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What is tap water?
Water is everywhere. We feel it on the skin during perspiration, experience it when it rains and also source it from rivers and lakes. Every time you use the kitchen for different activities, you get tap water from turning on the faucet.
We all use water for different reasons, such as bathing, drinking, and cooking. Through 70% of Earth comprises of water, only a tiny percentage of it is usable. Since our primary focus is on drinking water quality, we will discuss how safe water tap is for consumption.
Many people do not think about the safety of the water they consume. You probably turn your kitchen faucet and run water in a glass without paying attention to its color or smell. Before we tell you why you should be cautious about the water you take, we will first look at its importance in your bodies.
50% of your body weight is water. Without enough water in the body, it is impossible to maintain normal body temperature and release waste by urinating. Water helps in bowel movements and lubricates your body joints. The lack of taking enough water can cause muscle weakness, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. You can prevent all this by taking at eight glasses every day.
Now that you understand the relevance of staying hydrated, let us focus on tap water. This refers to the water which is supplied to a valve. Though this potable water is often used for drinking, its quality is a significant concern. Different purification methods are used to boost the quality of tap water.
The difference between well water vs. tap water lies in the mineral composition of each form. Tap water is also different from bottled water. Though some people assume that bottled water is better than the rest of the types, this assumption lacks scientific support.
Where does tap water come from?
1% of the water that is considered fresh comes from rivers, lakes, or the ground. The water that you receive through your tap comes from water treatment facilities. Some of the tap water also comes from a private source such as a well. We receive water due to the Earth’s water cycle. During this cycle, water has to move from a single reservoir to the next continuously.
During certain temperatures, the sun heats water bodies making the water evaporate. This makes the water to rise in the atmosphere such that cold temperatures condense the water vapor into clouds. When the cloud particles bond, they fall back into water bodies in the form of snow or rain.
We mentioned that some of the freshwater comes from the ground. Snow and rain can be collected underground in an aquifer. Groundwater can rise to the surface, forming spring water. Apart from this natural process, people also access groundwater by drilling a well into aquifers. They use a pump to draw the water from the ground. The US citizens that have their own private wells have to ensure that they maintain high-quality water standards. They use a tap water filter to treat it before use.
Sometimes, surface water is collected from groundwater deposits which get to the surface. This surface water undergoes the necessary treatment to avoid exposing humans to severe conditions. What is filtered water? This is the water that goes through certain processes to eliminate harmful elements in it and make it safe to drink.
Water should be treated before it gets to your kitchen faucet. The process of treating water involves removing most of the impurities. A water treatment system is responsible for treating the water before releasing it to the public. The physical and chemical process can disinfect and filter any harmful microorganisms in water. Though chemical processes used to treat potable water work, they do not get rid of every impurity.
Once the water comes from the source, it can be delivered in different ways. The most common delivery systems used are bottled water and pipes. Both systems can deliver fresh water from the source to homes. Tap water can travel from the municipal treatment system or a private well to your kitchen faucet. Multiple pipes are used to transport safe water into homes. If you often take bottled water for drinking, then this is sourced from a natural spring or a municipal water system. Bottled water differs from tap water in that it goes through additional purification.
Another essential aspect that helps people to gauge the characteristics of water is tap water temperature. This is used to tell the possible health effects of water as well as its biological and chemical properties. The temperature of the water is not constant since it depends on different factors. Water that is derived from a well has a constant temperature of 50-55 degrees. Water that is sourced from a river or lake may have a different temperature depending on the specific season it is derived. Some other factors which affect the temperature of water include the time it spends in the pipes.
When water is at room temperature, its taste tends to intensify. The taste of water can be reduced by heating or chilling the water for some time. Water temperature also affects the process of chemical treatment.
What would make tap water unsafe to drink?
For us to understand the safety of water, we have to know what it comprises of. Is tap water a mixture? This is a common question that most people ask. Though you may have heard of the phrase pure water, research reveals that it is difficult to achieve completely pure water. Tap water contains chlorine and nitrates.
Water is a compound that comes from a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Though this compound is rarely found in its pure form, it can be improved through processes such as deionization and distillation. The method of making distilled water involves removing the distilled substance through evaporation. The water evaporates and leaves behind salt. The evaporated water is then collected for it to be condensed so that it can form distilled water.
