10 Tips for Safe Drinking WaterAugust 20th, 2009 by Ashley Strickland
Are you a bottled water kind of person or do you take your water from a filtered tap? Not sure what you do and don’t know about safe drinking water? Check out what the experts have to say!
1. “The best way to ensure your water is safe to drink is to have it tested with a certified laboratory. At a minimum folks should have their water tested once per year for coliform bacteria, nitrates, lead and, depending on risk factors, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). If any contamination is found, it can be treated. Americans spend billions of dollars on bottled water which may be no safer then their own tap water,” according to Sara Kuzma of Suburban Water Testing Labs in Pennsylvania.
2. “Boiling controls most harmful microorganism. Refrigerator filters are only as safe as the water supply or water line entering your refrigerator,” says Mark Latimore, Jr., an Interim Dean and Soil Microbiologist of Fort Valley State University.
3. “If your home is connected to a public drinking water system you have two fairly easy ways of getting information about the quality of your drinking water. All public water systems are required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act to prepare and distribute an annual Consumer Confidence Report that discusses the levels of various contaminants in that system’s drinking water. The report can often be found online on the water system’s webpage, if they have one. Another way you can get information on your local water quality is through the US EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS).
“Between these two sources of information you can find out a lot about your local water. You would have a hard time finding equivalent information about your bottled water,” says Craig Mains of the National Environmental Services Center.
4. Curious about home filters? “Your Consumer Confidence Report can provide information that could indicate whether you need a filter or not. A carbon filter can be installed at just one sink so it isn’t necessary to have an expensive unit that treats the water for the entire house. A carbon filter won’t necessarily remove every contaminant that might be in your water but it will remove some contaminants in addition to chlorine. In most cases I think it is the only type of filter that would be needed for a household on a public water system,” recommends Craig Mains of the National Environmental Services Center.
5. Try to find a local, safe source for your water! “My personal solution is to purchase 5-gallon jugs of real spring water from a local source I trust explicitly and that publishes their raw testing results, which cover hundreds of potential contaminants. The water I buy comes from a single, naturally free-flowing spring here in Maine. The water starts out as pure as it gets and is tested regularly for hundreds of potential contaminants.
“By buying the bulk jugs and filling my own reusable bottle I minimize waste. The jugs are cleaned and used hundreds of times before being recycled. And most importantly I know where the water I drink comes from and what is and isn’t in it,” shares Sheldon Perkins of Maine.
6. “Water filters currently provide the best and healthiest solution to the problems of both bottled water and tap water. Water filters remove more dangerous contaminants than any other purification method, and they are uniquely designed to work with municipally treated water. The water they produce is not subject to phthalate contamination, and they are able to remove cryptosporidium from drinking water, a feat that neither municipal water treatment plants nor bottled water companies have yet managed.
“Also, drinking filtered water is a much more economical practice than drinking bottled water. The pure water product of a water filter costs very little more than untreated tap water. Furthermore, because water filters use no more energy than is already required to propel water through a home’s plumbing system, they circumvent several of the environmental problems of the bottled water industry. If you are truly concerned about municipal water and how it effects your health a whole house filter system is the best solution because clean, filtered water emerges from every water source in the house,” says Dan Godfrey.
7. Are you on well water? Then, “you need to test your own water regularly. Metals, nitrates, etc. Also need to be conscious of risk of radon in your water,” cautions Jennifer Taggart of thesmartmama.com.
8. Are you curious about testing your water? It’s “easy enough to get a $25 kit and send your [tap] water sample off,” says Jennifer Taggart of thesmartmama.com.
9. What about all of the places your water travels through? “Know your pipes. Your pipes, fittings, faucet and aerator can contribute lead. A simple solution – let it run if water left standing more than 6 hours; don’t boil to drink; get a NSF certified for lead removal filter,” recommends Jennifer Taggart of thesmartmama.com.
10. “An important water safety tip few people consider is not using plastic with your water. Plastic bottled water is a waste as nearly 80% of those bottles end up in the trash and not the recycling bin. Also, multiple tests have found plastics can leach toxins into your water. For 20 years, Lipsey Mountain Spring Water has been delivering purified mountain spring water bottled in glass,” says Kate Griffin in Atlanta, GA. If you do chose bottled water, try looking for an option in glass, as it has been proven safer than plastic, but be sure to recycle when you’re through!
Thanks to all of the HARO experts and participants who shared their knowledge for this blog!
Got ideas for tips, or do you just have a voice to share? Let us know today at Socialyell.com!
Ashley Strickland is a senior majoring in journalism at the University of Georgia. She never realized how little she knew about water safety!