For most of us, from the time we were kids we were told to “drink more water”. And at this point in our development as a species, I think its safe to say that the jury is in on the widespread benefits of staying adequately hydrated. And water is commonly thought to be among the healthiest drinks out there. But have you ever wondered about what is actually in the tap water we’re being told to drink more of?
If you have, the Environmental Working Group’s website might be a good place to start. The EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment by providing research and information into various consumer products and environmental systems that impact our lives every day – including the water we drink from our taps.
Running Wheeling through EWG’s database revealed some rather disturbing results, including 21 total contaminants, 11 of which exceed EWG’s health guidelines. These contaminants include known or suspected carcinogens like bromodichloroethane (found at a level 259 times the EWG guideline), Chloroform (59 times the guideline), trihalomethane (333 times the EWG guideline); and the Erin Brokovich chemical - hexavalent Chromium (at 8.9 times the guidelines); among others. And this is not to pick on the City of Wheeling in the least. I have no doubt that our municipal system is well-managed by caring individuals. You can put basically any city in America into this database and get similar exceedences. I’m also sure that most municipal water systems do the best they can to manage the tremendous amount of contamination and pollution of our waterways from over a century of industrial processes that are forever fixated on maximizing economic growth. But there are limits to what can be done at the municipal level.
Fortunately, at the home level, all of these contaminants can be removed from your water through a variety of different filtration methods. A reverse osmosis filtration system remains the gold standard for removal of all of the contaminants identified in Wheeling’s municipal system, but there are a number of activated carbon and ion exchange systems that can remove many of these contaminants as well. And I would encourage anyone who is a heavy tap water drinker to further investigate what’s in your water and consider ways to ensure that the water you’re drinking is truly a healthy choice.