No matter how much you try not to think about it, tap water quality is far from what it should or could be. Your pasta might not taste the same in all states. Even your clothes may not smell the same. Different water sources come with different sets of problems, or do they?
It doesn’t matter where you live, chances are your tap water is not that good to drink. The quality of unfiltered water is just not good enough these days and it can affect more than your well-being.
No one wants to hear about lead contamination in water, high levels of chlorine by-products, bacteria, or too much fluoride. Unfortunately, these are facts that don’t go away when ignored. This article will show just how important water filtration is for households.
Why is Water so Important?
Seeing how 65% of the human body is made of water, it’s no wonder that so many bodily functions won’t function properly without good hydration. Water helps transport metabolized proteins and carbs to the bloodstream. It is also responsible for maintaining optimal body temperature.
Of course, we all know the downsides of not drinking enough water. The dangers of dehydration are quite real. One of the most serious complications that can result from dehydration is kidney failure. That doesn’t happen quickly, but it is a reminder of how serious things can get without proper hydration and a good supply of clean water.
Why is Tap Water Safety Important?
When it comes to tap water vs. filtered water, there really shouldn’t be a debate. Your tap water should always be filtered wherever you live. Leaving your tap water unfiltered and relying on bottled water for drinking and cooking is a big waste of money.
Consider this. The average person uses around 100 gallons of water per day. Sure, a lot of that goes towards washing and personal hygiene. But do you want to breathe in chlorine fumes during showers or wash your clothes with heavy sediment water?
Effects of Contaminated Water on Appliances
Do we use water filters just for ourselves? No. Using a point-of-entry water filtration system helps increase the longevity of any appliances that use water from the main water line. There are so many contaminants in water that can seriously damage your boiler, radiators, refrigerators, washing machine, and so on. Anything that uses large quantities of water in your house can be affected by different types of water pollution.
If you want to extend the lifespan of your kitchen and bathroom appliances, then using a proper water filtration system is a great idea. Do keep in mind that in order to protect your entire household, you will need a POE (point of entry) water filtering system.
Here are a few things that you don’t want to hear about tap water but must be familiar with. Safety first!
The Water Departments aren’t Infallible
Whenever human error is a possibility, you should be prepared for anything. The truth is that sometimes one person’s mistake can affect the quality of the water for an entire city block or more. What’s even worse is that sometimes the equipment fails too.
Failing filters and degrading pipes are facts. This doesn’t just happen in your house, it can also happen to your water supplier. When events like these take place, you can expect to see a significant drop in water clarity and quality. The scary part is that unless you try to stay informed and check for updates or press releases, you might not even know what new contaminants have been introduced to your tap water.
A Lot Can Happen Between the Water Plant and Your House
Despite the fact that water technically leaves the plant as clean as it can be, there are various types of water pollution that can be introduced along the way. Lead is the most obvious one to think of because most of the new plumbing systems are still tied to old pipes.
Of course, that’s not the only contaminant that has a chance of being introduced to the water after it leaves the plant. When pipes break, you can only imagine how everything from the ground can enter the water supply network and end up in your home. Think about insects, radioactive materials, waste, and more. Scary right?
Lead in Your Tap Water
Many of the plumbing systems built before 1986 often have lead pipes, solder, or other lead parts. This is usually how lead contamination in water occurs. Even today, new safer plumbing systems can have lead contamination if they are coupled to old systems. This can happen both in the city or in the county which is why having an analysis done is never a bad idea.
So why is this such a big deal? After all, if you have lead contamination in water you can still bathe in it and wash your clothes with it. The problems occur when you ingest it. Lead poisoning can affect the nervous system and red blood cells.
Young children and pregnant women can develop serious problems after drinking water contaminated with lead. This metal has been linked to stunted growth and mental development in children. This only happens in the worst case scenarios but it is serious enough to warrant a pollution analysis of your water, especially if you live in an older house or apartment building.
Chlorine By-Products in Water
Chlorine is used to treat tap water. It protects the body from some pathogens and it is one of the most effective ways to fight off germs. That all looks good on paper but there is such a thing as too much chlorine.
Among the ugliest types of water pollution is chlorine by-products. As necessary as chlorine is for its disinfectant properties, the reaction of its by-products with organic matter can lead to an increased production of free radicals. The possible side effects of this include liver damage, birth defects, damage to the arteries, and a heightened predisposition to cancer.
One of the best ways to reduce the amount of chlorine by-product contamination is to use a water filtration system. If you just want to reduce the chlorine levels in your drinking water, you can settle for a tap water filter of the POU (point of use) variety. If you want to have clean water running out of every faucet then installing a whole house filtration system is the way to go.
To get the most out of your filtration system you should look for one that has multiple stages or steps. Ideally, you would want a system that has both carbon block filters and granular activated carbon filters. Since chlorine and its by-products technically do their jobs before the water reaches your house, there’s no reason for them to remain in your drinking water.