Tap water, on the other hand, is not distilled. Most of the water that we draw from our taps contains chlorine which is added to destroy microbes in the water. It also contains minerals such as fluoride that prevents tooth decay.
Though tap water goes through the normal chemical process before getting to our homes, it is not always safe to drink. Statistics show millions of US citizens are exposed to unsafe water every year. Though the problem is prevalent in rural areas, a few cities report such cases from time to time. Some contaminants in tap water make it unsafe for human consumption.
One way in which drinking water gets contaminated is through local land usage. For instance, some of the pesticides that farmers use on their farms tend to leak into water sources leading to contamination. Apart from that, manufacturing processes such as sewer overflows and malfunctioning septic systems also lead to the contamination of drinking water.
Massive rain also sometimes affects the supply of fresh and clean water. We have had reports of places that were left without any clean water to use due to floods and mudslides in rivers that act as the primary source of drinking water.
Despite the sophisticated treatment methods used, most of the tap water that we drink has a high level of pathogens. Water in itself is an earthly life source that is home for viruses, amoebas, bacteria, and parasites. The overgrowth of these substances makes the water dangerous in ambient temperatures. Apart from the parasitic infestation, water also contains a frequent pathogen known as E.coli, which often leads to diseases like gastroenteritis.
Agrichemicals can easily find their way into groundwater and municipal water supplies leading to contamination. Some of the fertilizers that contain nitrites and nitrates used in farms also affect the quality of water drawn from rivers. When you take water with high levels of nitrate, it could lead to colon cancer and musculoskeletal defects.
You should know how safe your water is before drinking to avoid unhealthy complications. Certain groups such as pregnant women, people undergoing chemotherapy, and AIDs patients should be more vigilant about the water they take.
Is tap water safe to drink?
Tap water may have undergone different processes to make it high quality, but it is not always safe. You need to know the common problems that tap water comes with. Some of them are discussed as follows:
Why is my tap water white? Cloudy tap water instead of clear water is common in different households. Cloudiness in water is a sign of the presence of contaminants in it. It may contain some pathogens. Though some people claim that this form of water cannot harm you, it is not entirely safe. Safe water should be not only clear but also free of any funny taste.
Tap water may also feel slimy when you wash your hand with soap. This is a sign that the water coming from the tap is hard water. This type is often a buildup of different substances such as magnesium and calcium. If your tap produces slimy water, you will probably notice some deposits on the surface of the sink or glass. Hard water is not only slimy on the hand but also wasteful. If you use it to wash clothes, you may end up using more detergent than you do.
Though this water may not be a sign of contamination, it shows the availability of excess minerals. Magnesium and calcium may not pose on health hazards when they are in excess in such water, but the presence of manganese and aluminum can be dangerous.
Do you experience yellow tap water every time you open the faucet? This is a sign that the water contains chromium-6. It is a harmful chemical that makes the water unsafe for drinking. The chemical has been known to lead to cancer. It can also be an indication of the presence of other components such as copper, manganese, iron, or lead. If the source of your water is a pubic system, you should determine if this tint appears when you run cold water. It could be an indicator that the pipes are clearing out.
You can also encounter brown tap water which also indicates the presence of excess iron. The pipes used to supply the water could be rusting, leading to the breeding of bacteria. Green or blue tap water shows excess levels of copper in tap water. This often comes from corroded pipes that need replacement. Though copper may not affect your health in small doses, it is dangerous in high levels. Exposure to too much copper can lead to health complications like liver damage and anemia.
Tap water smells bad
Some people have also reported experiencing a foul small when using tap water. Some report that tap water smells like chlorine. Though chlorine is a useful component that is added in water to destroy pathogens, excess use of this substance can make you detest drinking tap water. When this component mixes with some of the organic compounds in the water, they react to form a harmful byproduct. It can form a chemical called THMs, which is known to increase the risk of cancer and kidney disease.
The chemical reaction between chlorine and some of the organic compounds in tap water can also lead to the creation of haloacetic acids which lead to skin irritations. If you already have sensitive skin, you should avoid using tap water when you feel the odor. Safe water should not have any weird smell.
Chlorine should be added in the right levels to avoid such complications. Low levels of chlorine in tap water are also risky for consumers. This is because it exposes you to a parasite known as giardia which has symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Others also report that their tap water smells like bleach. This is an indicator that your water system also has excess chlorine.
