7 Common Contaminants In Water And Home Remedies To Treat Them

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.

1) Asbestos

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.

3) Lead

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.

5) Nitrates

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.

6) Pesticides

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.

7) Radon

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.

Home treatment

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.

1) Adsorption

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
  • etc

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.

2) Distillation

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.

3) Disinfection

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.

 Contaminant Remedy
Asbestos Adsorption, Reverse osmosis
Bacteria Reverse osmosis, disinfection
Lead Adsorption, distillation, reverse osmosis
Soft Metals Adsorption, distillation, reverse osmosis
Nitrates Reverse osmosis
Pesticides Adsorption
Radon Adsorption

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.

Manage The Risks Of Formaldehyde Exposure From Pressed Wood

Formaldehyde is a substance contained in the adhesives used to glue materials (usually wood) together. The end product are common home furniture we buy from the store without a care in the world.

This include the things we take for granted all over the place like the sofa set, coffee table, book cabinets, armchairs, etc.

Health

Exposure the fumes of formaldehyde can cause a variety of health issues like:

  • Nausea
  • Throat irritation
  • Wheezing
  • Rashes
  • Cancer in severe cases
  • etc

It’s a shame that back in the old days before we started to kill ourselves with man-made chemicals, furniture were made the traditional way.

They used solid pieces of wood cut out from trees and assembled with good-old trusty woodworking joints that can last for generations.

These days, with corporations ever so intent to manufacture cheaper and more affordable products in a shorter time, wooden products are seldom fabricated the conventional ways anymore.

Pressed wood

This is why pressed wood came into the picture.

Sometimes also called medium density fiberboard or particle board, they are made by “pressing” tiny bits of wood together into shape. Then mixed with adhesives full of chemicals to create sheets of wood that look natural.

While these breakthroughs in technology has allowed every homeowner to have affordable posh looking furniture at home, it can have adverse effects on health due to formaldehyde contained in them.

Formaldehyde is a concern as they have the characteristic of off-gassing into the air, that is in turn consumed by us via breathing just like any air pollutant.

On top of that, this off-gassing process is not a just a matter of days.

A new piece of furniture made with pressed wood containing formaldehyde can continue to release it’s harmful air particles for several years.

It is important to note though, that the period when it off-gas at it’s highest concentration is when the product is new.

The workmanship of the furniture or the humidity levels at home can speed up the release of formaldehyde.

This means that if a new house is furnished with a lot of pressed wood furniture, you are going to get the most exposure if you move into it as soon as possible.

Managing the problem of formaldehyde

Some homes have been found with 3 times the levels of formaldehyde that is considered safe to human beings.

Other than to replace furniture containing formaldehyde with ones that don’t there is really nothing much you can do other than to wait it out.

However, you can still take precautions so that you don’t get too much exposure to it.

If returning or condemning the item is a non-question, then please enhance the air circulation in the house.

Keep windows and doors open as much as possible. You can install screens if there is a security or pest concern.

Then try to maintain the temperature and humidity at home to lower levels so as to prevent formaldehyde from off-gassing at a faster pace.

If you have just found out that the dining table you have used for 10 years contains adhesive filled with formaldehyde, don’t panic.

When furniture are aged, formaldehyde contained in them have probably exhausted themselves from off-gassing for years.

And the next time you buy wooden furniture, solid wood would be a healthier choice. Unfinished wood would be even better as surface finishes can contain harmful chemicals as well.

If only finished wood is available, at least get one that is nontoxic and free of formaldehyde.

5 Sources Of EMF Radiation At Home

A lot of people get into panic mode as soon as they hear the word radiation.

It’s not surprising as the media and entertainment industry paint a very scary picture of it all the time in motion pictures.

There are basically 2 categories of radiation:

  1. Ionizing
  2. Non-ionizing

Without going into the scientific details of both of them, just take note that ionizing radiation is known to cause a lot of complicated health problems. While the jury is still out for non-ionizing radiation waves.

And if you you don’t know, we are exposed to radiation every minute of every day. This is even when you live in a third world country with no electricity or regular home appliances.

