With the push for people to drink more water (instead of carbonated beverages that actually rid the body of fluids), citizens are growing increasingly concerned about the quality of the water they drink. A 1997 survey by the Water Quality Association found that three quarters of Americans don't believe their household water supply is as safe as it could be. Nearly 50 percent of respondents in a recent poll said they wouldn't drink straight tap water. Such concerns about health are causing sales of bottled water and water filtration systems to spike higher than the 90s stock market.
Residues, Stains, Odors
You may find that your water leaves colorful residue behind. Reddish or red-brown stains mean the water should be tested to measure the amount and type of iron in it. Iron gives a disagreeable metallic taste to water and may have a sewer-like smell. Iron causes coffee, tea, liquor, and other beverages to turn inky black. Iron types found in water include oxidized, soluble, and bacterial.
Water containing oxidized iron is filled with reddish rust particles visible in the water when first drawn from the tap-commonly called red-water iron. Well water frequently contains a mixture of oxidized iron and soluble iron because some of the soluble iron becomes oxidized in the pressure tank.
Soluble iron, often called clear-water iron, causes just as many problems. Clear-water iron is easily recognized because the water is clear when first drawn from the tap. After coming in contact with the air, the iron oxidizes, or "rusts," forming red or reddish-brown particles in the water. It is common in well water throughout the United States. The problem most people have with clear-water iron is that it causes reddish-brown stains on plumbing fixtures, porcelain, cooking utensils, and laundry.
Bad-smelling, bad-tasting water can often be blamed on the presence of iron bacteria, a slimy material that breaks free at high flow rates, causing extremely discolored water. Larger clumps can plug fixtures. If you see a reddish slime-like material in the toilet flush tank, it's likely bacterial iron.
If you find blue or blue-green stains in your sink, it's likely copper. Copper seldom appears naturally in the water supply. Usually, when copper is present, it is because copper plumbing fixtures are corroding. Water containing copper will usually kill aquarium fish and can make water taste bad. Copper also causes green soap curd to form and it is corrosive to aluminum.
The type of pipes that carry water through your home may contribute more to what ends up in your glass than you think. If your home was constructed before 1986, when the Environmental Protection Agency prohibited use of solder with heavy concentrations of lead, you may be getting a dose of lead with every gulp. Everyone who ingests lead is susceptible to its effects because of the way it accumulates in the body. At sufficient levels, lead can impair the reproductive and central nervous systems and may interfere with behavioral and emotional development.
What To Do?
Almost every one of these problems can be solved through water filtration or softening. Many filtration systems are available. Some remove odor and bad taste with a charcoal filter system that needs replacement periodically, while others use a more elaborate system that is able to filter out almost any substance, including nitrate, cyanide, selenium, thallium, various insecticides, a number of pesticides, rust, lead, copper, and chromium.
(c) 2004, American Chiropractic Association
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