Why Is Water Important for Health? Pure water – harder to come by than you realize!

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I have been looking at this question, “Why is water important for health?” since I began my career working in the water and wastewater industry some 30 years ago.  As a licensed water/wastewater treatment plant operator, understanding the chemistry of water and water treatment was the only way you could be employed in that field.  What I learned then has

Why Is Water Important for Health?

One Drop of Water in a Water World … Getty Images

influenced how I use water today, despite the incredulous comments of family and friends.  And it continues to be even more important as I strive to protect my autistic granddaughter’s health.  My important recommendations for how to ensure pure water for you and your family are at the end of this narrative.

Folks just don’t seem to understand how our water supply has been negatively affected by pollution, by medicines disposed in toilets and trash, by the very treatment used to eliminate contaminants and pathogens.

This is VERY important for our very special kiddos, especially our children who are medically fragile.

Let’s take a closer look at how water is treated in order to bring it to our homes clean and ready for use.  The question that begs to be answered “Why is safe drinking water important?”.

Water has a wonderful natural cycle that it follows.  USGS Water Cycle Graphic

But today, in order to have water that will not carry diseases like typhoid or cholera it is treated with chemicals to remove these pathogens.  Now THAT is of course a good thing, to remove these causes of illness.  But consider this.  The three primary treatment chemicals are chlorine, chloramines, and chlorine dioxide and they are very toxic.  The laws in the United States allow for a “minimum residual” of these toxic chemicals in the water supplied to the public, a little bit of the chemical is still there.   For instance, for both chlorine and chloramine that amount is 4 milligrams per liter or 4 parts per million (ppm).  This is not natural!

 

Now 4 parts per million doesn’t sound like much but you could think of it this way. Fill a room with 1 million white ping pong balls, four of those white balls have turned red, that would be 4 parts or 4 red ping pong balls per 1 million white ping pong balls. Of course that seems ever so small, right? But the fact is that over a year’s time we are drinking allot of water with this allowed contaminant that is used as the disinfectant.  And there is a growing body of evidence that chemicals, especially in the uterus and first year of life are very damaging.

Water cycle which includes water treatment plants and wastewater plants.

Water cycle which includes water treatment plants and wastewater plants.

 

MRDLs (Minimum Residual Disinfectant Levels) are set as close to the public health goals as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies.

Now the regulator’s emphasize that levels in excess of the allowed residual have been found to irritate the eyes and nose, cause stomach discomfort, and in some cases anemia.  But what is alarming to me is that there is evidence that chlorine dioxide, and let me say clearly “in excess of the maximum residual disinfectant level” has been found to effect the nervous system.  This is what the regulator is saying.  In other literature there are concerns and questions that have been asked by expectant moms.  You may want to review questions 5 and 6 in this linked reference regarding this concern. (http://www.epa.gov/dclead/disinfection.htm)

 

However, what is even more alarming is what the United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated in their article Basic Information About Disinfectants in Drinking Water: Chloramine, Chlorine, and Chlorine Dioxide that “disinfectants themselves can react with naturally-occurring materials in the water to form byproducts, such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, which may pose health risks.”  http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/disinfectants.cfm

Don’t you agree where there is a potential risk to our health and the sometimes fragile health of our children that we should control and/or manage that risk as best as we possibly can?  In my years serving as an Industrial Hygienist for OSHA one thing that surfaced is that not everyone is protected by the allowed levels of chemical exposures, what are called Permissable Exposure Limits (PELs).  Granted these were levels intended to protect employees, not the public’s health.  But what I found is that some people were responding with illness at much lower levels, becoming sensitized to a chemical and then responding allergically to it.

Individuals with varying health conditions, immune systems, metabolism mechanisms, and health histories, will respond differently to the allowed EPA levels.  But I am concerned that the compromised health of many of our special needs children is or could be potentially affected from contaminants in our water.

As If  This Wasn’t Bad Enough…

It’s a fact that in many places around the world good clean water, the most basic of human needs, to clean and bathe with, cook with, and drink is difficult if not nearly impossible to access.  In the book Water Wars-Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst, Diane Raines Ward stated that 40% of the world’s population “carry their water from wells, rivers, ponds, or puddles outside of their homes.”

drinking11-village-water-well_13114_600x450 drinking04-distribution-iraq_13102_600x450 conflict13-gathering-water-iraq-99_13155_600x450

Really?  How about you?  Don’t you find this to be deplorable?

I lived for a time in villages of Belize and Mexico. So I can speak with personal experience regarding this. I brought my water for laundry, that I did by hand, from the well and from the community’s rain tank for cooking and drinking.  A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds, that’s over 40 pounds for just five gallons.  I needed allot more than 5 gallons to get through the day.  I was carrying back to my island home 10 to 12 buckets, each containing five gallons.  Hmmm, I never thought about it before but that was well over 400 pounds total each day that I was carrying.  I was pretty trim back then, guess that’s’ why, right?  I was working my tush off.

Ocean at my doorstep, lobster for breakfast...it was a good life.

Ocean at my doorstep, lobster for breakfast…it was a good life even though I worked hard keeping up with my four kids.

Our island home on Caye Caulker in Belize did not have running water and our bathroom was an outhouse on the end of a pier, over the ocean.  At least it wasn’t over a surface water that would be used for the home.

Decent sanitation is a contributing factor to health and access to clean water in communities is a huge problem for many people.  The World Health Organization reports that “the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta …contaminate water sources, soil and food”, and “is a major cause of diarrhea, the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, and leads to other major diseases such as cholera, schistosomiasis and trachoma.”

