You can eat right, exercise, and do everything you can to live a healthy life…
But it’s easy to sabotage a lot of that hard work without even knowing it.
A lot of it comes down to the water you drink.
Most of us don’t think much about this stuff. We don’t know exactly where our drinking water comes from. We just fill up our glasses whenever we get thirsty and carry on with our day.
Maybe we’ve heard a few news reports about potential dangers in municipal water supplies over the years. So we pick up one of those portable water filters at the store – like Brita filters – and figure that will take care of any issues.
Your drinking water – and all the chemicals inside it – are more complicated than you thought. Without the right precautions, it can cause some serious health complications.
It’s time for the truth.
Drinking Water: Contaminated by Thousands of Chemicals
When you think of perfect drinking water, your mind might wander to a pristine mountain stream.
But most of us don’t have access to those resources. The majority of us get our drinking water from cities, municipalities, and other public sources.
This can make it tricky to pinpoint the journey your water makes before it reaches your tap. Everyone wants pure water, but most public sources contain dangerous chemicals you don’t want anywhere near your drinking glass.
Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Over 2,100 chemical compounds have been found in drinking water in the United States.
That’s why not paying enough attention to your water supply could be one of your biggest health obstacles. Eating well and working out is great, but polluting your body with dangerous toxins undermines those benefits from the inside out.
There’s a huge range of substances, added on purpose and accidentally, to our water supply. Over 2,100 chemical compounds have been found in drinking water in the United States. Many of them are contaminating it and causing serious health issues.
And here’s the really scary part: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has only established enforceable safety standards for 87 of these compounds. That’s less than five percent of the total amount!
Water quality varies depending on where you live, but contamination is a widespread issue. The Environmental Working Group analyzed over 200 municipal water systems across 43 states in the U.S. Their report found “probable human carcinogens” in every single water system they tested.
The Most Dangerous Drinking Water Chemicals
Of all the chemicals found in drinking water today, a few stand out above the rest as especially dangerous for your health:
Water suppliers use chlorine to disinfect public water sources by reducing the level of harmful bacteria. This has been going for decades because chlorine has been proven to effectively remove pathogens…
But there are plenty of unintended consequences.
Depending on your sensitivity, drinking too much chlorinated water can cause health problems. Multiple studies have linked the free radicals in chlorinated water to a weakened immune system, liver malfunction, and damages to arteries.
When chlorine mixes with natural organic particles, it creates hundreds of toxic by-products. Chlorine can cause problems all by itself, but it gets much worse when it reacts with other particles in the water supply.
When chlorine mixes with natural organic particles, it creates hundreds of toxic by-products which aren’t regulated or even monitored by government agencies or water suppliers.
These toxic by-products are called “disinfection by-products” (or DBPs). According to Renee Sharp, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, we know about more than 600… with plenty more yet to be identified.
Chlorine by-products are much more toxic than chlorine itself. Some by-products, like trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs), may cause reproductive problems and even cancer.
Even the EPA admits that long-term exposure to THMs and HAAs can cause kidney, liver, and nervous system problems… as well as an increased cancer risk.
Chloramines are another type of disinfectant made by combining chlorine with ammonia. More and more municipal water districts are turning to this chemical to either replace or supplement chlorine use.
Unfortunately, chloramines are just as dangerous as good old chlorine. These chemicals are harsh enough to dissolve the inside of water pipes and fixtures. But they don’t just stop at property damage.
Chloramines leach heavy metals (like copper and lead) from pipes during their journey to your drinking glass. As a result, traces of these metals ends up in your water.
Chloramines have become more popular because they produce lower levels of toxic disinfection by-products (DBPs) regulated by the EPA. They still produce these harmful by-products – just at slightly lower levels than chlorine.
But just because chloramines produce less regulated DBPs doesn’t make them safe.
Some evidence suggests that chloramines produce even more unregulated disinfection by-products than chlorine, chemicals whose health risks aren’t even fully understood yet.
Of all the chemicals in our water supply, fluoride is probably the most controversial.
This debate picked up steam over the past few years. But it’s been going on for decades now – almost ever since water suppliers began fluoridation shortly after World War Two.
Over 90 percent of the fluoride found in the American water supply comes from “hydrofluorosilicic acid” – a waste product produced when phosphate fertilizer is made.
Fluoridated water is supposed to help us prevent cavities and strengthen our teeth. Yet plenty of scientific studies cast serious doubts about its effectiveness. So fluoride might not work as well as advertised. Besides that, it’s also been linked to some serious health problems.
It helps to understand where fluoride comes from. Many people assume the fluoride in their water is pharmaceutical-grade sodium fluoride. But in reality, over 90 percent of the fluoride found in the American water supply comes from “hydrofluorosilicic acid”. This substance is a waste product produced when phosphate fertilizer is made.
Fluoride accumulates in different parts of your body over time, which can create consequences after a lifetime of exposure. One study found that ingesting fluoride had a huge impact on rats’ brains and changed their behavior.
British researchers found that thousands of people experience hypothyroidism because they drank too much fluoridated drinking water. The risk of hypothyroidism increased when higher concentrations of fluoride were found where the people lived.
Fluoride also affects your teeth… but not necessarily in a good way. One study found that about 40 percent of American teenagers have dental fluorosis, a condition in which your teeth become mottled due to changes in your tooth enamel. This rate is as high as 70 to 80 percent in certain areas!
Finally, adding fluoride to drinking water raises plenty of ethical and practical issues. The dose is imprecise: no one can know who ingests it or monitor how much water people have each day. There’s also zero consent. The fluoride is there – and medicating you – whether you agree to it or not.
Arsenic, Hexavalent Chromium, Lead, and Other Heavy Metals
Drinking water is also full of heavy metals, which can be toxic at high enough amounts.
An Environmental Working Group analysis took a look at the hexavalent chromium in drinking water across the United States. They sampled water from 35 different cities, finding hexavalent chromium in a whopping 31 of them. This was the first national analysis of a problem that might be much bigger than we thought.
Scientists have known about hexavalent chromium’s carcinogenic properties for a long time. But they thought that was only if you inhaled it.
Now, studies revealed hexavalent chromium can cause cancer in animals even when it’s ingested. The National Toxicology Program found increased tumors in mice and rats in the small intestine and oral cavity.
Arsenic has also been linked to increased risk of several types of cancer. Back in 2001, the EPA lowered the maximum levels of arsenic allowed in drinking later from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion… but this probably isn’t enough.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that 56 million Americans (across 25 states) drink water with unsafe levels of arsenic. One Texas study, where the groundwater was estimated to have even less arsenic than the median federal drinking-water standard, still found that exposure was linked to poor memory and language scores, as well as decreased brain function.
Besides drinking all these harmful chemicals, we also absorb them through our skin in the shower or bath, which is why…
Why Portable Water Filters Aren’t Enough to Keep You Safe
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. This means it can absorb a lot of nutrients, and also a lot of toxins.
Even if you filter your drinking water, you’re still exposing yourself to toxins whenever you take a shower or bath. The dangerous chemicals slip in through a combination of inhalation and skin absorption.
You inhale chloroform, a chlorine by-product, whenever you take a hot shower or bath. Chloroform has been linked to liver dysfunction, central nervous system issues, and even depression.
Warm water also opens your pores, so that combines with the chlorine gas you’re already inhaling to make things even worse. A study at the University of Pittsburgh found that you get less chemical exposure from drinking chlorinated water than from showering or washing your clothes in it.
Drinking-water filters are a huge step forward, but not enough to avoid all the dangerous toxins. Whenever we shower or bathe in the same water, these chemicals get into our bloodstreams.
This is especially dangerous for children. Children have a greater surface area to body weight ratio than adults, which can increase absorption of toxins through the skin.
Blood also flows faster through children’s circulatory systems, which can make them more vulnerable to toxins. Despite all that, most data used to set limits is based on exposures for adults.
Your Clean Water Solution
Worried about the substances lurking in your water?
It’s time to take action. There are solutions available which can help you avoid the toxins, keep the healthy minerals, and give you the clean water (and peace of mind) you deserve.
The first step:
Getting an accurate picture of your current situation and connecting with a Water Expert.
Start by taking Radiant Life’s FREE water assessment.
Everyone’s drinking water situation is different. This short survey will help you pinpoint any problem areas where toxic chemicals are slipping in.
Once you have a better understanding of your unique circumstances, it’s easier to move forward and change them.
A point-of-use system is a must. These systems, which usually go in your kitchen cabinet, remove chlorine, chloramines, fluoride, and other contaminants from your drinking water. They’re even more effective when you combine them with a point-of-entry system.
Point-of-entry systems usually go in your basement, garage, or water closet. They keep all the dangerous chemicals from entering your showers, washing machines, and any other places where you use water.
Clean drinking water is a basic necessity.
It’s time to take that back.
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Written by Corey Pemberton
Corey Pemberton is a freelance writer, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner, and Paleo health enthusiast. Ever since he discovered the ancestral health movement five years ago, he has explored different ways to incorporate ancestral wisdom into his nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle at large. One of his favorite topics is challenging long-held nutrition myths. Feel free to stop by his website or say hello on Twitter.
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