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Water Health Risks-What You Need To Know
 

 

This Topic Covers:  Chlorine hazards in tap water and shower water; What you should know about your bottled water; Filtering your water and the steps you should take before you purchase a water filter. How to disinfect your water in case of a public emergency.  Find answers,  remedies and solutions in this topic.




Introduction  

Retrieved From www.epa.gov - Environmental Protection Agency

EPA encourages all Americans to learn more about the quality of their drinking water, both tap water and bottled water, before deciding whether to drink tap water, bottled water, or both. If your water comes from a public water system, the best way to learn more about tap water is to read your water supplier’s annual water quality report. If your water comes from a household well, EPA recommends testing the water regularly for bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants. The best way to learn more about bottled water is to read its label, or contact the producer directly.

www.environmentalpollutioncenters.org reports,

According to some estimates, every year few millions of Americans are sickened by polluted water. Water pollution involves the pollution of surface waters and/or groundwater which may cause a series of diseases referred to as water pollution diseases. These could have serious health impacts. While we can control (to some extent) the water we drink, the pollution of our water streams may have long-term effects by reducing the “drinkable” water reserves of our planet. Additionally, the common filtration methods for water are not efficient for some of the new emerging contaminants – which are many times not tested for either. Water pollution travels slower than air pollution but still may affect large areas. 

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The Importance of Water 

Reference Source - www.urmc.rochester.edu

Need a reason to drink water? Water is essential to good health—and life. Up to 60 percent of an adult’s body weight and about 74 percent of a newborn’s body weight is water, making it the largest single substance in the human body. Here's what water does for you:

  • It helps carry nutrients to all the cells in your body.

  • It helps carry waste products from the cells.

  • It is a part of essential reactions within the body.

  • It helps regulate body temperature by absorbing heat generated by your metabolism and eliminating excess heat through sweating.

  • It helps with digestion of food.

  • It helps lubricate your joints.

Your body must balance the amount of water lost with the amount it gets from food and beverages. About 80 percent of the water you take in comes from the water and beverages you drink; the remaining 20 percent comes from food. A small amount of water also is produced when your body metabolizes foods.

How much water do you need? That depends on your age, percent of body fat, general health, diet, temperature of the air around you and your level of activity. You lose water through urine, sweat, feces, and the air you exhale.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) suggests that the average healthy woman drink about nine cups a day of liquids, and the average man about 13 cups a day.

www.globalhealingcenter.com Copyright

We all know that water is the magic elixir of life. Every living organism needs water in order to function properly. And, you don't need any other liquid to survive. After all, it's the liquid that makes up 70% of our body mass-pure water. Your body relies on water to digest food and to expel waste.

The amount of water is important: Dr. Group recommends that you drink eight 8-ounce glasses daily. And the quality of water you drink matters too. With all the toxic chemicals that can be present in public water supplies, as well as bottled water, it's best if you drink purified water.

Water contains many of the nutrients that make us health and keep us alive. Unfortunately, some chemicals in water are also dangerous. Most of these excess chemicals in water are "runoffs", or leftover human materials.

 

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Alarming Statistics 

  

www.nrdc.org - Natural Resources Defense Council

While it is true the United States has some of the best drinking water in the world, a disturbing new report conducted by the New York Times revealed that one in ten Americans have been exposed to drinking water that contains dangerous chemicals, including carcinogens in the tap water of major American cities and unsafe chemicals in drinking water wells in more rural areas. The primary reason, according to the report: the laws intended to protect our water supplies, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, are not being enforced. In fact, researchers found, barely 3 percent of violations resulted in fines or other significant penalties by state officials responsible for enforcing the law...

While we reasonably may choose to use bottled water for convenience, taste, or as a temporary alternative to contaminated tap water, it is no long-term national solution to this problem. Bottled water sometimes is contaminated, and we don't use it to bathe, shower, etc. -- major routes of exposure for some tap water contaminants. A major shift to bottled water could undermine funding for tap water protection, raising serious equity issues for the poor. Manufacture and shipping of billions of bottles causes unnecessary energy and petroleum consumption, leads to landfilling or incineration of bottles, and can release environmental toxins. The long-term solution to our water woes is to fix our tap water so it is safe for everyone, and tastes and smells good.

www.allaboutwater.org Copyright   All About Water.org 

“An estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle—sometimes further treated, sometimes not.” 

Retrieved From - www.chlorinefreeproducts.org

THE WASHINGTON POST: "The EPA has raised skin absorption of chlorine to its top 10 carcinogen watch list." June 1994

[Skin absorption of chlorine occurs in your shower, bathtub, swimming pool and spa. -- Unless you have a Point of Entry (POE) system to remove all toxins before they enter your property.]

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Answers to Questions Concerning Your Water

safewater.supportportal.com

Find answers to the most frequent asked questions concerning your water. The Knowledge Base has 597 support references, created by support professionals who have resolved issues for our customers. It is constantly updated, expanded, and refined to ensure that you have access to the very latest information.

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How Safe Is Public Water? 

www.greenamerica.org - Green America 

Under the Safe Water Drinking Act, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for setting national drinking water standards. The EPA regulates over 80 contaminants—including arsenic, e-coli, cryptosporidia, chlorine, and lead—that may be found in drinking water from public water systems. While the EPA says that 90 percent of US public water systems meet its standards, you may want to use a water filter to further ensure your water’s safety. 

A 2003 study by the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that due to a combination of pollution and deteriorating equipment and pipes, the public water supplies in 19 of America’s largest cities delivered drinking water that contained contaminant levels exceeding EPA limits (either legal limits or unenforceable suggested limits) and may pose health risks to some residents. So even though it may test fine at its source, public water may still pick up contaminants on the way to your house. 


Contaminants that sneaked into city water supplies studied by the NRDC include rocket fuel, arsenic, lead, fecal waste, and chemical by-products created during water treatment.

