Whether we like it or not, our home water is exposed to many impurities. These impurities change our water’s smell, taste and color, causing us to enjoy our water less. It may seem hard, but it’s possible to get the absolute best water quality in your home; all you need to do is take the proper steps.
Installing a water filter is one of the most efficient ways to get better water. Water filters ensure that your home’s water quality is top-notch.
Some water contaminants give clear signs when present. Signs like sour taste, foul smell and color tell you that your water is sub-standard, and you need to act immediately. Other water contaminants do not give leave traces, and these are the deadliest. These hidden contaminants remain in your water for a long time and silently cause damage to your health.
In this article, we look at some of the water contaminants that homes in the States are most affected by, their health effects and the best water filters to remove them.
Contaminants Found In US Tap/Well Water And Their Health Effects
Homes in America use either public tap or private well water. Both are filled with impurities more often than not. Some of these impurities are specific to just one type of water source, while others affect both water sources.
1 – Heavy metals
Heavy metals are widely distributed in our environment due to multiple industrial uses. They are non-biodegradable and remain in our environment for decades. Heavy metals include lead, chromium, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, manganese and selenium. Lead is the most common heavy metal affecting US tap and well water. About a third of our water systems are known to contain lead. Corroded pipes supplying our home water leak lead and cause poisoning. Lead is hazardous to your health even at low levels, causing brain damage, kidney and liver failure, and auto-immune disease like rheumatoid arthritis.
2 – Microorganisms
Microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and protozoa make our water unsafe for use, too. They are present everywhere in our environment, and our home water is not left out. Homeowners with a public water supply may not have to worry about microorganisms in their water so much, because water authorities treat it before it gets to their homes. The good news is, 87% of the US population gets their water from a public water supply. If your water comes from a public water supply as well, you should be safe. Although in some cases, disease-causing microorganisms can still be found thriving in municipal supplies, causing damage to your health.
Homeowners with private wells are responsible for treating their water themselves. If they don’t, thousands of disease-causing microbes can be in there. Microorganisms in water are the major cause of vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps.
3 – Chloramine and Chlorine
Water from lakes, reservoirs, and rivers is highly contaminated with microbes. As a consequence, water authorities disinfect water with chlorine and chloramine. The disinfectants kill the microbes, but sometimes they usher in new problems.
When excess chlorine is used at water treatment facilities, your home water gets contaminated with chlorine. But the good news is chlorine is volatile and quickly evaporates from water, sometimes even before it reaches your home, so it’s hardly a problem.
On the other hand, chloramine is more stable than chlorine and lasts longer in water, so even when chloramine is used in small quantities, it can end up in your glass. The microorganisms may be gone, but you now have to deal with disinfectant contamination. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), more than one in five Americans drink water treated with chloramine.
Chloramine and chlorine are super easy to detect in water. We all know the typical harsh bleach-like smell similar to pool water. Both disinfectants affect skin and causes eye irritation. Chloramine can also lead to more severe health complications like respiratory and digestive disorders.
4 – Pesticides
Pesticide contamination is usually a problem faced by homeowners with private wells. Pesticides are more present in well water due to agricultural runoff from farmlands. Some are non-biodegradable, so they remain in groundwater for a long time. The US Department of Agriculture estimated that 50 million Americans get their drinking water from pesticide-contaminated groundwater. Pesticides are one of those contaminants that do not cause any visible change to water, making them extremely dangerous. They can cause nervous disorders and cancer after long-term use.
5 – Per/Polyfluoroalkyl Substances
Per/Polyfluoroalkyl substances are widely used in industries for making products like food packaging materials, kitchen utensils, cosmetics and carpets. They are abundant in the environment and can easily find their way into our water. PFAS are not easily degraded and remain in the environment for decades, making them highly problematic.
6 – Fluoride
Fluoride appears naturally in private well, and it’s artificially added to public water supplies. 66.3% of Americans have fluoride-containing water. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay but can be detrimental to your health when present in high amounts, causing diseases like skeletal fluorosis which appears as pain and tenderness of bones and joints. Excess fluoride in water can also cause yellowing of teeth.
What Are The Best Water Filters To Use At Home?
Your ideal choice of a water filter depends on the water impurities you are dealing with. Some water filters can remove a wide range of contaminants, while others can remove one or two specific impurities.
That’s why, before buying a water filter you have to confirm the presence of suspected impurities in your water. You can determine the specific contaminants in your water by doing a water test. The result from your water test will guide you on the kind of filter to buy. Water filters you can install in your home include:
- Activated Carbon Filters – Activated carbon filters are popular because they remove many of the commonly found impurities. They effectively remove chlorine, pesticides and PFAs. They work by adsorbing these impurities and removing them from your water.
- Reverse Osmosis Filters – Reverse osmosis filters remove heavy metals, fluoride and other salts/minerals, and chemicals. They have a semipermeable membrane and work under high pressure. As contaminated water passes through the filter, the pressure forces out the impurities and leaves behind clean water.
- UV Filters – Ultraviolet filters are a good choice for removing microorganisms, as the UV light rays kill any living bacteria and viruses.
- Catalytic Activated Carbon Filters – Catalytic activated carbon is an excellent chloramine filter. Catalytic activated carbon filters have a unique structure that binds to chloramine and breaks it down into harmless components.
Make Your Water Safe
Water filters remove all kinds of contaminants found in water. They make your home water safe for use and improve your standard of living. If you lack access to a clean and safe water supply, you should make plans to install a water filter as soon as possible.