How do you know what’s in your tap water?

It is what we drink, wash, boil, use, and clean. How much information do we actually know about the water flowing from our taps? While some regions are more protected than others from contaminants, lead, bacteria and nitrates still can make their way into our water supply.

Recent debates about the possible negative effects of hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting oil and gas deep underground have raised more awareness of what is in our water supplies. Let’s have a look at the water supply before we get too excited.

Harmful Waters The Need to Know

One of two types of tap water sources are available: groundwater or surface water. MostH2O is subject to a critical disinfection procedure before reaching our lips. This process destroys most harmful organisms, such as bacteria and parasites.

However, chlorination will not kill all the bad guys. Some disease-carrying bacteria can still pollute water surface and eventually tap water through the stool or infected people. Corroded pipes can lead to copper and lead poisoning. This is most common in houses built prior 1970 when copper and lead pipes were acceptable. Some other less than ideal findings include nitrates, pesticide and fertilizer runoff chemicals, arsenic, erosion and orchard runoff and industrial waste, as well as rocket fuel.

The alphabet soup of chlorination products is another controversial source of potentially dangerous contaminants. Although hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has been a topic of debate for some time, it won’t become public until 2014. Official reports will not be available before then, making this an early warning sign that something is wrong.

It sounds even scarier than Freddie Krueger’s movie. The EPA established Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for public water sources. This makes the chance of getting a water-related disease very low. The Safe Drinking Water Act regulates 91 contaminants. Unwanted intruders can be capped at levels that are generally safe for healthy individuals.

Tips for tap — Your Action Plan

There are several ways you can start drinking more water. However, the quality of your H2O may vary from one home to another. If you don’t have enough data, ask your local Public Water Supply to obtain a Consumer Confidence Report. These are some simple ways to lower lead levels in water.

  • Run It. If a faucet isn’t being used for at least six hours, run it until the cold water pipes are “flushed”.
  • Get cold water. Always use cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Higher levels of lead are likely to be found in hot water.
  • Replace the strainer. Replace faucet strainers that can collect debris, metals and other sediment.
  • Have a sniff. Do you smell chemicals or rotten eggs? If the problem has not been described, consult this resource.
  • Get Filtered. Filtered water is best for pregnant women and children younger than 6 years old.

Although bottled water can be a better option than tap, it is still a cheaper alternative. However, remember that not all bottles are “straight from source”. Some brands of bottled water are purified tap water, or none at all.

There is nothing to be concerned about in good-quality areas, provided you take all necessary precautions. Some studies have shown that fluoride can be used to strengthen teeth and natural minerals like calcium, magnesium and sodium may be beneficial for some people. If your tap is rated high, you can drink it!

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