Do You Know If Your Drinking Water is Contaminated?

Juanita Ruby

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The water purification process in the United States is complex. When you explain water purification to students, you should emphasize there are fewer water borne illnesses in this country than in many other areas of the world, but there are still some problems that need to be worked out.

Without visual aids it is difficult to explain water purification process, in its entirety. But, hopefully this will give you a general idea. There are variations in the techniques used by treatment facilities, but most include the following steps.

The original source of the water could be a man made lake. When it is first carried into the facility, it will contain large amounts of debris, such as mud, leaves and probably trash thrown in by uncaring individuals. A wire mesh traps the larger debris.

A process called coagulation causes smaller clumps to stick together and sink to the bottom of a tank, where they can be easily removed. Flocculation is usually used to clarify and then a variety of chemicals and filters are used to disinfect and remove tiny particulates.

Lime may be used to bind with certain contaminants. Chlorine is often used to disinfect or kill bacteria. When you explain water purification, you have to mention that there are drawbacks to chlorination.
Certain microscopic organisms are resistant to chlorine disinfection, so they are not removed. Drinking chlorinated water has been linked to numerous health problems including cancer.

The chlorine disinfection water purification process release by-products known as THMs, which have also been linked to cancer and are known to cause nerve damage. So, the maximum content of these and other chemicals is limited by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Once the chemical phase of the water purification process is complete, a series of sand filters are usually used and finally the water is tested to see if it meets EPA standards. When we explain water purification to adults and homeowners, we usually mention the controversies.

EPA “safe" standards were arrived at after considering what would be immediately toxic to a 175 pound adult. No considerations were made concerning the long term health effects of low level exposure. No considerations were made for children or smaller adults. Some say that the water purification process in this country needs to be upgraded and that standards need to be higher.

Another problem is that the tests results can be manipulated and inaccurate results reported. And still another problem is that there is no accounting for what gets into the supply as it passes through the pipes and into your kitchen tap. Since testing is done at the other end, there could be new contaminants when it completes its journey. The toxic metal lead, for example, has been found in the tap water in cities around the country. It is believed that lead lined copper pipes and lead solder joints are the cause.

When we explain water purification to children in major cities, we advise them not to drink unfiltered water, because of the dangers of lead poisoning. If ingested, it builds up in the system and even at a very low concentration it can cause major health problems. Many groups hope that old pipes will be replaced and that the water purification process will be improved, but in the meantime it is necessary to protect yourself and your children from the threats with a home filtration unit.

Juanita Ruby is passionate about healthy living. She knows our bodies are contain 70% water, thus the quality of our water is very important to our health and well being. Learn which water purification system she trusts for her family's health at


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