Each one of us needs a high quality water supply, or source. For options, the highest quality water you can get is from a mountain spring, and there is no charge to harvest water from most of them. Even sea-level springs will work, too.
There is a resource called findaspring.com to find springs in your local area. Of course, there is some time, effort and energy involved, but if you can do that it would be the way to go.
The next best option would be well water, and typically there’s not going to be any fluoride and far less contaminants involved. In a municipal water supply you’re going to find about 90% of them are fluoridated, at least in the United States. It’s very difficult to remove, even with the best water filter systems.
Contaminants in a Municipal Water Supply
The average person, at least in the United States, is taking at least 13 drugs a year. What actually happens to those drugs-where do they end up? When you swallow them, they’re excreted in your urine or stools and wind up in your water supply. If you don’t even take them, you throw them in the garbage and it’s not uncommon when they get into the water supply. These pharmaceuticals are not usually removed from a traditional water filtration system.
In the distribution systems, water comes from the water filter plant to your home, and then to your faucet through pipes. The pipes can be made of a variety of different materials which can add to the problem.
The most common problem and concern in the water supply is an additive called chlorine. Chlorine is added to decrease the likelihood that you’re going to get sick. Thankfully, in most Western countries the chlorine virtually eliminates all those types of problems.
This all comes at a cost-the chlorine is not only going to kill pathogens in the water, but chlorine can combine with organic material in the water and in your body to form something called disinfection byproducts (DBPs), the most common ones being trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids. These are dangerous because they are about 10,000 times more dangerous than chlorine, with respect to increasing cancers and causing other complications.
As for other options, you can choose from bottled water, or filtered water. Bottled water isn’t really a good long-term option. There are significant environmental reasons for this, because you have to pay for the fuel to transport the large amounts of water from point A to point B where it will be consumed. Then, if you’re storing it in plastic (glass is much better but not typically available), you’d want to get BPA-free plastic, but even if they are BPA-free there’s other chemicals in there, and you don’t know what the consequences are going to be of that chronic exposure.
When the water’s stored in plastic, toxic components are increased in the water the longer you store them or the hotter temperature they’re stored at. Plastics do leak, so don’t put them in the sun.
Who regulates these water supplies?
Most municipal water supplies are regulated by the EPA- Environmental Protection Agency, and they have relatively stringent standards. When it comes to bottled water, however, those are regulated by the FDA. The EPA has nothing to do with it, and the only requirement is for it to be as good as tap water. There’s a lot of potential fraud in this area and deception-people advertising it’s mineral water, or spring water when it really isn’t, so there’s some confusion.
Options for Water Filter Systems
These systems of filtration are broadly based into three different types:
–Distilled water– not an ideal choice of water-de-structures it and devoids the minerals, among other complications
–Reverse osmosis system– removes most contaminants, including fluoride, disinfectant byproducts (DBPs), and volatile organic compounds. The downside is that it removes many of the beneficial minerals. You can get around this by adding in some Himalayan salt, stirring in about a quarter teaspoon per gallon. Then by putting the water in the refrigerator to lower it to about 39F, some studies have shown that to restructure the water.
–Carbon based system– There’s an independent, third-party objective agency called NSF that establishes criteria and levels of water quality. For carbon-based, there are three different types of systems, one is going to address your whole house, another is a point-of-use (typically put in your kitchen tap), and the third is in your shower.
Concerns of Air Quality with Unfiltered Tap Water
The chlorine and disinfection products in a municipal water system are volatile, and that means they evaporate. A trick you can use is to let the tap water sit for a half hour, such as in a cup. This will get the disinfectant byproducts and chlorine to volatilize. Just as it’s going to volatilize in the glass of water, it’s also going to volatilize in your toilet. Having a few toilets in your house is a significant amount of water, especially when they’re flushed regularly, and they can evaporate these dangerous gases into your home, and the air quality will decrease quite substantially.
A carbon-based system will improve indoor air quality. It also helps to exhaust those gases if you open up your windows, even in the winter, preferably a window on each side of the house so you get about 5-10 minutes a day of cross-ventilation.
If you’re on well water, you should have the water tested, and a specific solution can be the overall design.
Advantages of Different Water Filters
A whole house water filter can actually substitute for a water softener. It cuts down on maintenance because for every few months you only have to change the pre-filter. The cost is inexpensive as well, about $0.003/ gallon. These kinds of media filters will last about 300,000 gallons of water. If you live in a big house, you might need two of the whole house filters because housing bigger than 3,200 square feet or about 3 ½ bathrooms will require additional maintenance as the water pressure tends to go down with a lot of water use.
Some reverse osmosis or whole house systems may cost $5,000-$10,000, and these would be discouraged unless you have special pipes for it. If you’re using reverse osmosis and you have the wrong types of plumbing, it can cause tremendous damage.
The point-of-use filters can be a good addition in conjunction with a whole house filter because the water still has to travel through the pipes to the actual point-of-use, which is a variable for contamination even with a house filter installed where the water comes into your home.
Most of the higher quality units are going to have two stages, in other words- two containers with a media filter, because it’s near impossible to get a high quality filtration process going with only one container.
The shower filter is one of the most important points to consider. Even though you’re not drinking the shower water, in a different perspective you are, because in a shower the disinfectant byproducts and chlorine are volatilized at a higher rate, especially in a hot shower. Your skin absorbs this, and for about ten minutes you’re absorbing the equivalent of drinking one gallon of the same water.