If your tap water smells fishy, it indicates the presence of cadmium or barium. This chemical finds its way into the water supply through manufacturing or drilling. If excess barium gets into the water system, it could cause elevated hypertension, heart damage, and muscle weakness. Cadmium can also leach into water pipes and have side effects such as kidney and bone damage in people. You can avoid such cases by smelling water in a drinking glass before consuming it. Always ensure that your water is safe and free of such contaminants.
Weird Water Taste
You should also be keen on the taste of your tap water. Some of it comes with a metallic taste which shows the presence of excess copper or iron. When rust water pipes are not properly maintained, they release different metals that give water a salty or metallic taste. In other cases, it could indicate low pH levels.
So, how safe is your tap water?
Though tap water undergoes some level of protection, there is no guarantee that it is free from all the harmful pathogens. Some of the fungal contaminants are known to resist conventional treatment. The water sanitation chemicals that are used to destroy waterborne pathogens come with their own risks. For instance, chlorine bleach has some health risks, and therefore recommended in particular limits. Even though fluoride is also added in drinking water to strengthen bones, it is known as a rat poison.
Tap water may also contain other contaminants such as lead which affects the development of the brain in young ones. A third of the water systems in America are reported to contain lead. If these pipes are not maintained accordingly, they can release this substance into our systems leading to health complications. Exposure to lead also causes learning disabilities in children, nausea, reproductive problems, and seizures. Some tap water also contains toxins like arsenic and radium, which often lead to cancer. Arsenic is also known to cause low birth weight in children.
Other unsafe chemicals which are often found in tap water include benzene, trichloroethylene, and vinyl chloride. They are known to cause blood cancers and neural tube defects. One of the frequent additives that is added in water is lithium. People claim that lithium in tap water can minimize dementia and bipolar disorder. Studies, however, show that this component does not have any benefits for mental health. On the contrary, it can affect thyroid health and lead to impaired fetal size.
Drinking water may also contain some human-made chemicals known as PFAS, which are unhealthy. The possible presence of all these contaminants in tap water is a clear indicator that is it is not safe to drink. You can boost its safety through the use of water filtration systems. Even though unfiltered tap water is less costly compared to the rest of the forms, it is always contaminated. The only way to make tap water safe to drink is by passing it through a type of filter system.
Is spring water safe? This is also a common concern among many. The risks and safety of spring water are not different from those of well water. Springwater found near the soil surface is prone to contamination. Bottled spring water has the same dangers as tap water. If you prefer using bottled water rather than tap water, you should avoid using polycarbonate plastics. These contain an industrial chemical known as BPA, which is linked to health issues such as infertility.
How to make tap water safe for fish
Would you like to keep fish in your apartment and are thinking of using tap water? You need to consider the safety of your fish beforehand. The chemicals that are found in tap water may harm the fish, especially if they are at high levels. We mentioned that tap water contains chlorine. This substance, together with chloramine, can damage the sensitive skin of fish.
Exposing fish to high levels of such disinfectants can lead to irritation. You may notice your fish trying to leave the water or swimming erratically. More than 0.25 ml of chlorine can kill fish since it causes breathing problems. If you put fish in tap water without taking the necessary measures, ensure you increase aeration to boost the survival level.
Apart from chlorine, heavy metals found in tap water can also affect fish. Fish are more sensitive to most heavy metals compared to humans. Small amounts of zinc may not affect the health of fish since it is a crucial dietary component. Can goldfish live in tap water? Yes. They can as long as you take the right safety measures.
Though tap water contains harmful components for the survival of fish, you can make use of a water conditioner to detoxify such elements. This pre-treats the water and make it safe for fish. You can get the right water conditioner from an aquarium store. Some of the water conditioners also contain a plant-extract which is known for its healing properties. It can damage the sensitive skin of fish.
Is well water safe to drink?
Most people have potent associations when it comes to well water. Some people choose well water since it does not come with the water treatment chemicals found in municipal drinking water. People assume that well water is safer than tap water. It also saves your money since you don’t have to incur monthly water bills.
Before you, however, form an opinion regarding well water, you should understand all the facts. Since the environmental protection agency does not cover private wells, you cannot assume that the water is safe for consumption. Though well water may lack such chemicals, testing it is a vital step, especially for people residing in agricultural areas. Is well water safe? No, since it may contain some agri-chemicals that often end up in most private wells.
