What’s In Your Water?

Health Alert 108

Do you fear drinking water from the tap? Do you think the solution is to only drink bottled water? Well your fear may be unfounded and your solution is not guaranteed.

The quality of tap water varies from location to location. Some communities enjoy safe and palatable water straight from the tap. Furthermore it is estimated that 25-40% of bottled water sold is tap water.

It is reasonable to have concern over the safety of your water as it is your body’s most vital nutrient. But there is a lot of misguidance concerning water. In this letter I’ll dispel the three biggest myths about your drinking water. And I’ll give you tips for ensuring the safety of your water.

Myth #1: Distilled Water is the Best.

Distillation yields pure H2O. Pure H2O does not exist naturally in the environment and thus is foreign to your body. Distilled water is not safe to use on a long term basis. Long term use can lead to mineral deficiencies that can cause heart beat irregularities and hair loss.1 Cooking with it draws minerals and nutrients out of foods. This puts you at further risk for mineral deficiencies.

Myth #2: All Tap Water is Dangerous.

The quality of tap water varies greatly. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) monitors nearly 90 possible contaminants. The majority of water suppliers comply with their guidelines. But, the EPA tests water suppliers, not individual homes.

Contamination of water is possible after it leaves the water treatment plant. If you live within five miles of farmlands you are at risk of pesticide contamination. Homes built before 1986 may have lead pipes or solder that can leech lead into your water. The best way to be certain that your water is safe is to test it. I will give you easy testing procedures in this letter.

Myth #3: Bottled Water is 100% Safe.

Despite federal, state, and industry regulations, contaminants are sometimes in bottled water. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tested more than 103 brands of bottled water. One third of the waters tested contained levels of contamination. Those contaminants were synthetic chemicals, bacteria, and arsenic. 2

There is also evidence that some plastic containers can leech the toxin Bisphenol A (BPA) into water. The five gallon water cooler bottles are made of polycarbonate plastic which contains BPA. A study reported in Current Biology found exposure to BPA resulted in birth abnormalities of mice. Although researchers are uncertain of the effect on humans, they noted that mice and humans have a very similar cell division program for eggs.3

* Keeping Your Water Clean *

It is possible to drink healthy water from the tap and the bottle. It largely depends on where you live. Tap water is much cheaper than bottled water. In many cases, you don’t need to go to the extra expense. Try these simple tips to ensure your water is safe.

If You Choose Tap Water:

• Request a Report. Obtain a water quality report from your water supplier.

• Test your water. Water kits are available to test for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, PH, hardness and arsenic. Reasonably priced kits are available at www.watersafetestkits.com and www.quickpack.com

• Use a Filter. If your tap water fails the test use a carbon block filter. Look for a filter that will remove particles that are less than or equal to 1 micron in diameter for protection from parasites.

If You Choose Bottled Water:

• Choose Glass. If you have the choice, choose glass bottles. Look on the bottom of the container for the recycling code. The recycling code # 7 is polycarbonate, which you should avoid.

• Don’t Reuse. Avoid refilling water bottles to prevent bacteria growth and contamination

• Read the Report. View the NRDC’s online report on bottled water at www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/appa.asp to pick the cleanest brand

Al Sears, MD

1. Day C. Why I say No to Distilled Water Only, Health and Beyond Weekly Newsletter, Reprinted at http://www.mercola.com/article/Diet/water/distilled_water_2.htm

2. Natural Resources Defense Council http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/nbw.asp

3. Hunt, PA. Bisphenol a exposure causes meiotic aneuploidy in the female mouse. Current Biology, April 2003; 13:546-553.