The United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which notes that, if you are among the 286 million Americans that get water from a community water system, the tap water is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Drinking water varies from place to place, depending on the condition of the source water from which it’s drawn and the treatment it receives, but it must meet EPA regulations.
Still, there was the Flint, Michigan, water crisis where in 2014 more than 100,000 residents were potentially exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water – resulting in 15 reported deaths and countless illnesses.
That crisis still has many Americans reeling, wary of just how safe – or unsafe – their drinking water might be.
With that, the CDC does acknowledge that drinking water that’s not properly treated or which travels through an improperly maintained distribution system may create an environment for contamination.
Also, the presence of certain contaminants in water can lead to health issues, including gastrointestinal illness, reproductive problems, and neurological disorders.
Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and immune-compromised persons may be especially susceptible to illness.
That realization does little to dispel the many myths and fears about water purity although Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, which makes organic and natural beauty projects, offered up and shot down two examples of what he said were myths.
“Fluoride is bad for you. In water, it serves two very important functions — it helps prevent tooth decay and it prevents goiters, and let’s be honest, nobody misses lumpy necks,” Backe said. “Clean water is important and getting a filter may be an option with regard to guarding against mishaps. Pure water, on the other hand, is just a luxury.”
Indeed, there’s a real concern about safe drinking water, not only domestically, but around the globe, said Darrel Larson, the international director for Sawyer Products, a manufacturer of water filtration products.
“I believe that there’s significant proof to dispel the myth that plastic bottled water is necessary in order to enjoy safe drinking water,” Larson said.
In recent studies commissioned in Fiji by Sawyer Products, results indicated that clean water effects individual health, family economics and the environment.
GIS data collection has been a part of a distribution that will result in nearly 100,000 Sawyer-made filters donated to a project in Fiji as a solution for that country’s clean water needs, particularly in rural, hard-to-reach areas, Larson said.
“Not only does the GIS data allow for tracking of the filter installations and follow-ups, but health and social-economic data is also being collected,” he said. Each family that receives a water filter voluntarily participates in a survey that measures diarrhea reduction, school and work days recaptured that were once lost due to waterborne sickness, purchased water savings and medical savings associated with poor water quality.
After a health scare, Kathryn Kellogg stopped assuming everything she put in her body was safe and starting cooking from scratch, making her own cleaning and beauty products, and, she said, she stopped using plastic.
Today, she devotes her life to Going Zero Waste, a blog dedicated to ditching plastic, removing harmful chemicals from homes, and reducing waste.
“Unfortunately, I can’t [dispel the myths of and fears about water purity],” said Kellogg said, who spends her time educating the public on the dangers of trash, plastic pollution, and fighting to end food waste.
In doing so, Kellogg said she can show anyone all of the trash she’s thrown away in the past two years — in one mason jar.
“There’s 94 percent of plastic in our drinking water with higher concentrations of plastic in bottled water,” she said. “Our tap water has less plastic than bottles and is regulated and tested more regularly than bottled water. Tap water is still the safest option out there.”