Drinking water can reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. As long as those contaminants are at levels no higher than standards, the water is considered safe to drink for healthy people. However, people with severely weakened immune systems or other specific health conditions may prefer purchase high quality bottled water.
Where does drinking water come from?
The source of drinking water depends on the geography and geology of an area. In general, water comes from rivers, groundwater or spring sources. Water companies take it from the source, clean it and deliver it to homes and businesses. When it has been used, it is collected, cleaned and returned to the environment.
In spite of the governmental agencies’ effort to improve water quality, sources of water used for drinking purposes can contain a range of chemicals and organisms that come from industrial and agricultural practices, domestic usage or from natural sources.
Common examples include:
• Pesticides and herbicides;
• Inorganic chemicals;
• Organic materials;
Pesticides and herbicides cover a wide range of pest control chemicals used by farmers, local authorities and homeowners. They are often difficult and costly to remove from drinking water. Micro-organisms are present in raw water due to flora and fauna living on or around water sources.
Drinking water comes from different resources. Groundwater is pumped from the ground through wells whilst surface water is collected from rivers, lakes and streams. Groundwater is more purified while surface water has to undergo many more purification steps than groundwater to become suited to drink. Approximately 66% of all people are served by a water system that uses surface water.
The dangers of tap water
There are several problems that can endanger the quality of drinking water. Some of them are:
Coliform. These are microorganisms are normally found in the intestinal tract of humans and other warm-blooded animals, and in surface water. When these organisms are detected in drinking water this suggests contamination from a subsurface source such as barnyard run-off. The presence of these bacteria indicates that disease-causing microorganisms, known as pathogens may enter the drinking water supply in the same way if one does not take preventive action. Drinking water should be free from coliform.
Giardia. It is a single cell organism that causes gastrointestinal symptoms. They are microbial contaminants that are usually found in surface water.
Cryptosporidium. It is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestine of infected animals and humans and it is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very resistant to chlorine-based disinfectants. In healthy adults, Cryptosporidium can cause illness, but for people with weakened immune systems, it can cause severe illness and even death.
Legionella. It is a bacterium that grows rapidly when water is maintained at a temperature between 30 and 40 degrees for a longer period of time. This bacterium can be inhaled when water evaporates as it enters the human body with aerosols. The bacteria can cause a sort of flue, known as Pontiac fever, but it can also cause the more serious deathly illness known as legionellosis.
Yeasts and viruses can also endanger the quality of drinking water. Nitrate in drinking water can cause cyanosis, a reduction of the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood. This is particularly dangerous to infants under six months of age.
Benefits of Using a Water Filter
With all of the pollution in our drinking water today, it has become unsafe to drink water straight from the tap. Water purification systems and water filters serve to eliminate the serious problem of pollutants. They can remove a large portion of the 2,100 known toxins that may be present in drinking water.
The purchase of a countertop filter results in a source of clean, healthy water that costs much less than bottled water. Water filters provide better tasting and better smelling drinking water by removing chlorine and bacterial contaminants preventing this harmful substance from entering the body. They reduce the risk of rectal cancer, colon cancer, and bladder cancer by removing chlorine and chlorine by products from drinking water. A solid block carbon water filter can selectively remove dangerous contaminants from drinking water while retaining healthy mineral deposits that balance the pH of drinking water.
Water filters can also reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disease by more than 33 percent by removing cryptosporidium and giardia from drinking water. Drinking pure water is especially important for children. By using them you can get clean, healthy water for cooking, as well as drinking, at the convenience of tap water.