Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to drink more water? As soon as you start researching healthier habits or visit your doctor for minor health complaints you get the same advice – drink more water. Staying hydrated helps you regulate body temperatures, lubricate joints, and remove toxins from your body naturally. According to the CDC, “The United States has one of the safest and most reliable drinking water systems in the world. Every year, millions of people living in the United States get their tap water from a public community water system.”
So, how do you know that what is coming out of your taps is safe and doing you more good than harm? At M3 Environmental, we’ve put together information to help you recognize some of the worst contaminants in drinking water and learn more about what you can do to keep yourself safe.
- Bacteria, Viruses & Other Pathogenic Microbes
- Chlorine & Chloramine Byproducts (THMs / HAAs)
- Perchlorate / Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOAs)
- Radioactive Substances – Radium, Uranium, Etc.
- Nitrates, Nitrites & Arsenic
- Lead & Copper
Bacteria & Viruses
Microbes are everywhere and incredibly helpful to us in many ways. Pathogenic microbes, like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa aren’t something we want to be mixing into our lemonade every day, however. According to the CDC, microbial contaminants like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and E. coli get into drinking water through groundwater, weather runoff, agricultural runoff, and septic system problems.
Cramps, nausea, diarrhea – nobody wants to experience intestinal distress associated with these microbes. Children are especially at risk because they’re developing immune systems have a harder time fighting off infectious invaders.
Lead & Copper
Lead-contaminated drinking water is in the news a lot because it’s a dangerous issue. There is no safe limit to the amount of lead you can consume and children are especially susceptible. Exposure to both lead and copper usually occurs when plumping pipes get old and start to erode, releasing toxins into the water.
Lead has been linked to brain damage, seizures, and reproductive problems. High levels of copper can damage the liver and kidneys and cause anemia.
Chlorine & Chloramine
To fight the pathogens in our plumbing, chlorine, and chloramine may be added to drinking water supplies. Unfortunately, once these powerful disinfectants can combine and react with organic matter and create what iare known as disinfection by-products, or DBPs. Chloramine also lasts longer in water and is more difficult to filter out.
DBPs like THMs and HAAs have been linked to kidney problems, skin irritation, and cancer risks. Long-term low levels of chlorine can also result in giardia exposure.
Perchlorate & PFOAs
PFOAs have been in the limelight more and more in relation to Teflon, the non-stick coating that makes baking and frying up a couple of eggs so much more convenient. PFOAs usually make their way into drinking water supplies through proximity. If you live near industrial plants that use this chemical, you are more likely to find yourself exposed.
PFOA exposure is linked to kidney problems, high cholesterol, ulcers, and early menopause.
Nitrates, Nitrites & Arsenic
Nitrate and arsenic are both groundwater contaminates. Nitrates and nitrites make their way into our groundwater through fertilizers and septic system issues. Arsenic is found naturally in our soils and can enter waterways from these natural deposits or from surrounding agricultural and industrial sources.
Arsenic can increase health risks related to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and brain development problems in children. Even short-term exposure to nitrate can cause “blue baby disease” in infants due to reduced levels of oxygen.
What You Can Do To Stay Safe
Learning about contaminants in drinking water can seem scary. We can’t all afford to switch to bottled water and many of us don’t care for the waste such an action would produce anyway. The good news is, you still have options.
- Check out your local water quality report. This information should be available on your county or utility provider’s website. Or, you can search the EWG’s Tap Water Database.
- Stay up to date with local water quality issues. Contamination warnings and boil notices will usually be posted on local health and utility websites and social media.
- Schedule drinking water quality testing for peace of mind. Whether you’re experiencing issues or not, getting your home, school, or workplace water inspected for contaminants rules out possible hazards and gives you a baseline in case something changes in the future.
Why Second Guess When You Can Test?
At M3 Environmental in Monterey, CA, we want you to feel safe because you know you are safe. There’s no reason to worry when the tools you need to rule out drinking water contamination are just a phone call away. Contact us today for inspection and testing services.