Originally published August 14 2008
What's on Tap and What You Need to Know About Drinking Water
by Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.
(NaturalNews) The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental action organization, recently conducted an in-depth study into the quality of drinking water across the United States. Reviewing the tap water quality data for 19 major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, they compiled their findings and made them available to the public in June of 2003. 11 contaminants were labeled to be of "high concern" or "some concern" for the LA area's water supply. Since much of Los Angeles and Orange County drinking water comes from the same two sources, the Colorado River and Northern California, this information should be of note to those living in the Orange County area.
Five contaminants fell under the "high concern" category, including Lead, Perchlorate, Radon, Haloacetic Acids (HAAs) and Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs).
Lead is a heavy metal that generally enters the drinking supplies due to the corrosion of pipes, plumbing or faucets. Often, the lead levels of the water at your home are much higher than the levels from the water's source. This is usually the result of contamination that may be occurring at your home, due to old or corroded pipes. The national standard (NS) for lead, as determined by the EPA, is 15 ppb.
Health Effects: Infants, young children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of lead. In serious cases, poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and, in less severe cases, can cause children to suffer from decreased intelligence and problems with growth, development and behavior. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure, harm kidney function, adversely affect the nervous system and damage red blood cells.
Perchlorate in the water usually comes from rocket fuel spills or leaks at military facilities. Additionally, perchlorate is used in a variety of products and applications, including electronic tubes, vehicle airbags, leather tanning and fireworks. The NS is 4 ppb, however no level has been determined to be safe.
Health Effects: Perchlorate disrupts the thyroid function and is a suspected carcinogen. Changes in thyroid hormone levels can result in thyroid gland tumors. In children, thyroid disruption can adversely affect proper development and in adults it can interfere with metabolism regulation. Disruption of the thyroid in pregnant women may impact the fetus and result in delayed development and decreased learning ability.
Radon is a radioactive gas that results from the natural breakdown of uranium in the ground. The NS is an average of 300 pCi/L.
Health Effects: Radon is known to cause lung cancer. No level is considered to be safe and a single particle of radon can cause cancer. The EPA estimates that radon in drinking water causes approximately 168 deaths from lung and stomach cancer each year (89% from lung cancer caused by breathing radon released to the indoor air from water, 11% from stomach cancer caused by consuming water that contains radon). Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., after smoking.
Haloacetic Acids (HAAs)/Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs)
HAAs and TTHMs are volatile organic contaminates often referred to as disinfection by-products or organochlorines and result when chlorine used to disinfect drinking water interacts with organic matter in the water. The EPA has classified some TTHMs as probable human carcinogens. The NS for HAAs is an average of 60 ppb and for TTHMs, an average of 80 ppb.
Health Effects: Disinfection by-products have been linked to cancers of the bladder, pancreas, colon, rectum, brain, and childhood leukemia.
The following six contaminants fall under the category of "some concern":
Cryptosporidium is a waterborne parasite that lives and reproduces by the millions in both animal and human intestines until it is shed in the feces. The NS is 0.
Health Effects: Cryptosporidium can cause severe diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping and fever for up to 2 weeks. Currently there is no antibiotic that can kill the parasite. It poses a significant health risk to children and those with weakened immune systems.
Total Coliform Bacteria (TCM)
TCM is a broad class of bacteria, many of which live in the intestines of humans and animals. Most coliform bacteria are harmless, however their presence indicates that the water may contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli. The NS for TCM is 0.
Arsenic found in drinking supplies comes from mining, industrial processes, past use of arsenic containing pesticides, and natural leaching erosion from rock. Currently the NS for arsenic is 50 ppb but will be lowered to 10 ppb in 2006.
Health Effects: Arsenic is toxic to humans and a known carcinogen. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has determined that arsenic in drinking water is known to cause cancer of the bladder, skin and lungs. An NAS report published in 2001 stated that a person who drinks 2 liters of water a day (containing 10 ppb arsenic) has a lifetime total fatal cancer risk greater than 1 in 333.
Chromium is a naturally occurring metal used in industrial processes, including metal plating for chrome bumpers and making stainless steel, paint, rubber and wood preservatives. The NS for chromium is 100 ppb.
Health Effects: Chromium ingestion can cause a host of health problems, ranging form skin irritation to damage to kidney, liver and nerve tissue.
Gross Alpha Radiation (GAR)/Gross Beta Radiation (GBR)
GAR and GBR generally result from the decay of radioactive minerals in underground rocks and are sometimes by-products of the mining and nuclear industries. The NS for GAR is an average of 15 pCi/L and for GBR, an average of 50 pCi/L.
Health Effects: No level of exposure to GAR or GBR is considered safe as they are both radioactive and can cause cancer.
Uranium is released from minerals in the ground, often as the result of mining or as a by-product of the nuclear industry. The NS for uranium is 30 micrograms/L.
Health Effects: Uranium is radioactive and known to cause cancer when ingested. The EPA has determined that it causes serious kidney damage at levels above 300 mcg/L.
While Orange County has strict regulations on the quality of drinking water, you should still be aware of what is coming out of your tap. The EPA established national standards are determined to be the highest level of contaminants allowed in the water. The NRDC however, maintains that no level of any of these contaminants is safe.
So what can you do? First, contact the EPA for a list of state-certified labs that can test the water at your home. Finding out what is in your tap water can help you to determine what kind of filtration system is right for you. Your water standards should be higher than the EPA's to ensure the safety of your family.
When choosing a water filtration system, I recommend a unit that also regulates the pH level of your water like Jupiter Melody by Ion Life available through perfectlyhealthy at (www.perfectlyhealthy.net) . Proper pH levels can further protect you from any contaminants that you might come in contact with and also ward off disease and infection. You want to drink water that reaches a pH level of approximately 9.0 while trying to maintain a blood pH level of 7.43.
For a list of state-certified labs, call the EPA's hotline at 800-426-4791 or go online at (www.epa.gov/safewater/privatewells/labs.html) . To review the entire report by the NRDC, visit their website at (www.nrdc.org) . I recommend the Jupiter Melody Ionizer available through perfectlyhealthy, it excludes contaminants from your drinking water as well as providing a pH level of approximately 9.0. Visit (www.perfectlyhealthy.net) for more information.
About the authorLeigh Erin Connealy, M.D. has specialized in Integrative Medicine for over twenty years, using conventional and natural methods to determine and discover the "root of the cause" in her clinic, Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California, each and every day. Many people come in to the clinic from all over the world with severe chronic illnesses that conventional medical protocols have been unsuccessful treating. She realized early on that she can truly change lives through education as well as treatment protocols.
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. and her medical staff strives to look at the whole person while exploring the effects and relationships among nutrition, psychological and social factors, environmental effects and personal attunement. Out of frustration of trying to find the right products to help her patients she formulated the perfectlyhealthy brand of products. All perfectlyhealthy products are clinically tested. For more information on recommended products, please visit www.perfectlyhealthy.net or www.perfectlyhealthy.com.
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