Look beyond the tap.
Most of us these days care about how we treat our bodies. We opt for the more expensive organic produce, approach deli counters with a mindful eye and ask about the origins of our wines (and the preservatives used to bottle them) before pouring a glass. But what about our water sources? We happily take tap water at every restaurant, don’t change that Brita filter as often as we should and still purchase bottled water that is no more than municipal water funneled into a piece of plastic.
Despite the fact that American water sources have been regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 1974, only 91 pollutants are closely regulated. Our H2O can come into contact with upwards of 60,000 chemicals at any given time. And a 2009 study found that as many as 45 different states pump water through our sinks that are contaminated to some degree with unregulated chemicals. These chemicals include but aren’t limited to byproducts of car emissions, fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals like lead and mercury, pharmaceuticals and weed killers.
That’s right — yuck.
To best care for your health, you have to filter all of these elements out of your water in the same ways you avoid them with the foods you eat. And you have four different home filtration options worth knowing about.
If you don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a fancy water filter, you’ll probably end up going the carbon route. Carbon filters don’t remove the most contaminants compared to your other options, but they’re incredibly accessible and dynamic. You can attach them to your faucet, connect them underneath your sink, use them on a countertop or go with the ones integrated into a water pitcher (like Brita).
Most carbon filters successfully remove lead, Polychlorinated biphenyls (or PCBs), pesticides and herbicides, chlorine, gasoline, radon, a small number of pharmaceutical drugs and some bacteria and parasites.
This filtration style is a lot more expensive than your carbon option, but it’s known to be that much more effective. Reverse-osmosis filters use water pressure to push the H2O through a semipermeable membrane that prohibits unwanted particles from passing through. So the filter catches the chemicals and heavy metals listed above, plus some that the carbon filters tend to miss. If you live in an area with high levels of pollution, it’s probably worth opting for this filtration style.
If you have a few more dollars to spend, consider investing in a UV filter in addition to your carbon filter or reverse-osmosis filter. These systems use UV light to disinfect your water before it’s run through the other filter to remove the chemicals and heavy metals you don’t want in your body. So you’ll avoid exposure to additional bacteria and microorganisms that the other filtration systems might miss.
Water Distillation Systems
Finally, you have water distillation systems, which heat water to the point of vaporization and then condense the steam back into water. This process helps remove heavy metals, fluoride, bacteria, viruses and chemicals that have a higher boiling point than water because they remain at the bottom of the filter as all of the water molecules rise and escape. It’s worth noting that chlorine doesn’t have a higher boiling point than water, though, so if that’s your main qualm with your tap water source, opt for carbon or reverse-osmosis filtration systems instead.
At the end of the day, ask yourself which method best suits your needs and your budget and get to filtering ASAP. Your body will thank you.