Exposure to the contaminants [sometimes found in public and private drinking water] can cause a number of health problems, ranging from nausea and stomach pain to developmental problems and cancer,” notes Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in its booklet, Drinking Water: What Health Care Providers Should Know. PSR estimates that up to 900,000 people get sick and 900 die in the US per year from contaminated public and private drinking water. Despite the problems with public water, it’s still just as safe as bottled water, despite the billions of dollars beverage companies spend to make you think bottled is better.

www.cdc.gov

The United States has one of the safest public drinking water supplies in the world. Over 286 million Americans get their tap water from a community water system (1). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates drinking water quality in public water systems and sets maximum concentration levels for water chemicals and pollutants.

Sources of drinking water are subject to contamination and require appropriate treatment to remove disease-causing contaminants. Contamination of drinking water supplies can occur in the source water as well as in the distribution system after water treatment has already occurred. There are many sources of water contamination, including naturally occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, uranium), local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, concentrated feeding operations), manufacturing processes, and sewer overflows or wastewater releases.

The presence of contaminants in water can lead to adverse health effects, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people whose immune systems are compromised because of AIDS, chemotherapy, or transplant medications, may be especially susceptible to illness from some contaminants.

Top 10 Causes - Outbreaks in Public Water Systems*

For a complete listing of water-related surveillance data, see CDC’s Surveillance Reports for Drinking Water-associated Disease & Outbreaks

 

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Health Effects of Drinking Water Contamination 

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

While the most common water pollution diseases involve poisoning episodes affecting the digestive system and human infectious diseases, water pollution may cause a large variety of health diseases including: 

  • Infectious diseases caused by pathogens (usually microorganisms) from animal fecal origins, of which the most common occur in developing countries involving:

- Typhoid

- Giardiasis

- Amoebiasis

- Ascariasis

- Hookworm

  • Diseases caused by polluted beach water including:
- Gastroenteritis
- Diarrhea
- Encephalitis
- Stomach craps and aches
- Vomiting
- Hepatitis
- Respiratory infections
  • Liver damage and even cancer (due to DNA damage) – caused by a series of chemicals (e.g., chlorinated solvents, MTBE)

  • Kidney damage caused by a series of chemicals

  • Neurological problems - damage of the nervous system – usually due to the presence of chemicals such as pesticides (i.e., DDT)

  • Reproductive and endocrine damage including interrupted sexual development, inability to breed, degraded immune function, decreased fertility and increase in some types of cancers – caused by a series of chemicals including endocrine disruptors – which

  • Thyroid system disorders (a common example is exposure through perchlorate which is a chemical contaminating large water bodies such as Colorado River)

  • Increased water pollution creates breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes killing 1.2-2.7 million people a year

A series of less serious health effects could be associated by bathing into contaminated water (i.e, polluted beach water) including:

  • Rashes

  • Ear aches

  • Pink eyes

Water pollution can affect us:

  • Directly – through consumption or bathing in a polluted stream (that involve consumption of municipal water, as well as bathing in polluted lakes or beach water).

  • Indirectly – through the consumption of vegetables irrigated with contaminated water, as well as of fish or other animals that live in the polluted water or consume animals grown in the polluted water. This is many times more dangerous than being directly affected through consumption of water because some pollutants bioaccumulate in fish and living organisms (their concentration in fish could be several orders of magnitude higher than their water concentration). Additionally the toxins from the brown tide are strong and can travel via air affecting homeowners close to the beach.

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Tap Water Precautions 

www.epa.gov  – Environmental Protection Agency

Some people may wish to take special precautions with the water they drink. In particular, people with immune systems that are weakened by AIDS, chemotherapy or transplant medications are more vulnerable to microbial contaminants in drinking water such as Cryptosporidium.

Cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that lives in the intestine of infected animals and humans. It passes in the stool in its dormant oocyst form. The oocyst 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. It occurs mainly in surface water sources, such as lakes, streams and rivers. In healthy adults, Cryptosporidium can cause illness, but for people with weakened immune systems, it can cause severe illness and even death. Those who wish to take extra measures to avoid waterborne cryptosporidiosis can bring their drinking water to a boil for a full minute. Boiling water is the most effective way of killing Cryptosporidium. As an alternative to boiling water, people may take the following measures:

Use a point-of-use filter: Consider using point-of-use (personal use, end-of-tap, under sink) filters that remove particles one micrometer or less in diameter. Filters that use reverse osmosis, those labeled as “absolute one micron filters,” or those labeled as certified by an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) -accredited organization to ANSI/NSF Standard 53 for “Cyst Removal” provide the greatest assurance of removing Cryptosporidium. As with all filters, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for filter use and replacement.

Use bottled water: Check the label or call the bottler to find out how bottled water is treated. The following bottled water treatments protect against Cryptosporidium: reverse osmosis, distillation, ultraviolet light, or filtration with an absolute one-micron filter. Bottled waters derived from protected well and spring water sources are less likely to be contaminated by Cryptosporidium than those containing untreated municipal drinking water from less protected sources such as rivers and lakes.

Those who choose to take these precautions should remember that they can be exposed to waterborne pathogens through water used for brushing teeth, making ice cubes, and washing fruits and vegetables – not just through water they drink.

EPA encourages all Americans to learn more about the quality of their drinking water, both tap water and bottled water, before deciding whether to drink tap water, bottled water, or both. If your water comes from a public water system, the best way to learn more about tap water is to read your water supplier’s annual water quality report. If your water comes from a household well, EPA recommends testing the water regularly for bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants. The best way to learn more about bottled water is to read its label, or contact the producer directly.

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Search to See About Your Local Water Quality 

www.foodandwaterwatch.org - Food & Water Watch

Check to See If Your State Is Listed  - Why your state needs a national clean water trust fund:

When a resource is as basic as clean water, it can be easy to take for granted. Flowing in and out of our homes and businesses through underground pipes, clean water for sanitation keeps our communities livable, our lifestyles possible, and our industries viable. But while steady access to clean water is a cornerstone of modern society, its future is far from secure.

As recent tragedies have shown, the United States national infrastructure is experiencing the consequences of decades of neglect. Our water systems, many of which are more than 100 years old, are no exception.

Fiscal 2007 saw the Clean Water State Revolving Fund funded at some of the lowest levels in history, and for 2008 the president has requested states be given a mere $688 million, the lowest levels since the program‚ inception.

Clear Waters: Why America Needs a Clean Water Trust Fund will examine trends in clean water spending on a state-by-state level, pointing out the need for urgent action while explaining the benefits that could be achieved through the establishment of a clean water trust fund.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF 

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Drugs Pollute Our Water Supply 

Content provided from  Life Extension.org (Death by Medicine Report)

We have reached the point of saturation with prescription drugs. Every body of water tested contains measurable drug residues. The tons of antibiotics used in animal farming, which run off into the water table and surrounding bodies of water, are conferring antibiotic resistance to germs in sewage, and these germs also are found in our water supply. Flushed down our toilets are tons of drugs and drug metabolites that also find their way into our water supply. We have no way to know the long-term health consequences of ingesting a mixture of drugs and drug-breakdown products. These drugs represent another level of iatrogenic disease that we are unable to completely measure.66-74.  To read the entire reportwww.lef.org

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Rocket Fuel In Water  

www.cdc.gov - factsheets - perchlorate

Sources of Perchlorate and How are People Exposed

  • Perchlorate is a chemical most commonly used in rocket fuel. The chemical is also used in explosives and fireworks. A combination of human activity and natural sources has led to the widespread presence of perchlorate in the environment.
  • People are exposed to perchlorate by drinking water or eating food containing perchlorate or by working in the manufacture of products containing perchlorate.

www.atsdr.cdc.gov  

Perchlorate has been found in food, including cow’s milk, and in water. Human exposure to perchlorate is expected to occur through the ingestion of food and milk. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently estimated that the US population ingests from 0.08-to 0.39-μg/kg/day perchlorate from food items.

Human exposure to perchlorate also can occur through the ingestion of water, as it has been found in drinking water supplies, tap water samples, and groundwater at some locations. Efforts are being made to determine the relative contribution of perchlorate from food and water.

Sources of perchlorates include rocket fuel, flares, gunpowder, temporary adhesives, electrolysis baths, batteries, drying agents, etching agents, oxygen generating systems, matches, chlorine and chlorine based cleaners, and pool chlorination chemicals.

Toxicokinetics - (The description of what rate a chemical will enter the body and what happens to it once it is in the body: 

  • Perchlorate appears to be readily absorbed by the digestive system after oral exposure and enters the bloodstream within a few hours of ingestion.

  • Perchlorate is rapidly taken up into the thyroid gland by an active transport mechanism.

  • Perchlorate does not appear to be modified in the body, either by degradation or covalent binding.

  • Perchlorate is rapidly eliminated from the body in the urine with half-times of approximately 8-12 hours in humans.

However, recent studies have shown widespread exposure to low levels of perchlorate by the general population, so exposure may be frequent.  

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Health Risks from Perchlorate

www.cfsan.fda.gov

Human exposure to sufficiently high doses of perchlorate may disrupt how the thyroid gland functions. In adults, the thyroid plays an important role in metabolism, making and storing hormones that help regulate the heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and the rate at which food is converted into energy. In fetuses and infants, thyroid hormones are critical for normal growth and development of the central nervous system. Perchlorate can interfere with the human body's ability to absorb iodine into the thyroid gland which is a critical element in the production of thyroid hormone.

www.atsdr.cdc.gov  

Exposure of people to excessive amounts of perchlorate for a long time may lower the thyroid activity, leading to a condition called hypothyroidism. The prevalence of hypothyroidism is about 5% in the general population of the United States, but there is no evidence that any of this percentage is due to perchlorate exposure.

Because thyroid hormones play a critical role in the neurological development of the fetus, there is concern that hypothyroidism (maternal and fetal) during pregnancy could result in neurodevelopment effects...

Children’s Health Risks

The most sensitive population is fetuses of pregnant women who might have hypothyroidism or iodide deficiency.

Infants and developing children may be more likely to be affected by perchlorate than adults because thyroid hormones are essential for normal growth and development.

www.cfsan.fda.gov

Should I be worried about reconstituting my child’s infant formula with tap water?

EPA is issuing its interim health advisory for perchlorate to assist state and local officials in addressing local contamination of drinking water supplies from perchlorate. If you live in one of the few areas where perchlorate in the public drinking water is at levels above 15 parts per billion, FDA recommends using water that is lower in perchlorate levels, such as bottled water or water from a home treatment device certified for perchlorate removal, to reconstitute your infant's formula.

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Is Your Water Safe?  



www.nrdc.org - National Resources Defense Council

Whether your water is safe or contaminated depends on several factors: its source, what if any treatment it receives; and the quality of the pipes in your home. Follow these simple steps to check out the quality of your water:

* Find out about your water system. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates the community water systems that supply drinking water to most Americans. Every water system is required to publish a yearly “consumer confidence report” detailing contaminants or violations of water quality standards. You can see the report for your water system by contacting the system directly. To find your water system, visit EPA's water systems directory.

* Have water from your own well tested. Wells, which are not typically regulated by the SDWA, are more likely to contain contaminants than municipal water systems. The E.P.A. advises that you test well water annually, especially if you see signs of trouble like corroded pipes, strange odors or stained laundry.

* Check to see if there are free or low cost testing services available. Your municipality, county or state health department may offer free or low-cost testing services; otherwise, you can use a laboratory certified in your state. The E.P.A. has a list of certified labs. For further information on well water quality, the E.P.A. suggests consulting nonprofit groups like the American Ground Water Trust.

