Murky Waters At Home
Water is well-known as a keystone to better health. How many times
have you heard the proverbial "drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day?"
Though there is no hard, scientific evidence to support such a statement, and
the source of that saying is obscure, it is obvious that you must quench your
thirst regularly every day if you wish to stay alive, let alone healthy. Yet,
increasingly, the quality and purity of the ordinary water that comes out of
your faucet, tap water, is becoming a cause for concern.
For decades, scientists have known of the dangers of contamination from
lead water pipes, and from the lead solder used in copper pipes and with
brass water pipe fittings. Lead pipes were finally banned by the U.S. federal
government in 1986. There's also the possibility of ground water contamination
from petroleum, pesticides, and other environmental toxins, — especially
in rural communities where the majority of drinking water is supplied from
wells, and, deliberate contamination with a fluoride chemical in a process
Bacteria, on the other hand, are seldom a worry in North America's municipal
drinking water. Municipal water also tends to be "cleaner" since it is run
through a strict purification systems and monitored by government agencies.
Yet many experts caution against consuming too much tap water. There's a
growing body of evidence that some of the very chemicals added to water
presumably to guard your health — even chlorine and especially fluoride
— may be doing more harm than good.
Chlorine is added to drinking water to keep it bacteria-free.
But it also reacts with organic material creating chloroform,
trihalomethanes (THMs) and other chlorination disinfection byproducts
(CBPs) that are strongly linked with cancer.
A 1998 position paper released by Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent
of the US Food and Drug Administration) states: "14 to 16 percent of bladder
cancers may be attributable to water containing CBPs. There is an urgent
need to resolve this. CBPs [may be one of] the most important environmental
carcinogens in terms of attributable cancers." The study, Safe Drinking
Water: A Public Health Challenge, also links CBPs with spontaneous
abortions, birth defects, respiratory problems and spina bifida. When
Fluoride is added to the mix, it enhances the probability that tap water
may be a danger to the health of a significant subset of the population.
In 1992, the American Medical Association published statistics showing
nearly 28 percent of all cancers of the intestines and 18 percent of all
cancers of the bladder can be traced to chlorinated water. More than a dozen
subsequent studies confirm this finding. In 1998, for instance, the journal
Epidemiology published a study showing that men who drink chlorinated tap
water for more than 40 years face double the risk of bladder cancer
compared to men who drink non-chlorinated water.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that THMs are present
in virtually all chlorinated water. "We're working very hard to achieve a
balance between the need for safer water and the importance of disinfecting
the water" EPA spokeswoman Robin Woods says.
The agency has ordered cities and towns across the United States to start
reducing levels of this compound in drinking water — but chlorination
continues unabated, even though water can also be disinfected with
ultraviolet light or ozone without creating CBPs. Ozone is used in some European
cities — Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, Munich — in Canada, Kamloops, BC, Montreal,
QC, and others — but chlorination continues to be the norm on this continent.
Fluoride is added to 60 percent of US and about 35 percent of Canadian tap
water (2010 values) claiming that it is done to reduce tooth decay. However,
many scientists now say that swallowing this toxin offers virtually no dental
advantage when added to the water supply. According to recognized fluoride
authority Hardy Limeback, DDS, head of Preventive Dentistry at the University
of Toronto, and a bio-chemist, fluoride's benefits [if there are any benefits at all -
webmaster's comment] are derived from direct physical contact with a tooth's exterior.
"You may as well swish with fluoridated tap water and spit it out.
That's how it works," Limeback says.
Over a dozen Nobel Prize-winning scientists have long warned
of a link between fluoride and serious health problems. However,
the late Dean Burk, PhD, former chief chemist at the U.S. National
Cancer Institute, described fluoride's risk in the starkest
terms. After co-conducting the largest U.S. fluoridation
epidemiological study in U.S. history, Dr. Burk concluded: "Fluoride
causes more cancer, and causes it faster, than any other chemical."
He even testified as much is a U.S. Court of law. Fluoride is further
linked to osteoporosis, hip fracture, kidney disorders, memory and
neurological impairment, not the least of which is Alzheimer's,
dementia and Parkinson's disease.
U.S. Federal law forbids the EPA from taking a public position for
or against fluoride, but the EPA employees union is not similarly
restricted. "Our union — comprising several hundred toxicologists,
other scientists and lawyers — maintains its solid opposition to
fluoridation," says J. William Hirzy, the union's senior vice-president,
Congressional Hearings, 2000.
