Many of us drink tap water at home and in restaurants. We know that it’s safe to drink it in most of the places in America. Some of us may wonder what exactly is in the tap water but never bother to dig a little bit more. What is the source of our tap water and what chemical can we find in it? Are we sure that it is safe to consume? In this blog, we reveal what is hiding in tap water and what options are available for us besides tap water.
Tap water in Canada usually comes from three sources — lakes, rivers, and groundwater. Depending on where you are located, your tap water comes from a different source. For example, Toronto’s drinking water comes from Lake Ontario. That being said, If you live in Toronto, you are actually drinking Lake Ontario and 60 % of your body is made out of the water from it. Does it surprise you? You may even be scared as some of you may have seen the dirty side of the lake and wondered if your water is safe to drink anymore.
Here is what you need to know. Before water gets to your faucet, it is being sent from the source to a treatment facility to be treated. In the facility, it will go through a testing and filtration process that makes it safe to drink. The process may differ in different locations but usually, the treatment process involves four steps: coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection.
- Coagulation and flocculation: a process in which chemicals are added to the water to remove large debris. This process helps stick small particles together and form larger particles that can be filtered out easily. The common reagents added include aluminum salts, polymers, iron, activated carbons, talcum, and activated silica. When they bind together, they form a jelly-like substance that sticks larger particles together called “floc.”
- Sedimentation: this process occurs when water passes through settling basins and the floc settles to the bottom.
- Filtration: Once the floc has settled, the clear water at the top is then filtered to remove any fine particles, impurities, microorganisms, and bacteria.
- Disinfection: Before water is distributed, the water is disinfected by using chemicals such as chlorine to ensure any remaining bacteria, algae, and viruses are destroyed. Some cities (ex. Toronto) add fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
Nevertheless, Some cities test drinking water samples every day to make sure the water quality is good. For Toronto, the city tests every 6 hours.
But Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water? What’s Inside?
After all the processes that tap water goes through, it should be relatively safe as most of the impurities get treated. However, since water usually goes through the same pipe, it’s almost impossible that it is 100% safe and pure. Drinking water is becoming increasingly toxic worldwide because of ageing water pipes and chemical pollution. Not all of the toxins in the water get filtered out by treatment plants. Some of the most common contaminants that can be found in our tap water even after treatment include copper, iron, lead, pesticides, herbicides, uranium, and more. Each of these contaminants can pose dangerous side effects that you may not know of. For example, too much copper can damage the liver and kidney. Chloride, which is added to water, may link to bladder cancer as well as reproductive and developmental effects. Lead can also have severe effects such as lowering developing children’s IQ, pregnant women having a premature birth, and adults reproductive problems and decreased kidney function. As fluoride is added to water, it isn’t safe for pregnant women and babies anymore. Many European countries have actually banned water fluoridation.
Then what’s good about tap water? If you compared to other options such as bottled water, tap water is definitely a cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and convenient choice. Tap water also has beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and sodium which were all found to have levels high enough to support healthy intake.
Do we have other better options?
You may be thinking about bottled water but it is actually not safer than tap water. There is a common misconception that bottled water is cleaner but what you may not know is that some bottled water is just tap water that has been packaged and sold to you. In addition to that, bottled water creates plastic waste that harms the environment.
Springwater can be another option. This is water that comes from natural springs that are far away from human waste and surface contamination. Springwater is better than tap water because it does not travel through the same old pipes. Natural spring water is good for your health as it has a higher mineral concentration. The only thing is that this is rarely accessible for everyone.
Drinking tap water may expose you to contaminants but in some cases, it is the most affordable option. If the situation allows, you should purchase a water filtration system to further remove the contaminants in tap water. You can also buy a good water filter to get the same result. There are many affordable options available and you can check some of them in our store(link to our shop). Without a doubt, clean water is fundamental to humans and it is essential to nearly every part of our body. Even though it is fairly safe to drink tap water, it is always better to choose filtered water to avoid any potential health risks.
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By Maria Chen