WATER : Think Before You Drink!

In today’s fast paced and health conscious society more and more of us have turned to bottled water as an apparently healthy ‘on-the-go’ alternative to bottled soft drinks and juices. But is your water healthy? I bet you thought all water was healthy, but don’t be deceived.

I can not say enough about the health benefits of drinking pure water. Water is the most important element in your diet. You body’s tissue is comprised of 80 percent water and you can only live a few days without this precious, life-sustaining substance.  Water plays a role in nearly every body function- from regulating body temperature to bringing oxygen to your cells and removing waste products from your body. Water helps maintain healthy body weight, proper digestion and absorption of nutrients, decreases muscle and joint inflammation and improves circulation. But the quality, and thus the source, of your water is vitally important for maintaining optimal health.

You have probably heard that bottled water is healthier for you than regular tap water. Bottled water companies make millions off people who believe their products are more pure than tap water. However, most consumers do not realize that most municipal tap water -- though generally far from pure -- must actually adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water industry and that approximately 40 percent of bottled water is indeed tap water! So those chemicals and bacteria that you were trying to avoid by drinking bottled water have found their way back to you! Over the past several years, bottled water has been recalled due to contamination by arsenic, bromate, cleaning compounds, mold, and bacteria.

Furthermore, the environmental impact of consuming bottled water on our planet is huge! Consider these facts: each day sixty-seven million empty water bottles are tossed with less than 10 percent ever making it to a recycling bin! Two hundred and seventy-three billion litres of water a year are used to make bottled water. It takes approximately 2 litres of water to make every litre of bottled water, from treating and filtering tap water. Also, consider the distance and gas  as well as air and water pollution each water bottle has taken to find its way into your grocery store and then into your home. Top this off with the fact that bottled water can cost up to 1,900 times more than tap water!

Water quality and environmental impact aside, drinking water from plastic water bottles poses significant health risks to you and your family! When you chose plastic you are potentially exposing yourself to a range of chemicals, including, BPA, phthalates, and dioxin.

BPA:  Statistics Canada data released in August 2010 found about 91 per cent of Canadians have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. Bisphenol A or BPA is an estrogen-mimicking chemical that has been linked to a host of serious health problems including: learning and behavioural problems; altered immune system function; early puberty in girls and fertility problems; prostate and breast cancer; diabetes and obesity.

Phthalates: may leach out of some plastic bottles into water. Phthalates are widely used to make plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) more flexible or soft. Phthalates are endocrine disrupters, which block or mimic hormones, affecting the body’s normal functions.

Dioxin: Though drinking bottled water directly from a store shelf poses serious health risks, leaving bottled water in the hot sun will cause even more serious chemical exposure. Ultraviolet rays from the sun or high temperatures will accelerate leaching of the plastic chemicals mentioned above into the water as well as dioxin which has been strongly linked to the development of breast cancer.

So what is the solution to this water dilemma? If you are a health-conscious person who likes to transport water from home to ensure a safe supply of water on the go using a glass or steel bottle instead will bypass the risks associated with carrying water in plastic.   And to ensure that you and your family are getting the best water possible here are three different types of filtration systems that you might consider installing in your home.

  1. Reverse Osmosis System:  These systems force pressurized water through a contamination-rejecting membrane, sending improved water to a holding tank for use. It reduces levels of arsenic, cadmium, iron, chlorine, lead, giardia, giardia cysts, nitrate, radium, and sulphate. It also reduces colour and turbidity.
  2. Carbon Filtration and Activated Carbon Filtration System: These are the most common types of counter top and under-counter water filters. Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of organic chemicals like herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals. It reduces levels of chlorine, organic chemicals and pesticides and also reduces bad taste and odour.
  3. Ion Exchange Filter: Ion exchange is designed to remove dissolved salts in the water, such as calcium. This system actually softens the water or exchanges natural-forming mineral ions in the water with its own ions, thereby neutralizing their harmful effect of creating scale build-up. The ion exchange system was originally used in boilers and other industrial situations before becoming popular in home purifying units, which usually combine the system with carbon for greater effectiveness.

So, next time you reach for a refreshing bottle of pure water I urge you to consider the quality and source of water you are consuming, the environmental impact of consuming it, and the chemicals and contaminants you may be introducing into your body by drinking it. Your body and the environment will thank you!