* Decide which contaminants to test for. Ask for guidance from the lab or your local health department on which contaminants to test for. Find out whether radon or heavy metals like arsenic are present in underground rocks or soils in your area. Tell the laboratory if you live near a farm, an industrial cattle-feeding operation, a gas station, a mine, a factory, a dump or any kind of operation that might produce contaminants that can find their way into ground water.

NRDC recommends that you test your tap water for lead contamination, particularly if you have young kids, are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, since lead is especially dangerous and levels can vary enormously from house to house. A lead test costs about $25.

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How Can I Test My Tap Water? 

water.epa.gov

If you're on a public or municipal water line in the United States, call your local water supplier (the number's on your water bill). By law, the supplier must test its processed water regularly and provide you with a copy of the results, called a Consumer Confidence Report, annually as well as on demand.

Many water agencies across the country now make their annual water quality reports available online. You can access these reports on the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site.

If you contact your local agency by phone, ask for a test of the water from your own faucets to find out whether any contaminants are getting into the water between the treatment plant and your drinking glass. Some suppliers will do this test free of charge.

If your water supplier won't test your water, you'll need to have the test done by a state-certified lab. To find one in your area, call the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water hotline at (800) 426-4791, go to the EPA's Web site for a list of state certification offices, or look in the Yellow Pages under "Laboratories — Testing."

Alternatively, you can use a nationwide testing service: Underwriters Laboratories will test your water for a variety of contaminants, from fecal bacteria to industrial pollutants, and get the results to you in about a week. The price depends on how many contaminants you want to test for: It can range from $30 for a simple mercury screen, to $500 for a 94-contaminant screen.

You can also test your water yourself, using a home test kit. These kits can't test for everything, but they detect lead, arsenic, pesticides, and bacteria. Two reputable ones are PurTest and Discover testing. The kits sell for $10 to $30.

In any case, be sure to test what's called first-draw water — the stuff that comes out of your faucet when you first turn on the tap in the morning. If contaminants are leaching from the plumbing pipes into your water, the level of contamination will be highest after the water has sat in the pipes overnight.

Although the EPA says that more than 90 percent of water systems in this country meet its water quality standards, several contaminants can make their way into the water supply. These include arsenic, viruses and other disease-causing organisms, chlorine by-products, industrial and agricultural pollutants, and lead.

In concentrations of more than 15 parts per billion (ppb), lead can be very dangerous to infants and children, leading to delays in physical and mental development, neurological disorders, kidney disease, and learning disabilities. (Contaminants are measured by how many particles of the substance are present in a billion particles of water — 15 ppb means 15 particles of lead in a billion particles of water.)

Have your water tested for lead if you have lead pipes or brass faucets (which may contain lead), and for copper if you have copper pipes.
Lead solder could legally be used to join plumbing pipes until 1986, but lead is a concern even if you live in a brand-new home. Faucets and pipes are still allowed to contain as much as 8 percent lead and have been shown to leach the metal in significant amounts, particularly when they're new.

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What Should You Do If Your Water is Contaminated?

Once you have identified the problem, you can take the appropriate steps to fix it:

  • If the problem is corroded pipes in your home, consider replacing them.
  • If your well is contaminated by bacteria, you can have it disinfected or you can drill a deeper well.
  • If your water contains other contaminants - heavy metals, pesticides, volatile organic chemicals, minerals, parasites or bacteria - you should consider installing a filtration system.
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Solutions - Filtering Your Wate

Reference - www.nrdc.org - National Resources Defense Council  

Selecting the Right Filter:  Household water filters generally fall into one of two categories: point-of-entry units, which treat water before it gets distributed throughout the house; and point-of-use units, which include countertop filters (e.g. filter pitchers), faucet filters, and under-the-sink units. Some filters use more than one kind of filtration technology

As a general rule, look for filters labeled as meeting NSF/ANSI standard 53 and that are certified to remove the contaminant(s) of concern in your water. While the NSF certification program is not flawless, it does provide some assurance that at least some claims made by the manufacturer have been verified. NSF-certified filters have been independently tested to show that they can reduce levels of certain pollutants under specified conditions. Those that meet standard 53 are geared toward treating water for health, not just for aesthetic qualities.

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Consumer Guide to Water Filters - Types of Filters  

Activated Carbon Filter  

  • How it works: Positively charged and highly absorbent carbon in the filter attracts and traps many impurities.

  • Used in: Countertop, faucet filters and under-the-sink units.

  • Gets rid of: Bad tastes and odors, including chlorine. Standard 53-certified filters also can substantially reduce many hazardous contaminants, including heavy metals such as copper, lead and mercury; disinfection byproducts; parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium; pesticides; radon; and volatile organic chemicals such as methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE), dichlorobenzene and trichloroethylene (TCE).

Cation Exchange Softener 

  • How it works: "Softens" hard water by trading minerals with a strong positive charge for one with less of a charge.

  • Used in: Whole-house, point-of-entry units.

  • Gets rid of: Calcium and magnesium, which form mineral deposits in plumbing and fixtures, as well as barium and some other ions that can create health hazards.

Distiller 

  • How it works: Boils water and recondenses the purified steam.

  • Used in: Countertop or whole house point-of-entry units; can be combined with a carbon filter.

  • Gets rid of: Heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium, copper, lead and mercury, as well as arsenic, barium, fluoride, selenium and sodium.

Reverse Osmosis

  • How it works: A semi permeable membrane separates impurities from water. (Note: This filtration technique wastes a substantial amount of water during the treatment process.)

  • Used in: Under-the-sink units; often in combination with a carbon filter or UV disinfection unit.

  • Gets rid of: Most contaminants, including certain parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia; heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead and mercury; and other pollutants, including arsenic, barium, nitrate/nitrite, perchlorate and selenium.

Ultraviolet Disinfection

  • How it works: Ultraviolet light kills bacteria and other microorganisms.

  • Used in: Under-the-sink units, often in combination with a carbon filter and sediment screen.

