The Truth about Tap Water
Water, in its purest form, is one of nature’s greatest gifts. All living sources depend on water to convert nutrients into energy, carry oxygen to cells, and to remove waste and other toxins. But if water sustains life, why isn’t our tap water keeping us healthy? Here’s the truth about tap water.
Cities and towns create complex water infrastructures to provide clean drinking water. Their job is to remove all acute toxins and keep chronic toxins below a certain level. However, the end result is tap water that is not completely and consistently pure. It still contains toxic substances — many of which have a profound and direct effect on our health. So what’s really in that glass of tap water you’re about to drink?
- Pathogens: Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are the pathogens commonly found in drinking water.
- Toxic Minerals and Metals: Aluminum, arsenic, asbestos, barium, chlorine, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, lead, mercury, nitrate, nitrite, selenium, and silver are known toxic inorganic substances found in our drinking water.
- Organic Chemicals: Herbicides, paints, plastics, and pharmaceutical drugs are among the many kinds of organic chemicals found in our drinking water.
- Additives: Water treatment plants add a variety of chemical agents to disinfect water. Chlorine is the most commonly used but is not properly removed. Fluoride is another common additive.
- Radioactive Substances” Radioactive minerals and radioactive gas can be present in tap water.
Chronic exposure to each of these toxins increases the risk of a variety of acute and chronic health problems.
What Can You Do to Get Clean Tap Water?
You may think there is an easy solution — drink bottled water! Not so fast. About forty percent of bottled water is tap water, and discarded plastic bottles take a toll on the environment. So what can you do to ensure the water you drink is safe? The best way is to purify tap water in your home! Here are the basic strategies for filtering tap water:
- Pitcher-Style Filter/Refrigerator Filters provide minimal purification.
- Reverse Osmosis Filter is highly effective at removing multiple contaminants, including fluoride, especially when used with other filter types.
- Ion Exchange Filter is highly effective at removing dissolved salts and “softening” water.
- Distillation Filter is highly effective at removing multiple contaminants.
- Granular Carbon and Carbon Block Filters are most commonly used to filter a wide range of contaminants.
Ideally, you want a filtration system that combines a variety of these methods to remove the greatest amount of contaminants.
WFP’s Take-Home Advice
Here is our approach, which we believe is reasonable, cost effective, and eliminates the majority of toxins in our local tap water.
- Avoid drinking tap water at all times. It’s also generally best to avoid bottled water due to purity concerns and the environmental impact of plastic; however, when you do drink bottled water, buy spring water that has been filtered and is sold in glass rather than plastic. Mountain Valley Spring Water is a high-quality brand. The three most transparent water companies in regards to their purity levels are: Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water, Gerber Pure Purified Water, and Penta Ultra-Purified Water. Dasani purifies using reverse osmosis and is also widely available. Make sure when picking bottled water that the company uses some kind of filtration, which is usually stated on the label. The newer filtered rainwater products are excellent and a favorite is a local company, Pure Rain, that distributes Pure Rain Purified Rain Water. Remember to recycle all plastic and glass and don’t store either in a hot environment, such as your car, as this increases the chance of chemicals leaching into the water.
- Use a shower filter at all times. It’s simple to use and screws directly onto the showerhead. Some of the best quality and most cost effective shower filters are from a company called Sprite.
- Use a high-quality portable gravity filter, such as a Berkey water filter. This is one of the most convenient and cost effective ways to filter your tap water at home.
- You can also use an under-the-sink (aka: under-the-counter) Reverse Osmosis Filtration System at home for the majority of your drinking water (you can use tap water for washing dishes, though). It combines multiple strategies in one unit including a sediment filter, carbon filters, reverse osmosis (RO) membrane, and UV light. Crystalquest.com provides many types of Reverse Osmosis systems that combine multiple strategies. They are all effective and reasonably priced.
An RO filter system needs to be professionally installed and then maintained yearly by a local water specialist, but it’s worth its weight in gold. For those living in the Central Texas area, A Plus Water Conditioning (512–869-2016 or 512-293-8402) is a great source for this service and all other water questions.
There are also counter top versions of Reverse Osmosis systems along with whole house filtration systems that filter all water entering the house; however, these whole house systems are more expensive.
We have personally dedicated quite a bit of time researching this issue so that people may maintain great health, as we believe that clean food and clean water are the cornerstones of fighting and preventing disease. Look for our latest You Tube videos on this subject.
Visit any of our providers at Wiseman Family Practice if you need assistance in choosing the path that is right for you and your family, because in our opinion, not choosing a path just isn’t an option today. And besides, once you drink a glass of truly pure water, you will never go back to the tap!
Sources and References:
Ingram, C. (2006). The Drinking Water Book: How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from Your Water (2nd ed.). Berkeley/Toronto: Celestial Arts.
I agree completely Doc. How about you and me appearing in front of the City Council to BEG them to stop with the ridiculous addition of fluoride to the drinking water? Besides the potential dangers, it has been proven to be ineffective in this form of use.
Thank you, Dr. Wiseman.
As many times as I have discussed this with people, you have put it in such a nice, concise way, it is easy to share with my friends and family.
What is the water filtration system in the Lakeline office waiting room? Would you recommend that device or a RO system under the sink? Thank you!
We use the Berkey system in the waiting room and that is what we recommend for our patients: http://www.berkeyfilters.com
I do not see where you mention any need to soften water used for showers/bathing. If a shower filter is used, isn’t the resulting water still hard in the Austin area, thus still causing possible dryness of scalp and skin?
A good shower filter removes the majority of impurities from shower water, especially chlorine. However, shower filters don’t significantly remove certain minerals —namely magnesium or calcium — that are responsible for hard water. Hard water may exacerbate skin issues such as psoriasis and eczema, so anyone experiencing skin irritation or really dry hair due to the mineral build-up may benefit from a water softening solution in addition to a shower filter.
I am trying to decide between a Berkey filter and a RO system.
Can you please provide your feedback on the removal of useful minerals by a RO system and it’s effect on overall health. That’s my primary concern against RO and I hope you have researched it. Thanks
Although reverse osmosis (RO) systems are very efficient at removing contaminants to produce safer drinking water, they often remove beneficial elements, such as calcium and iron, resulting in demineralized water. If using an RO system for drinking water, you can make up for the mineral loss by adding about ¼ teaspoon of Himalayan salt per gallon of water to add minerals back in; however, if you’re eating a well-rounded diet rich in vitamins and minerals, then your body is most likely getting the necessary minerals it needs and you don’t need to do this. In comparison to the RO system, Berkey Water Filtration Systems states that their water filtration systems remove contaminants while leaving in the minerals needed by the body. Though filtering tap water at the point of use has its economical and environmental benefits, the gold standard for drinking water is pure, natural spring water, such as Mountain Valley Spring Water, which contains a naturally balanced pH range and calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Also, most natural spring water companies like Mountain Valley Spring Water have convenient and sustainable home-delivery services.