For some reason I always seem to end up writing articles about contaminants found in various supplements we ingest, in particular creatine, but there have been others. First I wrote “What’s in your creatine?” which exposed the fact not all creatine supplement are created equal. That article single handedly changed the creatine market at the time. I followed that up with “What’s in your supplements” which was really just a continuation of the first article, with additional testing and comments. I’m calling this one, “What’s in your water?!” for lack of a better title.
I have always been conscious of the potential impurities in drinking water. My town sends out a yearly report on water quality, and has always been well below EPA limits on the chemicals they test for. Regardless, I have always used a water filter to filter my drinking water. (1)
However, until recently, I did not have a whole house water filter system. About 6 months ago I installed a in-line water filter system for the entire house. This was not an expensive or fancy unit (2), and is designed to take out soil, silt, sediments, iron, etc, and is rated as a 5 micron filter. It’s not a chemical filter, which means it will not remove chemicals that may find there way into the general water system (e.g., pesticides, lead, etc.) but will remove anything 5 microns or above. After 5 months, this was the results:
A new filter is on the left for comparison. Not very pretty is it? Now, most of that is what the filter is intended to catch, soil, silt, sediments, iron, and miscellaneous crud that gets into any water system. Toxic to human health? In small amounts, probably not. Do you wanna drink the stuff? I don’t, but I can’t speak for you. All I can say is, I was stunned by just how dirty that filter was after 4-5 months of use (they recommend changing this filter every 6 months BTW!) , and I am all the happier I have always at least filtered my drinking water… Regardless of any health issues, all that crud would be normally running through all your water using appliances, so keeping that stuff out of your water heaters, clothes washers (BTW, I swear my clothes are coming out cleaner once I added that filter, but I can’t prove it…) may have some benefits to the appliances. Ever drain your water heater and see all the brown sludge that comes out? That all came from your water supply…
Recently, WebMD did a little investigative journalism and their own testing, matching it up the records in the Atlanta GA area, and found lax testing, record keeping, and other problems, and that was just for lead!
“We reviewed lead testing records obtained through the Open Records Act for water systems in Georgia serving at least 10,000 people. Together, they provide water to about three-quarters of the state’s population. We then compared lead testing addresses to property records for the same locations.
We found a process hindered by poor record keeping and an apparent failure to follow a federal rule that’s been on the books for more than 25 years.”
The full report can be found linked below. (3). Bottom line, don’t rely on local government level testing to assure water quality you’re ingesting. A quality filter system is worthy investment in reducing your exposure to a wide range of possible contaminants.