During a hot summer day, there’s nothing more refreshing than being able to simply walk into the kitchen, turn on the faucet, and get a tall glass of crisp, cool water.
And while we are certainly fortunate to have such access to clean water, there may be something a little more sinister hiding out within our tap water. You see, our tap water may be tainted with a tangle of troublesome toxins – meaning you’re getting a whole lot more than a cool refreshing glass of water when you turn on the tap.
In this blog post, we’re going to look at how our tap water is being contaminated, explore a few of the worst offending toxins, and what you can do to protect yourself from these sneaky contaminants. Let’s start with how these contaminants are ending up in our tap water in the first place.
How Is Water Contaminated?
Here in the United States, we are incredibly fortunate to have some of the safest drinking water in the world. We have the luxury of simply turning on the faucet and getting a nice cool stream of water that we can trust to not make us immediately ill. And while we may not have to worry much about our water being contaminated with parasites or bacteria that can make us acutely sick or have to sift through dirt and sludge, there are still concerns about contaminants lurking in our tap water.
Tap water can become contaminated with countless pollutants through things like:1,2
- Runoff from animal feeding operations, agricultural crops, golf courses, and other land uses
- The migration of chemicals from pipes and/or natural deposits
- Malfunctioning in water waste treatment plants
- Improper disposal of chemicals, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and other pollutants
- Widespread use of disinfectants and toxic chemicals in homes, businesses, and industrial operations
- The ever-increasing use of chemicals, plastics, and other toxins in industries across the board that leach their way into our environment
Just how contaminated your tap water is can vary greatly depending on which geographic region you’re in, how close you live to agricultural operations, waste sites, or industrial plants, and the quality of your water pipes – just to name a few. But regardless of how influential each of these factors is when it comes to your drinking water, the truth is, polluted water can have serious consequences for your health.
What Are Some Toxins in Water?
Water’s molecular structure makes it an excellent solvent – meaning it’s really good at dissolving things. This is highly useful and works wonders for things like washing the dishes. Water dissolves the soap and dried on food particles and boom – you’ve got sparkly clean dishes.
But this incredible ability to dissolve compounds also makes water highly susceptible to being contaminated. You see, water cycles throughout our world – floating down to earth in a snowflake, crashing within waves in the ocean, flowing through countless pipes, nourishing and hydrating our crops – and eventually making its way to your faucet.
As water makes this cyclical, never-ending journey, it can dissolve and pick up a whole slew of nasty health-disrupting contaminants and toxins.
Let’s take a little deeper look at just a few of the most concerning pollutants that are likely floating around in your tap water.
A Cocktail of Chemicals
Chemicals are everywhere. In our homes, in the products we use, in the air we breathe – and you guessed it, in the water we drink. Unfortunately, we’re just beginning to uncover how serious of an effect many chemicals have on our health. Just a handful of the toxic chemicals that are regularly found contaminating tap water include:3,4,5,6,7,8
- Atrazine: An herbicide regularly used on crops that is a potent disruptor of hormones and is particularly harmful when it comes to fetal development.
- Benzene: Benzene is a widely used chemical utilized in countless products from detergents and dyes to gasoline and plastic. Benzene is known to promote cancer, suppress your immune system, and disrupt your fertility.
- Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates: BPA and phthalates are commonly used in food packaging and other plastics. These chemicals are notorious for being able to mimic the hormone estrogen in the human body – throwing your entire hormonal balance off kilter and leading to things like reproductive cancers, fertility issues, and even neurological disorders.
- Dibromochloropropane: This chemical is often used as a pesticide to protect crops from insect infestations. But dibromochloropropane’s toxic effects don’t stop at bugs. This chemical can impair fertility, promote cancer, and increase the risk of birth defects.
- Glyphosate: Glyphosate is another commonly used agricultural chemical – being used regularly as an herbicide. Glyphosate is a potent endocrine disruptor – suppressing your immune system, altering your hormones, and damaging your neurological health.
- Perchlorate: Perchlorate is used as an oxidizer in products like rocket fuel, fireworks, road flares, and explosives. One of perchlorate’s most concerning health effects is its ability to block the absorption of iodine – damaging thyroid function and promoting metabolic disorders.
This cocktail of chemicals is frightening enough. But to make matters even worse, there are new chemicals being produced all the time – with minimal regulations to truly test or monitor their safety in humans.
Microplastics are itty-bitty fragments of plastic. Because plastic takes hundreds of years to break down and biodegrade, it continuously breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. These small, undetectable pieces of plastic can drift through the environment and end up in our water sources.
And once in our water and food, these microscopic pieces of plastic can sneak their way into some curious and concerning places – with traces of microplastics being found in human blood samples. What’s most concerning about microplastics being found in human blood is that these microscopic plastic molecules can be delivered directly to our tissues and organs where they can remain – leaching out their conglomeration of toxic chemicals.9,10
Pharmaceutical drugs can sneak their way into tap water through a couple of avenues. Firstly, certain levels of pharmaceutical drugs are excreted through urine and bowel movements after it’s circulated throughout human and animal bodies. From there it’s flushed down the toilet or carried away with rain runoff and dumped into our water systems.
