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Tap water and water filtration systems

The main problems with tap water are:
  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride
  • Other contaminants (PCBs, THMs, heavy metals)

Let's examine the fluoride problem first:

In 1973, British Columbia was considering mandatory fluoridation. They gave the job of researching and reporting the topic to Richard Foulkes, MD. Foulkes then wrote a 1900 page report and he recommended that legislation be passed to make fluoride mandatory in Canada. Based on that work, Canada began to fluoridate.
fluoride in tap water

Then something happened. Little by little, Foulkes found out that the statistics that his researchers had based their findings on were largely falsified. It took Foulkes several years to uncover the truth, but by 1992, he shocked the country by backing down from his original recommendation:

"I now hold a different view. …the fluoridation of community water supplies can no longer be held to be either safe or effective in the reduction of dental caries….Therefore, the practice should be abandoned."- Foulkes, 1992

Foulkes is not some tree-hugger from Santa Cruz. He is one of Canada's top scientific researchers. Many cities in Canada listened and stopped fluoridating. Want to read a first-hand story about lies and greed and disregard for human health and crooked deals between government and industry? Read Dr. Foulkes stuff.

Another pro-fluoride Canadian scientist, Dr. Hardy Limeback, changed his tune when he learned that 30-60% of Canadian children now have visible signs of overexposure to fluoride, something called "dental fluorosis". In a Toronto Star interview with Michael Downey, Limeback said:

"Children under three should never use fluoridated toothpaste. Or drink fluoridated water." (My favorite source for quality toothpaste products which don't contain fluoride can be found here)

Such research also prompted the Canadian Dental Association in 1992 to keep fluoride supplements from children of three and under. But attacking fluoride supplement pills is just a smokescreen to protect fluoridation of drinking water.

Most research has found all the above ill effects at concentrations even less than the standard 1 PPM which exists in most city water. It's not the supplements that are killing us; it's the fluoridated water.

Fluoridation In Other Countries

If fluoridation is as safe and effective as the American Dental Association says it is, why don't other countries do it?

The U.S. is nowhere near the top of any health list which compares other countries of the world. So what are the healthy countries doing?

If fluoride is so great, why have the following countries either never fluoridated or else stopped when they found out how bad it was?:

  • West Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Japan
  • Italy
  • Scotland


Only about 2% of the population of Europe is subjected to fluoridated water.

 

Other contaminants in tap water

Let's discuss the other problems with tap water:

Chlorine:

The experimental use of chlorine began in the 1890's to combat water-borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid. It quickly gained wide acceptance because of low cost and high efficiency in killing just about everything hazardous in the water.
chlorine-tanks

Chlorine allowed population centers to spring up and thrive without any epidemic outbreaks.

The problem with chlorine is that it is a known poison and the safety of drinking this poison over the longterm (i.e. your lifetime) is highly uncertain. Also, chlorine reacts with water-borne decaying organic matter like leaves, bark, sediment, etc. to create a family of chemicals called trihalomethanes and other highly toxic substances. Trihalomethanes, or THM's, include chemicals such as chloroform, bromoform and dichlorobromethane, all of which are extremely carcinogenic even in minute amounts.

Chloramine:
Chloramine is another substance used now in many larger municipalities (i.e. Los Angeles). In systems where the level of chlorine is at the highest acceptable level but need still more disinfection, the utility will then add a chlorine/ammonia compound. Chloramine is represented as totally safe but with the disclaimer to not give chloramine-treated water to your animals or use it in your fish tanks (it kills fish)!

Bacteria:
If you are on a municipal system with chlorination or chloramine, theoretically you are protected against bacteria. However, if the level of chlorination isn't high enough from the municipal source to your tap, bacteria can re-infect the water anywhere along the distribution system. The piping system -- whether it's the mains or your house plumbing -- has bacterial growth in it happening all the time.

If you are on a spring or a wall, with no chlorine, then you are very vulnerable to bacterial contamination. Even the most pure sources cannot prevent occasional contamination from animals either dying or defecating in the source, or from neighboring pollution (i.e. septic tanks) traveling from an adjoining watershed to contaminate the source. Also, the pipes are again a source of bacteria.

Many people do periodic testing on their well or spring source and rely on this method to assure themselves that they have good water. What they don't realize is that there are a few problems with testing.

First, the test is only good for the moment the sample was taken. Bacteria can have "blooms," if the conditions are right, which potentially occur hours, days or weeks after the testing and therefore remain undetected. Other casual contamination can occur from animal or human sources, as mentioned above, which the test never detected because the sample was taken before the contamination occurred.

Second, testing can be very expensive to do, depending on what is being tested for. Most basic tests cover bacteria (i.e. E. coli), levels of sediment and decaying organic matter, and amount of total dissolved solids (mineral levels such as calcium, magnesium, iron, sulfur, etc.). With any extra testing the price goes up per test. Lead, asbestos and specific chemical contaminants are more difficult and therefore much more expensive to test for.

Lead:
Lead is a cumulative toxin that stays in the tissue permanently, especially in brain tissue. It also affects a person in relation to their body weight. Therefore, an exposed adult can fend off the toxic effects for some time but in children, brain and developmental damage occur quickly and permanently.

Lead pipes and lead solder in the distribution system are the main sources of lead pollution. Boston Globe estimates that 98% of all households have lead in their plumbing. Houses older than 20 years and less than five years are most at risk. Also, houses in areas of soft (low mineral levels) water tend to corrode the lead from the pipes more easily.

Asbestos:
Asbestos is another potential carcinogen that can come either from water with naturally occurring asbestos (such as in areas that have a lot of serpentine rock) or from asbestos-lined water pipes. Thousands of miles of these pipes were laid throughout the U.S. in the 1950's and have yet to be replaced.
Asbestos is so small that it is unfeasible to remove it at the water treatment plant. To build such a removal facility is prohibitively expensive and would clog up the plant within five years of being in operation.

Chemical Pollution:
Chemicals are, for the most part, odorless, colorless and tasteless, therefore undetectable. Chlorine is the most predominant chemical in our water. Some of the most dangerous chemicals are present only in trace amounts (parts per billion) but highly toxic even at these minute levels. Sources are usually industrial or commercial, like leaking underground storage tanks for gasoline or industrial solvents such as TCE (trichloroethane). These leaking toxins end up in the groundwater or in the municipal supply through breaks or cracks in the main water pipes. The biggest family of these toxics are VOC's or volatile organic contaminants, including various plastics, gasolines and petroleum products.
Next is the herbicidal group such as dioxin (2-4D) and lindane, used as a defoliant in modern logging operation and found in many wild and rural areas.

Along with the herbicides comes the pesticidal group such as DDT, malathione and other toxics used in insect eradication and control.

Also, the THM's mentioned before are a big pollutant because of the amount of chlorination used nationwide. They are a separate class of chemical from chlorine itself.

Cysts:

This last group includes microscopic worms, parasites and protozoa. The biggest offenders are giardia and cryptosporidia which cause major diarrhea, dehydration, intestinal disorders and even death in people with compromised immune systems. Water experts estimate that over 63% of water problems in the Unites States today are directly caused by giardia and cryptosporidia.
giardia cysts

Giardia is seven to fourteen microns in size and cryptosporidium is from three to 5 microns in size. When the environment becomes inhospitable (like the presence of chlorine or the absence of water), both parasites can go into the cystic form (like a hard, round impermeable microscopic egg). The cyst form is chlorine resistant and very hard to kill.

Municipal utilities are unable to completely remove these cysts. Cysts have been found in most major municipal water systems in the U.S. Milwaukee, Wisconsin had a huge outbreak of cryptosporidia in 1993 that killed over 100 people. San Francisco, California has repeatedly tested positive for giardia in its chlorinated water that traveled hundreds of miles from the Sierras.

