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How Safe and Clean Is Your Drinking Water?

If you live in the United States, chances are you don’t have to travel far to find drinking water. You might walk to your kitchen and fill a glass with tap water or water from your refrigerator, or pick up some bottled water at the store. Even at schools, offices, parks and other public places, you can usually find a water fountain close by.Due to the fact that drinking water is so readily available in most parts of the U.S., safety and quality may be rarely considered. Unfortunately, access to drinking water that is actually clean and safe is something that still affects people across the country.

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According to a study conducted by the National Resources Defense Council, 1 in 4 Americans drinks water from a water distribution system that violates the Safe Water Drinking Act. The top five states with reported SDWA violations were Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia.

A 2017 analysis of water samples from 50,000 water utilities in 50 states also revealed more than 267 different kinds of toxins in U.S. tap water, including 93 linked to an increased risk of cancer, 78 associated with brain and nervous system damage, 63 connected to developmental harm to children or fetuses, 38 that may cause fertility problems and 45 linked to hormonal disruption. One of the most dangerous toxins in American water supplies is fluoride. Even low doses have been shown to alter thyroid function and childhood brain development, and to lower IQ in exposed children.

Bottled drinking water is becoming increasingly popular worldwide, thanks to aging water pipes and chemical pollution. Filtering your household water is more of a necessity than an option. Unless you can verify the purity of your water, seriously consider installing a high-quality, whole-house water filtration system. Ideally, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house, and then filtering again at the kitchen sink and shower. As for the type of filtration system to get, there are a variety of options, most of which have both benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few of the most common options:

Reverse osmosis — RO will remove chlorine, inorganic and organic contaminants and about 80% of fluoride from you water. Drawbacks include the need for frequent cleaning to avoid bacterial growth.

Ion exchange — Designed to remove dissolved salts from the water, such as calcium, this system also softens the water and helps prevent the creation of scale buildup. Advantages include a high flow rate and low maintenance cost, while disadvantages include calcium sulfate and iron fouling, organic contamination from the resin, bacterial contamination and chlorine contamination.

Granular carbon and carbon block filters — These are the most common types of countertop and under counter water filters. Granular activated carbon is recognized by the EPA as the best available technology for the removal of herbicides, pesticides and industrial chemicals, but the water can create pathways through the carbon material and escape filtering. Carbon block filters offer the same filtering ability but eliminate channeling.