According to the Ontario Drinking-Water Systems Regulation
O. Reg. 170/03, for the city of Ottawa, Canada's capital, "fluoridation (HFS)" is
the final step in its water treatment processes.
It clearly states in its 2013 annual report on page 3 that:
"During the final treatment step, fluoride is added for prevention of dental
cavities, and chloramine (mixture of chlorine and ammonia) is added to preserve
water quality as it travels through the vast water distribution system. The pH
level is adjusted [using Sodium Hydroxide] in order to minimize corrosion effects
in the distribution system."
That same report also says the following:
"List all water treatment chemicals used over this reporting period [Jan 1 - Dec 31, 2013]
Page 14 of the report clearly states that: It is important to note that fluoride and chloramine are intentionally added to be present at greater than half the MAC in order to be operationally effective.
• Aluminum Sulphate (liquid – 48.8%)
• Sulphuric Acid (liquid – 93%)
• Sodium Silicate (liquid – 29%)
• Sodium Hypochlorite (liquid – 12%)
• Hydrofluorosilicic Acid (liquid – 24%)
• Sodium Hydroxide (liquid – 50%)
• Aqueous Ammonia (liquid – 25%)
• Sodium Bisulphite (liquid – 38%)
Before you run out and buy a home filtration system, consider
this. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta says that some
of those systems can actually add lead to water. Brass elements
(made from copper and lead) are the likely culprits.
Some people think boiling removes
impurities. But boiling actually concentrates substances — as anyone
who has left soup boiling too long on the stove knows. The longer
any liquid boils off steam, the less water remains to hold the
dissolved chemicals and metals.
Due to the particular properties of Chlorine and Fluorine, boiling water tends
to cause the Chlorine to vaporize, whereas it concentrates the Fluorine in
the water. The same thing applies to just letting the water sit on the counter
for a while: much of the Chlorine will vaporize out of the water, as those who
own pools can attest to, but the Fluorine does not. Peculiarly, quality distillers
that use the hydrologic principle of distillation removes 100% of the Fluorine
ion from the water! That's chemistry for you.
What about bottled water?
It's sometimes disinfected with ozone instead of chlorine, but not always
[in fact, seldom]. And there's still the question of fluoride, since it
may occur naturally in any water source — in substantial quantities — due
to geologic action. Check the label for a fluoride (F–) content
below 0.1 parts per million (ppm), also written as milligrams per liter
(mg/L). Of course, some brands may be totally fluoride-free.
One really safe option is distilled water and a second not quite as good
but better than nothing at all is reverse osmosis (RO) water. RO water
is produced using a semi-permeable membrane and pressure
to filter out impurities. Critics argue these processes also remove
beneficial minerals, but water is a relatively poor source of minerals
anyway. In both these cases, the quality of the output water depends
largely on the quality of the equipment. Then there's bone char Fluoride
water filtration that may remove more than 99% of the Fluoride ion from
the water. That's great news for country and city folks alike. Many drilled
wells may have as much as 5 ppm Fluoride in their water depending on where
they live so it's always best to have well water tested regularly for
its fluoride content, both before it enters your filtration system and
after it is filtered.
So, the next time you turn on the tap, you may want to ponder
exactly what's coming out with the water. If you don't know, don't trust it.
Remember, there are safer alternatives.
Bottled water can contain high levels of fluoride. Instead, choose
brands that clearly indicate a fluoride content of 0.1 parts per million
(ppm) or less. Here's a sampling of U.S. bottled water brands that claim
to be fluoride-free:
Apani Purifie — Aqua Panna — Aquafina — Arrowhead — Calistoga Spring
— Crystal Geyser — Dasani — Deer Park North — Deer Park South — Great
Bear — Hinkley & Schmidt — Ice Mountain Keeper Springs — Loon Country
Natural Spring — NARA International Himalayan Spring Ozarka — Penta —
Poland Spring — Snow Valley Mountain — Sparkletts
Here again, testing for Fluoride level is your only guarantee of
getting the lowest Fluoride content possible. The same brand from
different towns or cities that may be from different sources may not
have the same Fluoride ion levels. So, let the buyer beware (caveat emptor).
There are three more difficulty with bottled water.
1. plastic may leach from most plastic water bottles,
2. there is a huge environmental impact of disposing of these
persistent plastics, and,
3. if the fluoride content is below 0.5 ppm, the supplier is
allowed to round down the content and declare it as 0.0 (zero)
or no fluoride ion content, though most currently do not do so (September 2013).