As a savvy, educated consumer, you have to be concerned about the quality of our drinking water. It seems every day we hear more bad news regarding the state of the water on this planet. And it’s probably worse than we know.
It’s also ironic that at a time when most people are focusing on their health, choosing organic food sources and trying to drink more water, that water quality is our major environmental concern. We’re all alarmed to hear there are things like chlorine, lead, pesticides, herbicides, drugs, pathogens, and even viruses in our tap water. A few years ago, the Ralph Nader Research Group reported that there were over 2100 cancer causing chemicals in the water supply of the United States. What do you suppose has happened in the years since?
Yet, the “powers-that-be” don’t seem to care.
Many people have turned to bottled water to protect themselves from all this pollution. But that has raised its own set of concerns.
“Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water,” EPA Drinking Water FAQ
If you look at the label on the last bottle of water that you bought, you will see that it is most likely filtered tap water, with chemicals added “for taste”. And one of those chemicals is probably salt. Do you really need salt in your drinking water?
Truthfully, bottled water isn’t subject to the same regulations as municipal water sources . There are some guidelines that bottlers must meet, but if the water is not transported across state lines, they don’t even need to meet these minimal requirements.
Then there’s the plastic bottle itself. I’m sure you’ve heard about BPA and it’s potential toxic effects. Even though most bottlers are no longer using plastics with BPA, we are still producing 60 million bottles every year. And of those, only about 20% are recycled. So what happens to the rest?
Most plastic bottles end up either in landfills or out in the ocean.
And just to make it even more painful, you’re paying about a dollar for each bottle of water. If you’re trying to meet the minimum guideline of eight glasses of water a day, you’re spending about $150 a month on bottled water. I’ll let you do the math on how much that adds up to per year.
So what’s the solution?
A lot of people have decided that filtering their own water at home can save them money and also ensure the purity of their drinking water. That’s a first-rate solution.
The most popular home water filtration system right now is reverse osmosis. You should know that while reverse osmosis does remove almost all of the potential contaminants from tap water, it also removes the beneficial minerals we need for our health — calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Proponents of RO will tell you that the minerals in our drinking water are not as important as the minerals in the food we eat. While this may be true, many studies have shown that relying on water without these minerals leads to long term deficiencies and illness.
It makes sense to drink water that, as nature intended, contains these minerals.
Another problem with RO is that it produces 2 to 3 gallons of wastewater for every gallon of purified water. This is not wallet- or eco-friendly. And reverse osmosis produces water with a low PH. Current research shows that we should be drinking water that has either a neutral pH or is slightly alkaline.
Overall, RO doesn’t seem to be the answer, does it?
The most effective home water filtration systems use a multi-stage process: A carbon filter takes out chlorine, lead, and other dissolved solids. A second-stage filter traps volatile organic chemicals (synthetics created by industry and agriculture) using an ion exchange mechanism. And finally, a micron filter removes micro-organisms like viruses. And what you get is perfectly pure, tasty, drinking water.
Besides the actual water that you put in your glass and drink, you also use water in many other places in your home. Think about it. We use water to cook with, to wash our dishes, to wash our clothes, to bathe in, take showers, and even give to our pets. Obviously, we need purified water for all of these uses.
How can you possibly filter all the water in your home?
The best solution is a whole house water filter. This is called a “point of entry” system because it’s installed where the water main enters your house. These are the most efficient and effective mechanisms for ensuring that all water used in your home has been decontaminated.
Alternatively, you can use “point of use” filters. This would mean you’d have a filter on your kitchen faucet, in your shower, maybe on your bathroom sink, in your refrigerator, and any other place where you’re likely to draw water for consumption. Installing multiple filters in your home could prove to be more expensive than buying a whole house filter.
However, if your home was built before 1980, you may have lead pipes. Or you may have copper pipes with lead solder. Either way, a whole house filter will not remove the lead produced by the pipes in your house. The only solution in this case is to add point of use filters in your kitchen.
If you suspect you may have lead or copper pipes, be sure to have your water tested. Further, if your water comes from a well, you must have your water tested. Well water is notoriously contaminated by many local sources.
You want to be sure the filter system you install handles all possible contamination.
There are many well-known and highly advertised water filter systems on the market today. Many make outrageous claims on the effectiveness of their filters. The NSF and Underwriters Laboratories provide certification for water filter systems. In addition, several states have their own higher criteria. Be sure whatever system you are looking at carries not only the basic certification but also that of the State of California, which has the highest standards for water filter answers. Isn’t that what you want?
You should also consider where you’re going to store your filtered water. Obviously, plastic is not a good choice, for all the reasons we’ve looked at here. Most experts recommend storing water either in glass or stainless steel. Glass has the benefit of being economical and recyclable. But stainless steel is more portable.
When it comes to cost, you should be able to find a high-quality, certified, effective, eco-friendly home filtration system that produces pure drinking water for about 10 cents a gallon. Compared to the cost of bottled water (something more than a gallon of gasoline), that’s a real bargain.
In addition to the initial purchase price, you should also factor-in the cost of the replacement filters. Almost all systems require several filter changes per year, and some need major filter changes every few years. While this does influence the cost of the water you use, the bottom line should still be significantly less than buying bottled water.