HOW TO TEST THE QUALITY OF YOUR HOME WATER
Do you know what is in your home’s tap water? You probably drink it and use it for cooking and cleaning every day, but do you really know if it is safe? While some people choose to install a home water treatment system, there are things that can be done by everyone to ensure the safety of their drinking water.
TESTING THE QUALITY OF YOUR HOME WATER
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that all community water suppliers test their water supplies on a regular basis. In addition, these tests must show that the level of contaminants included in each type of contaminant allowed under EPA guidelines does not exceed these limits. If you do have any questions regarding EPA guidelines then we highly recommend reaching out to Royal Flush as they are a great resource for information in this industry in our area. You can also visit their office on their Maps. These limits are determined using the best available technology and an evaluation of costs versus health risk or benefit. This is known as the maximum contaminant level (MCL). If the water supplier fails to meet the MCL for any pollutant in its water, they must notify their customers.
However, many pollutants are not regulated by the federal government and may require extra testing by state agencies. These pollutants include pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ammonia, nitrates/nitrites, metals like lead and copper, etc. While these unregulated contaminants can be tested for by homeowners or laboratories hired by homeowners, it is best to avoid them completely. Purchasing bottled water or purchasing a home treatment system will help ensure that you do not need to test your home’s water for unregulated contaminants.
BOTTLED WATER VS HOME TREATMENT SYSTEM
While there are many types of home treatment systems, only a few are effective at removing the full spectrum of contaminants. Reverse osmosis (RO) and carbon filtration systems treat for contaminants such as chlorine and VOCs. RO focuses on removing inorganic chemicals like arsenic and aluminum and VOC’s like benzene and toluene. Carbon filter treatment uses activated carbon granules which can absorb organic compounds like pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals and other harmful chemicals.
These home water treatment systems also remove or reduce minerals that can cause existing health problems such as kidney stones or high blood pressure. In addition, many brands add essential minerals back into the purified water to increase its pH, including calcium, magnesium and potassium. These essential minerals can be found naturally in most bottled waters.
Bottled Water Quality
The quality of bottled water is not regulated by the EPA and varies greatly from brand to brand and even within a particular brand. The FDA does regulate what contaminants can be present in bottled water, but they do not regulate how much of each contaminant is allowed. As with any product, it is important to know what you are purchasing and putting into your body. A list of common contaminants in some popular brands of bottled water has been compiled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and can be found at http://tinyurl.com/3xmxxu8.
While drinking tap water may seem like an option than buying bottles for home consumption, it can also be inconsistent. If someone is on a well, the quality of their water may not meet EPA guidelines for contaminants at any given moment, even if their home testing shows no contaminants in their drinking water. This inconsistency can lead to health issues due to the lack of necessary minerals or exposure to unregulated contaminants.
It is important to note that most tap filters are NOT designed to remove VOCs, pesticides or other regulated pollutants. Many manufacturers claim that their products remove chlorine which makes it seem as if they are removing unregulated contaminants, but this does not mean they are effective against these chemicals. Before purchasing a filter-type product, make sure that it will actually treat for the full spectrum of contaminants and ensure you understand what the product claims to remove.
When choosing bottled water or a home treatment system, it is important to consider all of your options for clean water. Purchasing one that only reduces certain contaminants will still leave you with exposure to unregulated pollutants and potential exposure to other contaminants like VOC’s. It is also important to note that using bottled water as an alternative could contribute to environmental concerns such as fossil fuel use, plastic usage, and greenhouse gasses emitted during transportation. Discussing your situation with a local tap water professional can help determine what options are best for you.