  • Gets rid of: Bacteria and parasites; class A systems protect against harmful bacteria and viruses, including Cryptosporidium and Giardia, while class B systems are designed to make non-disease-causing bacteria inactive.

www.wqa.org - Water Quality Association

This resource provides a convenient, encyclopedic search mechanism for individuals who want information on contaminants, water quality technologies, applications, regulatory issues, etc.

  • Find a Water Professional
  • Diagnose Your Water
  • Gold Seal Certified Products
  • Water Information Library
  • Informed Consumer
  • Consumer Resources

 

Water Filter Comparison Guide

www.waterfiltercomparisons.com

There are several options available in the market when it comes to filtering your drinking water. Options include under counter water filtration systems, countertop water filtration, pitcher water filtration and faucet attachments. Below, we have compiled important information for you to consider when choosing a drinking water filter including a product by product comparison, filter contaminant reduction capabilities, installation requirements, and ongoing costs per gallon.

 

Search for Certified Water Products

Check to see if your water filter is certified:

info.nsf.org - Search for NSF Certified Drinking Water Treatment Units, Water Filters

www.wqa.org - Search for WQA (Water Quality Association) Certified Product Listings can be searched by a manufacturer's name or by scheme categories

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10 Reasons to Use a Shower Filter 

www.allaboutwater.org - Copyright   All About Water.org
  1. The EPA has stated that every household in the United States has elevated levels of chloroform in the air due to chlorine released from showering water.

  2. Tap water often contains at least as much, if not more, chlorine than is recommended for use in swimming pools.

  3. More chlorine enters the body through dermal absorption and inhalation while showering than through drinking tap water.

  4. The chlorine in showering water has harsh, drying effects on skin and hair.

  5. Skin pores widen while showering, making dermal absorption of chlorine and other chemicals possible.

  6. The chlorine in showering water can cause rashes and other skin irritations when absorbed by the skin.

  7. Chemicals in showering water vaporize at a much faster rate than the actual water. Thus, the steam in a shower contains a much higher concentration of chemicals than the water itself.

  8. Inhaled chemicals make their way into the bloodstream much more quickly than ingested chemicals, without the added filtration benefits of digestion.

  9. More water contaminants are released into the air of a home from the shower than from any other source.

  10. Chlorine is a suspected cause of breast cancer. Women suffering from breast cancer are all found to have 50-60 percent more chlorine in their breast tissue than healthy women.

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Chlorine Cancer Risks 
 

www.greenfacts.org - pdf Copyright GreenFacts

Why is there concern about water disinfectants? Chlorine has been used very widely to kill germs in drinking water and fight waterborne disease. However chlorine reacts with natural material in the water to form a range of disinfectant by-products (DBPs) of public health concern. Therefore, alternative chemical disinfectants are increasingly being used, either alone, in addition to chlorine, or in combination with one another. They include ozone (O3), chlorine dioxide (ClO2) and chloramines (NH2Cl). However, each has been shown to form its own set of disinfectant by-products (DBPs).

There is thus a need to better understand the health risks associated with each mode of disinfection and to decrease the chemical risk without compromising the microbiological safety of drinking water.

Are there uncertainties in assessing exposure? Toxicological studies attempt to extrapolate the results of laboratory animal studies to humans. This may lead to an estimation of risk factors for some health effects.

Epidemiological studies attempt to link human health effects (e.g. cancer) to a cause (e.g. exposure to a disinfectant by-product, DBP) and require exposure assessments.

Humans can be exposed to chemical risks from disinfected drinking-water through several routes:

  • ingestion of disinfectant by-products (DBPs) in drinking-water;

  • ingestion of drinking-water that has a residual of free chlorine at the tap and the resulting formation of DBPs in the mouth and stomach (ozone cannot be present at the tap and chloramines and chlorine dioxide do not react to form by-products);

  • inhalation of volatile DBPs during showering.

However, it is generally assumed that the most significant route is the ingestion of DBPs.

Conclusion: Animal studies indicate that none of the chlorination by-products studied to date is a potent carcinogen at concentrations normally found in drinking water. There is insufficient epidemiological evidence to conclude that drinking chlorinated water causes cancers. The results of currently published studies do not provide convincing evidence that chlorinated water or THMs cause adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Nevertheless it is prudent to take steps to minimise exposure to DBPs, where this can be achieved without compromising disinfection. Strategies should focus on eliminating organic impurities fostering DBP formation.

www.historyofwaterfilters.com - Copyright

Contaminants Resulting from Municipal Additives - Chlorine Byproducts - In 1972, chloroform, a particularly deadly poison, was detected in chlorinated drinking water. This detection sparked numerous epidemiological studies. The proponents of such studies intended to investigate the potential health risks of drinking chlorinated water. As a result of these epidemiological studies, scientists discovered a large number of chlorine byproducts found within chlorinated drinking water. Chlorine, in addition to killing or inactivating pathogens in water, reacts with natural organic matter and/or the chemical compound bromide in water to produce various organic and inorganic byproducts. These byproducts include bromate, chlorite, haloacetic acids (HAA5), and total trihalomethanes (TTHMs). 

Many epidemiological studies indicated an association between ingestion of chlorinated water and occurrences of bladder cancer and rectal cancer. A 1991 report, a compilation of 12 different studies, indicated that 9% of bladder cancer cases and 15% of rectal cancer cases in the United States could be attributed to chlorinated water and chlorine byproducts (Xie, 2004). These numbers translate to 10,000 cases of cancer a year that can be credited to chlorinated water! 

Each of the four main chlorine byproducts contributes to increased cases of bladder and rectal cancer, but some byproducts lead to other adverse health effects, as well. Chlorite can cause anemia in infants and young children It can also affect nervous system functioning in both children and adults. TTHMs can cause nervous system problems, in addition to triggering kidney and liver problems. There is a positive correlation between TTHMs in drinking water and spontaneous abortion, as well (Xie, 2004). 

