Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dr Oz on drinking water -

Living in the US we are not accustomed to worrying about the safety of the water coming out of our taps. That's because state and federal standards are in place that help safeguard public drinking water. Still, while the US is among the safest water in the world, tainted water can enter our bodies when we drink, bathe, cook, launder and play – sometimes with catastrophic consequences. Life-threatening illness and birth defects can sometimes be traced back to contaminated drinking water, but mild diseases such as gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, rashes, allergies and tooth wear can also be caused by toxins in our water.

In 1974 Congress passed the Clean Water Act, which regulates the nation's public drinking water. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with enforcing standards for contaminants in drinking water – making sure public water is treated and distributed by qualified operators and that pollutant-specific tests are performed regularly. Water suppliers are then required to issue to their customers an annual water quality report or consumer confidence report (CCR) that indicates what contaminants have been detected and how those levels compare to drinking water standards. They are also required to notify the general public if water isn't fit for human consumption.

While this system is protective, it is not perfect and contamination happens. Nearly 10 percent of water systems fail to meet EPA's standards for tap water quality. That is a cause for concern for all Americans.

Cruising for Contaminants
Contamination can occur at the source and anywhere down the pipe ending at our faucets: the watershed, reservoirs, main pipes, wells, storage tanks and plumbing. Some contamination comes about naturally, while others are knowingly and unintentionally inserted by man.

Examples of Contaminants:
· Microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites
· Inorganic materials such as salts and metals (arsenic, lead, mercury)
· Organic materials such as synthetic and volatile chemicals (methane, solvents, pesticides and herbicides)
· Industrial waste
· Agricultural waste such as livestock feces
· Sewage
· Pharmaceuticals
· Radioactive substances
Most contaminants have no smell, color or taste so you may not be able to detect a problem if you have one and water can taste different from place to place. Still, there are some conditions or activities that can signal a concern.

Here are some signs your water may not be right:
· Water that has an objectionable or unusual smell, taste or appearance
· Recurrent intestinal or other health problems particular if they are clustered in households or neighborhoods
· Old lead pipes
· Nearby livestock, agricultural crops, toxic dumps
· Stained sinks, tubs and laundry
· Indoor radon gas
· Poorly lathering soaps, shampoos and detergents
· Rapidly corroded water treatment supplies

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