Secondly, some drugs are disposed of incorrectly – with some people mistakenly flushing unused pharmaceuticals down the toilet or manufacturing plants inadvertently releasing drugs into our waterways. Because these pharmaceutical drug molecules are so small and pervasive, most wastewater treatment plants are unable to routinely remove pharmaceuticals from tap water.
That means you can end up with a whole medicine cabinet full of different drugs in your tap water such as:11,12
- Acetaminophen: More commonly referred to as Tylenol, this over-the-counter pain and fever reduction medication can be damaging to the liver in high doses or with chronic exposure.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are rampant in our environment. This is particularly concerning because chronic overexposure to antibiotics can create antibiotic resistance – making it challenging to effectively treat bacterial infections and creating drug-resistant “superbugs”.
- Estrogen: Synthetic estrogens are widely used in medications like hormone replacement therapy and contraceptives. Overexposure to estrogen-like hormones can create hormonal imbalances and have a domino effect of subsequent health issues.
- Venlafaxine: Venlafaxine is a type of prescription medication used to treat mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and panic disorder. Exposure to this medication can alter your brain’s function and have a whole host of unpleasant health effects like constipation, increased heart rate, and a drop in your libido.
Prescription drugs can be life-saving and life-enhancing when used appropriately but can have some frightening and grave consequences when they end up being ingested inadvertently through contaminated drinking water.
Heavy metals are elements that are naturally found throughout our earth. These heavy metals can end up in our tap water via runoff from mining or industrial operations or through their use in applications in a variety of industries. While these heavy metals may be all-natural and highly useful, elevated or prolonged exposure to these compounds can be harmful to your health.
Just a handful of the most common and most concerning heavy metals regularly found in tap water include:
While each of these heavy metals has different health implications, the general mechanism of action that drives heavy metal-induced health conditions is their ability to produce reactive oxygen species or free radicals – unstable molecules that incite cellular damage known as oxidative stress.
With so many contaminants in our tap water, you’re probably wondering what on earth you can do about it and how you can protect yourself.
How Can You Naturally Clean Water? How to Purify Water at Home
While we may not have much control over our geographic location or just how contaminated our tap water is, the good news is, you’re not stuck simply having to tolerate toxin-filled tap water. The simplest and most effective way to purify your water and ensure it’s free of many of these harmful contaminants is to invest in a high-quality, science-backed water filtration system. Water filtrations systems typically rely on two steps to remove pollutants from your water:
- Step 1– Mechanical filtration: Think of mechanical filtration as a membrane or physical barrier – with thousands of tiny pores sifting through the water and trapping any debris.
- Step 2– Adsorption: Once the water makes it through mechanical filtration, it undergoes adsorption where toxin-attracting compounds like granular activated carbon draw in and grab onto free-floating contaminants. Think of adsorption like a sponge – attracting and ensnaring pollutants in thousands of tiny nooks and crannies.
When looking for a water filtration system for your home, it’s crucial to know that water filters are far from created equally. In fact, many water filters do little more than simply improve the smell and taste of water – leaving behind nearly all health-hindering toxins. Look for water filtration systems that clarify exactly which contaminants their filters remove while clearly and proudly displaying their published performance data (that way you can verify their filters perform as well as they claim).
It’s Time to Upgrade Your Tap Water
Water is foundational to life. And as you can see, our tap water can be chock-full of pollutants and toxins that can seriously disrupt your health. Giving yourself the gift and peace of mind of high-quality, contaminant-free water is truly foundational for your health. Minimizing your exposure to toxins (like those found in tap water) and upgrading the quality of your water is one of the key pieces to the puzzle when it comes to healing an underlying imbalance and optimizing your health.
If you’re ready to upgrade not only your water but your overall sense of well-being and vitality but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here at Silver Tree Wellness, we’ll do a deep dive into every aspect of your life to identify every area we can leverage to help you tap into deep healing and health. We look at your physical, environmental, mental, spiritual, relational health, and more to come up with a 100% personalized roadmap to healing.
If you’re ready to take the next step, please reach out to schedule your consultation by calling our office at 602-675-0170 or sending us an email by clicking right here. We would love to partner with you in your health journey and support you every step of the way!
- Water Contamination | Other Uses of Water | Healthy Water | CDC
- Safe Drinking Water: Tap Water, Bottled Water, & Water Filters (webmd.com)
- Pesticide Properties that Affect Water Quality (tamu.edu)
- Impact of pesticides use in agriculture: their benefits and hazards (nih.gov)
- Common Hidden Contaminants (wqa.org)
- Chemical fact sheets – Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Fourth Edition Incorporating the First Addendum – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
- Microplastic pollution in drinking water – ScienceDirect
- Discovery and quantification of plastic particle pollution in human blood – ScienceDirect
- Pharmaceuticals in Water | U.S. Geological Survey (usgs.gov)
- Hormones and Pharmaceuticals in Groundwater Used As a Source of Drinking Water Across the United States | Environmental Science & Technology (acs.org)
- Prevalence of exposure of heavy metals and their impact on health consequences – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Heavy metals in drinking water: Occurrences, implications, and future needs in developing countries – ScienceDirect