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WATER QUALITY AWARENESS – 10 ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT U.S. TAP WATER

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August is National Water Quality Awareness Month, and it comes at a time when drinking water in America is making headlines again.

Researchers say the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is nearing an end as tests show significantly fewer homes have water contaminated with lead. The situation there has heightened awareness about drinking water contamination nationwide, which could be more widespread than the public realizes.

Lead is far from the only thing that can contaminate a home’s water, and it’s important to know what your family is drinking. This article is not intended to shock and scare people about water quality. However, you should be aware of possible risks and take steps to keep your family safe and healthy.

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about water quality in the U.S.

1. How Does U.S. Water Quality Compare to the Rest of the World?

We are very fortunate to live in part of the world in which the water quality is much better than other places. That’s why you’re often warned not to drink tap water when you travel to certain foreign countries.

This infographic, which cites research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicates only the U.S. and Canada along with western Europe, Japan, and Australia have tap water that’s considered safe for drinking.

According to the organization WaterAid, more than 650 million people around the world have no access to safe drinking water, and 900 children die every day because of digestive issues from unclean water and poor sanitation.

While it’s true that things could be much worse for Americans, we must continue to be vigilant about water quality.

2. Who Regulates the Water We Drink?

The answer to this question depends on which kind of drinking water you’re talking about. There are multiple agencies responsible for regulating water quality in the U.S., and there are some who are more critical about the way it’s handled.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in charge of overseeing the water that comes out of your tap. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees and regulates the quality of bottled water.

Individual states are responsible for regulating water that is bottled and sold within their borders. Finally, your municipality must make sure it is following federal and state standards regarding water quality.

The EPA does not regulate private wells, and rules for testing differ from state to state. In many cases, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure their well water is safe.

3. What are Water Contaminants?

According to the EPA, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) defines water contaminants quite broadly. A contaminant can be anything that isn’t a water molecule. So if it’s not H2O, it’s technically a contaminant.

This means that not every contaminant is unsafe to consume. For instance, the dissolved minerals found in 80% of the water in the U.S. pose no health risks. However, minerals like calcium and magnesium can cause hard water problems.

There are many other water contaminants that could lead to health problems. The Water Quality Association (WQA) provides a list of common water contaminants and documents their potential health risks.

The EPA says water contaminants can be:

  • Physical– sediment or organic material that changes water’s physical properties.
  • Chemical– either naturally-occurring or man-made.
  • Biological– microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  • Radiological– chemical elements that emit radiation such as cesium, plutonium, and uranium.

4. What Contaminants Might be Found in Ground Water?

According to GroundWater.org, more than half of the U.S. depends on groundwater, which can be used for municipal water and as the source of water for people with private wells.

Groundwater is an important resource, but it can become easily contaminated and polluted. As the experts at The Groundwater Foundation explain …

“Groundwater contamination occurs when man-made products such as gasoline, oil, road salts and chemicals get into the groundwater and cause it to become unsafe and unfit for human use. Materials from the land’s surface can move through the soil and end up in the groundwater.”

Those materials also include pesticides, fertilizer, and other agricultural runoff like manure, as well as toxic material from hazardous waste sites and leaky landfills.

The graphic below shows the many ways groundwater becomes contaminated and the sources from which those contaminants may come.

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5. What Goes Into Municipal Water?

Municipal water is processed at a water treatment facility before it’s delivered to the public, which should make it safe for residents to use.

Municipalities add chemicals to the water when it is treated. One of the most common chemicals used in water treatment is chlorine, which is used as a disinfectant to kill bacteria and other microbes. Sometimes chloramine, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, is also used.

A small, but potential risk of these chemicals comes from byproducts they create in the water when reacting with organic compounds. Those byproducts are trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs). Some studies indicate THMs and HAAs are linked to increase risk of serious health problems like cancer and heart disease.

However, it’s important to note that water quality would be much worse if municipalities did not use these chemicals to eliminate what could be harmful. The World Health Organization (WHO) says health risks from chlorine are small compared to the dangers of failing to properly disinfect public water.

6. How Does Lead Get in Drinking Water?

Due to the media attention Flint, Michigan, received over its water crisis, a lot of people have questions about lead in public water systems around the U.S.

Lead (as well as copper) typically enters the public supply by leaching into water from corroded fixtures and outdated plumbing. Homes built before 1986 will likely have plumbing with copper pipes using solder that may contain lead.

