Back to School 101: Is THAT in my water?
Let’s start with the basics. The reality is that all water is contaminated. This is because it is not new water. The water you drink today is recycled water. It’s the same water that the world has been drinking and using for centuries, long before you or anyone you know ever existed. Whether you drink bottled water or tap water – it contains something that you don’t want in your body.
That is an unappealing thought.
Let’s move on to a few unknown contaminants that are lurking in your water supply. You probably didn’t know that you had pharmaceuticals in your water. Or asbestos, which is illegal in several countries. Or that turbidity and cysts go hand-in-hand as turbidity creates a breeding ground for cysts. Take a look below for some insight on these common unknown contaminants that lurk in the public water supply system.
A heat-resistant silicate material that is used in fire-resistant and insulating hardware.
Asbestos is generally microscopic in nature and extremely resistant to heat and fire. This was one of the main reasons that commercial and industrial use of asbestos was supported prior to the finding that put a quick halt on the production and use of this contaminant in future manufacturing activities. Today, the known human carcinogen is strictly regulated as it poses a threat to human lung and respiratory systems.
There is no safe classification of Asbestos in any form of exposure. However, it still gets into you drinking water supply most often through the decay of old asbestos cement water mains and erosion of natural deposits.
A compound manufactured for use as a medicinal drug.
Wait – what? You heard that right, there are pharmaceuticals in your drinking water. To name a few, this includes birth control pills, high blood pressure medication, mood stabilizers, and pills for mental health. These medications make it into your drinking water and your body through improper disposal. Many times out of ten, the pills are flushed down toilets or drained with waste water in sinks. Currently, many municipal drinking water suppliers do not possess the technology to remove pharmaceuticals from the public drinking water supply.
According to Dr. Burton J. Kunik, “unused pharmaceuticals are a leading cause of accidental poisonings, contributing to an 80% increase in U.S. deaths from the accidental overdose of narcotics between 1999 and 2005.”
Many cities offer a drug “take-back” program that safely dispose of your unused pharmaceuticals. If they do not – ask your doctor if they have a disposal program of their own.
A cyst is a protective capsule that contains the larva of a parasitic worm or organism.
We’ve all heard of cysts, or in less appealing words, parasites. When human or animal waste from the environment makes it into reservoirs and the water is not treated properly or at all (in the case of well water), cysts make their way into your body. There, they attach themselves to the wall of the small intestine. Once they grow into adulthood, they multiply.
Detecting the cysts in water is hard and often, they are not noticed until an individual has been infected. Sometimes, it may take years before symptoms develop. With immediate treatment, cyst infections can be eliminated. Cyst infection is not something to be taken lightly and MUST be treated at the earliest possible opportunity.
Not clear or transparent; containing sediment; clouded; opaque
While turbidity is not exactly a contaminant, it poses a potential health risk to consumers because it paves the way for pathogens to access food and shelter in drinking water.
Turbidity is the measure of the clarity of a liquid. Things like algae, silt, organic matter, plankton, and microscopic organisms cause high turbidity levels, leaving you with cloudy water. The “shelter” provided to pathogens by turbidity reduces their exposure to the disinfectants used by municipal drinking water suppliers to clean the water. The “food” found in turbidity allows pathogens to survive long enough to grow stronger and multiply.
It is NEVER safe to drink cloudy water from an unknown source.
Think about the millions of people and animals that have been using water on earth for as long as time has existed. All water is contaminated. Each source of water contains a different source and a different quantity of contaminants. The smartest thing you can do is to have your water tested to figure out exactly what lurks within. Only then can you take the proper steps to clean your water.