The Fluoride in Tap Water May Not Be Good for You
Everyone knows that fluoride levels are artificially raised because of the belief that it helps with tooth decay. Some scientists actually lobbied that adding fluoride is especially beneficial for children. So why is this a potentially bad thing?
Ever since people started adding fluoride to enrich the beneficial qualities of tap water, there have been others that say the exact opposite. In particular, naturally occurring fluoride in water is more than enough and higher levels can be linked to an increase in bone fracture reports. Some studies have also linked fluoride to suppressing the immune system and the pineal gland.
The scariest part of this decade’s old debate is that the study was sponsored by the EPA. After acknowledging the findings publicly, no action was taken. So, if you’re thinking ‘Is there fluoride in my drinking water?’ the answer is a resounding yes. More than likely in higher quantities than you actually need.
Some Contaminants Aren’t Noticeable Without an Analysis
So many people disregard the importance of water filtration because their water looks fine, smells fine, and tastes fine. If you are part of that category you should really reconsider regular use of tap water vs. filtered water.
Among the various types of water pollution are microbes, viruses, heavy metals, and chemicals that don’t affect the tangible properties of your tap water.
You may be risking long-term exposure to dangerous pathogens without even noticing it. In fact, whenever you see reports on how bad the water treatment is in certain communities, you always see them mentioning “long-term exposure”.
People just don’t notice until many develop the same symptoms or diseases. Here’s a list of contaminants that will slip by anything short of a laboratory analysis.
Calcium and Magnesium are Corrosive
These two minerals are the two major contributing factors to boiler corrosion. Large deposits of them affect everything from water flow to temperature levels which in turn decrease a boiler’s efficiency. Mineral deposits are bad for pretty much any household appliances that use large quantities of water.
Your washing machine, dishwasher, toilet, ice maker, everything can be affected by hardness contamination. Not only will their efficiency drop but not using proper filtration will also reduce their life.
So why do we use water filters? Because water quality is important throughout your household. This is why whole house filtration systems are more effective than their point of use alternatives.
Water Filters Need Cleaning Too
Let’s say you bought a filter to treat lead contamination in water. The analysis shows that the filter is doing its job and your water is now clean and safe to drink. You may be thinking that that’s the end of it, right?
Water filters don’t last a lifetime. The cartridges need to be cleaned every few months and even replaced after six months or a year.
Carbon block and granule activated carbon filters in particular need thorough maintenance if you want them to last longer and not drop in efficiency. This means that buying a filtration unit doesn’t automatically fix your tap water forever. It takes a bit of effort on your part too if you always want clean water in your house.
Unfiltered Tap Water May Contaminate Your Garden
Not everyone lives in tall apartment buildings but that doesn’t mean the tap water vs. filtered water comparison is restricted to within city limits. If you live in the suburbs or maybe even in the countryside, chances are you have a front lawn and maybe even a garden. Did you know that the importance of water filtration extends to the exterior of your house too?
Among the many types of water pollution mentioned in this article, heavy metals and bacteria can make their way into your garden if you use unfiltered water. You may be asking yourself, what does tap water have to do with this? Fair enough.
For most households, the water line for exterior use breaks off the same main intake pipe that distributes water to your entire house. So, if your tap water is contaminated your gardening water will be too. If you use a point-of-use filtration system for your kitchen faucet, it won’t affect the quality of the gardening water unless you plan on hauling buckets from your kitchen all the way outside.
A whole house filtration system will protect all the water that comes from the main water line. This means that you not only have clean drinking and washing water on the inside, but you also water your plants with clean water. To say that it’s good to have uncontaminated plants is a bit of an understatement, wouldn’t you agree?
Unfiltered Water May Be as Bad as Rain Water
You may think that rain water is a great and eco-friendly way of watering your plants, but did you stop to think about all the water contamination diseases it could lead to? We’ve discussed how the various types of water pollution are a direct result of contaminants seeping through the ground and entering water sources.
Mercury emissions can travel across continents before the metal is again introduced into the ground through rainfall. Since you can’t really track it or even notice it when it rains, what makes you think that rain water is a good solution?
Why do we use water filters on tap water? To make sure we’re not drinking rain water-quality liquid. After all, you wouldn’t even think of drinking rain water, would you? The importance of water filtration is not to be underestimated especially if you’re familiar with how contaminated rain water can be. Many of the microorganisms, pathogens, and heavy metals that come with rain water generally make their way into sources of drinking water too.
Not Nearly All Pollutants Are Regulated
If your main concern is: ‘Is there fluoride in my drinking water?’ These facts may upset you. It is estimated that only about a third of known pollutants are regulated by the EPA. How can that be? It is disturbingly simple.
Some accuse the EPA of not working hard enough to regulate more contaminants, but the truth is that new ones pop up all the time. It is impossible to keep track of all the new chemical compounds that are being developed and many new contaminants are introduced into water supplies or water distribution systems.
