Unfortunately, almost everyone around the world is exposed to dangers in tap water – including the majority of homes in the USA! Find out what's really in your tap water, why you need an at-home water filtration system (NOT bottled water!), and practical solutions that ensure optimal health for you, your family, your friends and your pets!
This post is sponsored by Aquasana. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
We've been hearing for years that we need to drink more water for our overall health, hydration, weight loss, detox support and more… but what if the water you're drinking is actually harming your health?
Before you start tracking your daily water intake, it's crucial to first ensure that you're getting a clean water supply into your home. Sadly, most people aren't talking about this, or aren't even aware that their tap water could be highly dangerous, and even toxic.
Even in the United States, most local water supplies across the country aren’t nearly as clean and healthy as you might think.
While we all know that clean water is fundamental to optimal health and wellness, I bet there's a lot you don't know about what's really lurking in your pipes… I know I was surprised when I learned the truth.
So let's dive in and investigate, shall we?
THE DANGERS OF TAP WATER
Did you know…
- Some of the most common chemical contaminants in American water include chloroform, lead, and arsenic, contaminants that are dangerous in even tiny concentrations.
- According to widespread studies, people in every state in the U.S. consume chemicals in their water that exceed the nationally recognized legal standard for “healthy water.” Yikes!
- There are many potentially dangerous, complex, man-made chemicals and substances in our water that are unregulated. These include pesticides, disinfection byproducts, chemicals used in commerce, waterborne pathogens, pharmaceuticals, and biological toxins.
- The United States Geological Survey found low levels of pharmaceuticals in 80% of all the water supplies they tested. EIGHTY PERCENT!! These pharmaceuticals include antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and all manner of steroids. (This is likely due to people flushing prescription pharmaceuticals into their wastewater, which lead to the FDA establishing the first guidelines of how Americans should dispose of prescription drugs.)
- The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has admitted that over 23 million Americans consume contaminated water.
- 25 U.S. utility companies voluntarily participated in a study from the U.S. Geological Society and the EPA in 2013 where the preliminary findings found 18 unregulated chemicals in drinking water from more than one-third of U.S. water utilities sampled nationwide. Perfluorinated chemicals compounds such as PFOS and PFOA were found most frequently (coming from industrial processes including the manufacture of nonstick and stain-resistant food packaging, fabrics, and cookware) and have been detected in the blood of nearly everyone in the U.S. A panel of scientists concluded that there is a “probable link” between PFOA in drinking water and high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
Okay, I know those stats are no fun and even downright depressing and scary, but it's important that we know the truth in order to find the best solutions. And rest assured, there IS a solution!
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT'S IN MY WATER?
At this point you're likely wondering what's in your local water. There are a couple ways to go about finding out:
A) CONSUMER REPORTS
Most community water systems distribute a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) once a year, typically by July 1st. This report reveals where your water is sourced, shares results for any contaminants found in the water and their possible health effects. Find your local CCR via the EPA's website here.
You can also often access your water quality report year-round by visiting your city’s official website.
If you receive your tap water from a private water supply, however, you are responsible for assuring that it is safe. The EPA suggests that people who use these routinely test their water supply for contaminants.
I was surprised to learn that the water in my zip code showed 7 contaminants detected above health guidelines (all of which are known to cause cancer) and 8 other detected contaminants, including Chlorate (which impairs thyroid function, making chlorate exposure most harmful during pregnancy and childhood), fluoride, nitrates and more.
B) TEST YOUR WATER AT HOME
Even if you don't have a private water supply, testing your own water at home may be a good idea to determine what kind of contaminants you need to eliminate. The only way to really know what is in your family’s tap is by testing it!
I recommend Aquasana's water testing kit, which is made by the National Testing Laboratories and tests for chlorine, inorganic chemicals and volatile organic compound, bacteria (Total Coliform and E-Coli), 22 heavy metals and minerals (including lead, arsenic and mercury), 7 inorganic chemicals (including nitrates and chloride) and 5 physical factors that include pH, alkalinity and hardness.
To make the entire process as efficient and affordable as possible, Aquasana also rebates back the cost of a test kit when you purchase a product from them.
IS BOTTLED WATER BAD FOR YOU?
While we're talking about water, I want to make sure I address bottled water, as well.
Many people drink plastic bottled water, buying bottles in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club or Walmart, or get bigger 5-gallon bottle inserts for at-home water coolers.
Not only is this just glorified tap water (essentially these big companies take their water from municipal water systems, run it through more filtering, bottle it, and sell it at a huge markup) but there are many other reasons why bottled water is unsustainable, unhealthy and impractical:
A) BOTTLED WATER IS EXPENSIVE!
Purchasing bottled water over the course of your lifetime is CRAZY expensive! The average person who buys bottled water is spending over $400 a year for a family of four – and that’s being conservative. Why not get an at-home filter and bottle it yourself in reusable bottles? You'll save MAD MONEY!
B) BOTTLED WATER IS BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT (AND LIKELY BAD FOR YOU TOO)
Think how much unnecessary waste is getting created every time you buy a 12 oz plastic water bottle. Only 1 in 5 plastic bottles are actually recycled, while the rest contribute to over 3 billion pounds of waste from plastic bottles.