The EPA has set MCLs for chlorine byproducts in drinking water, but these chlorine byproducts continue to be present, and, even in small amounts, they can lead to damaging health problems. 

www.globalhealingcenter.com Copyright 1998 - 2014 | All Rights Reserved

Chlorine and Breast Cancer: Breast cancer, which now affects one in every eight women in North America, has recently been linked to the accumulation of chlorine compounds in the breast tissue. A study carried out in Hartford Connecticut, the first of it’s kind in North America, found that; “women with breast cancer have 50% to 60% higher levels of organochlorines (chlorination byproducts) in their breast tissue than women without breast cancer.”

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Hazards of Chlorine in Shower Water  

orthomolecular.org (Riordan Clinic)

Taking a warm shower or lounging in a tub filled with hot chlorinated water, one inhales chloroform. Researchers recorded increases in chloroform concentration in bathers’ lungs of about 2.7 ppb after a 10-minute shower. Worse, warm water causes the skin to act like a sponge; and so one will absorb and inhale more chlorine in a ten-minute shower than by drinking eight glasses of the same water. This irritates the eyes, the sinuses, throat, skin and lungs, dries the hair and scalp, worsening dandruff. It can also weaken immunity.

A window from the shower room open to the outdoors would release chloroform from the shower room air, but to prevent its absorption through the skin requires a showerhead that removes chlorine.

www.life-enthusiast.com Copyright   Life Enthusiast

The risks of chlorine exposure are serious– including, but not limited to…

  Irritation of the eyes, sinuses, throat, and skin

  Aggravation of the lungs

  Excessive free radical formation = accelerated aging

  Hardened arteries

  Difficulty metabolizing cholesterol

  Higher vulnerability to genetic mutation

  Development of cancer

In a recent article in The American Journal of Public Health, chlorine was linked to measurable increases in certain types of cancer. The article also reported that up to 2/3 of our harmful exposure to chlorine is through absorption by the skin during showering. Even if you can’t detect the presence of chlorine in your water by its smell or taste, that doesn’t mean you’re safe from the consequence of exposure. Chlorine exposure can be especially harmful for individuals with sinus problems, allergies, skin rashes, emphysema and asthma.

Inhaling Chloroform? The most current findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicate that virtually every home in America has a detectable level of chloroform gas in the air. Chloroform is a derivative of chlorine and formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.  Chlorine and showering are its source. Anyone who showers regularly should be concerned about the dangers of chlorine exposure, but especially those who suffer from dry and irritated skin; damaged and brittle hair; flaky or itchy scalp; or redness and burning of the eyes.

Experts used to believe that ingestion was the primary method of chlorine intake, but new studies show that inhalation and skin exposure intake are even higher. One of the most prevalent forms of chlorine taken in through inhalation is chloroform. Remember, chloroform is a carcinogen, and it’s also linked to excessive free radical formation, cell mutation, and the oxidation of cholesterol.

How to Protect Yourself from the Hazards of Chlorine

Obviously, avoiding showers altogether is not an option. There’s a far better (and simpler) solution — and that is … to get the chlorine out of your water. The best way to eliminate chlorine and its hazardous derivatives from your water supply is to install a shower filter.

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Bottle Water Health Risks Precautions 

www.nrdc.org - Natural Resources Defense Council

"NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Policy Solutions" There is no evidence that bottled water is truly immune from Cryptosporidium or Giardia unless it is fully protected and treated with EPA-CDC recognized best available technologies, and much bottled water does not receive this treatment. Indeed, internal industry communications highlight that IBWA is well aware that some bottlers do not use these treatment technologies. [241]

www.foodandwaterwatch.org - Food & Water Watch

Tap water is regulated by the EPA as well as state and local governments, but bottled water is only checked by the Food and Drug Administration. FDA doesn’t even get to most food plants every year, with some plants going five or ten years between inspections. Though the FDA is supposed to test bottled water at the same standards as the EPA, FDA guidelines are years behind the EPA’s. Here are some of the more disturbing examples…

  • In 2009, almost 50 percent of all bottled water came from municipal tap water supplies.

  • According to a 2010 survey, only 3 companies provide the public with the same level of information available for tap water. This includes where the water came from, how it was treated and what the results of the water quality tests were.

  • Independent testing of bottled water conducted by the Environmental Working Group in 2008 found that 10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, contained 38 chemical pollutants, with an average of 8 contaminants in each brand.

www.nrdc.org -   Natural Resources Defense Council

"NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) Policy Solutions" - This is the online version of NRDC's March 1999 petition to the FDA and attached report on the results of our four-year study of the bottled water industry, including its bacterial and chemical contamination problems. The petition and report find major gaps in bottled water regulation and conclude that bottled water is not necessarily safer than tap water. The online version contains all of the report's text, tables and figures; it does not include the accompanying Technical Report or additional attachments to the petition. 

Misleading Bottled Water Labeling and Marketing: In 1995, FDA issued "standards of identity" -- essentially labeling rules, in response to a petition from the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). [230] These rules were widely acclaimed as a breakthrough that would prohibit misleading claims by unscrupulous water bottlers. While the rules do prohibit some of the most egregiously deceptive labeling practices by bottlers, they have by no means eliminated the problem.

Some Bottled Water Labels Remain Misleading to Consumers: The Institute of Medicine, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, found in a 1992 study that deceptive bottled water labeling was a widespread practice, with state authorities exasperated about FDA inaction in the face of frequent statements and vignettes indicating or implying that the bottled water was far purer than tap water or came from specific sources or had purity levels that may not have been justified.

