Water is the most important substance you ingest, and the substance you ingest the most often. Your body is composed of over 70 percent water and maintaining that level of hydration is essential. More than merely a matter of survival, though, you want your water to be clean, healthy, and good tasting. Properly filtering that water before you drink it is the best way to ensure that it meets these standards. Here are six common reasons why you should filter your water.
1. Filtering Out Sediment and Debris
At their most fundamental level, water filtration systems use mechanical filters made of metal, fabric, paper, or ceramic in order to remove larger contaminants from water supplies. Sediment impurities such as dirt, clay, and silt can enter a household water supply from municipal pipes or wells. When present they can make water taste particularly gritty and muddy. They can also cause blockages in your home’s pipes as they build up over time.
2. Lowering Mineral Levels
Most water entering your house carries minerals such as iron, calcium, and manganese, from pipes, well walls, and the ground. While these will not usually present a hazard to your health—unless they are present in excess—they can cause a range of other problems with your water. Most will ruin the flavor of your water, giving it a metallic or bitter taste. Not only is this water unpleasant to drink, it will spoil your meals if used for cooking. In addition, minerals of any kind can accumulate inside your home’s pipes as a scale or sludge. This build-up will, like sediment, eventually clog the pipes, reducing or even blocking entirely your water pressure and requiring costly repairs and cleaning from a plumbing contractor. Excessive mineral levels can cause other problems as well. For example, iron and manganese will leave unsightly stains on clothing, porcelain, glass, and ceramicware that is washed in water that contains high levels of them.
3. Cleaning Out Harmful Pathogens
Harmful pathogens such as parasites and bacteria like E. coli can thrive in water, particularly water that originates in ground sources or public water supplies and is carried into your home in the darkened environment of pipes and wells underground. Each year, over 1.1 million people succumb to viruses in public water supplies. Some parasites, such as cryptosporidium, which can cause profound gastrointestinal distress, cannot be removed with chemical treatments such as chlorine; they require removal by filtration. Similarly, the microscopic parasite Giardia intestinalis, which derives from feces in the ground, can linger in a water supply for months. Without a suitably fine filtration system, equipped with a micro-, ultra-, or nano-filter, these contaminants can enter your drinking water and cause serious medical complications.
4. Eliminating Chlorine
If your water is supplied by a municipal water utility, it is most likely high in chlorine. Companies use this disinfectant for a variety of reasons: not only does it eliminate most bacteria and many viruses that can live in water, it is relatively inexpensive. But these benefits come at a cost. Chlorinated water tastes and smells like chemicals, and when it comes into contact with certain metals the reaction can produce dangerous compounds. More problematically, when chlorine enters the human body, it produces acids that can corrode cells and potentially lead to certain kinds of cancers. An effective filtration system that uses activated carbon eliminates the taste and smell of chlorine, and removes it from the water, while still retaining its cleaning properties.
5. Removing Heavy Metals
Lead and mercury poisoning can lead to profound illness, cognitive impairment, and potentially permanent brain damage, miscarriage, kidney disease, and blindness. Other heavy metals, such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, nickel, and copper, can accumulate in the body and lead to a host of other medical problems. Old pipes and soldering may contain lead which can leach into your water supply. Without a reverse osmosis or suitably fine carbon filtration system in place, lead or mercury contamination can make your water toxic.
6. Preventing Chemical Poisoning
Pesticides, herbicides, and other toxic chemicals used in agricultural, gardening, and lawncare applications since the mid-20th century contain volatile organic compounds that easily dissolve in water. Because of how long these chemicals have been in use, their build-up in groundwater, reservoirs, and other water sources is often at dangerous levels. Other chemicals that can enter water supplied through human activities include plastics and discarded pharmaceuticals, such as birth control pills and antidepressants. Filtering water through active carbon and other systems can remove many of these chemicals, making the water safe to drink.
Water filtration systems are affordable and easy to install, they can prolong the life of home appliances and pipes, and they are far more carbon neutral than bottled water. The costs of not using them can include poorly flavored water, damage to your plumbing, and potentially prolonged medical complications. With one place, though, you will be able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that you and your family are drinking water that is both better tasting and better for you.