We all know that water is essential for a healthy and well balanced lifestyle, but few people are aware of what exactly is in the water that we drink. The quality of the water that comes out of your faucets has been the subject of much debate recently and has even made big news worldwide. Issues around water quality are however not a new phenomenon and are well documented.
Factors such as industrial dumping, storage tanks that leak, pesticide runoff combined with ill-informed water mandates from government’s worldwide have led to large complications. In this article we will be looking at twelve of the worst water contaminants that you could potentially find in your faucet water.(1)
Fluoride was first introduced into drinking water in the 1940’s as a proactive way of combatting tooth decay. While these measures had attained the desired effect of reducing the prevalence rates of tooth decay, they were also unfortunately accompanied with undesirable effects. With fluoride being a neurotoxin, prolonged exposure has the potential to damage your thyroid gland and even promote calcification of the pineal gland. Fluoride is considered so toxic, that water fluoridation has been banned by several countries. (2)
Chlorine has many useful disinfectant properties that make it ideal for usage in cleaning products and for swimming pools. However chlorine is also added to our drinking water in an attempt to purify it, despite this method not being entirely safe. Exposure to chlorine poisoning may damage cells and agitate respiratory problems.
Damaged and corroded pipes in some US cities are releasing excessive amounts of lead into our water. Exposure to lead is poisonous to most of our organs and has many negative health risks, with children being the worst affected. (3)
Mercury is a naturally occurring element, however being natural does not mean that it is safe. It enters our water sources by winds carrying mercury vapor as a byproduct originating from the mining industry. Mercury is exceptionally toxic, with many side effects such as cognitive disability, tremors and muscle atrophy. (3)
Polychlorinated biphenyls or more commonly known as PCB’s, are chemicals used in a wide range of industrial applications, from insulation to electronics. Once PCB’s are placed in landfills they begin to gradually breakdown and infiltrate the surrounding environment. Testing conducted on animals have shown a correlation between PCB’s and cancer.
Despite arsenic being poisonous, it is still widely used in a multitude of industrial processes. Environmental contamination occurs when Arsenic is improperly disposed of or where poorly planned storage wells have hit natural water sources. Exposure to excessive levels of arsenic may cause abdominal pain, vomiting and in severe cases even death.(3)
Perchlorates are commonly found in explosives and rocket fuel. They are easily dissolved and enter into groundwater at industrial and military sites. Exposure rates amongst humans are high, the majority of people if tested would show traces of perchlorates.
Dioxins enter the environment through the burning of extremely hazardous waste material and the combustion of coal and oil. This contamination of our water sources by dioxins negatively impacts our health, with International cancer research facility’s declaring dioxins as carcinogenic.
DDT was widely utilized in the 1940’s through to 1972 to help combat diseases such as typhus and malaria. DDT molecules have the potential to travel long distances and are persistent. Testing on animal has shown that it causes liver damage and reproductive problems.
Hexachlorobenzene or HCB is formed as a byproduct of chemical production. Small doses amongst humans have led to skin lesions and liver disease, with larger doses leading to death. HCB has even been classified as a probable source of cancer.
DCPA is an agricultural pesticide that is known to contaminate water sources and is still widely utilized today. Studies show that dacthal damages the kidneys, liver, thyroid and the spleen.
MtBE is most commonly used as an additive for gasoline and is capable rendering huge quantities of water sources completely undrinkable. The negative health effects associated with this toxin are not completely understood, with testing on animals indicating that MtBE may possibly be linked with kidney damage and seizures.
To ensure the water you and your family are drinking is safe you can have your water tested for contamination. There are several methods you can use to have your tap water tested however some methods are pricier than others. The best solution to your water needs is to purchase a home test kit to establish whether there are any toxins present in your water, and to be extra sure you are drinking clean and safe water, get yourself a water filter to purify your drinking water. Companies such as Brita supply water filters for pitchers to allow anyone to purify their water. These water filters are eco-friendly and very effective in removing toxins such as copper, mercury and cadmium, which can cause illness over time.(4)