Many of these practices continue. For example, FDA rules allow bottlers to call their product "spring water" -- which seems to carry cachet with consumers as being especially natural and pure -- even though it may be brought to the surface using a pumped well, and even though it may be treated with chemicals. FDA merely requires that the geologic formation that is tapped by the well must come to the surface somewhere, sometimes, to allow the water pumped to the surface in a well to be called spring water. [232]

Bottled Water Marketing is Often False or Misleading: Bottled water marketing seeks to emphasize the supposed purity of bottled water, in many cases contrasting "pure" and "protected" bottled water with "inconsistent" or unpredictable tap water quality. In the words of a leading industry consultant, "Water bottlers are selling a market perception that water is 'pure and good for you'...." [235]

This effort to create a "market perception" of purity is an advertising mandate for the industry, notwithstanding the fact that just because water comes from a bottle does not mean that it is any purer than tap water, as we have seen in previous chapters. Among the common industry claims about bottled water that are of questionable veracity or that are clearly incorrect are:

Bottled water contains "no" chlorine or harmful chemicals. This claim is boldly featured on IBWA fact sheets and its Web site. [236] It clearly is false, as previous chapters have shown…

Imported bottled water must meet all U.S. rules. IBWA states that "any bottled water sold in the United States must meet all of the same regulations as domestically produced water." [242] But what is not mentioned is that FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices, source approval, and source-water-testing requirements apply at the source or bottling facility and are impossible for FDA to enforce when such facilities are outside of the United States. FDA does not conduct any foreign inspections of bottlers, so the degree to which foreign bottlers comply with these FDA rules is not known. What is clear, however, is that these FDA rules do not apply equally to foreign bottlers. To read in entirety… www.nrdc.org

Reference - www.commondreams.org Copyrighted

While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the quality of public water supplies, the agency has no authority over bottled water. Bottled water that crosses state lines is considered a food product and is overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which does mandate that it be bottled in sanitary conditions using food-grade equipment. According to the influential International Bottled Water Association (IBWA), "By law, the FDA Standard of Quality for bottled water must be as stringent as the EPA's standards for public drinking water."

However, the FDA is allowed to interpret the EPA's regulations and apply them selectively to bottled water. As Senior Attorney Erik Olson of the NRDC explains, "Although the FDA has adopted some of the EPA's regulatory standards, it has decided not to adopt others and has not even ruled on some points after several years of inaction." In a 1999 report, the NRDC concludes that bottled water quality is probably not inferior to average tap water, but Olson (the report's principal author) says that gaps in the weak regulatory framework may allow careless or unscrupulous bottlers to market substandard products. He says that may be of particular concern to those with compromised immune systems.

The IBWA urges consumers to trust bottled water in part because the FDA requires water sources to be "inspected, sampled, analyzed and approved." However, the NRDC argues that the FDA provides no specific requirements-such as proximity to industrial facilities, underground storage tanks or dumps-for bottled water sources…

According to Olson, the FDA has no official procedure for rejecting bottled water sources once they become contaminated. He also says a 1990 government audit revealed that 25 percent of water bottlers had no record of source approval. Further, in contrast to the EPA, which employs hundreds of staffers to protect the nation's tap water systems, the FDA doesn't have even one full-time regulator in charge of bottled water. But generally speaking, anything that doesn't say "source" or "spring" on the label is just fancy tap water.

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The Threat of Plastic Water Bottles

www.greencleancertified.com Green Clean Certified

Consumers who drink water (or ingest any food) contained in certain hard and soft plastic bottles can expose themselves to health risks associated with chemicals in the plastic. The culprit?  Phthalates.

The older the plastic, the higher the risks may be. Consumers may be wise to check the bottle’s expiration date before drinking the water contained within.  To read more…www.greencleancertified.com

Link to Non Toxic Living for Additional Information Threats of BPA Plastic Containers

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Bottle Water Certifications 

Reference - www.epa.gov  – Environmental Protection Agency

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is a trade organization for water bottlers.  IBWA members must meet the organization’s “model code” and are subject to annual inspections by an independent third party. Bottlers belonging to IBWA frequently indicate membership on their labels.

NSF International - Bottled water certified by NSF undergoes additional testing by unannounced annual plant inspections. NSF certifications mean that the bottler complies with all applicable FDA requirements, including good manufacturing practices.

NSF Certification:  Testing program provides for annual unannounced plant inspections covering every aspect of a bottler's operation, from the source of the water, through the disinfection and treatment process, and including the container closure process. We also perform extensive product testing for over 160 chemical, inorganic, radiological, and microbiological contaminants.

The NSF Bottled Water Certification Program is an annual, voluntary certification process that includes both extensive product evaluations as well as on-site audits of bottling facilities.

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Benefits of NSF Certification for Consumers

Reference - www.nsf.org -  NSF International

No other independent testing programs require companies to comply with the strict standards imposed by NSF and its product certification programs. From extensive product testing and material analyses to unannounced plant inspections, NSF is the only third-party testing organization to undertake a complete evaluation of every aspect of a product's development before it can earn our certification.

Most importantly for you, NSF Certification is not a one-time activity. We do not just test a single model of a product and give it our okay. Our certification programs require regular on-site inspections of the manufacturing facilities. In addition, certified products are periodically re-tested against the requirements of the most current version of the applicable national standard. If for any reason a product fails to meet one or more of our certification criteria, we will take whatever enforcement actions we deem necessary to protect the public, including product recall, public notification, or de-certification.

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Search for Certified Bottled Water  

www.nsf.org

Check to see if your favorite bottled water is certified (you’ll be surprised and probably disappointed)

info.nsf.org - Search for NSF Certified Bottled Waters & Natural Mineral Waters, Beverages, Packaged Ice, and Caps & Containers 

 

Other Resources:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): phone 202-260-5543. Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 800-426-4791.

NSF International: phone toll-free in U.S., 800-NSF-MARK; otherwise 734-769-8010. For questions on consumer products, call 877-867-3435. To get The Consumer's Guide to Safe Drinking Water, which lists the water-treatment units tested by NSF and the contaminants they remove, send $7 to NSF Inter-national, Consumer Affairs Office, P.O. Box 130140, 789 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0140.

