Let’s speak about tap water. Most of us can easily access tap water at our homes and in restaurants. However, what is in our tap water? What are the sources and is it really safe to drink? This post will look into everything you should know about tap water.
In the end, you should be able to decide whether tap water is something you should consume daily.
WHAT IS TAP WATER?
There are many names used to describe tap water. You might have come across people calling it running water, municipal water, or even sink water.
No matter how you prefer to name it, tap water is basically a substance that flows into households and buildings all around the country through underground pipes.
Tap water is typically processed and then treated before it’s sent to any residential and/or commercial establishment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating tap water in the United States.
And although tap water began to become readily accessible during the 20th century, it is still inaccessible to most people in developing nations.
WHERE DOES TAP WATER COME FROM?
Tap water can originate from a wide range of sources. It might originate from nearby water bodies such as rivers and lakes, or from man-made sources such as wells and reservoirs. The location of the town or city receiving the tap water generally plays a significant role in where the water comes from.
It is worth noting that tap water isn’t directly supplied to households and other premises from their sources. They actually first go through treatment at plants to make sure they abide by established EPA standards.
DIFFERENT METHODS OF TAP WATER TREATMENT
Municipalities and cities adopt a multi-step treatment to make sure they supply clean tap water to all homeowners.
Coagulation & Flocculation
Positively charged chemicals are usually added to the water to begin the treatment process. These chemicals are intended to adhere to negatively charged particles which are carried by the dissolved particles present in the water. The negative and positively charged substances combine to form new and larger particles called floc.
This is the next stage of the treatment procedure. It entails letting the floc reach the water supply’s bottom.
The water may now be filtered with the possibly problematic particles that are now bigger in size and relegated to the water supply’s bottom.
Many filters are applied and they differ both in material composition and size. Different types of filters are utilized in order to eliminate the most contaminants.
This is the last step of the treatment process, which entails introducing disinfectants into the water.
Primarily, the disinfectant is added to get rid of any remaining pollutants. It also safeguards the water from them during its entire journey from the actual treatment plant to other premises.
Fluoridation might not be a part of the treatment procedure, but it’s still implemented by numerous municipalities and cities. Municipalities and cities incorporate fluoride into the water to primarily help in strengthening the teeth of the individuals who use it.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CONTAMINANTS FOUND IN TAP WATER?
In general, various types of contaminants can reach the municipal water supply. The following are some of the most common impurities that you can find in tap water.
Although chlorine is usually incorporated into the water as a disinfectant, it can also have other effects. According to a certain report by World Health Organization, there are some potentially negative impacts that heavily chlorinated water may cause on the human body.
The report also claims that asthma could be brought about by exposure to chlorinated water. Furthermore, other health complications that have been linked to exposure to chlorine include bladder cancer and dermatitis.
Arsenic may be present in the Earth’s crust and it could find its way into the town’s/ municipal’s water supply via a wide range of channels.
Extended exposure to arsenic-laced drinking water might result in a wide range of complications, such as changes in the skin. Patches and lesions might start to show, as well as pigmentation.
In case the availability of arsenic in the drinking water isn’t addressed, it may lead to long-term health disorders such as bladder, lung, and skin cancer.
While nitrates are naturally available in soil and plants in low amounts, they have become a widespread impurity partially because of their applications as fertilizer. Runoff coming from factory farms usually flows into groundwater and winds up in our drinking water.
There is a limit of 10 parts/ million for nitrates specified by the EPA – this can be dangerous to pregnant women and infants. At times, exposed infants may acquire blue baby syndrome, which is a potentially deadly disease that inhibits your blood from carrying oxygen.
Because copper is a material commonly used to form tubing, it might wind up falling into the water in case the water passing through is adequately acidic.
People who take a lower copper dose might suffer from vomiting and headaches. Acute renal failure and gastrointestinal bleeding are other concerns associated with copper consumption.
Although not without controversy, fluoride has been introduced to most of the US public water system for many decades. Fluoride has often been added to our drinking water to help with the prevention of cavities. There has also been much discussion about the many health risks linked to consuming this gas.
According to Harvard reports, the general rate of cavities throughout the globe is reducing for all populations irrespective of fluoride treatment. We may attribute electronic toothbrushes, toothpaste, as well as improved awareness of dental hygiene to this general reduction in cavities.
Sadly, fluoride does not just levitate on your teeth, studies illustrate several different issues with the consumption of fluoride and generally how it impacts cognition. A certain study realized that fluoride plays a significant role when it comes to cognitive impairment, dental and skeletal fluorosis, hypothyroidism, uterine cancer, and enzyme and electrolyte derangement. It hasn’t been proven that consuming fluoride through your tap water is the ideal method of preventing cavities — numerous dental hygiene products that consist of Fluoride are equally, or even more effective.
