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Better Water, Better Health

Living in a Waterworld

Some of you may remember the 1995 movie Waterworld. It was a cringe-worthy post-apocalypse Kevin Costner film where the polar ice caps had melted, causing water to cover almost the entire world. If you never saw it, think Mad Max meets Aquaman. Though it was a box office bomb, it did make you wonder, “what if?” It also highlighted the importance of clean, safe drinking water. In the real world, 71% of the earth is covered by water. Of all the 333 million cubic miles of water on earth, 96.5% is salt water unusable for human consumption. Only 3.5% of earth’s total water is freshwater, stored in lakes, rivers, glaciers, and aquifers. As it passes through the atmosphere and the ground, water picks up a little of whatever it contacts. This results in H2O combined with a wide variety of impurities that affect the taste, smell and overall quality.

How much water do you need?

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The human body is about 60% water. Every day you lose water through your breath, perspiration, and waste. For your body to function properly, you must replenish its water supply by consuming beverages and foods that contain water. So how much fluid does the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate need? The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake typically comes from food and the rest from drinks.

What’s in your water?

Surface water and ground water can be contaminated by various impurities, chemicals, microorganisms, and radionuclides due to exposure to industrial or agricultural waste or from contact with naturally occurring contaminants like arsenic, iron, magnesium, or manganese.

Disinfection of drinking water in the US has dramatically reduced the occurrence of waterborne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid. However, chlorination of water that contains organic matter can cause formation of trihalomethanes. These chemicals are considered carcinogens and should be removed. Current EPA regulations limit total trihalomethane (TTHM) to 80 parts per billion. Some municipalities combine ammonia with chlorine to minimize the formation of TTHM. Activated carbon and catalytic carbon filtration systems are effective for removing chlorine, chloramine, and TTHM from water. They can be installed on the main water line in the home (point of entry) to treat all the water or on a single faucet (point of use) for drinking water only. Activated carbon systems can remove a wide variety of contaminants from water.

Hard water is an extremely common complaint throughout most of the US. Water that’s high in hardness minerals calcium and magnesium can clog skin pores, leading to blemishes, acne, and dry, flaky skin. Some evidence even suggests that hard water may damage skin and contribute to the development of eczema by increasing the level of cytokines, which are proteins that trigger inflammation. Hardness minerals also build up in water lines, appliances, and water heaters, shortening the life expectancy. Ion exchange water softeners remove calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, radium, and copper. In addition to softening your water, they also minimize rust stains. Water softeners are limited in their ability to remove iron. Higher amounts of iron and rotten-egg odor associated with hydrogen sulfide gas can be removed with iron filtration systems.

Though our world isn’t completely covered by water as depicted in the movie, our dependence on clean water really does make this a Waterworld. Curious about what’s in your water? There are many certified testing laboratories that offer comprehensive analysis at a reasonable price. This is the most reliable way to know for sure what contaminants are in your water. This knowledge will allow you to make educated decisions as to the best treatment. Contact DROP if you would like more information on water quality, testing, or treatment options.

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