For over 25 years I’ve traveled the world to teach people about water, water contamination and how it can impact your health. In today’s article I want to summarize some of the key points that EVERYONE should understand.
I want to start with an extremely important point; we live in a toxic world, and it’s only getting worse.
Think about it this way; until very recently, humans have lived in a chemical-free world. Of course, what I am referring to are the highly-refined and very powerful synthetic chemicals that are mainly created from petroleum. The first synthetic chemical from petroleum was created only about 150 years ago. Up until that time, synthetic chemicals simply didn’t exist.
But it wasn’t until about 90 years ago that the modern petrochemical industry was born and these chemicals were mass-produced. At this time, most of our environment was still pristine. There are people still alive (perhaps your grandparents when they were young) who drank water that was still mostly untouched by these chemicals.
Within this period of time another thing happened. The human population grew from around 1.7 billion people to over 7.6 billion! This is an astonishing growth rate! This 500% increase in population drove massive increases in chemical production.
Now over 60,000 different chemicals are in use today.
Over 5 BILLION pounds of chemicals are used every year in the USA (which is on top of the 5 billion pounds that were used the year before, and the year before that, etc). These chemicals include solvents, gasoline additives, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. By the way, the term ‘cides’ refers to chemicals that are intentionally designed to kill things. They are often made from petrochemicals because these are chemicals that are based on the carbon atom, and all life-forms are based on the carbon atom, thus they are good at attacking living organisms.
These chemicals are widespread, and are now thoroughly spread throughout every part of our environment. Whether a chemical is burned, dumped, flushed, buried or sprayed it can find it’s way into our streams, lakes and rivers, which is where we get our drinking water.
Recently, the US Geological Survey studied 178 streams across the USA for pesticides. The study showed that EVERY SINGLE STREAM contained at least one pesticide. 20% of them contained more than TEN pesticides. Note that this study was only looking for pesticides and not the countless other types of chemicals in our environment.
Within the next 25 years the human population is expected to exceed 9 billion people. Like it or not, world chemical production will only increase and our world will become more toxic.
But we shouldn’t worry, because the government is ensuring that the water coming out of our tap is safe, right?
Well, it depends upon your definition of “safe”.
One of the most important things that you must understand about water is that when the government says that the water coming from your tap is “safe”, they are using the LEGAL definition of the word “safe”, not the English language definition of the word safe.
Did they ever tell you this? No.
So, when the government tells you that your local tap water is “safe”, it still may contain dangerous chemicals! Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Almost deceptive even. I believe that this practice by the government is the number one reason that people are so misinformed about water.
A recent article by the New York Times says this, “Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.”
The article then quotes Dr. Pankaj Parekh, director of the water quality division for the City of Los Angeles, “People don’t understand that just because water is technically legal, it can still present health risks”.
Modern water treatment plants were designed primarily to protect against bacteria and parasites (which is hugely important). They are simply not able, however, to provide a high level of protection against the full range of potential contaminants. Especially when you consider that only 2% of the water that is sent through the taps is consumed.
So how dangerous are these chemicals?
We know that of the 830 most common chemicals, many are associated with cancer or other diseases. The majority of chemicals however have unknown affects on our health. This brings us to another important point about water.
Do you remember the chemical spill that happened in West Virginia in 2014? Over 10,000 gallons of MCHM leak from a neglected storage tank into West Virginia’s Elk River, just upstream from a major water intake facility. As a result, 300,000 residents were told not to drink, cook with, bathe or even touch the water. Even though this chemical was is in active production and use, there was no publicly released hazard data or evidence of it’s safety.
How can this be? This chemical is one of tens of thousands of chemicals on the market with little or no safety data. The fact is that in 1976, 62,000 chemicals were grandfathered into the TSCA, the USA’s main chemical safety law. What does grandfathering mean? It means that all of these chemicals were simply presumed to be safe by the EPA. The EPA is not even allowed to determine whether these chemicals are dangerous unless they first provide evidence that the chemical may pose a risk. A classic catch-22.
Now, let’s stay on the subject of this West Virginia chemical spill. It was a huge media event and it was the top story in the news for more than a week. The inference was that this type of chemical spill was a rare event, but is it?
Not in the slightest.
After the WV chemical spill, BusinessWeek reported that there were over 3,885 similar chemical spills in the U.S. in 2013!
That equates to more than 10 per day in the USA!
Pause for a moment and let that sink in…
Now, let’s take it a step further. This number of 3,885 chemical spills in 2013 is based solely on self-reports of accidents from 76 publicly traded companies. So how many unreported chemical spills came from the thousands of other companies? The military? Other government agencies? Twice this amount? Ten times this amount? The answer is simply that no one knows.
Lead in the Water.
It’s now been almost three years since the outcry over lead in the water in Flint, MI. Lead is a very dangerous heavy metal because it builds up in your system and can cause very serious health problems, especially for children and babies. The EPA sets a maximum level of lead at 15 parts per billion (ppb). At it’s highest, the lead level in Flint tap water was 158 ppb, more than 10x the limit!
It’s important to note that there is NO safe level of lead exposure. Even at small doses, lead poses a health threat, especially for pregnant women, infants and young children. Lead can damage growing brains and cause reduced IQs, attention disorders and problem behaviors. The fact is that hundreds of kids have permanent brain damage because of being exposed to lead in Flint.
