Water is one of those things that are taken for granted each and every day.
Next time you leave a tap running for no apparent reason, remember that some families in the world get their water from muddy well which they have to carry by the bucket home.
While technology has enabled developed countries to get access to water from the comfort of home, it is not always safe for consumption.
Even if the best professionals undertook the best setup possible for a water distribution system, there will always be a chance that contaminants can still get into the water and make everyone sick.
We will first take a look at the common contaminants found in water and how they got in there in the first place, then briefly discuss DIY remedies often used at home, after which describe which remedies are used to remove which contaminants.
Common water contaminants
The following are often found in high levels when water is contaminated.
Ever since links have been found between asbestos and high cancer rate, it has become one of the things that every homeowner need to take note of.
This is because they were commonly used in construction of houses after World War 2 and before 1980. That’s quite a huge time period to account for.
Asbestos is a natural carcinogen and usually made it’s way into the water supply via asbestos cement used on plumbing pipes.
2) Bacteria and parasites
Non lethal chemicals have been added to water for as long as we can remember to remove the risks of germs and bacteria from household water.
Chlorine is one example is commonly used as a disinfectant to kill these pathogens including viruses.
But despite all the efforts being put in by the authorities and the general public, we can never eliminate it completely from the water supply.
This is because contaminating organisms originate from animal and human waste. And they have a way of finding their way into groundwater.
Bacteria-laden water can cause various types of diseases.
Failed pipes can also be a source of contamination. So is water back-siphoning.
Water is a major source of our exposure to lead. They can cause serious health conditions that you don’t even want to read about.
Lead gets into the water system via corroded faucets, lead-based solder, and aged plumbing pipes.
Which every individual can suffer from lead poisoning, pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable.
4) Soft metals
By soft metals, I am referring to copper, aluminum, chromium and lead.
The most common medical condition that you’ve probably heard about is kidney problems.
Water don’t usually contain high amounts of metals. But they are able to accumulate in human tissue over time.
Water in agricultural areas are more prone to nitrate contamination than other urban areas.
This is because the biggest source of nitrate contamination is via nitrogen fertilizer runoff. Back siphoning at home can also cause nitrate into the water system.
You should be able to guess that the main source of pesticides come from industrial farms.
That’s why anyone should be particularly careful when consuming water in these areas. This is even more critical if the main water source is a well.
Radon is a hazardous substance that is more likely absorbed by humans through the air than water.
Nevertheless, when it gets into the water supply, people can still be affected when showering and washing.
They are usually cause by the house being in a area that is already experiencing high levels of radon.
While the following are remedies that homeowners often take to treat water, there will always be a risk of you doing everything wrong.
For example, installing a filter would be pointless if you don’t install it properly.
This method uses a filter cartridge that water has to pass through. The filter would then… as you expect… remove impurities from the water.
Popular types of filters used in households include:
- Activated alumina
- Synthetic fiber
- Granular activated carbon (GAC)
- Solid block carbon
No one filter will be able to remove everything. So you need to choose what you want removed from the water at home before deciding on what types of filters to buy.
If you intend to use a pitcher and faucet filter, do remember to change them regularly as recommended in the product descriptions.
Distillation is probably the closest way consumers can consume water in it’s purest form.
This is basically a process where water is heated up into vapor leaving behind all impurities. The vapor is then put through a process of condensation to produce liquid.
While this sound really cool and really healthy, it requires a huge amount of energy to produce sufficient drinking water for an average sized household.
Because of this, families who install equipment like these usually do it for one specific purpose or for a specific person who is already sick and need to drink cleaner water.
Disinfecting water basically refers to the use of chemicals to eliminate harmful bacteria from water.
Most, if not all, public water systems are required to disinfect water before pumping into homes of the general public. But families who depend on well water will have to disinfect their own water.
4) Reverse osmosis
This is a more high tech system to install at home.
Water is made to pass through semi-permeable membranes and carbon filters to sieve out all types of lighter pollutants that the regular filters can’t.
As this is a complex system, it is best to hire a professional to have it installed and properly setup.
5) Ion exchange
Also known as water softeners, ion exchange systems replace magnesium and calcium in water with potassium and sodium.
While I cannot quite understand how this is supposed to be more healthy as sodium is not exactly a healthy substance, many household are using them at home.
6) Bottled water
What better way to remove all your fear surrounding consuming water from the pipes than to get water properly bottled specifically for human consumption.
However, before going this route, remember that even though there are strict regulations regarding the production of bottled water, enforcing them is another issue altogether.
So do a check with how credible a supplier is and how their water is processed before buying them by the truckloads.
Remedies for water contaminants
Now that we have a general picture of the common contaminants found in water at home and the remedies often used, here is a breakdown of which is used for what.
|Asbestos||Adsorption, Reverse osmosis|
|Bacteria||Reverse osmosis, disinfection|
|Lead||Adsorption, distillation, reverse osmosis|
|Soft Metals||Adsorption, distillation, reverse osmosis|
There is some research conducted that claims development of sanitary water systems in the last century has increased the average life expectancy by decades.
Remember that if you are going to treat your water in a DIY manner, there will always be the risk that you might do something wrong.
So unless you know exactly what you are doing or there is someone who do to guide you, it’s better to leave this to the professionals.
The last thing you want is to go through with hassle of self-installation and still end up at the starting point. It would be even worse to consume water thinking that it is pollutant free when in fact it is not.