Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's In Your Diet Wednesday? - Clean Water

Do you give much thought to the water that you drink?  Certainly hundreds of millions turn on the tap every day to quench their thirst, cook or any other of a thousand tasks of daily life. 

Many people, myself included, buy bottled water in bulk for taste, convenience of on-the-go lifestyles and often for health concerns....If you've ever had questions about the water you drink, or what you can do to affect your health where water is this article by Dr. Joseph Mercola....

If you could only afford one filter there is no question in most experts minds that the shower filter is the most important product to buy for water filtration, even more important than filtering your tap water. This is because the damage you incur through your skin and lungs far surpasses the damage done by drinking water (which at least gives your body a fighting chance to eliminate the toxins through your organs of elimination).

An even better solution to the problem of harsh chemicals and toxins in your home's water supply is to install a whole house water filtration system. This not only protects your body, but also your appliances as well.

There's just one water line coming into your house. Putting a filter on this is the easiest and simplest strategy you can implement to take control of your health by ensuring the water and the air in your house is as clean as possible.

Just remember, if you are getting your water from a municipal source your indoor air quality, especially in the winter when your windows are closed, is likely atrocious. This is related to the chlorine and other toxins evaporating from all your toilet bowls, showers, baths, dishwashers and washing machines.

My advice for whole house filtration systems is as follows: Find a system that uses at least sixty pounds of filter media and can produce eight or more gallons a minute. When you are running two different showers, the dishwasher and the kitchen sink at the same time, you'll find our why these minimum levels are so important.

Now, this recommendation covers a home or apartment up to 3200 sq./ft, or in other words, a residence with about three and a half bathrooms. For more than that you will probably require two whole house water filtration systems.

You also need to look for a whole house water filter that has three separate stages of contamination removal:
  • Stage one removes sediment.
  • Stage two removes chlorine and heavy metals.
  • Stage three should be a heavy-duty carbon filter for removing hormones, drug residues, chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides.
You want to look for granular carbon in the carbon filter, not a solid block of carbon. The granular carbon allows for better water flow, which translates to more water pressure and better filtering properties as well.

You also want to look for NSF certification, which ensures your water filter is meeting national standards. NSF certification is not given before a product can prove it removes everything it claims to remove. It's also good to makes sure all particles under .8 microns are being filtered out of the water. A lower number is actually better, but .8 microns is the standard I recommend because that covers most bacteria, viruses and VOCs.

A Question about Tap and Shower Filters

One natural question that arises from my recommendation is if you invest in a whole house filtration system, do you also need a drinking water filter and a shower filter?

The answer is: It depends.

Many people's home and apartments have older plumbing, which can lead to heavy metals getting into your water supply even after your whole house filter has already filtered the water. Even newer plumbing regulations allow for some lead as part of the pipe construction, so if you have brand new pipes you are still exposed to lead getting into your home's water, just not as much as was previously allowed. And there is no safe level of lead exposure.

If you want to be absolutely certain you are getting the purest water you can, you want to filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink.

Since the whole house filter will remove 99.99 percent of the chlorine and DBPs before they reach your shower, and 100 percent of VOCs, you probably can skip the shower filter if you get a whole house filter, unless you are concerned about the metals in your house pipes getting onto your skin and hair. I personally prefer to filter at both point of entry and point of use, but this might be cost prohibitive for some people.

Unlike the shower filter, the whole house filter typically uses 60 pounds of carbon filter material, and moves cold water through the filter at a much slower rate than the shower filter. So the whole house filter is going to remove 99.99 percent of the things you don't want, while the shower filter is going to remove only about 70 percent of the chlorine, DPBs and VOC's, because that filter only has about two pounds of carbon filter material, and it's treating hot instead of cold water.

As far as the kitchen tap, if you are using reverse osmosis as your source of filtering, it is also going to processes cold water more slowly, so you will be able to get the 99.99 percent removal rate from the kitchen tap filter. But remember the hot water in the shower is still allowing about 30 percent of the DPBs into the air you breathe and onto your skin, which does far more damage than drinking unfiltered tap water.

This is why I recommend a high quality whole house filtration system.

The only instance where I recommend the tap and shower filter but not the whole house filter is for people living in an apartment building with a municipal water supply. Chances are you aren't running that much water through your own appliances or faucets, and you may not have access to install a whole house filter in the first place. Treating your point of use water in this instance is probably the most cost effective.

Some Final Thoughts about Your Personal Water Supply

Your shower and tap are not the only source of potential environmental toxins in your home; water is also evaporating from your toilet every minute and sending chloroform and VOCs into the air you breathe.

And the water you put in your pet's bowl is filled with the same harsh toxins you are exposing yourself to, and your pets are a whole lot smaller. One cup of water in your body is proportionally much smaller than one cup of water in your pet's body. This goes for your children as well. Their smaller size means each gallon of water they are exposed to represents a much larger percentage of their body weight.

Your houseplants also do not like chlorine and byproducts of chlorination and VOCs. If you have trouble keeping your plants thriving, it may be because ordinary tap water is damaging their health.

Lastly, the single highest source of calories in America is high fructose corn syrup, primarily from soda. The average American is now drinking one gallon of soda a week! If you are not familiar with all of the health problems linked to high fructose corn syrup, you owe it to yourself to get some education on this subject.

And diet sodas are no better! Artificial sweeteners are just another poison you don't want inside your body!

The most important health recommendation I can make for most people is to replace soda or diet soda with the purest, cleanest water you can find. And finding pure water is a lot harder than many people imagine! If you are spending your money on bottled water, you may be throwing that money away. Bottled water is actually less regulated than common tap water; you can never be certain what will be in it.

So one of the easiest ways to take control of your health is to control the water coming into your house. Make sure the water you are drinking, bathing in and breathing in your indoor air is clean! You can do this with a whole house water filter, a shower filter and a tap water filter, or a combination of these that makes the most sense for your residence and your budget.

The fact is, you need high quality clean water if you are ever going to become healthy, or stay healthy. And the more alcohol or caffeine or soda you take into your body, the more water you are going to need. So cutting down on any of these beverages and replacing them with equal amounts of water is one of the best investments in your health that you can make.

Have you ever filtered your own water?  How do you feel about the purity of your municipal water supply or even the plumbing in your home?  Tell us in the comments.....

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