Drinking Water Safety Guide

Drinking-Water Contaminants and Water Quality

The biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of water are what determine its quality. Water quality is essential for the environment, and safe drinking water is necessary for human consumption and use. The Safe Water Drinking Act (1974) enforces health standards for the United States, and requires public notifications of potential contaminants. When water quality is being tested, it is being tested for contaminants, which can be divided into four groups: physical, chemical, biological, and radiological. 

Physical contaminants are prominent and visible. Examples include sediment, twigs, or bugs. 

The things that make up chemical contaminants are elements or compounds, such as nitrogen, sodium (salts), metals, and pharmaceuticals. Some occur naturally, and some are artificial.

Bacterial or microbial contaminants found in drinking water may include bacteria, parasites, and viruses. Salmonella, E. coli, and Cryptosporidium are common microbial contaminants found in water.

Unbalanced chemical compounds (atoms with uneven protons) are radiological contaminants. Examples of these are inorganic chemicals include asbestos, arsenic, lead, nitrates, vinyl chloride from plastic factories, or PVC pipes and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These come from the runoff from landfills.

Health Effects of the Contaminants and Poor Quality Water

Poor water quality can have several adverse health effects depending on the contaminants and the length of exposure to these contaminants. Health problems can vary, and they may include but are not limited to; irritation, gastrointestinal illness, circulatory issues, damage to organs, immune and neurological concerns, and even certain types of cancer. Pregnant women and people who suffer from weakened immune system conditions are at a greater risk of developing problems due to contaminated, poor-quality water. Children are also generally more vulnerable to illness from the contaminants found in drinking water.

Drinking-Water Purification Methods

When water leaves the public treatment plant, it has met the required guidelines to suggest that it does not pose a health threat. This does not mean that it is one hundred percent free of contaminants or that it won't become further contaminated by things such as pipes as it makes its way into people's homes. For this reason, people often seek ways to eliminate further contaminates through water purification methods. Before purchasing a product to help purify one's water, it is essential to know what contaminants need removing. Filters are a popular method of water purification.

Active carbon filters are a type of filter system that works by filtering water through granules of carbon. These granules trap undesirable contaminants, including organic chemicals, mercury, radon gas, and certain pesticides. In addition, they are also helpful when it comes to removing odors or bad tastes from water.

Oxidizing filters may be used to remove some of the chemicals that affect the smell, taste, and color of water and hydrogen sulfide, iron, and manganese.

Mechanical filtration systems use filter paper, compressed glass, wool, or sand to strain contaminants such as insoluble iron, manganese, dirt, and loose scale out of the water.

Other purification methods include systems that utilize ultraviolet radiation to remove microbiological contaminants.

Under certain situations, such as a flood or blizzard, boiling is often the recommended course of action to effectively disinfect drinking water. When boiling is recommended, the water must come to a full boil and continue to boil for at least one full minute to destroy the bacteria and other biological contaminants. For people who are unable to boil their water for whatever reason, the health officials advise adding 1/8th teaspoon of chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Upon adding the bleach, the water should be allowed to rest for 30 minutes before using.

Bottled Water

Plastic Bottles

As people drink more water, they often turn to bottled water to have convenient and healthy water on hand. The belief for many is that bottled water is somehow safer or of better quality than the water from the tap. However, this is a false assumption as according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, at minimum twenty-five percent of bottled water is nothing more than bottled tap water. In terms of safety, bottled water is monitored by the FDA. The FDA, however, does not have the authority over bottled water companies that the EPA has over water from the tap. They are also not under the same safety standards, and companies are not required to conduct testing in certified laboratories, nor are they required to report high contamination results. This doesn't simply that all bottled water companies are unsafe or unhealthy, but it can be challenging to determine which brands are the safest to drink. Just a few reasons why Berkey is better than bottled water. Not to mention the amount of plastic waste generated from disposable water bottles. Berkey Filters is proud to Pass on Plastics

Berkey is One Solution to Safe Drinking Water

The Berkey water filter systems offer an array of options for securing the safety of the water consumed. Berkey systems are well-known and respected for their comprehensive ability to remove hundreds of unwanted visible and invisible particles in drinking water. The contaminants removed encompass microbial to chemical molecules. It removes naturally occurring impurities such as bacteria and parasites, as well as manufactured toxins like bleach.

Water treatment plants usually add chlorine as an effective additive to disinfect water. The consequences of not using chlorine far outweigh the side effects chlorine can cause. However, it is the consumer's responsibility to take responsibility for their health, going one step further in cleaning the water. Adding chlorine is a necessary step, removing chlorine remnants and by-products, such as haloacetic acids, is also an essential step. Berkey removes ninety-nine percent of chlorine, trihalomethanes, haloacetics acids, and more. 

For tap water that isn't treated in a municipal system, such as well water, it is also the consumer's responsibility to test the water and make sure it's safe or take precautions to filter the water. All of the Berkey Filters work with well water. Frequently wells are in rural areas where there's a risk of fecal matter contamination. With that comes E. Coliparasites, and pesticide runoff. It's not always easy, attainable, or quick enough to change the entire environment, so in the meantime, use a water purifier. 

Berkey Filters is committed to preventing pollution from plastic water bottles, as well as eliminating contaminants in and from disposable plastics by offering a line of sustainable, reusable glass containers.


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