anemia is caused by the deleterious effect
of chlorine on red blood cells.