You’ve likely heard of water filters, and maybe even considered one. But, what do they actually do? What do they not do? Here’s what you need to know, and how do you choose the right one.
Why to Use a Water Filter – The Health Risks of Tap Water and Bottled Water
Water filters are becoming increasingly popular in this day in age. And maybe you’re here because you’ve noticed it… Friends and family, friends of friends, it’s possible that you know someone who uses a water filter, and they have very good reasons to. In this article we will be discussing why to use a water filter, and what makes it so important to avoid just plain tap or bottled water.
Many of us may be at risk for adverse health effects and not even know it! That is why it is important to learn about how our water supplies have a role to play in this.
Water is an essential ingredient to life; it’s what gives us vitality and keeps us well, and keeps our planet alive! Despite this, we failed to give it the respect it deserves.
Not only do we pollute nature’s water sources, but we may well be polluting our own sources of water that we rely on…
What Does a Water Filter Do?
Water filters are becoming increasingly common and are used as an effective method to remove impurities from water:
- Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s)
- BPA and Microplastics
- Heavy Metals
- And more…
People therefore use water filters as devices designed to improve the nutritional content and safety of drinking water, including for houses, commercial property, and when out and about.
Unknown to many people, there are multiple potential adverse health effects to tap water and even to bottled water.
Hundreds of chemicals are added into our drinking water, and some of these are particularly more harmful than others. Despite the necessity to drink a lot of water on a daily basis (which we should), we often remain unaware of the risks and possible negative health effects incurred by our most common supplies.
That’s because we’re not told about them…
Here we will be covering just a few of the main chemicals and harmful substances found in our water supplies, before addressing the water filters best suited for removing them.
Fluoride – Necessary or Not?
In the early 20th century, researchers noticed a correlation between areas with higher levels of fluoride in water and reduced levels of cavities in children in those areas.
Because of this, fluoride was added to water supplies to see if if the same results occurred.
And indeed, a higher amount of children did have a reduced amount of tooth cavities.
However, there is no research indicating that the same effects occur in adults.
In countries without fluoridated water, levels of tooth decay have still drastically decreased to this day – very similarly to the countries with fluoridated water (^).
This tells us that we actually don’t need the fluoride in the water for the reasons that it is often added.
Nowadays, fluoridated toothpaste is widespread and helps to prevent cavities in children and adults. Additionally, a healthy diet and lifestyle goes a very long way in achieving the same goal. There are many other cost-effective and rational ways to prevent tooth decay without ingesting harmful chemicals. (Chemicals which we really don’t know enough about).
- Skeletal fluorosis
- Dental fluorosis
- Reduced cognitive health
- Reduce levels of beneficial fats, proteins, and enzymes in the brain
In order to prevent the onset of any of these, reducing or eliminating the amount of fluoride you consume is certainly beneficial.
About 10% of the UK and 73% of the US receive fluoridated tap water. You can check online if you do. Keep in mind though, that some bottled water also contains fluoride.
Fortunately, we can reduce harmful fluoride from our water sources. This is a major reason why to use water a filter in your house and when you’re travelling!
Chlorine and Its Byproducts
Another chemical on which little research has been conducted is chlorine. That which has been conducted seems to be inconclusive on the matter of how chlorine really affects our health.
Some research suggests that the chlorination of water can help to prevent certain adverse health effects such as skin infections. Water suppliers add it to water to kill certain bacteria as a method to prevent illness and has greatly reduced the number of cholera incidents.
However, whilst may be an effective method of disinfecting water, once it enters the body and is digested, it can have adverse health effects.
Similarly, external exposure to chlorinated water also has its risks. The biggest risk of chlorine is its byproducts. Disinfectant byproducts (DBP’s) from chlorine such as trihalomethane, dibromoacetic acid, and haloacetic acids have been associated with multiple adverse effects.
Studies have linked irritative, toxicological, mutagenic, genotoxic, and carcinogenic properties of these chemicals to an increased risk of:
- Bladder cancer (^)
- Colorectal cancer (^)
- Colon cancer (^)
- Neurotoxicity (in animal studies) (^)(^)
- Respiratory, skin, and eye irritation (^)
More research is needed for conclusive evidence and to learn more about how DBP’s may also affect health.
How to Reduce Exposure
You may suspect that reducing chlorine and DBP’s are important reasons to use a water filter.
