The water coming into our homes contain chlorine and/or chloramines. Fluoride is often added, and there are other impurities including lead and microbes. It's unfortunate (if not a crime) that we allow industry to poison our water and then charge us to buy clean water. We need to look at what we can do.
Chlorine is a highly toxic chemical that correlates with an increased risk of miscarriage, birth defects, rectal and bladder cancer, respiratory complaints such as bronchitis and asthma, corrosion of the teeth, inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, and susceptibility to tuberculosis. A byproduct in the manufacturing of chlorine is dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on earth (found to be unsafe at the lowest levels).
Some municipal water systems have switched to chloramine because it tastes better. Chloramines appear to be no better, possibly even worse than chlorine. Chloramine is made by combining chlorine with ammonia. Question: What is the one thing your mom told you to never do while cleaning the bathroom? Answer: Never mix bleach with ammonia because it produces a toxic (chloramine) gas! The toxic gas is released in large amounts during a shower or bath causing anything from mild asthmatic symptoms to death. Why then would anyone think it is safe to add chloramines to our water. Sure the taste is less "chemically," but that only means we cannot easily detect the toxins: It does not mean it is less toxic. Note: Many water and shower filters only remove chlorine, not these newly added chloramines.
Fluoride is a waste product of industrial manufacturing and is a toxic compound. We add it to our drinking water because of the false belief that it promotes strong teeth. We have been sold a "bill of goods" on this one, see the report by Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility for more information on fluoride and its toxic effects on humans.
While a short-term option, bottled water creates a great deal of plastic waste as well as the introduction of plastics into the water itself. There are no regulations on bottled water. It is often sold at hundreds of times the cost of tap water. Much of the industry is owned by large companies selling tap water or filtered tap water under the guise of spring water. Companies such as Coca-Cola are quietly buying up water companies and beginning to gain monopolies in certain areas such as South Africa and Mexico. The movie, The Corporation, has fascinating and scary facts about this. Here are a few bottled water favorites and their owners:
Trinity and Fuji water seem to be two of the best bottle water options when needed.
- Dasani – filtered tap water - owned by Coca-Cola
- Evian – French owned distributed by Coca-Cola
- Aquafina – owned by Pepsico
Water filters are a good way to purify drinking water; however, they require a large upfront investment ranging from $200-$1500. Carbon filters, reverse osmosis, and ionic filters are three of the best ways to remove a variety of toxins from water. Pitcher-type filters are not sufficient for most needs – while they filter out chlorine, they do not filter out most other impurities and filters become very pricey over time. When buying any filtering unit always factor in the cost of filter replacements - they can make a huge difference in the cost over time. For more information on water filters check out The Green Guide.
Shower filters are a good idea. As a great deal of chlorine is vaporized and inhaled during a shower, a shower filter that attaches to the water spout is a good way to reduce this exposure. However, most were not created and tested for chloramines. They are fairly responsible in price at about $40.