What is in your drinking water?

by RobertKeith

An overview of some of the toxins, chemicals and metals we consume with our daily glass of water.

We are all told that water is the best and healthiest thirst quencher available to us. Most of us take for granted that the municipal water is clean and safe to drink, which is normally the case. However, an investigation into what follows through with the water can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Can we really call what comes out of our tap for water?

How do you like your tap water?
How do you like your tap water?

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, the water treatment facilities in Australia can choose from a total of 37 different chemicals from Ammonia to Sulfuric Acid to treat water for harmful organisms, improve taste and clarify color. The approved chemicals are found not to be toxic when ingested in small doses. As we all know, different people consume varying amounts of water, depending on their lifestyle and the climate in which they live. People living an active lifestyle or in a warm climate such as Australia need to replenish their fluids more frequently than couch dwellers living in the colder regions, and will therefore consume a larger amounts of these chemicals with their water intake.

Chlorine, which is one of the most commonly used chemicals to treat water for virus, bacteria and colour has also been argued to have carcinogenic effects, and should ideally not be consumed. A study also found that pregnant women consuming 5 glasses of chlorinated water per day increased their chance of miscarriage by 14%.

Fluoride is the only chemical added to the water which is not aimed at making the water cleaner or tastier. Fluoride is added as a measure to reduce dental decay in the consumers, although there are strong arguments about fluoridation as well. A study published in 2012 found that the levels of fluoride in the water supply impacted the brain development, affecting the IQ levels in children.

Chemical spills and pesticides

In addition to these chemicals, there may be a mixture of other toxins present in the water that the water treatment facility is unable to filter out, or is currently not tested for. Pesticides and herbicides used by the agricultural industry can leach through to the groundwater and make its way into the local drinking water supply.

The false sense of security has been exposed in West Virginia recently, with the large industrial chemical spill going undetected through the water treatment plant, causing a crown oily slurry to pass through the water taps. The water treatment facilities can only detect and treat the toxins and substances that form part of a list they are required to test for. Any abnormal occurrences of chemical leaks or traces of pesticides are likely to pass through to the water tap with the drinking water.


Legislation enforced in 1989 disallowed the use of lead in plumbing pipes. If the plumbing in your house originates from 1989 or earlier, there is a chance that the plumber used lead to weld the plumbing pipes together. When water sits dormant in the pipes over time, harmful lead can leach into the water.

Most chemicals added to the water are there to keep us safe and healthy, although that does not mean we have to consume them. Most water filters filter out chlorine and other chemicals, but if you wish to ensure you filter out other substances such as unknown chemical leaks, lead, pesticides and fluoride, it is essential to check the filter specifications and any published lab results of the various water filters.

The best ways to ensure you drink clean healthy water, is to install a quality water filter at your home that will filter out a variety of chemicals. Fluoride is a chemical that is extremely difficult to filter out. Fill2Pure claims to filter out in excess of 90% of fluoride from the water.

Updated: 08/20/2014, RobertKeith
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Water4home on 01/20/2015

As you said there are so many contaminants in our water. I especially hate the fluoride in our tap water.

VisionTips on 10/15/2014

Hi Wendy,
You are right, there are a lot of contaminants in the tap water that the authorities do not test for, or are unable to filter out in a cost effective way. A reverse osmosis system is great, but can also be a big investment. Domestic water filters have come a long way in the last few years, so I recommend researching the various options with regards to ongoing costs in replacing filters as well.

Wendy on 10/15/2014

I have to say you know too much. There are so many contaminants in the tap water and we should find a way to get them out. I highly recommend using a RO system to filter water.

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