Statics reveal that there are over 15 million homes that rely on well water for their daily use. Well water comes from the ground and is not treated. Since most of the groundwater comes from the rain, it may absorb numerous things that can make it unsafe. You should, therefore, know some of the common problems associated with well water before considering this option. They include the following:
Well water is hard
Groundwater tends to dissolve organic matter easily. It dissolves some of the minerals that are present in rocks and soil such as calcium and magnesium. These are what make well water hard. If you stay in a place that does not have a lot of minerals, you may not experience hard well water. Most of the private wells, however, cannot survive without a water softener.
If you intend to construct a private well in a place that has no access to municipal tap water, you should consider installing a softening system. You should also update the system regularly for you to treat the well water accordingly.
Well water is not odorless
If you compare well water vs. city water, the smell may be a distinguishing factor. Unless tap water contains some of the chemicals we mentioned above, it should be odorless. Well water, on the other hand, often has a smell. It could smell like rotten eggs if not treated correctly. This could indicate excess sulfur in the water. The taste of well water is also a bit different from tap water since it stays still in one place for long. If you cannot stand its taste, you can learn how to make tap water taste better and drink it instead.
It causes staining
Apart from the smell of well water, using it often leads to stubborn stains on fixtures, toilets, tubs, and sinks. This often occurs due to the high levels of iron in well water. Some of it could also be lime-scale that results from the water’s hardness.
Though iron in well water may not be a health concern, it can be irritating due to the visible stains on different surfaces. It leads to unpleasant orange stains that are not easy to get rid of. You can learn how to remove these stains. An iron filtration system can, however, solve the problem more effectively. Filtering water can oxidize the dissolved iron in it, reducing some of the common problems.
Contaminants present in well water
Even though well water is less prone to pollutants compared to surface water, it can still get contaminated. Some of the common elements that are found in well water include radon, arsenic, and uranium. Such substances are found at various levels depending on where you construct the private well.
Pesticides and herbicides can also contaminate a private well. Studies suggest that fuel drilling may present dangerous levels of VOCs into a private well. Mishandled waste around the well or mining activities can expose the well to heavy metals which can lead to health complications.
If a septic tank is near a private well, it can also increase contamination due to nitrate exposure. Nitrate contamination in high levels poses a considerable risk to children and pregnant women. The environmental protection agency states that a septic tank should not be built less than 50 feet from a private well.
Is spring water safe to drink? Though spring water from a well seems to be less polluted, it is not entirely pure. Any well water requires thorough testing before consumption. You should also be aware of the contaminated well water symptoms so that you can seek medical guidance in case of anything. Constant testing of well water can also help you eliminate such worries. The safety and security of a private well depend on different factors such as underground geology, its development, and depth.
You can boost the safety of well water by addressing different aspects. For instance, consider how strong the private well was constructed since if it was not done well, it could cause contamination issues in the long run. If your neighbors are raising specific concerns regarding their private wells, you should not overlook this since it may also affect your source of water. The human activities surrounding the private well as well as its age can also affect the quality of water you draw from it.
One of the most effective treatment options that you should consider before drinking well water is a filtration system. A water filter gets rid of any contaminants found in well water. It can either use a biological process or chemical barrier that can filter the well water. You can choose the best water filtration system from the available options. Is purified water good for you? Yes, since it eliminates any harmful chemicals can affect your health.
Spring water vs. drinking water
As we look at the safety of water, we must discuss the difference between these two categories. Springwater is sourced from underground while drinking water is collected from water bodies. During rains, some of the water penetrates the ground and appears from a hole in a different location. This forms spring water which is then collected. It goes through different filtration stages to eliminate any unwanted components. As the filters clean spring water, they ensure that it retains its natural minerals so that you can enjoy its taste.
When it rains, some of the water does not penetrate the ground, and it lands in rivers. This is what forms drinking water. The drinking water goes through an osmosis purification unit after carbon filtering. During the process, a semi-permeable membrane is used to collect pure water molecules while discarding unwanted particles. This process is water leads to clean and freshwater to drink.
Should I just drink bottled water?
Some people assume that bottled water is a better option compared to tap water. They find bottled water more convenient since you can carry it anywhere and access it from different regions. Though bottled water is commercially available, it starts as tap water. This implies that it is still subject to all the water contaminants we discussed above.
