Water Isn't Water Anymore

Does anyone drink the stuff anymore? You know, the stuff that comes out when you turn on the faucet, the stuff we think of as water.

I wouldn't drink it. I don't. I remember my high school chemistry class. I didn't get a very good grade but a few things got through the thick adolescent haze I thought of as consciousness back then.

They told us that water is a clear liquid made up of molecules containing two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. H20. That's what water is. When you add one or more chemical compounds to it, you get a solution that simply isn't water anymore. Or not just water, but water and something else.

It's that something else in the water that worries me.

What about municipal water treatment systems, you ask? Don't they have standards they must meet as far water purity goes? Aren't they required to filter out the other stuff in water before it gets to our homes, schools and businesses?

I'm glad you asked. Let's just say the days are long gone when we could simply leave the quality of our water to others.

Next to air, water is the most fundamental substance we need to support life. Yet few of us realize how precious little fresh water exists in the world. Most people assume it is plentiful! The truth may shock you!

Two thirds of our planet is covered by water, yet less than one percent is fresh water. Salt water makes up the remaining ninety-nine percent.

When we open the taps and faucets in our homes, we usually get a steady flow of precious fresh water. Most of us assume that because it is fresh water, it is also pure. Again, the truth may shock you. According to a report released in 2005 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) after a two and a half year investigation of 22 million quality tests, over 260 contaminants were found the nations tap water.

Perhaps the most shocking piece of information to come out of the EWG study is that 90 percent of the municipal water utilities scrutinized were in complete compliance with all enforceable local, state and national health standards and monitoring requirements!

Any sane person might ask how water containing so many potentially dangerous contaminants could possibly meet safety standards? The answer again is shocking.

Of the 260 contaminants detected, 141 or more than half, have no official safety level standards at all. This is the only way our aging water treatment plants can keep up with the demand caused by an ever expanding population. Billions of dollars in upgrades would be needed if municipal water systems were suddenly required to deliver pure, contaminant free water.

In other words, the tap water in any given city can contain any number of toxic chemical compounds and still meet required safety standards simple because, like an ostrich with its head in the sand, they can ignore the presence of any contaminants not found on their list!

We are talking about chemicals that can cause serious health issues. A short list would include cancer, nervous system and muscle damage, and compounds that can easily damage your heart, liver, kidneys, bladder, endocrine system and well, you get the picture.

Think bottled water is safer than tap water? Think again! The standards for bottled water, established by the FDA, are very similar to the standards set by the EPA for tap water. In fact, about 25% of bottled water is actually tap water that has been processed and packaged.

This kind of logic is precisely why we can't rely on governmental agencies to protect the purity of our municipal water. While this may not be good news, there is hope.

We can and should take personal charge of the quality of the water we drink and use in our homes and gardens. We can do so by by installing our own water filtration system. I know this sounds daunting but really it is both easy and affordable. The only problem is finding a unit that really works.

More than 30 years ago Congress passed the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, yet the safety of our drinking water is more at risk today than ever before. Water quality issues are widely reported in the media. Consumers are often bombarded by producers of water purification devises. Many make outlandish claims, promising results which in most cases are never substantiated by independent testing.

NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit organization that develops and adopts voluntary consensus standards and testing programs for a wide variety of consumer products, including home water treatment units. NSF offers objective, third-party evaluation of products against both NSF standards and government regulations.

It is essential to buy a unit that is NSF International certified and tested according to NSF/ANSI Standards 42 and 53 for the safe reduction or removal of lead, mercury, cyst, asbestos, VOC, MTBE, PCB and chloramine. If prevalent in the water in your region, there are also filters rated for the removal of arsenic in addition to the above contaminants.

For most situations, solid carbon block filters are your best bet. They force every molecule of water through microscopic pores of carbon effectively reducing a wide range of pollutants without wasting water, without using any electricity and without adding salt or chemicals. This filter media combines mechanical filtration, electrokinetic absorption and physical absorption.

You can get a good counter top filter that quickly and easily attaches to your kitchen sink faucet for $100 to $150. The replacement filter should last for about a year. It will cost about $50 but is good for 750 gallons or about 7

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