Our world is full of organisms and chemicals that pollute our water supply. Some pollutants seep into the water naturally, but most water pollution is caused by ignorance, negligence or corporate greed.
You cannot see, smell, or taste most contaminants, but if they exist in your water, the potential danger to your health is staggering. To read a few of the problems people suffer as a result of contaminated water, read Frequently Asked Questions about Water Contaminants.
How to Test Your Water
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There is a long list of Water pollutants, but this section addresses only the main ones that cause serious health problems and that can be removed through water filtration.
Chlorine is a natural element, a yellow-green gas at room temperature. It is heavier than air, but under the correct pressure and temperature, it can be converted into liquid. Chlorine is found in the earth and can also be found in the sea. It is essential to the life of animals and plants.
Chlorine is widely used as a bleaching agent in the manufacturing process of paper and cloth. When released into the air, it reacts with water to make hydrochloric acid. When this acid breaks down, the products that are left can lower the pH of water.
Water which has been treated with chlorine is effective in preventing the spread of waterborne disease. Chlorine is used to treat water because other water filter media types such as carbon are not effective in killing sub-micron viruses and some bacteria. Thus chlorination is also used to sanitize the water in swimming pools and as a disinfection stage in sewage treatment.
Why Remove Chlorine from Water?
When chlorine enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce acids. The acids are corrosive and damage cells in the body on contact. Most harmful chlorine exposures are the result of inhalation, especially while showering or soaking in a hot tub of water. Health effects typically begin within seconds to minutes. Following chlorine exposure, the most common symptoms are airway irritation, wheezing, difficulty breathing, sore throat, cough or irritation of the skin or eyes. The severity of health effects depend upon the route of exposure, the dose and the duration of exposure to chlorine.
Chlorine byproducts can also affect health, such as Trihalomethanes (THM). Trihalomethanes are formed as a by-product predominantly when chlorine is used to disinfect water for drinking. THMs represent one group of chemicals generally referred to as disinfection by-products (DBP). They result from the reaction of chlorine and/or bromine with organic matter present in the water being treated. The THMs produced have been associated through epidemiological studies with some adverse health effects. They can be absorbed into the body through the skin or by inhalation. When THMs are absorbed through the skin or into the lungs, they hold stronger carcinogenic properties because they aren't detoxified through the liver.
How to Remove Chlorine from Water?
Chlorine is added in varying amounts to all municipal water supplies in the US, although it may be added by itself or combined with ammonia to create chloramines. Chlorine, by itself, is generally easy to remove with carbon filters, but not all carbon filters remove the disinfection by-products. With chloramines, KDF85 breaks the chlorine:ammonia bond, then carbon can easily remove the chlorine and ammonia.
Chlorine Removing Products:
Chloramine is a mixture of chlorine and ammonia, which is added to the water of many cities as a substitute for free chlorine. It is often referred to in the plural, as chloramines, because it can take on a number of forms according to the pH and mineral content of the water. The three species of chloramine constantly and rapidly shift from one form to another. The species that predominates is dependent on pH, temperature, turbulence and the chlorine to ammonia ratio. Chloramines are all respiratory irritants with trichloramine being the most toxic. For more information, see our Chloramine section.
Water Pollution Solution: Chloramine is added in varying amounts to some municipal water supplies in the US, but can be removed through KDF85 and eolith water filtration medias.
Chloramines Removing Products:
Fluoride, Fluorine and Fluorosilic Acid
Fluoride is a severe biological poison . Being intensely negative, it unlatches positive hydrogen bonds in enzymes and proteins.
"Warning. Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If more than [sic] used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away."
The warning on toothpaste tubes is due to lawsuits in which children were poisoned by fluoride-containing toothpaste. For instance, Keith Cantor, a little boy who lived in McMinnville, Oregon died in the dentists chair from ingesting teaspoon of fluoride, and 3 kidney dialysis patients were killed in 1998 at the University of Chicago Medical School, when nurses used unpurified Chicago tap water for dialysis (ref 11).
To add to the problem, most states add at least 1 ppm of sodium fluoride or fluorosilic acid (radioactive toxic waste that contains fluoride) to the water supply, even though it has been proven that at least 113 medical side effects from cancer to headaches are caused by fluoride in the water.
Water Pollution Solution: Fluoride, which is added to water in many states, requires a special filter. An Activated Alumina filter is the most commonly used Fluoride filtration method.
Fluoride Removing Products:
As recently reported in the news, analysis of tap water supplies in major metropolitan areas conducted by the Associated Press has revealed that the water supply in 24 major U.S. cities -- serving over 40 million people -- are contaminated with trace amounts of pharmaceuticals including antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, psychotropic drugs, pain medications and even caffeine. The upshot of the report is that tens of millions of Americans are unwittingly being subjected to a bizarre medical experiment with unpredictable results. No scientist can say for certain whether long-term exposure to micro doses of multiple pharmaceuticals is safe because such an experiment has never before been conducted on any population.
According to the Water Quality Association, home water filtration systems provide the highest technology available for treatment of drinking water. While water utilities are required to meet safety standards set by the U.S. EPA, home filtering systems act as a final contaminant barrier and can further purify water for drinking.
Pharmaceutical Removing Products:
Cysts: Cryptosporidium and Giardia
A Cyst is a closed pocket or pouch of tissue; a cyst can be filled with air, fluid, pus, or other material. Common water-borne microbiological cysts are Cryptosporidium or Giardia cysts.
Cryptosporidium is a parasite that enters lakes and rivers through sewage and animal waste. It causes cryptosporidiosis, a mild gastrointestinal disease. However, the disease can be severe or fatal for people with severely weakened immune systems.
Giardia lamblia is a parasite that enters lakes and rivers through sewage and animal waste. It causes gastrointestinal illness (e.g. diarrhea, vomiting, cramps). Giardia outbreaks can occur in communities where water supplies become contaminated with raw sewage. It can be contracted by drinking water from lakes or streams where water-dwelling animals such as beavers and muskrats, or where domestic animals such as sheep, have caused contamination.
Water Pollution Solution: Three excellent methods for removing cysts from drinking water is to super chlorinate the water, boil the water for one minute or use a one micron water filter.
Cyst Removing Products:
Nitrates in Well Water or Springs
Drinking water high in nitrate is potentially harmful to human and animal health. Nitrate (NO3) is a naturally occurring form of nitrogen (N) which is very mobile in water. It is essential for plant growth and is often added to soil to improve productivity. Water moving down through soil after rainfall or irrigation carries dissolved nitrate with it to ground water. In this way, nitrate enters the water supplies of many homeowners who use wells or springs.
Water Pollution Solution: Nitrates require a special filter. Cation Resin filters are commonly used to remove Nitrates.
Nitrate Removing Products:
There are many causes of water pollution. But no matter the causes of water pollution, the effects to our health and environment are disastrous.
Preventing water pollution is a global political, industrial and socioeconomic problem not easily solved. But the most effective and long-term solutions start with the individual. So the question becomes, "What can you do in your own environment to prevent water pollution?"
Filtering your water is the best defense. All states in the US add chlorine to municipal water supplies, and carbon filters remove chlorine. Cysts can usually be removed with a one micron carbon filter. Fluoride, which is added to water in most states, requires a special filter, as do Nitrates.
The better educated you are about water pollution causes, effects and solutions, the better you can prevent you and your loved ones from getting sick from drinking and bathing in polluted water. Here are a few articles about water pollution:
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