What’s in Tap Water?

Water straight from the faucet is used for everything from drinking and cooking to bathing and cleaning. There are a number of laws in place to regulate the quality of public tap water, but contaminants are still a widespread occurrence. What’s actually in your tap water, and what can it do to you?

Chlorine is frequently used to kill parasites and viruses found in water sources. In small doses the chemical presents no threat, but after long-term exposure health complication can occur, including birth defects and miscarriages in pregnant women. To remove traces of chlorine, let your tap water sit for a few minutes before drinking it, so that the chlorine will evaporate. You can also purchase a water filter in the form of a pitcher or a faucet attachment.

Although most lead is filtered out at water facilities,many older homes still include lead pipes, which can contaminate your water over time. Lead can cause many health issues, including developmental problems in children, nerve damage, and anemia. Pregnant women should be especially careful, as well as young children. To combat the problem, leave your water running for two minutes before drinking from it if it’s been turned off for more than 6 hours.

Bacteria from sewage systems and broken pipes can find its way into tap water, carrying a host of ill effects for those who drink the contaminated water. A filter in some form is the best defense against bacteria in your tap water.

Drug Residue can be very difficult to remove from water, so when filtered waste water makes its way back into water sources, traces of prescription and over-the-counter drugs can linger. Traces of tylenol and other mild medicines aren’t a concern, but more potent drugs can cause serious issues.

Chemicals such as arsenic from fertilizer, pesticides, and industrial waste are a continuing concern. Filtration can significantly reduce these contaminants, but those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women may need to take extra precautions before drinking tap water.

Filtration systems, including filtered pitchers, faucet attachments, and refrigerator filters are the most reliable way to remove contaminants from tap water. The quality of water to each home can vary widely, so a water test may be the best option to determine what exactly your tap water contains and the steps you may need to pursue in order to purify it.