Make Your Water Safer?
In a rich and technologically advanced country like the United States, people should not have to worry about the purity of the water that flows from the tap. Yet, the fact is that many municipalities do not deliver the pure water they promise. If consumers were more aware of the problems, perhaps there would be more pressure on the government to improve the water supply. Here's how to find out whether or not you are drinking safe water.
Who Makes Sure That My Water Supply Is Safe?Local governments, public water systems, the states, and EPA work together towards the goal of ensuring that all public water supplies are safe. For households on private wells, state and local health departments usually have some standards for the drinking water, but it is generally up to the homeowner to maintain the quality of the drinking water.
Local governments have a direct interest in protecting the quality of their drinking water source, be it ground water or surface water. They may be responsible for overseeing land uses that can affect the quality of untreated source water. Public Water Systems have a responsibility to maintain sound treatment works and water distribution networks. They are responsible for ensuring that the water they supply does not contain contaminants at levels higher than the law allows.
Check out the source Call your local water utility official and inquire about the source and safety of your water. Don't know who to call? Look for a phone number on your water bill or, call your local government offices for more information. Here are the questions to ask. What is the source of water – Ground water or Surface water? Groundwater is water found deep beneath the ground, such as huge reservoirs, naturally formed deep in the earth's surface. Theoretically, this water is cleaner since the ground acts as a natural filter. Because of the natural soil filtration, ground water is more likely to be free of cryptosporidium than surface water. Surface water that which flows from rivers, lakes, streams and reservoirs, is more likely to pick up pollutants from the earth's surface.
1. When was the last time your water was tested by the local health department?
2. What was the result of the last Laboratory tests? Ask for a copy of the most recent laboratory testing results.
3. Utility companies are required by law to provide consumers with information on contaminants in water.
4. Is chlorine the main disinfectant used?
5. What other disinfectant procedures are employed besides chlorination?
6. Is fluoride added to the water?
If you don't get a favorable response or are unclear about the test results, contact your local health department for clarification.
Test the WaterIf your water comes from your own well or if you are unsatisfied with your community's water testing, do it yourself. Be sure you use a state and BIS certified testing laboratory. You can obtain a list of BIS water testing laboratories. Costs of testing range depending on how extensively you want your water examined. Some tap water may be high enough in sodium to be of concern to people who are on a low-sodium diet for medical reasons. If you consume a lot of tap water, and your doctor has put you on a low sodium diet, have your water tested for sodium content.
Filter Your WaterIf you are uneasy about drinking the water coming out of your tap, there are many steps you can take to improve the water quality. Some families choose to buy bottled water for drinking and cooking; other purchases some kind of filtration system. With filters, like so many other commodities, you get what you pay for. The more chemicals and contaminants you want remove from your water, the more expensive the filter is likely to be. Regardless of the type of filter you have, if won't purify all the water in the house. Most families attach the filter to the kitchen tap. But what about the bathroom tap & the glass of water your children drink before going to bed? Also, consider the many public water fountains (parks, schools, movie theaters) that your child drinks from while away from home. For this reason, it would be better if municipal water were made purer at it source. But if you consider food and water as medicine, pure water even at the price of a filtration system, is still one of the least expensive pills you can swallow.
Remember, too that it's not enough just filter your water and forget about it. Be sure you change filters frequently and according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you are investing in an expensive water purification system, before you sign on dotted line, arrange for before-and-after testes of the water. Tell the filter company that you expect to have your money refunded if your filtered, tested water contains more contaminants than the manufacturer claims. You may have to pay for the testing, but it may save you from paying for a high-priced but less effective system.
Other Ways to Improve Your Water QualityHere are the most common types of filters, what they remove, and what they don't.
Distill It In some ways, a distillation system provides the purest water, and in other ways it doesn't. In this type of system, the water is boiled and the vapor collected, with most of the contaminants and bacteria left behind. The problem with this is that there are still gases, such as chlorine and some pesticides in the remaining water. Nevertheless, steamed, distilled water is about the purest you can get. Some home distillation systems can remove 98 percent of the contaminants, which leaves you with water that is more pure than with filters.
Run ItRun your water for a full minute in the morning before taking a drink from the tap.”First Draw” water in the morning is likely to contain more lead from sitting in the pipes overnight.
Cool It Drink water only from the cold tap. Leads more easily leaches from the pipes are faucet into hot water.
Boil ItBoiling water allows the chlorine to escape, which could improve the taste of some heavily chlorinated Water. (Note: however, that taste is not an accurate indicator of the purity or safety of drinking waters.)
Buy bottled waterMany families choose to buy bottled water for drinking & cooking. Bottled water must be stored in a cool, dark place, such as pantry. Once it is opened it must be recapped and refrigerated.