Do You Know What’s in Your Drinking Water?
If You’re Not Sure, You’re Not Alone.
A recent survey from NSF International found that most U.S. consumers (55 percent) are either concerned about or do not know what is in their drinking water. And of those who are concerned, nearly half “do not take steps to filter or treat their home’s drinking water.”
Contamination of your water supply can result from many sources including infrastructure, human activity or even naturally. This means that everything from the rainstorm last week to the pipes delivering your water impact what you actually drink. Even the chemicals used to clean your water make a difference.
With so many people worrying about the potential contaminants in their water, you would think that the ways to obtain water quality information and protect our families would be common knowledge, but the fact is that most of us don’t know where to start. We are here to help you.
Step One: Find Your CCR (Consumer Confidence Report)
If your water is connected to a municipality in the US, they are required to provide you with a Consumer Confidence Report each year. This water quality report tells you where your water is sourced from, what contaminants have been found, and how they rank against current EPA Standards. Reading this report will give you a baseline as to what is happening with the water supply in your area.
If you have additional concerns about contaminants specific to your home or contaminants imparted during transport to your home, you should go one step further and have your water tested. Many local water authorities provide contact information of local independent labs that will test your water for a fee. Alternatively, you can also purchase a DIY test kit from most home improvement stores or online.
If you choose the DIY route, make sure to get the right test for your concerns. A test for hard water doesn’t necessarily tell you if there are worrisome contaminants coming out of your faucet. A TDS Meter is also a poor measure of water quality, since it only tests for total dissolved solids (TDS). This is usually attributed to beneficial minerals (calcium, potassium and magnesium) that are known to support good health. It is important to find a testing kit that measures harmful contaminants of true concern.
“Most people purchase the wrong equipment because they skip this very important step, and then they’ve wasted money and resources on a system that isn’t making their water any safer.”James P. McMahon, Ecologist
Step Two: Find the Right Filter for Your Needs
Once you know what’s in your water, the next step is figuring out which filter is right for you. Unfortunately, not all water filters are created equally. Do your research and make sure that your choice addresses your actual filtration needs. If you’re worried about contaminants such as lead, mercury or pharmaceuticals, look for a water filter that’s more robust than one that only removes chlorine.
You’ll also want to determine what type of installation is best for your living situation. If you are a home owner, consider installing a whole house system in conjunction with an under-sink filter system. A whole house system generally targets common contaminants, such as chlorine, throughout your home, while a good point-of-use system will target a broader range of contaminants in your drinking water. If you are renting, a powerful countertop water filter may be your ideal solution.
Sadly, the water filtration industry is riddled with dishonest manufacturers who make false and/or misleading claims. Choosing a system that is independently validated by a trusted lab ensures that it’s gone through rigorous testing protocols. This will also confirm that the manufacturer’s contaminant reduction claims are accurate. Don’t risk your family’s health by assuming a system’s performance claims are true. Make sure it is independently tested and certified for NSF/ANSI Standards.
Step Three: Don’t Forget Your Shower
Now that you’ve found your filter of choice for drinking water, don’t forget about your shower. Chlorine absorption is often an overlooked culprit that strips away your body’s natural oils and proteins. This causes many of our dry skin, dull hair and weird rash frustrations. Installing a shower filter system that is certified for NSF/ANSI Standard 177 (Chlorine) can help alleviate these issues.