Lead can cause serious negative health effects, especially in children. The challenge is that it is undetectable by human senses. You can check with your local water authority for information about lead levels, but it’s important to note that the CDC and EPA say there’s no level of lead recognized as safe for consumption.

If you have concerns about the presence of lead in your water, you can have it tested in a state-certified laboratory.

7. What if My Water Tastes, Smells, or Looks Strange?

Certain things can affect the flavor, odor, and appearance of your tap water, not all of them are necessarily harmful.

Many people with public water can taste the chlorine, although the most noticeable problems tend to come from private wells. Contaminants like sulfur can impact the smell, while iron will cause discoloration and staining.

The overall amount of total dissolved solids (TDS) in your tap water will definitely affect the taste, smell, and appearance. While many of these issues are not serious concerns, they can certainly be a nuisance. Water filtration systems, including a high-efficiency water softener to reduce hardness, can provide solutions.

You can contact a residential water treatment expert to come to your home and evaluate things like mineral content and TDS.

8. Is Bottled Water Safer and Cleaner than Tap Water?’

You might think the safest bet is to purchase bottled water at the store if you want to avoid contaminants in the water you drink. In the past 10 to 15 years, regulations surrounding the quality of bottled water have improved, and bottlers need to back up their claims concerning how their product is marketed. However, bottled water may not be the most cost-effective or environmentally-friendly way to get quality drinking water.

In many cases, bottled water is nothing more than tap water that has usually been treated. This means you could be wasting your money and creating unnecessary waste by drinking bottled water when other filtration options can give you the same quality in your home.

Learn more about why you should stop buying bottled water here on our blog.

9. How Can I be Sure My Water is Safe to Drink?

The most trustworthy way to find out what’s in your water and its safety is to send samples to a state-certified lab and have it tested.

You can also do some of your own initial research into water quality. For example, the EPA requires your local water utility to provide a Consumer Confidence Report on water quality every year. It should have details on contaminants that may be in your water and the health risks. Use this online tool to find out how to get your report.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also provides an online database to help people find reports from their area.

For homeowners with a private well, the Groundwater Foundation recommends having your water tested at a state-certified lab, like Water-Right’s Clean Water Testing, at least once every year.

Water samples for testing should be taken from the source as well as the tap. For bacterial concerns, it’s best for homeowners to contact a local lab because the bacteria could die before an out-of-state lab can test for contamination. For instance, e-coli only lives in water for 48 hours, so testing must be done as soon as possible.

10. Are There Residential Water Treatment Products that Can Help?

If you want complete peace of mind concerning what’s in your water, there are various in-home water filtration options.

One of the best ways to reduce contaminants and get safe water from the tap is to install a reverse osmosis (R.O.) system. Find out more about how R.O. systems work as well as the benefits of reverse osmosis water here on our blog.

Yet another option for improving water quality is a UV light purification system.

All Atlantic Blue technicians are equipped to help you with your water needs. Call us today at 410-840-2583!

 

 

 

 

 

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Originally posted and written by Water Care on August 18th, 2016

THE BENEFITS OF DRINKING REVERSE OSMOSIS WATER

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We’ve finally learned our lesson in America. More of us are starting to skip the soda and drink a lot more water instead.

A 2016 Beverage Marketing study found water consumption in the U.S. grew 120 percent between 2000 and 2015, while carbonated drinks fell 16 percent over the same time period.

Drinking more water is a smart and healthy decision! But, you still have a lot of choices when it comes to what kind of water you drink. Bottled? Distilled? Natural spring water? Tap water?

Reverse osmosis drinking water systems provide you with clean, refreshing water right in your home. Here are some reasons why it’s the best option for you.

Reverse Osmosis Systems Remove Contaminants

Contaminated water and its negative effects on health have been making a lot of headlines lately. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan involving lead prompted increased scrutiny of public water around the country.

No matter where you live, there’s a lot more than just H2O in your home’s water. However, with a reverse osmosis system, you can drastically reduce those unwanted contaminants. The special membrane filters out the vast majority of microscopic organisms and heavy metals. Learn more about how reverse osmosis systems work.

Our systems are tested and certified for the reduction of the following contaminants:

  • lead
  • arsenic
  • copper
  • nitrates and nitrites (hexavalent & trivalent)
  • chromium
  • selenium
  • fluoride
  • radium
  • barium
  • cyst (cryptosporidium)
  • total dissolved solids (TDS)

If pure water is what you want, a reverse osmosis drinking system is what you need!

