The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

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water quality and your health

Water conservation is a huge topic concerning both personal health and the environment. Healthy home guru Mary Cordaro has kindly offered to break down some of the big issues for us. Here is her first guest blog about water- I hope you enjoy it!

The Water Problem
By Mary Cordaro

If your water is provided by a local water utility, it goes through quite a rigorous course of treatment before it makes its long journey to your home. That’s because water utilities have a huge task. They are highly regulated to provide us with sanitary water that meets strict EPA guidelines for safety. This is becoming increasingly challenging, for many reasons, but to sum up it up: our water sources, prior to treatment, are highly compromised by many growing environmental conditions and contaminants which are polluting and toxic. The list of toxic contaminants is quite long, but the broad categories include:

  • Microorganisms, meaning bacteria, virus and parasites
  • Disinfection chemicals, including chlorine and ammonia
  • Disinfection chemical byproducts, including trihalomethanes
  • Inorganic and organic chemicals, which includes everything from petrochemical solvents, to fluoride and heavy metals.

If you’d like to take look at this long list of toxic substances that our water utilities must address, including health effects, you will be astounded.

So why is it still important to filter our water if the EPA regulates all those toxic substances? Here are just a few reasons: After treatment, your water travels for miles through city pipes, many of which are very old, and some of which still contain lead. It’s possible they may also harbor certain pathogens that are resistant to disinfection chemicals. And although it’s not as common, lead may even be present in some older home plumbing. Home pipes may also develop a build-up of hard water scale, where sediment can also attach and build up. So the quality of the water may be different when it arrives at your kitchen faucet, than when it started out at the treatment plant.

But in my opinion, there is a more important, larger and overriding concern. If you look at the allowable limits on the EPA link above, you’ll notice that many of those substances may be present in low, allowable amounts in our water. In other words, scientists have determined that many toxic substances, including industrial chemicals that have not yet been tested for health, are safe to drink in very low amounts. Even worse, the EPA is only beginning to address other substances, like pharmaceutical drugs in our water supplies that currently, water treatment plants are not equipped to remove. And scientists continue to uncover new contaminants, never before considered. Sometimes the only known treatment is another regulated chemical or additive, which may itself produce byproducts.

Environmental hazards have compromised water for so long now that scientists have yet to uncover all the unhealthful substances in our city water, and what to do about them.

Our water utilities can only do so much to make our water safe. I am grateful that we live in a country with sanitary water supplies, and low levels of contaminants. But if you feel as I do, that even low levels of contaminants, known or unknown are undesirable, then you may not be comfortable drinking allowable amounts of chlorine, ammonia, fluoride, pathogens, heavy metals, petrochemical solvents like xylene, and any number of other toxic substances, or yet unregulated amounts of pharmaceutical, street drugs or other unhealthful chemicals that end up in our water.

Unfortunately, there are very few sources of natural water left that are contaminant free, so even if we have access to wells and springs, many of those natural sources are no longer as safe and natural as they were 100-200 years ago. And the enormous number of plastic bottles is now polluting oceans and killing sea life at a horrific rate.

So what’s the solution? In my next guest blog, I’ll review why purification is the only way to remove as many contaminants as possible from drinking water, and how to get purified water on a variety of budgets.

Thanks Mary! If you Kind Lifers have questions for Mary, please write them in the comments below, and Mary will try to address them in a future blog.

The health section is proudly sponsored by Kaeng Raeng natural detox. Make sure to check out their 3 or 6 day vegan detox programs here:

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