Plastic water bottles create an estimated 1.5 million tons of trash per year and pollute the ocean. Plus, it takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce plastic bottles yearly — this could fuel 1 million cars for a year!
Not to mention that the industry is fairly unregulated and most bottlers don't test for E-Coli, provide quality reports, have to share where they source it and – crazily – can still be distributed when standards aren't met.
For example, the NRDC conducted a comprehensive four-year scientific study of 1,000 brands of bottled water. The results showed that one-third of the bottled waters violated their own industry standards for water quality! Additionally, plastic water bottles contain toxins like BPA and other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time, which you then ingest.
C) BOTTLED WATER IS NOT COMPREHENSIVE
While clean drinking water is of utmost importance, it's not the only water in our homes that we need to think about. What about your bathroom taps, your shower head, bathtub and appliances like dishwasher and washing machine? All that water gets used on and in our bodies, clothes and kitchenware – so we need to think beyond the bottle (or just what we're drinking) and see a bigger picture.
THE SOLUTION: HOME WATER FILTRATION
The only way to ensure you're protecting your health and drinking the cleanest water possible is to invest in a home water filtration system that purifies out the bad stuff, and leaves in the good stuff like minerals. My favorite brand of water filters – and the one I have in my own home – is Aquasana.
Aquasana uses best-in-class filtering technology to provide maximum reduction in water contaminants while leaving beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium in the water. The filters are NSF Certified to reduce 77 common water contaminants including over 96% of chlorine and chloramines as well as over 99% of lead, asbestos, turbidity and VOCs.
I also love how Aquasana is environmentally conscious, minimizing waste through the use of reusable outer filter canisters made with BPA free plastic. These filter cartridges are made with recyclable parts and compostable carbon.
Their manufacturing facility in Texas is 100% powered by wind energy, eliminating the need to burn fossil fuels. Without the need to burn fossil fuels, green energy helps decrease the amount of air pollution and greenhouse gases that are going into our environment.
They also use salt-free softeners, which leave no impact on the environment compared to traditional salt-based softeners. (Salt-based softeners exchange calcium and magnesium in your water with salt at the rate of 2:1 creating a significant imbalance in the ecosystem.)
Perfect for living green, these softeners require no electricity, no back-flushing, create no saltwater waste and reduce your overall carbon footprint by avoiding trips to the hardware store to buy bags of salt.
(Psst – see the bottom of this post for a discount and free gift with your Aquasana purchase!)
WHICH HOME WATER FILTER TO BUY?
Aquasana's wide variety of water filtration systems allows you to choose which product fits your family’s needs based on the contaminants found in your home tap, and your particular goals.
If you know you get city drinking water that’s been treated, then an under-counter or countertop system could meet your drinking water needs. If you live in a rural area or get well water, you definitely need to check your local water reports and/or get a water testing kit (as mentioned above).
Personally, I knew I wanted a whole house filtration system because I wanted ALL the taps in my house to be safe, so I can fill up water from any sink, brush my teeth with clean water, shower contamination-free, and make sure my laundry and dishwasher are all cleaning with the purest water. The only way to do all of that is with a whole house filter.
We had to hire a plumber to come out to install the water filter in our crawl space (it costs about $700 for the install), but the entire process took just a few hours and by lunchtime, every tap in our entire home was providing filtered water. My cats could drink from the sink without me feeling guilty, my plants could be watered with uncontaminated “tap” water and even the bath I soak in a few times a week would now be pure and safe!
If the whole house filter is out of budget, start with an under-counter filter system or countertop filter. This way, you can at least rely on your main kitchen faucet being reliably clean, and simply fill up your drinking glasses and pitchers from there. Then, you can add on shower filters or upgrade to a whole house filter later on.
We did wind up adding the 2-stage under counter sink filter to our house, in addition to the whole house water filter because, while the whole home system will reduce contaminants, they're unable to guarantee exact percentages of specific contaminants (except for chlorine) since the water flows through our pipes at a higher flower rate.
On the flipside, the undercounter filter slows the flow to a half-gallon per minute, meaning longer contact time with the media, and thus Aquasana can guarantee the reduction of almost 80 contaminants with a rate of effectiveness for each one, like >95.8% of mercury reduction, 98.9% of BPA and >99% of asbestos.
We were able to install this filter ourselves (my husband reports that it was beyond easy!) in under an hour and it's incredible the difference in taste.
In sum, here are the main water filter options:
- Countertop or undercounter water filters are an inexpensive, out-of-the-box solution to get your main faucet water cleaned up stat. This is the easiest way to get started!
- Shower filters are often overlooked, but given that your skin is your largest organ, and your body absorbs what you put on it, bathing with clean water is crucial.
- Aquasana's reverse osmosis model filters out fluoride, which so many people are concerned about. It also remineralizes the water, putting back healthy minerals lost in the reverse osmosis process like calcium, magnesium, and potassium. This is one of the healthiest waters you can drink!
- Whole house filters give you the peace of mind that all of the water in your house is filtered. If it's within your budget, it's a no-brainer to go for this option!
Aquasana has an exclusive offer for our readers. Head over to their website and get 50% off whole house systems + free shipping on purchases over $49! Join our community by clicking here and we'll send the promo code right to your inbox!
There you have it! What did you learn from this water filtration guide? What water filter do you have or want to invest in sometime soon? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.