But, we can do multiple things to reduce our internal exposure to these chemicals. One is boiling, which removes chlorine from the water and its byproducts. However, we can’t always consider this to be cost or energy efficient, especially if we drink a lot of fluids. And, we can’t exactly boil are bath or shower water now, can we!
Therefore, we can reduce these most efficiently by using effective water filters. This is not only often faster, but saves money and energy. But not
all filters will remove these chemicals, so to find out which ones do, you can visit our post on the top water filters (next post, unreleased)…
Bisphenol-A (BPA) Plastic in water
You may not ask “Should you use a water filter?” when we have bottled water, right? Wrong…
The demand for bottled water has increased significantly from the
Many people believe that it is a healthier option than tap water, such as due to the mineral content. People often may associate bottled water with higher levels of minerals than tap water. This simply isn’t true.
Bottled water is even more open to containing chemical and other contaminants than tap water. Not only this, but it isn’t environmentally friendly, and usually cost between 500 to 1,000 times more than tap water! This, at least, is true for countries where tap water is actually drinkable.
Bisphenol-A / BPA is a type of polycarbonate plastic commonly found in food packaging and in water bottles. We also use it in non-food related industries, such as electrical and motor vehicle services. Despite it being an environmental concern, it does perform well in multiple uses. Because of its versatility, it is still widely used today. However, there are safety concerns about its use in drink bottles, as it can leach chemicals. At the same time, we can even find it in unfiltered tap water.
How Does BPA Affect Health?
BPA is structurally very similar to synthetic oestrogen and therefore has been shown to activate oestrogen receptors (alpha and beta). Because of this, it can interfere with signalling pathways for the hormone.
It is considered to be an ‘endocrine disruptor’. This can exhibit toxic effects, linking BPA to a host of hormone and reproduction-related (and other) adverse health effects (^)*:
- Endocrine disorders (including male and female infertility)* (^)
- Endometrium, ovary, breast, and prostate cancers* (^)
- The interfered function of reproductive organs* (^)
- Decreased testosterone production*
- Impaired androgen (a male reproductive hormone) function*
- Liver cancer (^)
As you can see, the adverse effects of BPA are highly detrimental to both women and men, being particularly toxic to reproductive organs. In developing children, these effects would naturally also be detrimental. Especially so considering that BPA may also effect development, metabolism, and asthma (^).
How to Reduce BPA Exposure
There is good new though! We can effectively reduce BPA water levels, and significantly reduce our intake. And I bet you know how! Firstly, you can the bottled water! There are a variety of useful safer bottles, which can save a lot of money too.
The best bet is to use a water filter though. Tap water may also contain BPA, which is why to use a water filter instead of relying on non-bottled water.
Some bottles come with built-in filters, which we’ll speak about in our next post.
Pesticides are organic or synthetic chemicals used to kill pests which feed on our crops.
They can be classified as Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s).
Unfortunately, although may help to protect our crops from parasites and insects, they can harm the environment, ecosystems, non-target animals, and human health.
There are safer alternatives to many of the chemicals which we currently use. As the knowledge and application of organic agricultural methods increase, hopefully the future will be free of these pesticides.
When it comes to why you should use a water filter, pesticides are a driving reason. Even if you eat organically, you will still likely be exposed to pesticides through your water supplies and the environment.
Global circulation has actually lead pesticides to be found in many even rural places across the planet. Researchers estimate that the amount of pesticides allowed by European Standards in agricultural land will be surpassed by actual amounts in 65% of such land. This could go up to 10 times above standards in 25% of the land (^)!
Types of Pesticides
The harmful effects of chemical pesticides have been well documented in some cases, and still need more research in others.
Many people in America would have heard of the brand “Roundup”, and another countries you may have too.
It is a glyphosate herbicide that has caused cancer cases in people and has lead to a lot of tension and upset, including with lawsuits. Honestly, it is surprising that these are still allowed in the market.
Glyphosate is a potent chemical which has been related to many adverse health effects. Studies have correlated it not only to cancer, but also hypertension, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, strokes, obesity, IBD, and much more.
Sadly, we have found in water, food, and in our bodies (^).
Carbamate pesticides are another class of pesticides which may help lead to numerous adverse health effects.
Examples include neurodegeneration and cancer, along with neurobehavioural effects. They have also been studied particularly for their endocrine disrupting activities (^)(^) and the ability to negatively affect reproductive health (^)*.
Interestingly, several types of carbonates may be reduced in water with the addition of chlorine. But, this is only chlorine in its pure chemical form, and chlorine poses own health risks, too. We can achieve this same effect with ozone instead (^).