The human body is over 70% water. To think that contaminants in our drinking water have little or no bearing on our short term and long term health picture is to ignore reality. Federal, state and local authorities will strive to do their best to insure that we get the best water possible but they can't undo all of the damage to our water sources over decades of ignorance and abuse.

It's up to us to take personal responsibility to safeguard the water we use to drink and prepare our food. That responsibility starts at each household's kitchen tap. Removing all contaminants at the kitchen or bathroom taps just before consuming the water is the most logical, efficient and economical solution to drinking water purification. In this manner, only the drinking water is filtered (rather than all the household water). Also, there is no possibility for re-contamination (i.e. in a holding tank) after purifying the water.

Using filtration systems to rid our tap water from harmful contaminants.

Bottled water in some cases can be of high quality, but its cost makes it a less-than-ideal solution. There is also a potential problem with the cloudy plastic (PVC) containers from your grocery store as they transfer far too many chemicals into the water. Therefore let's look at filters for a better solution.

"Buy a filter or be a filter." That's one company's slogan.

Today there is enough grassroots consciousness about the dangers of tap water that cheap carbon filters are now available in any hardware store which attach easily to the kitchen faucet. It is likely that such filters get rid of most of the chlorine - for a while.

But to really get the resistant biologicals, the fluoride, heavy metals, and other contaminants, the customer may consider one of the high-end drinking water filters. These cost between $200 and $400 and come in models for both over and under the sink.

Names like Alpine, MultiPure, and Spectrapure are among the dozens of brand names that have come along during the past 20 years. Multipure seems to be out front at this time. Everyone claims to be the best, of course, but we can find some important similarities in their advertising. When you begin to compare the better water filters, you notice common concerns:

Chlorine, THMs, chloriform, chloramines, cryptosporidium and giardia lamblia, cysts, fluoride, minerals, pesticides and toxic chemicals, heavy metals, MTBEs, nitrates.

Killing microbials is not a big deal since most of that's been done by chlorine. Most contaminants are removed by the better filters. The problem when choosing a filter seems to come down to four main concerns: fluoride, minerals, THMs, and nitrates.

It is difficult to find one filter that does everything: many reverse osmosis filters take out fluoride, but also the healthy minerals. Many of the high-end carbon filters will not remove fluoride or nitrates, but leave the healthy minerals.

Fluoride is obviously an important one. Find out if the filter you are about to buy removes fluoride, and what percentage. After what we've learned about fluoride, we should expect a filter to remove it, wouldn't you say? Problem is: the demand.

Due to fluoride advocate propaganda, most Americans don't even realize fluoride is bad for them, and therefore don't think about it when considering a water filter.

NSF is a third-party non-profit testing agency that has been rating water filters for the past 50 years. Always ask - is it NSF-certified? For what? Don't be fooled if they say 'NSF-tested.' There's a big difference between "tested" and "certified".

Minerals is an area of some controversy. You've got the hard water/soft water debate. Hard water has more minerals in it, which obviously is better for the bones and teeth, and probably for the heart as well.

Most naturopaths and holistic nutritionists don't like distilled water because they say it leaches minerals from the bones and teeth. In general, that seems logical, although some expert say it doesn't make any difference unless the person is extremely malnourished.

The truth is, no formal studies comparing distilled with mineral water have been done, so it's all pretty theoretical. But thinking about the Hunzas and their 120-year lifespan that was attributed to the glacial mineral waters they drank, one can see the value of minerals in drinking water.

A high-end water filter should take this discussion into consideration and give reasons about the importance or unimportance of filtering out certain minerals. The water filter I personally prefer myself, is the Berkey water filter. The Berkey is what I use in my home.


Healing through Women Inheriting the Earth.



 

How much is your health worth? Get the Nutribullet!

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Work in progress. My neurofeedback app for Android will be available in the Google Play Store when completed.

The Neurosky EEG headset I am wearing in the video is available here.


By Marc Lacasse

Click the Skype button above and ask me your nutrition-related questions, via Skype video, every weekday from 2pm to 2:15pm, Central Time.

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Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

2002 Healing Daily