Natural Resources Defense Council: phone 212-727-2700.

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When and When Not to Boil Water 

www.epa.gov/safewater - Water on Tap What You Need to Know  

Boil Water Notices for Microbial Contaminants:  When microorganisms such as those that indicate fecal contamination are found in drinking water, water suppliers are required to issue “Boil Water Notices.” Boiling water for one minute kills the microorganisms that cause disease. Therefore, these notices serve as a precaution to the public.

Nitrates: Do NOT boil water to attempt to reduce nitrates. Boiling water contaminated with nitrates increases its concentration and potential risk. If you are concerned about nitrates, talk to your health care provider about alternatives to boiling water for baby formula.

Lead:  Do NOT boil water to attempt to reduce lead. Boiling water increases lead concentration. Always use water from the cold tap for preparing baby formula, cooking, and drinking. Flush pipes first by running the water before using it. Allow the water to run until it’s cold. If you have high lead levels in your tap water, talk to your health care provider about alternatives to using boiled water in baby formula.

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Emergency Disinfection of Drinking Water

www.epa.gov

Boiling is the surest method to make water safe to drink and kill disease-causing microorganisms like Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium, which are frequently found in rivers and lakes.


These disease-causing organisms are less likely to occur in well water (as long as it has not been affected by flood waters). If not treated properly and neutralized, Giardia may cause diarrhea, fatigue, and cramps after ingestion. Cryptosporidium is highly resistant to disinfection. It may cause diarrhea, nausea and/or stomach cramps. People with severely weakened immune systems are likely to have more severe and more persistent symptoms than healthy individuals. Boil filtered and settled water vigorously for one minute (at altitudes above one mile, boil for three minutes). To improve the flat taste of boiled water, aerate it by pouring it back and forth from one container to another and allow it to stand for a few hours, or add a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of water boiled.

If boiling is not possible, chemical disinfection of filtered and settled water collected from a well, spring, river, or other surface water body will still provide some health benefits and is better than no treatment at all.

Chemical Treatment

When boiling is not practical, certain chemicals will kill most harmful or disease-causing organisms.

For chemical disinfection to be effective, the water must be filtered and settled first. Chlorine and iodine are the two chemicals commonly used to treat water. They are somewhat effective in protecting against exposure to Giardia, but may not be effective in controlling more resistant organisms like Cryptosporidium. Chlorine is generally more effective than iodine in controlling Giardia, and both disinfectants work much better in warm water.

You can use a non-scented, household chlorine bleach that contains a chlorine compound to disinfect water.

Do not use non-chlorine bleach to disinfect water. Typically, household chlorine bleaches will be 5.25% available chlorine. Follow the procedure written on the label. When the necessary procedure is not given, find the percentage of available chlorine on the label and use the information in the following table as a guide. (Remember, 1/8 teaspoon and 8 drops are about the same quantity.)

Available Chlorine

Drops per Quart/Gallon of Clear Water

Drops per Liter of Clear Water

1%

10 per Quart - 40 per Gallon

10 per Liter

4-6%

2 per Quart - 8 per Gallon (1/8 teaspoon)

2 per Liter

7-10%

1 per Quart - 4 per Gallon

1 per Liter

(If the strength of the bleach is unknown, add ten drops per quart or liter of filtered and settled water. Double the amount of chlorine for cloudy, murky or colored water or water that is extremely cold.)

Mix the treated water thoroughly and allow it to stand, preferably covered, for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If not, repeat the dosage and allow the water to stand for an additional 15 minutes. If the treated water has too strong a chlorine taste, allow the water to stand exposed to the air for a few hours or pour it from one clean container to another several times.

You can use granular calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water.
Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water. The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another.

You can use chlorine tablets to disinfect filtered and settled water.
Chlorine tablets containing the necessary dosage for drinking water disinfection can be purchased in a commercially prepared form. These tablets are available from drug and sporting goods stores and should be used as stated in the instructions. When instructions are not available, use one tablet for each quart or liter of water to be purified.

You can use tincture of iodine to disinfect filtered and settled water.
Common household iodine from the medicine chest or first aid kit may be used to disinfect water. Add five drops of 2 percent U.S. or your country’s approved Pharmacopeia tincture of iodine to each quart or liter of clear water. For cloudy water add ten drops and let the solution stand for at least 30 minutes.

You can use iodine tablets to disinfect filtered and settled water.
Purchase commercially prepared iodine tablets containing the necessary dosage for drinking water disinfection at drug and sporting goods stores. Use as stated in instructions. When instructions are not available, use one tablet for each quart or liter of filtered and settled water to be purified.

ONLY USE WATER THAT HAS BEEN PROPERLY DISINFECTED FOR DRINKING, COOKING, MAKING ANY PREPARED DRINK, OR FOR BRUSHING TEETH.

wwwnc.cdc.gov

Travelers who are camping, hiking, or staying in remote areas may need to disinfect their drinking water. Several methods can be used:

Solar Radiation: In an emergency situation, water can be disinfected with sunlight. Water in a clear plastic bottle, preferably lying on a reflective surface (such as aluminum foil), will be safe to drink after a minimum of 6 hours in bright sunlight. This technique does not work on cloudy water.

Heat: Most germs die quickly at high temperatures. Water that has been boiled for 1 minute is safe to drink after it has cooled. If no other method of water disinfection is available, very hot tap water may be safe to drink if it has been in the tank for a while.

Filtering: A variety of filters are available from camping stores. Most have filter sizes between 0.1 and 0.4 microns, which will remove bacteria from water but will not remove viruses. New “hollow fiber” technology can remove viruses as well. “Reverse osmosis” filters remove bacteria and viruses and can also remove salt from water, which is important for ocean voyagers.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light: Portable units that deliver a measured dose of UV light are an effective way to disinfect small quantities of clear water. However, this technique is less effective in cloudy water since germs may be shielded from the light by small particles.

 

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