Water is the foundation of life on Earth. Our bodies depend on it all the way down to basic cellular functions, and the purity and quality of the water we ingest can have implications throughout every level of our physical and mental health. Do we put enough care into the purity of the water we drink?
Tap Water Contaminants
Understanding the importance of pure drinking water and water filtration comes down to understanding the prevalence and dangers of the most common pollutants plaguing our water supplies. So what are some of the most important water contaminants to watch for in our drinking water?
Chlorine is commonly added to municipal tap water to kill germs and microorganisms that might otherwise live in the water supply. When ingested by humans, however, chlorine can have adverse health effects, ranging from respiratory problems to damaging our own bodies’ healthy microbial biomes. So while chlorine helps keep bacterial diseases out of our water, it is not chemically safe for human consumption.
Fluoride has been added to municipal water supplies in the United States since the 1940s under the presumption that consuming it helps prevent dental decay. Today, the water supplies of roughly 72% of Americans are fluoridated. You can look up your municipality on the CDC website to see whether or not it adds fluoride to your water.
The dental benefits of fluoridated water are debatable at best. In fact, swallowing fluoride is presumed to have no effect, as your teeth absorb fluoride topically and likely already absorb plenty of fluoride compounds from your fluoridated toothpaste. Too much fluoride in the diet, in fact, can actually cause fluorosis and result in discolored and weakened teeth. But even worse, evidence is mounting that fluoride is a dangerous neurological toxin, hazardous to brain development, especially in children. Studies suggest that fluoride accumulated in the brain can impede our bodies’ natural processes from removing heavy metals from our bloodstream.
Indeed, fluoridating water remains illegal throughout most of Europe.
Unfortunately, common pitcher water filters like Brita do not filter out fluoride. If you wish to have fluoride removed from your drinking water, you will have to do your research to make sure the filtration method you choose is designed to eliminate fluoride. At the end of this post we will give our recommendation for the best solution to keeping your family’s drinking water fluoride-free.
Heavy Metals and Aluminum
Heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and mercury can seep into water supplies through environmental pollution, mining runoff, acid rain, corroding pipes, and other means. These metals are particularly dangerous contaminants and are known to cause nervous system damage, seizures, and impaired brain development. These metals, even in tiny amounts, are particularly dangerous for children. Many experts believe that the levels of these contaminants permitted by the EPA are far too high for human safety. Aluminum, while not a heavy metal, likewise has been linked to brain damage and Alzheimer’s.
Pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fertilizers, bacterial diseases, glyphosate, radiation - any pollutant that can flow downstream into a river basin or be flushed down the sink can potentially end up back in our water supply. And if water is not properly filtered adequately by your water department or by your home filtering system, those toxins will end up in the water you drink and the food you cook.
Is Bottled Water a Solution?
Thankfully, there is a general awareness out there that drinking water straight from the faucet isn’t the best idea. As a result, bottled water has become increasingly popular.
Not all bottled water is created equal, though. You might think that the bottled water marked “spring water” is the purest choice, bottled at a natural bubbling spring off in some pristine forest. The opposite is usually true. If you read the fine print on the labels, you’ll see that oftentimes those water products come from wells and undergo minimal filtration to remove environmental contaminants. Water that can be categorized as “spring water” is regulated and monitored less stringently by the EPA, which can have detrimental results. Consumer Reports recently conducted a study and found that several brands of spring water had detectable levels of arsenic and other heavy metals: https://www.consumerreports.org/water-quality/arsenic-in-some-bottled-water-brands-at-unsafe-levels/
If you buy bottled water, opt for those labeled “purified by reverse osmosis.” Reverse osmosis, wherein water is forced through a membrane that filters out particulates, is the best method of purifying drinking water and does remove most harmful contaminants, including fluoride. Purified water, unlike spring water, must adhere to strict standards put out by the Food and Drug Administration regarding maximum levels of contaminants. You can read, for example, Walmart’s report on its Great Value and Sam’s Choice bottled water, showing how it surpasses federal regulations.
However, buying all the water you drink and cook with at the store and trekking it home can get old quickly and is not a sustainable solution. And contaminant levels permitted by the EPA and FDA are higher than they should be, so packaged water isn’t guaranteed to be the safest anyhow.
So when it comes to home filtration, what is the best solution?
There are a variety of home filtration solutions out there, but our preferred method is gravity filtration.
Gravity filters are cylinders with an upper chamber and a lower chamber. Water is poured into the upper chamber and pulled, by gravity, through a filter with microscopic pores, into the lower chamber. Gravity filters, as the name suggests, rely on gravity and not electricity, and they are standalone devices that sit on your counter and do not connect to your plumbing system. That makes the system easy to move should your family have to relocate. And since they are not dependent on electricity, they are guaranteed to work when you need to purify water the most - during or after a natural disaster.
We were most impressed with the Alexapure Pro. Berkey filters require special costly add-on filters for filtering out fluoride, which was the main reason we were looking for a filter at the time. Alexapure Pro filters, on the other hand, are equipped standard to remove fluoride out-of-the-box. And Alexapure Pro filters last four times as long as ProPur filters, with a capacity of 5,000 gallons per filter versus ProPur’s 1,200. If you were to filter 2 gallons per day, a single Alexapure Pro gravity core filter would last 7 years before needing replacement.
We have had our Alexapure Pro filter in our home for about 3 years. We have been very pleased with the water’s taste and, more importantly, the peace of mind that the water our family drinks is safe.
It bears repeating that the purity of the water you drink affects every level of your physical health, from brain performance down to basic cellular functions. Continue to research the contaminants that may be prevalent in your area and make the best decision for you and your family.