So it is a little comforting that we are still alive and well even as we are under the constant barrage of radiation on a daily basis.

The type of radiation that we are most frequently exposed to is non-ionizing.

But while there is still no hard evidence that non-ionizing radiation is a cause for concern in terms of health, I’d rather err on the side of caution.

After all, it was not so long ago that something like asbestos was thought to be safe enough to be used in building materials.

We all know how that eventually turned out.

Electric and magnetic fields (EMF)

The most common type of non-ionizing radiation we come into contact with is EMF.

This is because they are areas of energy surrounding electrical devices like an aura when they are turned on when plugged in.

You can’t feel or see them. You can’t escape them a long as you live in a modern house. And they even reside around the wires running your electronic devices.

This is why if you are just a tad bit concerned about your family’s exposure to it, you should be more aware of where these sources of questionable energy is originating from.

1) Computers and TVs

Every time you are sitting in front of that new LED TV or computer monitor, you are exposing yourself to it’s radiation blast.

Some of these screen devices are even built with cathode ray tubes that produce low levels of x-rays.

But you can be sure that electronic devices emit a certain level of EMF.

While the FDA enforce limits on the amount of radiation allowed to be emitted from TV sets, you might still want to avoid as much exposure to it as possible. This is especially when your device uses a cathode ray tube.

And try to sit as far away as practically possible from the TV when watching your favorite drama series. At least keep that distance at 3 feet or more.

2) Electronic gadgets

As stated previously, almost everything electric will emit a degree of EMF. But some emit disturbingly more that others.

Hair dryers for example, produce a shockingly high level of EMF. Moreover, whenever we use it, we put it at close proximity to our head.

So if the situation permits letting your hair dry naturally, maybe that is the best choice after all.

Electric clocks also emit a high amount of EMF considering it’s size. This is also a device that we place near our head when we sleep at night.

They might look trendy with the digital displays. But switch to a conventional one if possible.

Overall, we tend to be vulnerable to exposure when we sleep.

Just think about it. We stay in the same place and position for 8 hours in bed. This means that if we are getting zapped by a gadget emitting EMF, we are getting it for 8 hours.

Let that sink in for a while.

So do keep your bed and it’s surrounds free from as much electronic gadgets as possible at night. Or turn them off.

3) Power sources

The source of electricity usually has a high level of EMF.

So look for the points of power all over the house. This includes the electricity meter, main distribution panels, back up power supplies, generators, fuse boxes, etc.

Being aware of where all these are will enable you to be mindful when moving about in the house.

For example, you don’t want to stay in the vicinity of a generator for too long when you have it up and running. Or if you know that a particular wall in the bedroom has a host of wiring behind it, it’s best not to sleep with your head against that wall.

4) Microwaves

There was a period of time when there was mass panic over the safety hazards of microwaves at home when consumers discovered that radiation is used to heat up the food we eat.

Yes. Microwaves uses radiation when operating.

The silver lining is that they use non-ionizing radiation for the work they do. And the concentration of radiation is enclosed in the appliance itself.

This also means that if you have a damaged door on the microwave, you are letting the radiation escape. Subjecting you to much higher levels of radiation.

I suggest that if there is even a slight doubt that the microwave is faulty, get it replaced.

5) Cell phones

This is one of our biggest indulgence these days. We use them in bed, in transit, in the office, and even in the toilet.

But for all the mobile and smart devices we surround us with these days, can you believe that there is still no definitive proof that the radiation these things expose us to is not a health risk?

Studies and research are still ongoing as you read this.

In the meantime, there are some precautions you can take to limit your exposure to these harmful rays.

  • Use a conventional wired phone when possible and convenient
  • Use a hands-free device when appropriate
  • Change to a phone with a lower specific absorption rate (SAR)
  • Don’t sleep with a phone beside your head

I cannot imagine life without a cell phone. But making these small changes can be well worth it if my lifespan is not compromised even at the smallest amount.

