Water Issues-An Article From

 the Environmental Defense Org.

Art use generously allowed by Helen Zughaib Ⓒ - title is Mishwaral Elayn

From an article in the June 2000 Newsletter of the Environmental Defense Organization

Contaminated water does not necessarily look, smell or taste any different than clean water and your supply can even be affected by a home's aging lead pipes, lead solder or brass fittings. State health departments can test your water, as can private laboratories. You can also learn about your water from federally mandated Consumer Confidence Reports, which are distributed by larger water utilities.

There is no problem-free way to disinfect public drinking water, especially when it has to travel long distances. Most communities rely on chlorination but Environmental Defense prefers non-chlorinated water treatment because chlorination can produce carcinogenic contaminants.

If you get your water from a well, you should have it tested if it's near a chemical facility, pipeline or livestock confinement area, within 50 feet of a septic tank, or near a junkyard or road-salt storage site. For well owners (about 95 percent of rural residents), the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its cooperative extension agencies maintains a program called Home*A*Syst that offers a step-by- step tour of potential sources of well contamination.

Home water filters can do a good job of removing many contaminants. There's a bewildering variety to chose from, including under-the-sink models, carafes, and faucet-mounted units. The most expensive units are not necessarily the best.

According to Consumers Union, even inexpensive carafes ($10 to $30) effectively filter lead and chloroform (a chlorine byproduct). Remember to replace the disposable filter in these units. It loses effectiveness after a month or two.

Message in a Bottle Consumers who don't trust their public water (or don't like its taste) are increasingly turning to bottled water as an alternative. More than 80 million Americans drink bottled water regularly, with sales topping $4 billion in 1998. It turns out, however, that up to 40 percent of bottled water comes from the tap. Alaskan Falls water, for example, comes from the Worthington, OH, city water supply.

In a major loophole, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration excuses 70 percent of bottled water from regulation because it is packaged and sold within the same state. And when regulations are applied, they're often weaker than the standards governing urban tap water. Tests on 103 brands of bottled water found that a third had "significant contamination."

RESOURCES: The Clean Water Network, at (202) 289-2395, offers a $5 report with state-by-state breakdowns of water quality, including violations, enforcement and wetlands destruction.

The EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 can help you find a certified water testing laboratory in your area.

The Natural Resources Defense Council's report on bottled water, "Pure Drink or Pure Hype?" is available in a 209-page print version for $14 at (212) 727-4486, or can be found on the web (below).

For these and other resources on the web, see http://www.environmentaldefense.org/more/10520.

--By Jim Motavalli

Ann's NOTE: I began using a steam distiller to produce water in the fall of 1995, after a first recurrence of breast cancer. My new home in Florida (built from scratch) contains a fully filtered system that yields water without chlorine (one of my 'sensitivities') from all taps and has a special output for distilled quality water at the kitchen sink. Luckily I could afford it.

A former "store bought purified water" purchaser

Cancer survivor's view of a countertop distiller

Tools for Healthy Air & Water

A catalogue, one of several that offer products like these

On Our Need for Water

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