Other potentially harmful chemical pesticides which we can find in drinking water include organophosphates* and organochlorine. Studies indicate numerous adverse effects from all of these chemicals in humans (^).
Certain water filters can effectively reduce or eliminate the levels of these pesticides in our drinking water. This is an important reason to use a water filter for your daily purposes.
In addition to what we have covered already, there is also a large amount of toxic metals which we could be removing from our water!
The list of reasons for why you should use a water filter does go on… And here we will briefly explain some of the metals found in water supplies. Water is one of the body’s most powerful natural detoxifiers. This includes its ability to remove toxic metals from our system. Unfortunately, they can also add them…
Lead is a highly toxic metal which we can unfortunately sometimes find in in our water supplies. This is often due to the corrosion of pipes and influence from external sources.
Lead poisoning is a major public health concern, and sometimes may be cause by drinking water. If the amounts are detected and considered toxic, warnings and actions to fix the problem would be an urgent matter. Fortunately, this is uncommon.
Sometimes, however, long-term exposure to amounts considered “insignificant” could potentially lead to adverse health effects.
- Oxidative stress
- Reduced calcium levels
- Impaired respiratory health
- Compared reproductive house
- Increased blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Reduced brain function and mental health
- Kidney damage
- And more…
We can prevent and combat lead toxicity with a healthy diet high in certain antioxidants. These include flavonoids, vitamins B, C, and E, quercetin, curcumin, and alpha lipoic acid. Other herbal antioxidants have been shown to be effective, too (^).
However, a preventative focus on all adverse health effects is a key component to a healthy lifestyle. Investing in one’s own and others’ health isn’t just common sense, it is wisdom. Several water filters reduce and prevent lead levels in water. This is therefore an important answer to our question of why to use a water filter.
Although we find mercury at much lower concentrations than we do lead, and its toxicity from water is less common, it is still a valid concern. Most of the time, the mercury content of drinking water isn’t enough to cause significant health effects. However, if you commonly get exposure to mercury from other sources, reducing your amount is important.
These are some common sources of mercury:
- Fish high in mercury
- Tuna – especially bigeye or bluefin but not so much skipjack
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Old-fashioned thermometers (nowadays, mercury is used in these as much)
- Broken fluorescent bulbs (these contain a very small amount of mercury, but for those often exposed to such products they should be considered)
- Industrial situations where mercury is often used
Long-term exposure mercury in drinking water may exhibit toxic effects to developmental and reproductive health (^), and/or induce mercury poisoning. It should be avoided as much as possible in pregnancy and by infants and children (^)(^).
The most common form of human exposure to mercury is that of methylmercury – a synthetic and highly toxic chemical. It is harmful in neurological and physiological ways (^).
Not All Water Filters Do The Same Things!
As simple as it is to say that we should use a water filter, there are many different types.
Some will not remove chlorine, and others will not remove VOC’s, and so on. This is because the chemicals found in our drinking water are varied and often quite different. Therefore, it’s important to know what filters to go for, and as luck would have it we’ve made it easier for you!
Summary – Is It Worth Using a Water Filter?
There are many reasons why using water filters is highly beneficial. Both in and out of the household, many should consider using them.
The benefits of water filters correlate with increased health and illness prevention. They are efficient devices for greatly reducing the amount of harmful toxins and substances we consume.
Additionally, water filters may be more eco-friendly and cost-effective than relying on bottled drinks to be healthy (which often aren’t).
We need water. It’s essential for health. In modern days, it is nonetheless a large source of toxins. Therefore, using a water filter to remove these goes very long way in protecting our health.
You can reduce harmful effects and the true benefits of water. Remember though, that different water filters do different things.
Some are more effective than others, and some are cheaper. There is a lot of confusion about the matter, and in this post on ‘The Top Water Filters’, we get to explore it in some more detail.
Water filters should be used; they’re worth it! The sooner we all embrace them, the better.
That’s it for this article. If you learned anything new, please do let me know in the comments below, and share this article with your friends and family on social media. 🙂
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Until next time, stay healthy
Water filters are becoming increasingly common and are used as an effective method to remove many toxins. Different types remove different contaminants, commonly including: Bacteria, Fluoride, Chlorine, Sediment, Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC’s), and Heavy Metals. Water filters therefore are devices designed to improve the nutritional content and safety of drinking water, including for the whole house or when out and about.