Water is the most crucial substance you ingest, and the substance you ingest the most often. Your body is composed of over 70 percent water, and maintaining that level of hydration is essential to nearly every process in your body.
More than merely a matter of survival, though, you want your water to be clean and healthy, and you’ll likely drink more of it if it tastes good. Properly filtering that water before you drink it is the best way to remove as much of the harmful and off-tasting compounds as possible. Here are six common reasons why you should filter your water.
This is a guest post from our friends at Berkey Water Filters.
1. Mechanical Filters Remove Sediment and Debris
Sediment impurities such as dirt, clay, and silt can enter a household water supply from municipal pipes or wells. When present, they can make water taste particularly gritty and muddy. They can also cause blockages in your home’s pipes as they build up over time.
At their most fundamental level, water filtration systems use mechanical filters (imagine a superfine strainer) made of metal, fabric, paper, or ceramic in order to remove larger contaminants from water supplies.
2. Potentially Lower Mineral Levels
Most water entering your house carries minerals such as iron, calcium, and manganese, from pipes, well walls, and the ground. While these will not usually present a hazard to your health—unless they are present in excess—they can cause a range of other problems with your water.
Excess mineral content alters the flavor of your water, giving it a metallic or bitter taste. Not only is this water unpleasant to drink, but it will also spoil your meals if you use it for cooking.
Besides, minerals of any kind can accumulate inside your home’s pipes as a scale or sludge, which can increase the likelihood that your water picks up additional minerals on the way into your house.
Using a filtration system that targets the minerals that tend to be present in your local water supply can make a big difference in the quality of your drinking water.
3. May Reduce the Risk of Harmful Pathogens
Harmful pathogens such as parasites and bacteria like E. coli can thrive in water, particularly water that originates in ground sources or public water supplies and is carried into your home in the dark environment of pipes and wells underground. The most recent surveillance data reports 42 outbreaks of drinking water-related disease over two years, resulting in 1,006 cases of illness, 124 hospitalizations, and 13 deaths.
Some parasites, such as cryptosporidium, which can cause profound gastrointestinal distress, cannot be removed with chemical treatments such as chlorine. Instead, they require removal by filtration. Similarly, the microscopic parasite Giardia intestinalis, which derives from feces in the ground, can linger in the water supply for months.
Without a suitably fine filtration system, equipped with a micro-, ultra-, or nano-filter, these contaminants can potentially enter your drinking water and cause serious medical complications.
4. Some Types of Filters Reduce Chlorine
If a municipal water utility supplies your water, it is most likely treated with chlorine. Companies use this disinfectant because it inexpensively eliminates most bacteria and many viruses that can live in water.
But these benefits come at a cost. Chlorinated water tastes and smells like chemicals, and when it comes into contact with certain metals, the reaction can produce dangerous compounds.
More problematically, when chlorine enters the human body, it can react and produce acids that can damage cells and potentially lead to certain kinds of cancers.
An effective filtration system that uses activated carbon eliminates the taste and smell of chlorine, and removes it from the water while retaining its disinfectant properties.
For people who are particularly sensitive, a shower filter may also be worth considering.
5. Specialized Filters May Remove Heavy Metals
Lead and mercury poisoning can lead to profound illness, cognitive impairment, and potentially permanent brain damage, miscarriage, kidney disease, and blindness. Other heavy metals, such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, nickel, and copper, can accumulate in the body and lead to a host of other medical problems.
Old pipes and soldering may contain lead that can leach into your water supply. Without reverse osmosis or a suitably fine carbon filtration system in place, lead or mercury contamination can make your water toxic.
6. May Decrease Residual Chemicals in the Water Supply
Pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals used in agricultural, gardening, and lawn care applications since the mid-20th century contain compounds that readily dissolve in water. Because of how long these chemicals have been in use, their build-up in groundwater, reservoirs, and other water sources is concerning.
Other compounds that can enter water supplied through human activities include plastics and discarded pharmaceuticals, such as birth control pills and antidepressants. Filtering water through active carbon and other systems can remove many of these chemicals, making the water safer to drink.
Water filtration systems are affordable and easy to install, and they are far more carbon-neutral than bottled water. Systems that are designed for use at the home’s main water inlet can prolong the life of home appliances and pipes.
The costs of not using them can include off-tasting water, damage to your plumbing, and potential medical issues. With a high-quality filtration system, you will be able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that you and your family are drinking water that is both better tasting and better for you.
Chlorination, chlorination by-products, and cancer: a meta-analysis – American Journal of Public Health
Pesticides in agricultural runoff and their effects on downstream water quality – Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Herbicide accumulation and evolution in reservoir sediments – Science of the Total Environment
Pharmaceuticals: a threat to drinking water? – Trends in Biotechnology
Removal of selected pharmaceuticals by chlorination, coagulation–sedimentation and powdered activated carbon treatment – Water Science and Technology