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What's in Your Water?

By: John Beith - Updated: 10 Sep 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Health Water Contamination Chemicals

When we're thirsty we go to the tap and pour a glass of clean fresh water to drink.It's clear, refreshing and healthy, after all we all need water to survive-don't we?

But do you know exactly what you are drinking?

You might be aware that your drinking water is treated to get rid of impurities. In some regions fluoride is added to the water supply. But what do water companies use to get rid of these impurities and do we really need fluoride in our water?

Some scientists are alarmed by what can be found in our water supply and are actively seeking ways to change the process involved in the supply of our drinking water. Making water safe to drink actually means large amounts of chemicals (mostly poisonous) are routinely added during the process. Although water suppliers claim the amounts added are so small they are negligible, scientists are now aware that there is evidence that long term ingestion of even small amounts of these chemicals could be harmful.

So what kinds of chemicals are there in your drinking water?

A few of the chemicals that are routinely added to water are:

  • Calcium Hydroxide
  • Chlorine(liquified)
  • Aluminium Sulphate
  • Sodium Silicofluoride
Tap water is treated to kill bacteria and other micro-organisms. The water may leave the source in a clean condition, but it has to travel through pipes, some which may have been underground for hundreds of years. So it's inconceivable for the water not to become contaminated by something unsavoury.

In addition to the chemicals that have been added, by the time your water reaches you it may contain other contaminents, like lead from pipes for instance.

Tap water typically contains:

  • Chlorine
  • Flouride compounds
  • Nitrates
  • Trihalomethanes
  • Pesticides
  • Salts of
    • Arsenic
    • Copper
    • Lead
    • Mercury
    • Cadmuim
    • Radium
Before you start to panic, you should know the amounts in your tap water are miniscule and on a daily basis you will feel no effect, and they will do you no harm. The concern that some scientists have is the long term effects these chemicals and contaminants may have on the human body.

Around 10% of the UK water supply has fluoride added at source. There is growing evidence to support the argument that the science behind the mass fluoridation by water authorities is questionable. It's interesting to know that fluoridation of the water supply is banned in all other European countries.

The Scottish Parliament in 2004 voted against adding fluoride to the water supply and it remains untreated, as does the water in Northern Ireland.

If you don't want to drink tap water what are the alternatives?

Bottled Water- Is popular as can be seen by its availability in most supermarkets.The quality of the water varies considerably as does the price, ranging from anywhere between 15p-£1.99p is expensive. The quality of some of this water is questionable as there have been cases where the water is actually tap water anyway.

Water Filters-Take the tap water and passes it through various filtering processes, removing any contaminants. There are various filtration systems available varying in price and complexity and the quality of water they produce can vary considerably.

Carbon Filters - Remove Chlorine and some type of pesticides from the water. It improves the taste. They don't remove all of the other contaminants however.

Distilled Water Systems - Are usually used by commercial enterprises, although some are available for domestic use. Distilling boils the water into steam and then condenses it back to water. The impurities are left behind in the boiling chamber when the water is initially heated. They remove virtually all the impurities, but are very slow, and leave the water with an extremely bland taste.

Reverse Osmosis - This is the method used by the medical profession to produce "pure water". A plumbed-in RO filtration system will remove more than 90% of Total Dissolved Solids from water. They provide extremely high quality water, for drinking and cooking. They are expensive to buy and a domestic version would cost you £500 or more for a system. They can also differ considerably in quality.

If you have any concerns about what is in your water, or what is added to your water supply, you can write to your local water authority and they will provide you with the information.

If you would like to find out more about European countries statements on water fluoridation visit: www.fluoridealert.org/govt-statements.htm.

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