OK, so now what. You’ve heard about a lot of the dangers of tap water – but we still have to drink water because it’s the most important “nutrient” for our body, aside from oxygen. So where do we go from here?
There are basically only two practical alternatives to tap water: 1) bottled water and 2) filtered water. By the way, well water is not out of the woods – it can be, and quite often is contaminated.
There are definitely some great quality bottled waters on the market. Here are a few brands I personally like: Mountain Valley Spring® (glass), Gerolsteiner® (glass, sparkling), and Smart Water® (plastic). There are plenty more, but those are my top 3 choices. Please see their sites if you want to learn more about them.
Unfortunately, bottled water presents an enormous environmental hazard. And it’s totally unpractical to drink all of the time. You can find plenty of information on the environmental impact all over the internet and I encourage you to do so. Additionally, the industry is not regulated and therefore you need to know your source. You could easily be buying tap water (it’s been said that 40% is tap water) or water tainted with many harmful chemicals and microorganisms in it. Based on what I read off of the labels, most bottled water isn’t worth it, although you can usually find a “fairly good” bottled water readily accessible if necessary.
OK, so the other option is a filter. This is a win-win situation! Save the environment and save money (compared to bottled water). There are so many options when it comes to filters. I’ll discuss one right now.
(Activated) carbon (AC), also known as activated charcoal– Carbon filters contain granules or powdered carbon which acts to absorb impurities from the water it is in contact with. Activated carbon (one step up from ordinary carbon) has a slightly positive charge to it, which can further help to attract (negatively-charged) impurities. There are two main variables for how well an AC filter will perform. First is the amount of carbon. More carbon means more absorption, just like a large towel will absorb more than a smaller one. Second is the amount of time the water/contaminant is in contact with the carbon. The longer the water can be in physical contact, the more will be absorbed. The size of the contaminant will also be a factor.
Activated carbon filters will also trap or breed bacteria in the filter medium. Unfortunately, they do NOT kill the organisms. Therefore, they can build up in the filter creating a sort of breeding ground for bacteria, eventually headed for the drinking water. This is why it is highly recommended to change the filter often – which can become costly.
Activated carbon filters are also claimed to contain the toxic metal aluminum, which can get into the filtered water. The only information I found related to this makes the claim look accurate. Click here for information on the patent of “compacted activated charcoal filter material” (note the words “aluminum oxide” and “aluminum hydroxide”). Charcoal that has been “acid-washed” is said to contain little or no aluminum.
Lastly, activated carbon from coconut shells (as opposed to coal) is more environmentally-friendly and contains less aluminum. So ideally, if you go with an AC filter, it should be acid-washed and made from coconut shells.
Here’s what an AC filter is capable of removing and/or reducing: volatile organic compounds (including MTBE from gasoline and other chemicals that cause bad tastes and odors), pesticides and herbicides, chlorine, benzene, trihalomethanes (by-products of chlorine), radon, solvents, and many other man-made chemicals that find there way into the groundwater.
Unfortunately, AC filters alone won’t remove all the contaminants we spoke about – i.e.: toxic metals and fluoride, and perhaps haloaceticacids (more chlorine by-products). Because the presence of pharmaceutical drugs in tap water is relatively new, I can’t find information on filters effective in removing them. Although, it’s certainly possible that the filters we’ll discuss can filter drug residues anyway.
Don’t forget, these AC filters need to be changed very often to prevent bacteria build-up, which can get into the drinking water. And unless they’re acid-washed and from coconut shells, they probably have a fair amount of aluminum in them.
The Brita® Pitcher Filter is one example of an AC filter. It also contains something called an ion-exchange resin which helps remove copper, mercury, cadmium, and zinc. Hmmm, what about lead. Well, the Brita® Faucet Filter is said to have something called zeolite as well, which helps remove lead. My guess is that these filters are from coal and not coconut shells, nor acid-washed – please verify the specifications with the manufacturer, as I am making no claims. The above information about Brita® was derived from their website.
Please click here if you are interested in more information on the differences between coal and coconut shell derived carbon material. And click here for more general information and the source of some information above. I have no financial connection to any of the brands mentioned, or products sold from any links.
More on other types of filters soon.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology