Water is essential to life. Without it, we literally cannot survive. You’ve likely been told or read or heard somewhere that you can survive 2-3 weeks without food but only 3 days without water.
Unfortunately, access to clean and safe drinking water is hard to come by these days, and it’s also become a privilege.
In this article we’re going to look at the importance of finding clean water sources free of toxic chemicals, identifying top water contaminants and potential health concerns and round it out by looking at some of my top recommended filters.
Before we go any further, I want you to check your water cleanliness using the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) tap water database at this link: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/
Keep in mind that just because something is within “legal” EPA limits doesn’t mean it’s actually “safe.” This is why the EWG has its own set of standards, and as you’ll see, they are significantly lower than those set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency.
As an example, I plugged in our old Phoenix zip code and this is what came up. You can scroll down and see a list of the contaminants and their levels on the actual site.
For me specifically, I was concerned about arsenic levels being 1,372x the recommended “safe” levels as well as chromium, radium, uranium and haloacetic acids, all of which increase risk of cancer.
Haloacetic acids are formed when disinfectants such as chlorine are added to tap water. These include monochloroacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid, trichloroacetic acid, monobromoacetic acid and dibromoacetic acid.
Oh any by the way, fluoride is doing more harm than good. We don’t need it to protect our teeth from decay. In fact, many studies show that fluoride is linked to cancer in our organs, including the oral cavity , pharynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas). And we know that fluoride negatively impacts thyroid health.
If you want to do more reading or research on your own, I highly recommend reading The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson. Side note: the best way we can protect our teeth from decay is to stop consuming massive amounts of sugary treats and drinks.
Instead, try using probiotic/prebiotic toothpaste like Revitin or nontoxic options like Dr. Bronner’s or Dave’s Toothpaste or antimicrobial toothpaste from Microbiome labs (check it out here in oral health section) that helps to remove biofilms and built-up bacteria that are actually responsible for tooth decay.
Mainstream health entities would have you think that toxic water isn’t an issue, that this only happens in third world countries, but that is a huge fallacy.
Just because you can’t taste, smell or see any “contaminants” doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
These are some of the most common contaminants in water:
Heavy and radioactive metals are a huge toxic concern in drinking water, especially if you live in an older city that has old lead pipes. Although the tradeoff isn’t any safer. Newer pipes are made with PVC (plastic) that is an endocrine disruptor — meaning it impacts our hormones and increases our risks of certain hormonal cancers like prostate, ovarian and breast cancer. We pass these toxins onto our children during birth and breastfeeding as well, which is another issue entirely.
Radioactive metals have become an increasing concern because of the radiation aspect. These are found in our dirt, air, soil and drinking water and usually come from industrial plants and nuclear weapon test sites, which are usually in desert areas like Nevada. The fallout from that is widespread. You can read more about that here.
But heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic and cadmium are rampant in our water, air and soil. These toxic elements bioaccumulate over time, which means that something we’ve been exposed to 10 or 15 years ago is still affecting our bodies and can become exacerbated by repeat exposures over a lifetime.
The body does not have a natural way to detox toxic heavy metals on its own. Heavy metals impair our detoxification pathways because they affect the functioning of key detox organs like the liver, colon, kidneys, skin. They create oxidative stress and inflammation via free radicals, which deplete our stores of antioxidants (like glutathione), which can help fight those free radicals.
You’ve likely heard of or watched the movie Erin Brockovich. Based on a true story, the movie uncovers how a California utility poisoned the drinking water of a small town with chromium-6. This cancer-causing chemical is still present in our water sources today, impacting nearly ⅔ Americans.
She’s a true environmental activist and truth-teller — and she’s still actively fighting today, including advocating for the removal of polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from our water systems, which are chemicals linked to cancer.
You can purchase a simple at-home water test kit on Amazon for $25ish dollars that looks at toxic levels of lead, copper and chlorine as well as certain bacteria, nitrate/nitrates, alkalinity and hardness.
But that’s only scratching the surface. If you’re really curious then you’ll want to use a reputable testing service like Tap Score to see what’s lurking in your city tap water.
Or you could just assume that your water is dirty (unless you drink from a natural spring, it likely is) and then get CLEAN!
I know you’re not going to like hearing this, but your Brita or Pur filter simply isn’t cutting it when it comes to the amount and variety of toxic chemicals in our water supply.
These are 100% better than drinking straight from your tap if this is what you can realistically afford on your budget. I am an advocate of meeting my clients where they are at and sometimes this is all they can afford, and that’s okay. Every little bit you can do to reduce your toxic load is going to benefit you in the long run.
That said, some of the best filtration systems are going to be reverse osmosis (RO) filters. It’s one of the best processes for removing all toxicants from water sources. But it also removes the good minerals, so it’s important to remineralize your water.
I use mineral drops from Cellcore or Trace Minerals, add a pinch of sea salt to water or supplement a portion of my water by adding in things like Nuun or LMNT electrolyte tablets!
These are my top picks for water filters:
Of course whole-house RO filtration systems can be good but are also prone to mold. The Berkey is also prone to mold so if you have one or plan to get one, regular cleaning is ESSENTIAL! This article explains the problem with mold in Berkey systems.
You can also regularly fill up jugs of water in a distilled or RO system at your local health food store or even some gas stations! Or simply buy distilled water from the grocery store. Getting your water in glass containers is the best option because plastics from regular water jugs will leech into your water, especially if it gets hot for any extended period of time (like during shipping or transport).
There are plenty of water bottle filters that you can use if that’s more approachable. Just make sure that you’re either getting glass or stainless steel bottles if you can. While the market for BPA-free water bottles (and other things) has grown, they are still made of plastic. And if they don’t use BPA then they likely used other forms of the same compound — BPS and BPF — that come with their own set of health risks.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also remind you not to forget to filter your shower water! When you’re in the shower (especially if you crank the water up to hot), your pores become more open and this allows the same toxins in your drinking water to seep into your skin for absorption.
Little reminder here: I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned above.
Clean water, unfortunately, is hard to come by and it’s also a privilege in today’s society. But it shouldn’t be that way. We deserve access to clean, affordable water sources.
Check out Clean Water Action to learn how you can show your support.
I know some of this can feel overwhelming but it’s okay to take it in baby steps. You don’t have to boil the ocean. Just make incremental changes and start focusing on clean water for your health.
If you want help making small, sustainable lifestyle and diet changes, I have a 6 week wellness package that’s focused exactly on that. I can help provide the education, support and accountability you need to take incremental steps toward improving your health! Learn more here or schedule your free 20 minute initial consultation today.