Why Is Water Important for Health?

We are made up minerals and elements of our planet home, but primarily water, between 55 t0 75% water, depending on our gender and age.  Now here is something that deserves our attention, the water percentage of infants is much higher, typically around 75-78% water, dropping to 65% by one year of age.  I believe it goes without saying that clean, uncontaminated water is critical to our baby’s health.  There is so much to wonder about here as the studies done involving water contaminants are finally beginning to establish that at least more studies need to be done.   Go figure! (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11834464)

What We Are Made Of... Water and....

What We Are Made Of…
Water and….

Water is necessary as the major component for every cellular function in each of our 3 trillion cells.  WHEW!

It also:
• Helps to maintain temperature
• Lubricates and serves as a cushion for our joints
• Protects the spinal cord
• Functions to remove wastes through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements

Okay, that might have been a little graphic, but we get the point, right? Without water our health is compromised.  If water is contaminated it will complicate our body’s functions because it will have to metabolize the contaminant and dispose of it, which requires more water for that chemical process in our tissues.  And treated water is likely to have the “residual” amount allowed by laws of the land.  So… more water would be necessary for that process of removing a contaminant from the body’s tissues and therefore is not available for the normal bodily functions.  Okay, enough already!   I think you are getting the picture.  Water? Important.  Purified water?  Critically important.

So what in the world are we to do?

Now that we get it…we get that clean drinking water is important and we understand why safe drinking water is important what can we do to ensure as much as possible that we are using water that enhances our health, not detracting from it?

I do not recommend always buying bottled water from the grocery store.  If that is your only option, then yes buy bottled water but keep in mind the waste generated with all these bottles going into the landfills.  That’s not a good outcome!  Another concern is that the plastic bottles can introduce contamination into the water you are drinking out of that bottle, especially if it has gotten hot.   And …besides that there is a growing body of evidence that some bottled water is just tap water.  So the question is can you trust what you are buying?

What then do I recommend?

Purchase water from a facility that purifies the water or purchase a water purifying system for your home.

After researching a variety of systems for my home, here is my recommendation.  I think it’s worthy of your investment.  

Aqualiv is a reasonably priced water purification system that can be installed at your kitchen sink.   There are several aspects of this system that I feel are very important to seriously take into consideration.  Here is my ‘product review’ of the Aqualiv Water System.   After all of my information ‘gem’ digging, this is the one that I feel my family deserves.

I’m also impressed with the Berkey Water Filter System.  This company has a world-renowned reputation. 


But, I have to say that having clean water on tap is far more attractive to me than putting it through a gravity fed filter.  Don’t misunderstand me though, the Berkey is a good product, but I just feel that for the investment, a bit more money squirreled away is better invested in something that doesn’t entail me carting or lifting heavy water around.

I do not recommend using  water softener water  for drinking and cooking water.  Why?  Well, in some folks it has been found to increase blood pressure, the salt you know.  

Additionally, make sure that you have BPA free bottles because there are reams of evidence that BPA (Bisphenol A), a carbon based synthetic compound, is harmful to our health.

Pure Water...A Must

Pure Water…A Must

WATER.  It is most certainly important for our health and I feel is a critically important healthy addition in the diets of our special needs children.  It will keep our digestive systems functioning at their optimum and ensure our bodies are receiving the necessary micronutrients that support health.  But think of this too. When the entire family is drinking water that is free of contamination, everyone benefits.  Our health will be so much better which is so important if we are going to be fully present in caring for our ‘special’ people.  There is no price tag on health, it is priceless!  Giving yourself the gift of good, clean, purified water may be the most significant health choice you will make, prolonging your life and that of your precious loved ones.

 

Cascading Free Water One of Lifes Simple Pleasures

Cascading Free Water … One of Lifes Simple Pleasures

 

 

Any questions or comments?  Do you struggle to access good water?  Please share your story.  We will all benefit from what you are learning or have been confronted with.  Maybe we can collectively come up with a solution. Please leave your comments on this page or Contact Me Here! and I will quickly get back to you.

5 Responses to “Why Is Water Important for Health? Pure water – harder to come by than you realize!

  • Hi Linda, thank you for bringing this crucially important information to light. I for one was not aware that tap water could be so dangerous and bad for your health. It is always so easy to just believe everything that you are told by authority figures.

    I will be looking at different ways of obtaining pure water, near my hometown for myself, family and friends.

    In fact, everyone needs to know about what they are putting into their bodies.

    Lis.

    • admin

      Its pretty shocking. We don’t need to subject ourselves to it, because as you have so well acknowledged there are some ways that we can obtain pure water. I’ve been a bit distracted with getting some other posts up so I haven’t written a product review yet on the filtering system that I believe is a great idea for our homes. You may want to follow the link I included at the end of this post to see what can contribute to accessing purified water. Its an invesment, but an investment in our health is oh so worth it.

      Thanks for coming by for a visit. And let me know if you have any questions or if I can help in your quest to discover pure water resources in your community.

      Linda

  • Calen Says:
    Water is so fundamental to health and drinking water that is contaminated will sooner or later result in illness. Terrific blog and article – thank you

  • Water is so fundamental to health and drinking water that is contaminated will sooner or later result in illness. Terrific blog and article – thank you

    • Linda

      Yes indeed. You have perfectly nailed this. I am very glad you liked this post on a subject near and dear to my heart.

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