Is the water that you drink and bathe in healthy? You can check out the Vancouver municipal water website here if there are any issues. You need to thoroughly test your water especially if you are getting it from a well. There is broad range of solutions for water filtration, but you first need to test to decide what is the correct filtration that you need. Following is a summary of typical concerns and filtration techniques for each.

Some ways waterborne contaminants can be transmitted are by food that was washed in tap water, spray from an ornamental fountain or by direct consumption. Some common contaminants are: Microbial, Inorganic (includes lead, asbestos), Organic (other than microbial), and Pesticides and Herbicides.

Microbial contaminants include living organisms, such as bacteria, parasites, and algae, as well as viruses (viruses are not considered to be alive because they cannot reproduce without a host cell cells). The United States and Canada are seeing a rise in the occurrence of waterborne illness related to viruses and parasites, one prominent example being Legionella Bacterium, which causes a serious pneumonia-like infection. The only systems capable of filtering down the viral size range is reverse osmosis or ultra-filtration-type membranes, or ceramic filters. Please note that activated carbon filters can be a breeding ground for germs and should only be used if the water is germ free.

Inorganic contaminants include metals (and their alloys, like iron, copper, aluminum, brass, bronze), minerals (such as salt, asbestos, silicates, arsenic, fluoride) and chemicals that are mineral-based non-metallic elements, like silicon, phosphorus, arsenic, lead, fluoride, and chlorine. Some metals are essential nutrients for our biochemistry but can become toxic in too high a dose, such as Chromium, Copper, and Selenium. Other metals are toxic anytime, such as Lead, Arsenic, Beryllium, Cadmium, Thallium, and Mercury, with no known levels that are safe. The best way to eliminate contaminants that are inorganic is reverse osmosis.

Chemical organic contaminants are those that have a bond between a carbon atom and a hydrogen atom (CH), and include microorganisms and manmade organic compounds. Many of them are naturally occurring organic chemicals, and innocuous. Synthetic organic chemicals are solvents, petroleum-based chemical substances, pesticides, herbicides, and PCBs. Production of synthetic chemicals has increased exponentially over the years and only a handful are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. Since the 1930s organic chemical substances were dumped into our surface waters by industrial manufacturing plants. This dumping, coupled with the constant runoff of agricultural chemicals into waterways, has led to the current situation where most water that is considered fresh still has indications of pollution. To eliminate most synthetic organic chemical substances is with a large capacity activated charcoal filter at the point of water entry into the house, with an additional stage of reverse osmosis.

Pesticides and Herbicides are a subset of synthetic chemicals that are organic and deserve special attention as water contaminants. Mostly petroleum based, these chemicals started finding use in the 1940’s, the very first warning signs were not obvious until the 1960’s when experts began to understand that many of those chemical compounds are particularly long-lived, and harm wildlife. Since these compounds can be concentrated in the fat cells of animals, they ultimately end up in us too. As an example, despite the fact that DDT was banned for decades, it can still be found within the breast milk of new mothers. These chemical substances enter into our water from agricultural runoff, spraying on personal residential lawns and golf courses, aerial spraying for bug control, and countless other means. The most effective means of removal for pesticides, herbicides, and other synthetic chemical compounds that are organic is reverse osmosis. Activated charcoal filters can be very effective at removing pesticides, but they’ve limited ability and must be maintained.

The World Health Organization states that 80% of infectious diseases worldwide are waterborne. In case the tap water has not been filtered by the processes cited here above, you’re likely drinking, cooking, washing your food, and bathing with contaminated water. It is worth noting that viruses and single-celled parasites are resistant to extermination by chlorine, itself a contaminant. Chlorine is frequently first line of defense against microbiological contaminants. It would be prudent for all of us to filter our drinking water.

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