Making Green Living Logical

Water

Water

Water is a precious resource.  It seems abundant, and we are fortunate in Minnesota to have ample fresh, clean water available.  This is not the case everywhere.  Southern California also appears to have a large supply of water, with numerous swimming pools, spas, and lush green golf courses.  But the area is a desert by nature, and experiences severe drought much more often than we ever do here.


Even as endless as our water supply may seem, it is still precious.  Protecting it is vital to our health and survival.   Stringent industrial regulations help prevent hazardous and toxic compounds from contacting drinking water, and water treatment plants clean waste water and prepare it for use again.  But protection of the water supply from pollution is only part of our responsibility.  We must also preserve our water, and not waste it.


Below are a few of the concerns for fresh water in our area, both for human health and the environment.


Endocrine Disruptors:  Endocrine Disruptors are a group of man-made and naturally occurring chemicals that interfere with the endocrine system in both humans and animals.  Some of the common endocrine disruptors include pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A (BPA).  Endocrine disruptors may pose the greatest health risk during prenatal and early postnatal development when organ and neurological systems are forming.


Bisphenol A (BPA):  BPA is an ingredient used in some plastics.  It was used extensively in reusable plastic water bottles until it was determined to have potentially harmful effects that may include obesity, behavioral changes, diabetes, early onset puberty, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, reproductive disorders, and prostate, breast and uterine cancer.  Being sure to look for ‘BPA Free’ when buying plastic water bottles can help, but better yet is to use reusable stainless steel water bottles.  Aluminum water bottles are lined with a plastic coating to prevent corrosion, and these coatings can sometimes contain BPA as well.

Disinfection By-Products (DBPs):  Public drinking water systems are disinfected to control the growth of microorganisms and infectious diseases.  This disinfection is a necessary part of supplying clean drinking water.  A chlorine-based disinfectant is commonly used.  This disinfectant may react with the organic material in the water, such as decaying vegetation, to form DBPs.  Some of the common DBPs are bromodichloromethane, bromoform, chloroform, dichloroacetic acid, bromate, chlorite, and certain haloacetic acids.  Some DBPs have been shown to be carcinogenic or cause detrimental health effects in laboratory animals.  As with many environmental issues, there is some debate about how well animal studies correlate to human risk.  Until definitive answers are found, it may be prudent to avoid DPBs whenever possible.  Activated carbon filtration is a cost effective treatment option to reduce DBPs in your water.


While many people have turned to bottled water to avoid the potential hazards of city water systems, there are a few things to consider regarding bottled water.  Spring water and processed water may lack important minerals.  Some brands of bottle water are nothing more than city water, filtered and put into a bottle.  These are marketed as “purified drinking water”.  Being regulated by the FDA, not the EPA, bottled water is not often tested for safety, meaning the water may actually be less pure than local city water.  Some bottled waters have been tested and shown to contain higher levels of contaminants, and even chemicals not seen in municipal water supplies.  Bottles are made of petroleum products and often do not get recycled.  The best option is to use a home treatment system and reusable water bottles.  

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