Not every tap water that is bottled goes through purification or filtration before bottling. Some of the bottled water that is treated may still contain some sanitation chemical residues. This means that expensive bottled water is still not a better option.
Apart from the components in bottled water, the plastic used to store it also makes it unsafe. Every plastic used to carry water leaches some toxic chemicals into the water. The storage conditions can make this situation worse. Plastic bottles can leach different elements into the water, including barium, antimony, and aluminum.
Plastic water bottles are also a leading cause of pollution in our country today. They lead to the accumulation of waste in the environment, making them not the best option. While some of the bottled water is cheap, some people market expensive bottled water with the claims that it is pure and safe to drink.
Even the safest plastics used to carry water contain some dangerous risks to humans. Too much use of bottled water in pregnant ladies increases the occurrence of limb deficiencies, oral clefts, neural tube defects, and heart defects. PET bottles may be considered the safest, yet they still leach some harmful chemicals into the water when refrigerated. High temperatures can make bottled water worse. You should never consume bottled water that has stayed in a vehicle for long. It probably contains a lot of heavy metals that you can easily take in.
Bottled water is also unsafe since it is known to contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol. Such compounds are often linked to cancer. Apart from being dangerous for humans, the plastic used to carry water also affects other species, including animals and plants. Though people have been advocating for the recycling of plastic, most of it never gets recycled. Billions of plastic bottles end up in waterways and landfills affecting other living organisms.
The energy that is used to produce bottled water is also incredible. Bottled water leads to a higher environmental footprint compared to tap water. Though both tap water and bottled water have to meet certain standards, tap water is better regulated compared to bottled water. This means that tap water is much safer than bottled water.
If you still prefer bottled water over tap water, you can choose to take it from other materials such as glass and stainless steel rather than plastic. Glass does not leach any chemicals into the water at different temperatures. Stainless steel is also a durable and safer option since it does not have the adverse effects of plastic.
Does bottled water have fluoride in it? Some of the brands contain this element but not all. Some of the IBWA companies are known to create bottled water that contains fluoride. These are marketed to consumers that want fluoride in their water. Fluoride in bottled water is meant to prevent tooth decay. Excess exposure to this substance is, however unhealthy since it can lead to fluorosis, which is a condition that stains the teeth. Before you rule out bottled water as safer than the rest of the options, you need to understand the pros and cons of bottled water as discussed above.
How can I make my water safe?
Whether you prefer well, tap or bottled water, filtering it first can prevent you from any harmful chemicals. The filtration process and storage methods employed can determine how safe water is for drinking. You can purify water by using different types of filters or implement particular purifying technology. Some of the filtration systems are discussed as follows:
Whole house filters
If you have the funds and would like to make water safe for drinking, you can invest in whole house filters. The system makes use of textile media filters which remove most of the contaminants in tap water. After whole house filters are installed professionally, they can treat all the water you receive in your home. You can then use water for drinking, bathing, or cooking without worrying about any chemicals in it.
Tap mount filters
The technology used in tap mount filters determines how effective they are at purifying water. Placing filters above or under the sink can prevent most of the chemicals from getting to your drinking glass. This method is also used to treat cooking water before use.
Reverse osmosis filters
Many people consider these filters as one of the most effective in treating water from different sources. You will also like the affordable cost of implementing reverse osmosis filters. The method works well when it comes to getting rid of contaminants in water. You, however, have to incur some maintenance costs for you to continue receiving filtered water all through.
Ceramic and multi-media filters
Since the quality of these filters may vary, it may be hard to gauge the effectiveness of their effectiveness. If you are a small household, you can choose a simple ceramic filter to purify your water. You don’t have to replace these filters. If you stay in a rural area and are worried about dangerous contaminants, consider getting multi-media composite filters. They can boost the quality of your water by reducing pathogens in it.
Activated charcoal filters
This is also a popular option that can save your money and give you the desired results. Activated charcoal filters are effective since they work by absorbing toxins from the water. Activated charcoal is also used in other surroundings, such as emergency rooms on drug overdose patients. Though they may not purify your water 100%, these filters can eliminate most of the contaminants in water. They can also minimize any bad smell or odor in water.
Drinking water is mandatory for human survival. A study reveals that man cannot survive for more than five days without water. Despite its importance, many companies and people are careless with this natural resource. The high levels of pollution in the environment exposes water to different dangerous chemicals. No water is safe to drink without going through filtration systems.