Undoubtedly, older pipes built of lead should be replaced immediately. They might wind up bringing about lead-laced water into your household.
Lead is very dangerous to younger people. It may reach the brain and lead to convulsions and possibly death. As a result, younger people who survive lead poisoning might struggle with behavioral complications and even experience mental retardation.
Although many radioactive elements present in drinking water usually occur naturally, radioactive substances from the manufacture of medicines, energy, and nuclear weapons may also find their way into drinking supplies via improper waste storage or leaks. Exposure may lead to kidney failure or cancer.
Many water sources found close to industrial plants may end up polluted with mercury traces. Specifically, coal processing plants may produce huge mercury amounts.
Long exposure to mercury may cause severe negative effects on various parts of the body, such as the immune and nervous systems. What’s more, inhaling mercury vapor may result in numerous health disorders and even death.
Quite frankly, this endocrine-disrupting chemical is a commonly detected pesticide when it comes to U.S. waters. Research has proven that its contamination is a common thing in drinking water throughout the southern United States and the Midwest. The EPA also inspects a small part of community water systems to establish whether atrazine concentrations can have a risk to public health. However, NRDC has requested the government to eliminate the application of this chemical.
Parasites, viruses, and bacteria that cause diseases can get into water supplies that are poorly treated to get rid of germs. The good news is that these pathogens are better managed today than ever before.
It is a widespread toxic chemical, with applications in road flares, explosives, and rocket fuel that can inhibit the production of thyroid hormone. Perchlorate has been identified in the water in a minimum of 26 states, but there’s no federal standard for its availability in drinking water. After 10+ years of pressure from health and environmental groups led by NRDC, the Environmental Protection Agency reported that it could set such a standard—yet it still has not even suggested a rule for the pollutant.
After a lawsuit was filed against the EPA by the NRDC – for its failure to act in the actual time frame specified by the Safe Drinking Water Act – the EPA committed in a consent decree to have a proposed perchlorate standard.
In most cases, prescription drugs get into our water supply when individuals release traces in their urine or get rid of unused medication down the toilet or sink. In fact, NRDC has petitioned the United States Food and Drug Administration to pay keen attention to drugs finding their way into the environment. A 2010 NRDC report also offered recommendations for minimizing the flow of these medicines into our waters.
DIFFERENT METHODS FOR WATER QUALITY TEST
Different tests could be run on tap water to ensure that it is safe.
Generally, chlorine tests are an essential thing since they can help identify whether the correct amount of the substance is available in the water supply.
A variety of testing materials may be used to establish the amount of chlorine currently available in the water. Some of these are pool test kits, digital colorimeters, and color-wheel test kits.
Specifically speaking, bacteria testing is carried out on tap water to find out coliform bacteria. And although the coliform bacteria aren’t the problematic ones, they can signify that certain organisms are carrying diseases.
In general, coliform bacteria are much easier to test for considering how they usually cluster.
TDS testing basically stands for total dissolved solids testing. Some examples of TDS that are commonly present in water are potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Though not necessarily dangerous to people, TDS should still be identified since they can result in the rapid deterioration of clothes, dishes, and fixtures.
Heavy Metal Test
This is a must for any type of water supply. And failure to get your water tested for heavy metals can result in harmful pollutants such as mercury, lead, copper, and arsenic coming through. Different techniques for heavy metal testing are used based on the water source.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WATER FILTRATION TECHNIQUES?
To clean the water even further, different filtration methods might be used. The following are some of the most efficient filtration techniques:
Filtration through Distillation
When it comes to distillation, extreme temperatures are leveraged in order to clean the water.
The procedure entails the water being boiled such that the impurities may effectively be isolated from the water. Usually, the boiled water is then turned into a gas and is condensed back to form a liquid. After the distillation procedure has been finished, clean water is then made available.
Filtration with Activated Carbon Filters
In most cases, activated carbon filters are applied to eliminate organic compounds present in the water. They are an excellent option for filtration since activated carbon consists of many pores capable of capturing impurities.
Carbon filters are usually activated through the application of steam or certain chemicals.
Filtration via Reverse Osmosis
The reverse osmosis process generates clean water with the assistance of pressure and a specially made membrane.
Pressure will initially be put on the particular solution to be filtered – in this case, tap water. This pressure will make the tap water pass via the membrane. Although the membrane will allow the clean water to pass, it will block the passage of bigger substances.
Although tap water is useful to have on hand for different household applications such as watering plants and washing clothes, before you drink it, ensure that it’s safe!
You must have learned what to expect from your tap water and everything you could do to enhance its quality.