Every individual in every house will be subject to radiation. The least we can do is educate ourselves about them and take precautions to prevent over-exposure.

6 Safety Precautions To Take For The Automatic Garage Door

Before 1991, there was no requirement for automatic garage doors to have an auto-reverse mechanism. Such a system would send signals to reverse the door’s moving direction when it comes into contact with an object such as getting hit on the head.

This means that if you have an aged opener in place now that does not have such a reversal feature, you have to get it replaced immediately.

This is especially important when there are babies and children in the house.

To ensure that you purchase one that meets the safety standards set by the authorities, look for a mark belonging to a testing lab like Electrical Testing Laboratories (ETL) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

In 1993, there was a further indication of how seriously the government takes this matter when all automatic garage door openers manufactured from January 1st onwards to be equipped with an entrapment protection feature.

One of the features that have been popularly adopted by manufacturers is the photoelectric sensor.

These are the sensors that project a light beam invisible to the naked eye across the inner side of the garage door opening.

Also called an electric eye, this technology can be commonly seen on retail elevators where the door will shift into an opening movement even while it is closing when you swing your arms across the closing doors. Please don’t try this in case an elevator do not have it installed or faulty.

This safety device is now found all over the country in garage doors.

Yet with all these safety requirements in place, surely you are not going to leave the safety of your child to them?

Here are some additional tips to keep your children safe from an automatic garage door.

1) Regular maintenance

I can totally get it when we are simply too lazy to maintain the Bluray player. We don’t use them that often. And a part of us wants it to break down so that there can be an excuse to purchase that dream AV receiver as a replacement.

But for something as hazardous to our kids as an auto door, the hassle of maintenance should not be too hard a pill to swallow.

A lot of homeowners are actually not lazy to do the maintenance. It’s just that they forget about it or don’t follow the proper instructions of doing so.

While such a door system can look so simple to the regular individual, take note that companies spend millions of dollars in research and development to create these household products.

And some of those millions go into trial and error in testing the type of maintenance work to undertake, and the frequency to conduct them.

This is why you should get acquainted with the operator instructions in the owner’s manual regarding maintenance and follow it diligently.

2) Testing

The one certainty with electrical appliances and systems is that it is only a matter time before they fail.

Some can last for years and some go belly-up within weeks or months.

So don’t let negligence take over you mind. Knowing that these safety devices are around to do their job can be assuring.

But to have total peace of mind, knowing that they are working is essential.

So do test them, especially the safety reversing features at least on a monthly basis.

In the event that you find the safety feature not working, follow the instructions stated in the manual and take the matter seriously.

3) Height of switch

To prevent playful children from tampering with the automatic door system, position the power buttons at least 6 feet above the ground.

This height is often enough to be out of reach of children and easily accessible to adults.

At the same time, please be practical. Don’t fix the activation switches too high for you to comfortably reach.

4) Remote controls

Remote controllers can really fascinate kids. This is why you should never make the one for the garage door available to them.

Even if they don’t hurt themselves toying with it, they might hurt other members in the family when goofing around.

The remote should kept in a compartment of the car on the driver’s side so that no other persons will be able to reach and grab it.

Better still, consider keeping it locked in the glove compartment.

5) Good view

To ensure that accidents don’t happen from your doing, always have a full view of the door when operating the opener.

Blind spots are a common place in cluttered garages as a lot of people use the space for storage.

6) Keep clear

Make it your responsibility to ensure that there are no living and non-living things obstructing the door when in operation.

This includes keeping any toys in that area as they might be too tempting for children to resist.

Make it a habit to keep everyone, including pets, at a safe distance when it is moving.

Only allow people to approach the door once it has completely opened or closed.

For added measure, don’t drive off from the house until the garage door is fully shut and you are certain that nothing is trapped underneath it.

7) Warn the kids

A baby might not be able to understand your word when you read the house rules to them.

But kids should not be given a pass.

As a parent, do educate the children about the potential dangers of running under a moving door. You might even want to punish them when you catch them doing it so that this rule is burned into their minds.

Please don’t do it yourself. That is just setting a bad example.