This is why the discrepancy between regulated and non-regulated contaminants is so big. The EPA can’t issue regulations just as soon as something new is found in the water. Tests take time and by the time they’re completed, probably more new pollutants would’ve appeared.
Water Suppliers Don’t Put Enough Effort into Screening Contaminants
Here’s another reason why the importance of water filtration at home should be a no-brainer. Because there are so many unregulated water contaminants, water suppliers and treatment plants aren’t legally obligated to invest in countermeasures.
They only have to account for what the EPA releases as guidelines. Because of this, new contaminants are more likely to make it all the way to your faucet. Again, many pollutants may enter the water after it leaves the plant but there are plenty that already leave with it.
And, the reason you can assign equal blame to both distributors and the EPA is that the regulatory standards are made to be cost-effective. Because of this, you still have to buy a water filtration system today to make sure no trace amount of arsenic and lead ever gets into your drinking water.
City Water Pipe Breakdowns Affect Your Drinking Water
There’s more than just lead contamination in water when it comes to the transit between the water plant and your home. When a city pipe breaks and this happens more often than you think, it is usually due to corrosion. High levels of corrosion but similar to what would happen to your boiler if it’s fed hardened water too often.
When these pipes break down it leads to various types of water pollution from the surrounding environment. You may think that the safety measures would automatically reroute the water or a team would be dispatched to fix everything quickly, but reality doesn’t work anything like video game simulators.
By the time any safety measures take effect there is more than enough time for contaminated soil to make its way into the water that’s coming to your home. This can mean anything from bacteria to salts, heavy metals, and God forbid radioactive substances.
You may be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you because the pipes in your area never failed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to be the water pipe that bursts. Corrosion happens to waste flushing lines too and anything that bursts out from those pipes gets sucked into the surrounding environment. Eventually, that may also make its way to water sources.
Tap Water Is Bad for Your Pet
Do you think that people that give bottled water to their pets are pretentious? Some of them may very well be but they are doing the right thing even if they don’t realize it. Your pet can be just as affected as you by the various types of water pollution in unfiltered tap water.
Does this mean it’s off to the supermarket to stock up on cases of bottled water? Not unless you do a water analysis and take the appropriate precautions. Unclean water is bad for any living mammal, bird, fish, or plant. The only living organisms that benefit from contaminated water are the ones that actually contaminate it.
Tap Water Filtration Units Are Not Always Easy to Install
While most packages draw your attention with the various types of water pollution they can help against, few mention that the installation is not as easy as it seems. For someone with no knowledge of filters or plumbing, even watching instructional videos may be confusing.
It makes sense that the person in the video is installing a system in minutes. They are trained professionals. This means that oftentimes you may have to pay even more for water filtration. Whole house filtration systems need to be installed at your main water line and they come with multiple filtration stages.
Even a professional plumber will have to spend some time installing the whole thing. If you thought this was an easy task, you were very mistaken
Tap Water Determines the Quality of Your Food
How many people cook with bottled water? Probably very few. Now the question is, why would you cook with water that’s not tasty enough to drink? Most water contaminants that affect taste don’t go away just by boiling the water.
From sauces to stews, there are a high number of recipes that require water. It doesn’t make much sense to buy gallons upon gallons of bottled water just to drink and cook with. It’s impractical for storage and it’s not friendly to your wallet.
Sediments which are a common problem with well water sources can muddy the water and alter its taste and odors. Acidic water which is usually easily resolved by adjusting the pH level can also make or break grandma’s secret recipe. Just because you can avoid drinking unfiltered tap water it doesn’t mean it won’t affect other aspects of your life.
High Concentration of Ammonia Can Kill Your Fish
If you own an aquarium, then you probably already know how sensitive certain fish species can be. They require the perfect temperature, the perfect food, a certain pH, and so much more in order to have a nice life. If you typically use tap water to fill up the tank, then you should know that it can be extremely harmful under certain conditions.
If your water has a pungent smell to it, it’s probably because it has a high concentration of ammonia. Among the many types of water pollution, this is one that doesn’t affect humans too much. On the other hand, aquatic life forms don’t have the same luxury of ingesting it unharmed.
Distillation can be an effective way of reducing the concentration of ammonia in tap water and might just increase the lifespan of your fish.
Video: Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?
To sum up, why you shouldn’t overlook the importance of water filtration, the argument is that there are too many types of water pollution that make their way into your household. Whether they travel with the water directly from the treatment plant or they enter the water line in transit, the tap water in a house without a filtration system is never clean.
Even with multiple-stage filtration units and award-winning systems, you only get about 99.99% quality from your water. Don’t think that’s as much as it seems. The remaining fraction potentially contains hundreds of small bacteria harmful or otherwise. There is also the matter of new contaminants being introduced every year due to constant development of new chemical compounds in the pharmaceutical industry.
If lead contamination in water is one of your concerns, get ready to make it just one of many. The sad truth is that today we’re not just fighting new contaminants but plenty of old ones that have yet to be dealt with properly. When it comes to tap water vs. filtered water, the latter should always win by a landslide