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IN SEARCH OF PURE WATER
A CASE FOR WATER FILTERS

The statistics surrounding the global “water footprint” are grim. According to CDC, over one billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. Every 8 seconds, a child dies from contaminated water, and twenty-five million people--the entire population of Canada--die each year from contaminated water. In developing countries, polluted water is the leading cause of deadly epidemics, such as cholera, E.coli, and typhoid. Yet, even within developed countries, ensuring access to healthy water is proving more and more difficult. In the United States alone, over 60,000 chemicals are used, yet an outdated law regulates only 91 of them. Additionally, each year, nearly 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial water are discharged in U.S. waters. The EPA warns that sewage levels in U.S. rivers could reach “super-polluted” levels by 2016. Ironically, efforts to clean and purify drinking water supplies introduces a whole set of new dangerous environmental pollutants, including carcinogenic chlorine by-products, such as bromate, chlorite, haloacetic acid (HAA5) and total trihalomethanes (THMs).

In addition to increasingly polluted water supplies, the U.S. uses more water than twice the world average. To put the amount in perspective, an average African family uses about 5 gallons of water a day. The average American family uses more than 250 gallons a day. Disturbingly, the EPA estimates that Americans annually take 40 trillion gallons of the water from the ground, and the rate is increasing by 25% each decade. Scientists argue that ground water is being both polluted and used at such a massive rate, that nature is becoming unable to cope.

As concerns over the safety of drinking water grows, many people have turned to bottled water. As the ubiquitous water bottle suggests, the industry has grown exponentially, generating billions of dollars in profit annually. Despite its dramatic increase in popularity, however, bottled water does not guarantee safer water than tap water. In fact, according to the U.S. FDA, Americans are being “defrauded” by bottled water companies who claim their brands are safer than tap water. Scientists have also raised the alarm about a class of carcinogenic chemicals called phthalates, which can leach from the plastic in water bottles into the water. Phthalates are a known hormone disrupter and have been implicated with rising male infertility rates, damage to reproductive organs and development, premature breast development, and miscarriage.

While bottled water is often no healthier than tap water, it is has had a devastating impact on the environment. Globally, approximately 200 billion water bottles are used annually, and, in the United States alone, 50 billion water bottles are used per year. Unfortunately, though each plastic bottle takes approximately 500 million years to decompose, nearly 90% of water bottles are not recycled. Additionally, the bottled water industry in the U.S. not only releases nearly 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, but it also uses more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually.

The most environmentally friendly and safest way to ensure healthy drinking water is a good water filtration system. Water filters have minimal environmental impact because they can reduce toxicity while at the same time embrace practicality, reusability, sustainability, as well as efficiently use energy. Depending on the water filter, a filter can remove many environmental toxins from tap water, including carcinogenic chlorine by-products, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, herbicides, benzene, and radon. To ensure that your water filter is performing to its full potential, it is important to make sure that it is removing contaminants of concern specific to your drinking water supply (see your local annual water quality report), that it is NSF certified, and that the filter is maintained according to manufacture recommendations.

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