So we must have solved the problem by now, right?
Just two months after the Flint, MI crisis hit the news, USA TODAY published an investigation that “identified almost 2,000 additional water systems spanning all 50 states where testing has shown excessive levels of lead contamination over the past four years.”
2,000 water systems! Of these 2,000 water systems…
- 350 provided water to schools and daycares.
- 180 failed to notify customers.
- A Maine Elementary School had water that that was 42x the legal limit for lead!
- A Pennsylvania preschool had water that that was 14x the legal limit for lead!
- An Ithica, NY Elementary School had water that that was 333x the legal limit for lead! (this is so high that it’s on the verge of being toxic waste).
Since then there have been a number of other reports about how big a problem lead is. A CNN article reported that, “More than 5,300 water systems in America are in violation of the EPA’s lead and copper rule…What’s worse, the report reveals that the EPA is also aware that many utilities “game the system,” using flawed or questionable testing methods in order to avoid detecting high levels of lead.”
We have personal experience of witnessing this “gaming the system”. About a decade ago we traveled to schools around the country to try to help them solve this problem. At the time, it was common practice for custodians in a particular school district to get to the school early and flush out the water lines because they knew that the State was coming to test the water.
Yes, lead is a big concern, but it’s only one of countless dangerous contaminants that can be in water.
Another example is atrazine. “Environmental Protection Agency data show that in some Corn Belt communities, atrazine levels can spike three to seven times above the legal limit in late spring and early summer. But by avoiding water testing during peak periods, some water utilities stay in compliance with drinking water regulations – and don’t have to tell customers they were exposed to a hazardous chemical in their tap water.”
So here are some facts…
FIRST, we live in an increasingly toxic world. The evidence for this is staggering.
SECOND, you don’t know what is in your drinking water right now. Nor does the government know.
THIRD, there are many contaminants that have been found in water systems across the USA that are dangerous, and many more that have unknown health effects on your body.
FOURTH, water contamination can be dangerous to anyone, but it’s especially dangerous for babies because it can interfere with brain development.
So here’s what it comes down to…
IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF WATER FOR YOUR FAMILY!
You should do whatever you can to ensure that your family drinks the purest water possible. Don’t sit back and rely upon the government, because your standards are different from theirs. You want to protect your loved ones to the highest degree.
There are two primary technologies for purifying water; filtration and distillation.
FILTRATION, which includes reverse osmosis, is the most popular method because it’s cheap and because the constant replacement of filters is a good source of residual revenue for companies. There is a lot of variability in the performance of filters though. There are many different types of filters, each of which is specialized for a particular type of contaminant, so a good filter solution will include a combination of filters that is designed for your particular water analysis. For this reason, if you want to have a filter solution you should avoid the simple, mass-marketed filters and instead go to a qualified local water treatment specialist and have him design one for your water.
DISTILLATION is recognized as the gold standard for purification, because it is certainly the best way to purify water. A good water distiller will provide broader protection against contaminants in water than filters, and this protection will be much more consistent over time. Note however, that while distillation is typically a very consistent process, there are a number of Chinese distillers on the market that use materials that should not come in contact with high-purity water.
The only water that my family and I consume on a regular basis is distilled water.
We’ve been drinking distilled water for over 30 years, and this is what we will do for the rest of our lives.
Now, I want to be a little knit-picky here to clarify something…
Actually, there is no such thing as “distilled water”. Water is water. The only difference between different types of water is how clean it is. The only difference between highly contaminated ocean water, for example, and pure rain water are the contaminants that are in the water.
The word “distilled” just describes the method by which the water was cleaned. The process of distillation is usually a very thorough and consistent way to clean water, so it’s considered the gold standard of clean water. “Filtered water”, on the other hand, can describe water that has a huge variability in the water’s purity. Filters are not nearly as effective or consistent as the process of distillation.
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I recommend the water distillers made by my father’s business. Before I launched the Survival Still and started my own company, I worked with my father for over 20 years. They are the best distillers on the market and that they are made in the USA by an ethical, fantastic company. I think you will find them to be quite reasonably priced, and surprisingly, even the larger automatic systems are priced lower than a professionally designed filter system.
I personally use and recommend the larger size systems, and I recommend getting a pump with the system so that you can have the water delivered directly to a separate faucet on your sink. An important thing to understand is that it’s not just about drinking pure water, but rather, everything that you CONSUME should be pure. This means that soups, coffee, tea, pasta, rice, protein drinks, and especially baby formula should be made with pure water, which is why I recommend the larger sizes.
If you want to talk to someone about the AquaNui products, call the company at 402-467-9300, and talk to Courtney Meder (my sister) who will be able to explain anything about the products and can help you choose the right option.
I am thankful that I am in the position to educate you on water contamination and steps that you can take to protect your family. If you are interested in learning more about my family’s products, please click here. Also, if you are going to purchase a product, use the coupon code 327417 in order to get a discount on your purchase.
I hope this helps you.
P.S. Full disclosure, yes I receive a small commission if you follow this link and purchase a distiller, but this commission does not affect the price that you would get the product for. Also, I would recommend these distillers even if I didn’t get a commission because they are simply the best.