Reverse Osmosis Reduces Sodium from Soft Water

Water softeners are specifically designed to remove hard minerals from the water. Water softeners solve a lot of hard water problems, but they are not meant to for purification.

The water softener in your home gives you water that’s excellent for cleaning, bathing, and laundry. However, not everyone enjoys the taste of softened water.

Remember, in the ion exchange process your water softener uses, hard minerals are replaced with sodium molecules. You could still have a high level of total dissolved solids, which will impact the taste. Reverse osmosis filters out the sodium that your water softener adds.

A reverse osmosis drinking water system partnered with a water softener allows you to enjoy the benefits of both soft water and purified drinking water. Plus, R.O. systems are more efficient when they start with soft water.

You’ll Stop Buying Bottled Water

If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, or you’re concerned about what might be in it, there’s a good chance you’re buying bottled water all the time.

Bottled water is expensive. Those plastic bottles create a lot of waste as they all too often go unrecycled and end up in landfills. Plus, the bottom line is much of that bottled water isn’t as pure as you think. It’s just filtered tap water.

In the U.S., one study found we spent more than $15 billion on bottled water in 2015.

A reverse osmosis system will pay for itself in no time because you’ll only be paying pennies per gallon. Plus, whenever you need clean drinking water, it’s right there at the tap. Find out more about why you should stop buying bottled water.

It’s Better for Cooking

The impurities in your home’s water are going to affect the taste of the food you make.

That makes a lot of sense when you think about, because the water you cook with often ends up in your food. When you boil pasta, make soups, or bake homemade bread, pure water can make a big difference.

If you’re using municipal tap water for cooking, there’s a good chance you have too much chlorine in it. That will not only cause food to taste odd, it discolors it as well.

You’ll also find that coffee and tea taste better with reverse osmosis water. FineCooking.comeven points out the fact that many of the best restaurants now exclusively use R.O. water for cooking.

Crystal Clear Ice Cubes

Have you ever noticed how when you make ice cubes they tend to look white and cloudy?

The reason for that is the impurities and gasses in your water, which crystalize as it freezes. Ice forms from the outside in, and as this happens the impurities are forced to the center of the ice cube, resulting in the cloudy appearance.

If you like making eye-catching cocktails, crystal clear ice cubes will look fantastic in your drinks. But there’s more! Cloudy ice cubes have been shown to be softer and melt faster than clear ice cubes with pure water from a reverse osmosis system. That means ice cubes made with an R.O. will keep your drinks cool longer without watering them down as much.

Reverse Osmosis Water Tastes Delicious

Perhaps the best reason to have reverse osmosis drinking water in your home is how great the water tastes! When you remove all those impurities, you’re left with nothing but clean, refreshing water.

In addition to the membrane that filters contaminants, Water-Right’s reverse osmosis systems send your drinking water through three carbon filters before it comes out of the tap. The last carbon filter is simply a “polishing” filter to make sure any lingering tastes or odors are removed.

Jason Fitzpatrick, a writer for Lifehacker.com, was fed up with his city water and ended up being pleasantly surprised with the results of an R.O.

“After years of tap water, I’d finally had enough of drinking water that tasted like it had been skimmed from the pool of the local YMCA. Between the chemical taste and concerns over lead and other contaminants, installing an under-sink filter became the most economical option to ensure my family was drinking pure water.”

After getting a reverse osmosis drinking water system, Fitzpatrick noticed a major difference in both the taste and appearance of his water.

Many families who start using an R.O. (including Fitzpatrick’s) find themselves drinking morewater and less sugary juice, sports drinks, and soda.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

 The only thing skeptics of reverse osmosis can point to as a disadvantage is that reverse osmosis systems filter out minerals, which they assume are valuable to their health.

In reality, you should be getting most of the mineral your body needs from the food you eat.

Furthermore, the dissolved mineral found in drinking water are organic, which means your body has a difficult time absorbing them. This negates any potential health benefits.

For those who are concerned about losing out on mineral intake, you can always look for mineral supplements. Some people will put a pinch of sea salt in their reverse osmosis water.

The bottom line is that the impressive benefits of reverse osmosis water far outweigh any minor objections.

Ready to learn more about getting an R.O. system installed in your home?

Call the experts today. 410-840-BLUE (2583)

 

 

 

 

 

Article Originally Written and Published August 8th by WaterCare

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