While tap water is filtered to be drinkable, it contains over 10 harmful toxins that are slowly chipping away at your life span. It sounds grim, but drinking tap water is introducing harmful substances that, overtime, can have adverse effects on your health, specifically your bladder and kidneys.
In the U.S., drinking water is filtered through four different methods to ensure it’s not contaminated by bacteria or chemicals.
Coagulation and Flocculation
This process rids the water of 99% of dirt and other unwanted particles. It does do by adding chemicals with a positive charge. The chemicals’ positive charge neutralizes the negative charge of dirt and other dissolved particles and eventually binds with those unwanted particles, creating larger particles called floc.
The water is then left to undergo a sedimentation process. The unwanted and heavy floc particles sink to the bottom of the water supply.
After the sedimentation of the floc particles occurs, the water is run through different filters to remove unwanted particles down to a microscopic level. The filters remove even the smallest unwanted particle, down to and including viruses, bacteria and parasites.
After filtration, the water is disinfected, usually with chlorine or chloramine. The disinfectant is added to the water to neutralize any reaming organism and to prevent new organisms from being able to form.
Once this is complete, the water is considered safe for human consumption, although the amount of disinfectants it contains, specifically chlorine, can be enough to have an adverse effect on individuals who’ve drank it for years.
There are 12 common chemical toxins found most tap water:
Since the high pH of drinking water can cause tooth decay, Western countries started adding fluoride after the 1940s in order to combat it.
Fluorite is a neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor, capable of calcifying the pineal gland (the gland responsible for light and space awareness) and is proven to cause harm to the thyroid gland–one of the glands responsible for secreting growth hormones.
Some countries–and even a handful of U.S. cities–have banned fluoridation of drinking water because of the harmful effects of fluoride.
Chlorine is the main disinfectant used worldwide, despite it not being completely safe for human consumption. Chlorine is a reactive chemical that bonds with water, which is why it’s effective at disinfecting it. However, once it bonds with water–including water in your body–it can produce hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid is linked to respiratory problems, cell damage, memory problems and impaired balance.
The Flint water problem is caused by lead being present at toxic levels. Even if cleared during the disinfection and filtration process, lead can still make its way to drinking water through corroding pipes.
Once lead enters the body, it harms almost everything it touches. Children exposed to lead can experience a wide variety of health and developmental problems.
Lead has been linked to many debilitating conditions, but usually damages the major organs and cardiovascular system most.
Mercury is capable of making its way into drinking water, and is very tough to filter out. Mercury is a naturally occurring element, which means that soil containing mercury can contaminate drinking water. Like lead, mercury is linked to a plethora of conditions such as memory loss, cognitive impairment, blindness, nerve damage, muscle atrophy and more.
Polychlorinated biphenyls are primarily used for industrial purposes such as machinery, oil, electronics, adhesives and fluorescent lights.
These chemicals were banned in 1979, but an abundance of them is still present at landfills and can migrate thousands of miles as a result of natural erosion. They’ve been found thousands of miles from where they originated, polluting and invading the environment. Tests have shown PCBs can cause cancer and negatively affect the immune, nerve, reproduction, nervous and endocrine systems.
Arsenic is a toxic chemical used for industrialization purposes. Improper treatment of resources cleansed with arsenic, such as irresponsible waste disposal, is the number one cause of arsenic-caused environmental damage.
Trace amounts of arsenic have been found in drinking water, which, through repeated ingestion, could lead to various kinds of cancer, or short-term arsenic poisoning, which can lead to death if the arsenic is too concentrated.
Perchlorates are chemicals used in rocket fuel and explosives. Because of their primary usage, many military sites have been responsible for the contamination of nearby soil. The Colorado River is said to be heavily contaminated by perchlorates, which are also common in drinking water.
Perchlorates are linked to thyroid damage and can cause a multitude of throat-related problems.
Dioxins are a common chemical that occurs when combustion takes place. Dioxins enter the air and atmosphere as a direct result of fires and burning. Dioxins have been found in drinking water. Short-term exposure can lead to respiratory problems and cause lesions, and long-term exposure harms the immune, reproductive, endocrine and nervous systems.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has also declared dioxins as carcinogenic.
DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) is a chemical used as an insecticide during the 1940s. It was banned in 1972 due to its the threat to the environment, but other countries continue to use it.
DDT has been found in US drinking tap water. Testing has confirmed that DDT causes liver damage and damage to the reproductive system, while the International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared it as a carcinogen.
HCB (hexachlorobenzine) is another chemical used as a pesticide. It was banned in 1965 due to health concerns, however, leftover traces of it still remain in soil. In addition, HCB is still formed as a byproduct of other chemicals.
People exposed to HCB typically experience liver problems and skin lesions.
Unlike HCB and DDT, Dactal is a pesticide that’s still used today. As airborne chemicals tend to do, Dacthal has found its way into water and drinking water purification facilities.
Testing shows this chemical linked to damage to the adrenal glands, kidneys, liver, thyroid and spleen.
Methyl-tertiary-Buthul-Ether is commonly used as an additive in gasoline. This chemical can quickly contaminate groundwater and render it undrinkable. In 1996, a MtBE leakage occurred in the city of Santa Monica’s water supply, which caused the city council to cut off 50% of the water supply until the problem was resolved.
The specific health problems MtBE causes are not confirmed, although it has been directly linked to kidney damage, seizures and impaired fetus development in pregnant women.
If this article has made you cautious about drinking tap tap water, there are some preventative measures you can take.
The best thing to do to cleanse water is to boil it. Boiling removes harmful biological pathogens while destroying chemicals unable to withstand high temperatures. Keep in mind however that this does not remove any dirt, gravel, dust, lead or metal within the water. It’s also not very convenient.
At-home water home filters can be used. These filter come in various types and can removed particles, pathogens, and chemicals. They come as various types, from pitcher filters, to faucet filters, to complete home systems.
Switching to bottled water for drinking is an option. While no water can be completely purified of every microscopic particle, water from quality bottle-water brands is significantly safer than tap water.