Considering how difficult it is for millions of people around the world to find safe drinking water every day, it seems like a luxury that we are able to simply turn the tap on in our homes and have immediate access to pure drinking water. But how pure is it, really?
Water utilities nationwide spend $50 billion each year treating our drinking water and another $207 million protecting water sources from runoff contamination, and yet when we discover what’s still in the tap water we’re drinking, we realize it’s far from “pure.” Much of the problem stems from a lack of oversight at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the largely toothless regulation mandate by which it operates.
After analyzing 20 million tap water quality tests over the course of five years, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found 316 contaminants of which more than 200 were unregulated by the EPA in the water of 45 states. The contaminants included toxins like industrial solvents, weed killers, refrigerants, perchlorate (used in rocket fuel), amongst others. The chemicals came from a variety of sources such as agriculture, factory discharge, consumer products, urban runoff, and wastewater treatment plants. At the release of the findings, Jane Houlihan, Senior Vice President of Research at EWG, stated, “It’s not uncommon for people to drink tap water laced with 20 or 30 chemical contaminants. This water may be legal, but it raises serious health concerns.”
Results from a smaller test of 25 municipal water utilities conducted jointly by the EPA and the US Geological Survey (USGS) were just as bad and included 251 chemicals, bacteria, and viruses. Some of the toxic substances included arsenic, barium, and strontium (heavy metals), metolachlor and atrazine (herbicides), isophorone and bromoform (industrial solvents), triclosan (a carcinogenic anti-bacterial agent found in dish and hand soaps), polyfluorinated compounds, benzotriazole methyl-1H (rust/corrosion inhibitor), pharmaceuticals and psychiatric drugs like antidepressants and lithium, and caffeine. Polyfluorinated compounds, chemicals used in the manufacturing of non-stick and stain-resistant food packaging, fabrics, and cookware, have been linked to testicular and kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, and thyroid disease.
It’s widely known that activated carbon filtration, ozone, and UV treatments are the best and safest ways of removing chemicals and microbes from water, but these processes are costly, so the vast majority of municipalities add chlorine, chlorine dioxide, or chloramines (chlorine and ammonia) to their water to kill pathogens.
There are several problems with this. Extreme care must be taken because adding too much chlorine will make the water even more toxic than it already is. Because it’s impossible to put in enough chlorine to kill 100% of the bacteria and viruses, microbe populations are only brought down to “safe” levels with chlorine, meaning every glass of tap water consumed will always contain some level of pathogens.
The biggest danger with chlorine is that it interacts with other organic and inorganic chemicals already in the water to create new dangerous compounds called disinfection byproducts (DBPs) like trihalomethanes (THMs), which produce large amounts of free radicals that create extensive cell damage. In fact, studies have shown that drinking chlorinated water doubles the chances of bladder and rectal cancer.
Perhaps the only thing less effective than modern water treatment technology and protocol is the regulation that governs it. At present, the EPA regulates 87 contaminants in drinking water across six categories: micro-organisms, disinfectants, disinfectant byproducts, organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, and radionuclides (radioactive particles). That sounds like a thorough approach until we recall that the EWG water analysis found over 200 elements from those same categories that the EPA does not regulate at all.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1996 requires the EPA to evaluate contaminants in tap water. The problem is that the agency is mandated to conduct an analysis every five years and regardless of how many contaminants are found, they’re only required to make regulatory determinations on five of them. The key word here is determination, not regulatory. Upon reviewing their results, the EPA could determine that a specific chemical or microbe needs no regulation. So the SDWA doesn’t mandate the EPA to reduce or even remove contaminants from drinking water, but to simply make determinations about them. These requirements can include the determination to stop regulating a certain contaminant, as well. Because of this, all contaminants not on the EPA regulation list (of which there are hundreds) have no limit in drinking water, and the agency doesn’t even have to monitor them.
It’s also important to note that at present, the EPA does not regulate pharmaceuticals in drinking water. Traces of painkillers, sex hormones, and cardiac medications can easily find their way into the public system via urination, flushing pills down the toilet, etc., causing millions of people to receive minute doses of them every day through their tap water.
Bottled water would seem to be the answer, however, over time the cost adds up. And unless the label says spring water, the product is most likely tap water. At the same time, bottled water has fewer regulations than tap water regarding contaminants since tap water is regulated by the EPA, and bottled water is regulated by the FDA as a food product. Because of this distinction, the FDA cannot require certified lab testing of the water or mandate violation reporting. In addition, the FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water was sourced, how it was treated or what contaminants it contains.
Since the early 20th century, water companies have been adding sodium fluoride to their water. This is the same stuff that’s in toothpaste and also happens to be the active ingredient in pesticides created to kill rats, roaches, and lice. In fact, fluoride is so toxic that if you look on the back of your toothpaste tube, you’ll see that it says it should be kept out of the reach of children under the age of six, and that if more than the traditional pea-size portion should be swallowed, poison control is to be called immediately.
There is an exhaustive amount of information about the dangers of fluoride and the corporate corruption that caused it to be added to our water. You can find the full story in any number of excellent documentaries online or Christopher Bayson’s book, The Fluoride Deception. In short, sodium fluoride is an industrial waste product derived from fertilizer manufacturing plants. After a few company-sponsored scientific studies concluded that fluoride was harmless, government and corporate interests conspired to allow this industrial waste to be disposed of into the nation’s water supply. Research has clearly shown fluoride has neurotoxic effects that negatively impact learning and memory, and can lower IQ in children.
Keeping It Clean
Based on the mounting evidence, it’s clear why fluoride has been banned in countries like China and Japan, as well as all of Scandinavia and Europe. Until the US decides to do the same, here are 10 tips to avoid fluoride and toxic tap water:
1 | Drink reverse osmosis, deionized, or distilled water, as these are the only methods that will remove fluoride from water. Add a pinch of sea salt to remineralize it.
2 | If choosing bottled water, always go for spring water, preferably a European brand. Unless the label says spring water, it’s just purified tap water.
3 | Check out reverse osmosis or deionized water systems and filters for your whole home. They can be costly but are one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
4 | Avoid commercial beverages in stores and restaurants, as well as foods packed in water. Buy juices only if the labels states “Not from concentrate” ensuring it’s 100% juice with no water added.
5 | Drink wine and beer imported from Europe.
6 | Get a fluoride-free toothpaste. Tom’s and Essential Oxygen have good choices. Instead of commercial mouthwashes, use food grade hydrogen peroxide at 3%, not the kind from the drugstore, as they contain chemical stabilizers.
7 | Never use tap water to make baby formula! For a great baby formula recipe, visit the Weston A. Price foundation website.
8 | Never get fluoride gel treatments at the dentist. Try to find a holistic dentist that does not use fluoride products.
9 | Check out your medications for any ingredient that contains the prefix fluo, aka: fluoride. Ask your doctor for an alternative.
10 | Avoid black and green teas, as they are high in fluoride.
For more information on Dr. Sadeghi’s services and public presentations please visit him at Be Hive of Healing Integrative Medical Center. You can also sign up for his monthly holistic health newsletter or get a copy of his yearly wellness journal, MegaZEN. Dr. Sadeghi is also the author of two books, Within: A Spiritual Awakening to Love and Weight Loss, and The Clarity Cleanse: 12 Steps to Finding Renewed Energy, Spiritual Fulfillment, and Emotional Healing.