I often get the question, “Should I get my water tested?”
This is a great question, because it shows that you are aware that you may have dangerous contaminants in your water without your knowledge.
Remember that unbeknownst to them, thousands of people in Flint, MI were drinking water with dangerously high levels of lead for over a year. Unfortunately, many children were permanently affected by this contamination.
This scenario plays out every day all across the country. After the Flint, MI discovery, USA Today did an investigation and found that over 2,000 locations across the USA also had (and have) high levels of lead in the water. Some of these locations had much higher levels of lead than Flint, MI!
It’s not just lead that you have to worry about either. Water can be contaminated with pesticides, solvents and countless other chemicals.
Many people have been diagnosed with a particular type of cancer that is common in their area. Why would a type of cancer be common in a specific area? Environmental contamination, such as a chemical spill that taints the water supply. A famous example is the high rates of cancer and Lou Gehrig’s disease at the Marine Base at Camp Lejeune.
The fact is that there are many such cancer clusters all across the USA.
So the obvious question to ask is, “Is my water safe?”
This is a straightforward question, and you’d expect the answer to also be straightforward, but it’s not. The fact is, it depends upon your definition of the word “safe”.
You may have heard your local government say that the water in your area is safe to drink. So that means that it doesn’t have harmful contaminants in it, right? Not necessarily.
The government only regulates about 100 contaminants that can be in water, but the EPA acknowledges that there are tens of thousands of chemicals that could be in water supplies. In fact, there are a number of cities across the USA that have high levels of dangerous chemicals in the water, yet the water is declared “safe” to drink.
The government chooses to use the LEGAL definition of the word “safe” (which they define). I personally choose to use the English language definition of the word “safe”, which means, “free from harm”, or as it pertains to water; “free from harmful contaminants”. I think you agree that this is the right definition to use.
So, based on this definition, is my water safe?
You can’t taste contaminants. Taste, odor and appearance simply cannot be relied upon to detect the broad spectrum of contaminants that may be in your water. Some of the new chemicals can be extremely toxic in very tiny amounts. Dioxin, for example, is dangerous in levels of parts per quadrillion or even quintillion.
Yes, you can get your water tested by a laboratory, but remember these two points…
- Testing is incomplete.
Even when cities test their water, they are only testing for some contaminants and they don’t test for others. There are a huge number of possible contaminants that could be in the water and you simply can’t check for them all.
- Water quality changes.
Test results are a snapshot in time of water quality at that location. Water is fluid. It changes. There are seasonal changes in pesticide use, chlorine use and biological contamination. Water lines can break, businesses can have back flows in which some chemical that they are using actually goes backwards in the water line and contaminates the water downstream. The possibilities for contamination are endless.
How can we know?
The fact is, it’s basically impossible to know what is in your tap water right now. You don’t know, nor does the government know.
The only way to really know what is in (or not) in your water is to purify it with the best means possible. You may choose to use a combination of filters and reverse osmosis, which can be effective, but will product variable results. The best way to remove contaminants, however, is distillation. This is a fact that every legitimate scientist will agree with.
The answer to the question, “Should I have my water tested?” is that it depends.
- If you choose to use a filter or reverse osmosis to purify your water, yes you will need to get your water tested. There are different filters for different types of contaminants, and in order to design the right water filter system, you will first need to know what is in the water.
- If you are using a good water distiller for all of your consumable water needs (drinking, cooking, ice, etc) you probably don’t need a water test. A water distiller is a broad spectrum purification method, so it, combined with a carbon filter (all good distillers also come with a carbon filter) will provide the highest level of protection possible.
- If you are on well water, you will want to get it tested even if you have a water distiller, because you may need to treat the water for non-consumable uses, such as showers and washing your hands. For example, if your well has high levels of bacteria, you may need a chlorination system for non-consumable water (you won’t need to pre-chlorinate water going into your distiller).
- Finally, if it will give you great peace of mind, yes, get your water tested.
If you want to get a premium water distiller for your home, I recommend this brand.
Do you have any additional questions? Ask them in the comments below.