Whether you live in a larger city and pull your drinking water from a municipal source, or further out in well water country, you are undoubtedly being exposed to some form of contaminants.
Some of these contaminants are mad-made, such as chlorine, and are designed to clean and disinfect your drinking water. Other contaminants, including rust and iron, are naturally occurring in the environment. These contaminants are clever enough to sneak themselves into your drinking water before you turn on your faucet.
Bottom-line, many of these contaminants will make your water taste awful. If these contaminants occur in heavy enough levels, they can pose significant risk for both short- and long-term health issues.
Fortunately, the most common drinking water contaminants are also among the easiest and most affordable to reduce, including:
1. Chlorine – perhaps the most common contaminant for those that live in the city and the most common reason many will complain that their water tastes ‘like a swimming pool.’ Livestrong quotes research indicating that most cities within the US treat their water with two to four parts per million to kill off any pesky bacteria.
While we can’t argue with chlorine’s ability to kill bacteria, we do take issue with some of the harmful effects of both short-term and long-term exposure, from dry skin and split ends from shower water at best, to risk of cancer and premature aging at worst.
Fortunately, most water filters are designed to reduce chlorine, including our new line of Tier1 refrigerator water filters – built for all major refrigerator brands – and as low as $20 per filter, dependent on your needs. And if you have a fridge without a water dispenser, an affordable water filter pitcher from ZeroWater or faucet filter from Instapure will do the trick, without forcing you to exceed a $20-30 budget.
One more point on chlorine – as 50% of chlorine exposure comes from bathing – a good shower filter also makes for a wise investment.
2. Lead – Lead must have seemed like a really good idea at one time, as most lead in tap water comes from the corrosion of older pipes and fixtures, per the CDC. Today, congress’s involvement is needed to keep this junk out of our water, via the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act that went into play earlier this month.
Lead cannot be smelled, tasted or boiled out of water, and the only way to know for sure if your drinking water supply contains this contaminant is with a water test kit. Higher levels of lead can cause health risks including elevated blood levels, and these risks are significantly enhanced for the sick, young or vulnerable.
Like chlorine, many refrigerator water filters will help to reduce lead, including our Tier1 line. More advanced faucet filters, including the Instapure F8 pictured, will also help to reduce lead while running just slightly higher in cost than entry level models.
3. Asbestos – while naturally occurring, the unique ability of asbestos to be resistant to heat and most other chemicals has historically led to its use in thousands of products, including cement pipe used to distribute drinking water. Asbestos also has the unique ability to, over time, increase someone’s risk for developing intestinal polyps per the EPA.
As frightening as asbestos can be, it is also a fairly straight-forward contaminant to reduce. One of the most popular refrigerator water filters on the market, the Maytag UKF8001, has been shown to reduce up to 99% of asbestos while setting you back just over $35 per filter. And for those without refrigerator water dispensers, several undersink water filter systems, including the Pentek US-1000 system pictured, have been shown to reduce this contaminant before it makes it anywhere near your glass.
4. Iron – iron is naturally occurring in both groundwater and oxygen free reservoirs. When exposed to oxygen, it is commonly responsible for drinking water discoloration.
Per the EPA, iron is not directly associated with adverse health effects. That said, it will lead to water quality effects, from the aforementioned discoloration to an unpleasant metallic taste.
If you have heavy doses of iron in your water, chances are, you are already well aware. Fortunately, a small investment in a countertop water filter system by Doulton, including their W9331032 UltraCarb, can get the taste and coloring of your water back on track.
5. Sulfur – rotten eggs. If you smell it or taste it in your water, you’ve got sulfur. Common in well water, the smell of sulfur does not always indicate a problem with the sanitation of your water. If left unchecked, however, sulfur can cause all manner of issues, including promoting the growth of other types of bacteria in your water supply.
Dealing with sulfur is a little bit trickier and pricier, so before making a filter decision, determine first where you are experiencing the biggest issues. Because so much of the unpleasantness inherent with sulfur is with the smell, many are satisfied if the smell is reduced in their shower or bath. If you fall into this category, a Culligan shower filter will meet most of your needs. The shower filter pictured to the left is hand-held and even includes a massage feature!
On the other hand, if you have sulfur issues throughout your home, you may be looking at an investment in a new system set-up. If you fall into this category, take care to ensure that your new system will accommodate filters built for sulfur, like the HydroLogic Big Boy. We would also recommend that you call our customer service department at 1-800-277-3458 to ensure you get the most affordable custom set-up possible.
What other contaminants have you dealt with in your drinking water, and more importantly, how did you handle them? We invite you to leave a comment below.
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