Earth is often called The Blue Planet because of its color when viewed from space due to so much of its surface being covered in water. Water is vital to life and we are fortunate enough to have an abundance of it on planet Earth, so it seems almost unbelievable, sad, and more than a little scary that it’s getting harder and harder to find sources of good, clean drinking water. Almost daily I read something about rising health concerns in regard to tap and bottled waters, and now I’ve started hearing that even the water produced by some of the high-end, high-tech filtering systems isn’t really that health-promoting for our bodies….
So What’s The Problem With Tap Water?!
Actually it might be easier to ask the question “What’s not the problem?,” since there seem to be so many health concerns emerging about tap water. This short excerpt from an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola discusses just one of the things you should be aware of (and beware of) when it comes to tap water…
Scientists now suspect trihalomethanes in your tap water may be responsible for thousands of cases of bladder cancer each year, based on mounting evidence from multiple studies. But the risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies is also very concerning. Trihalomethanes are associated with numerous developmental and reproductive abnormalities, including stillbirth, miscarriage, low birth weight, and neural tube defects. The neural tube refers to the anatomical structure that develops into your baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Just the simple act of showering in treated water, in which you have absorption through both your skin and lungs, may pose a significant health risk to you—and to your unborn child, if you are pregnant. Numerous studies have shown that showering and bathing are important routes of exposure for trihalomethanes and may actually represent MORE of your total exposure than the water you drink.
According to EWG:
“The EPA standard for trihalomethanes is based on preventing bladder cancer, but the agency has noted that these chemicals may present reproductive and developmental risks as well. A spike that lasts three months exposes a pregnant woman and her fetus to excessive trihalomethane for an entire trimester, a critical window of development. Scientific research has shown that such intensive exposure can have serious consequences for the child.”
Analysts have found that trihalomethane levels in public water systems vary throughout the year, depending on factors such as farming cycles. But the EPA regulates the chemicals based on an annual average, which means that spikes in the by-products may go undetected.
Unfortunately, trihalomethanes are just the tip of the toxic iceberg of what can be found in tap water. Check out these articles to find out more:
And if you live in an area that fluoridates their water supply (that’s most of the US), you should read these articles about the impact fluoride is having on our health:
Here’s an article with more on the health hazards of fluoride, plus information on using the herb tulsi, or Holy Basil, to help clear fluoride from water:
So, if tap water poses so many possible health risks, how about drinking bottled water? That was my line of thinking a number of years ago, and seemed to be the answer to the question of what to drink. But that was before I became aware of the environmental implications of plastic bottles and how toxins from the plastic could leach out into the water inside.
So What’s So Bad About Bottled Water?
Here’s some information from Dr. Mercola’s site about the impact bottled water has on our lives and the environment. It turns out that even if bottled water was health-promoting (which most often it’s not), it comes with far too many drawbacks to be a good answer to the question of what to drink…..
Here’s how you’ve been duped:
- Studies reveal that about 40 percent of bottled water is actually regular tap water with possibly no additional filtering treatment
- The EPA standards that apply to public water supplies do NOT apply to bottled water
- There are no restrictions protecting against a source of bottled water being located near industrial facilities or waste dumps
- Overall, bottled water is less regulated than tap water
- A recent Environmental Working Group test uncovered *38 contaminants in 10 brands of bottled water, including DBPs, nitrate, caffeine, arsenic, Tylenol, bacteria and industrial chemicals
In the time it takes you to read just this one short sentence, over 8,000 empty water bottles are being thrown away worldwide. (Wow, an astonishing statistic!)
According to the Container Recycling Institute, in the U.S. alone, more than 67 million plastic water bottles are discarded each day. That’s enough empty plastic water bottles to…
- Fill 5500 garbage trucks each day
- Bury Manhattan Island one foot deep each day
- Wrap around the planet 149 times each year!
Not easily degraded, plastic water bottles have become a major contributor to worldwide pollution. In fact, water bottles make up a sizable portion of the garbage patch of discarded plastic swirling in the Pacific Ocean just a few hundred miles off the coast. This enormous **plastic “stew” is currently larger than twice the size of Texas and growing rapidly!
The waste issue is not the only problem. According to the Sierra Club, the U.S. alone uses 1.5 million barrels of oil to produce all the water bottles we toss each year. And along with oil, comes unwanted toxins. The processing of plastic water bottle releases toxic compounds such as nickel, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide, and benzene into the environment.
*If you drink bottled water, you owe it to yourself to read this articles about how much of it has been found to contain over 24,000 (yes, thousand!) chemicals, including endocrine disruptors:
Also read the series of articles by the Environmental Working Group, that starts with Five Reasons to Skip Bottled Water:
And this article from Mind Body Green:
**Two very sad and disturbing looks at the far-reaching effect plastic is having on our water systems and wildlife:
So tap water and bottled water are not the answer, and other types of water seem to come with their own set of drawbacks and health concerns. I’ve read that the more water is processed, whether through a municipal sanitation system or high-end home filtering device, the “deader” it becomes as far as losing the life-giving properties Nature intended it to have.
Here’s a brief synopsis from Dr. Mercola of the common choices for drinking water and some of the “minuses” associated with each:
Five Sources of Water – What You Need to Know About Each
Tap Water – Easy, quick, convenient. But how many pollutants lurk in your water? And what is your associated health risk? (We’ve already covered that to some extent in the first part of this post)
Bottled Water – Did you know that 40% of bottled water is actually TAP WATER? With or without added filtration – you’re paying through the nose for it. Worse, an independent test by the Environmental Working Group found arsenic, DPBs and 36 other harmful pollutants hiding in bottled water. Plastic bottles are a less than optimal idea too. They can contain the potentially hazardous chemical BPA. And the devastating environmental impact is staggering.
Distilled Water – Use with caution… Long-term use can invite health problems, because its minerals are evaporated out. So to try to maintain mineral balance, it sucks minerals out of your body. What’s worse, the contaminants in the water are more concentrated in the finished distilled water. You can just imagine what that does to your health.
(Read this eye-opening article about the dangers of drinking distilled water long term: http://www.realfarmacy.com/early-death-comes-from-drinking-distilled-water/#18fmG8ovommvbWM9.01)
*Alkaline Water – Although there is some controversy on this, I and most experts believe that this water should be used for short-term detoxification only (1-2 weeks max). Additionally ,the alkalinization process does NOT filter the water so you need to carefully evaluate the water filter for the specific alkaline water unit it’s using.
Vitamin Waters – Don’t be fooled… Vitamin waters contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), artificial colors, additives, preservatives, and caffeine. Even worse… they use distilled water to produce these products – which as you just read, is one of the worst types of water you can consume.
*Water, and whether alkaline, ionized, etc. is best for health, sparks a lot of controversy, even among experts in the field. This article alone emphasizes that fact:
So what are we to do/drink?! Water is key to life on planet Earth, right up there with the air we breathe. It’s sad and scary to think that there is no good choice/answer when it comes to water that actually promotes health, rather than contributes to the ever-increasing toxic load our bdies are accumulating from pesticides on our foods, radiation in the air, and chemicals, pollution and EMFs everywhere.
It’s hard not to feel depressed and overwhelmed by the current situation. Just reading these articles about the situation with radiation from Japan leaking into our oceans is enough to make me want to bury my head in the sand:
But I actually think I’ve found something that could provide some hope and an answer to the “what water to drink?” question that is not only good for our health, but the health of our pets, plants and the planet!
Please read my follow-up post titled Structured Water: H2OMG!! to find out about a form of water I feel is the wave of the future (no pun intended) and a real godsend, considering the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into water-wise.
11/23/13 Update: You can now also read Structured Water – Part II
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.