Monday, August 9, 2010

What kind of water are you drinking?

Have you ever picked up your glass of water and really wondered where it comes from and what's in it?
Maybe you're asking : What's wrong with my tap water?  Well, plenty.
  • The Associated Press did a study of 41 million American's tap water and found traces of drugs (including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones)
  •  These drugs also contaminate aquifers deep underground so even well water can be contaminated
  • Well water is often contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, and other petrochemicals and can be more highly concentrated around farming communities
  • The chlorine they add to water (to kill the "bad" bugs) also kills the good flora that we need for digestion
There are more reasons (like water cysts - EW!) but there are numerous and more than this little blog wants to deal with. It's just not safe to drink tap water! So...that may have you thinking: Bottled water is the answer! Not so fast. 

Did you know the government does not regulate bottled water?

It's bad enough that when we do buy bottled water it's at a premium. But did you realize that there are no governmental guidelines saying that it has to be better tap water? Bottlers do not have to test for chemicals, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals or anything else for that matter! It just has to be as good as tap water, which we now know isn't so good.

A lot of bottlers also follow the fads that come along. Have you heard of alkaline or ionized water?  They sound good and claim to help you do all kinds of things but, however enticing, they are completely bogus.

They contradict the basic laws of chemistry and biochemistry. More importantly, there are no good-quality clinical studies showing that they work!

A little background on water: pure water has a pH of around 7, which is neutral. However, if the water is exposed to air for any length of time it picks up CO2 from the atmosphere. The CO2 dissolves in the water and is converted to carbonic acid making most sources of pure water slightly acidic. On the other hand, if metal salts are dissolved in the water it generally becomes slightly alkaline.

So, can alkaline water alkalinize the body? The answer is a clear-cut NO! The body has a very strong buffer system and some elaborate metabolic controls to maintain a near constant neutral pH. Water is such a weak buffer that it has almost no effect on body pH! There are other far more effective ways to change your body's pH than water.

So, what about ionized water? It's an even sillier concept from a chemical point of view.

It is very difficult to ionize pure water and the ions
that you do create quickly recombine to give you pure
water again without any change in pH or physical properties. If you add sodium chloride (table salt) to the water you can get electrolysis that creates a slightly alkaline pH at one electrode and a slightly acidic pH
at the other electrode.

However, as soon as you turn off the current these pH changes rapidly disappear. And even if you were somehow able to capture some of the alkaline or acidic water remember that water alone has almost no effect on body pH. 

I say all of the above to say: What kind of water are you drinking??


  1. Nice job Kelly! I've stayed away from tap water ever since I was a kid.. I do drink bottled water but certainly not enough of it, in fact I'm completely lacking in my overall consumption. I just had a convo yesterday with a friend who said the Great Lakes region has some of the best tap water in the country though.. any thoughts on that?

  2. Interesting to read Kelly. Very proud to live in a country in which the quality of the water is of the same quality as bottled water. The water coming out of my tap comes from the same well as which Sourcy water is bottled from.
    In the Netherlands we believe that quality tapwater is not an luxury, but has to be available to everyone at a low cost. The price of 1 liter bottled water in the store will buy you almost 1000 liters of tapwater at home.

    No I am not bragging about the Netherlands, you article just opened my eyes again that the things we take for granted are not so normal when you take a good look at it.

    Thanks for that

  3. I cannot say whether they have better tap water or not. I guess my question would be: they have better tap water when compared to...? Other areas of the country?

    That may be the case but the AP investigation I got some of this information from didn't make any distinction about areas having better water than others. It talked more about what pharmaceuticals could be found in different water sources across the country and who is testing and who isn't.

    Here's two quotes from that investigation about upstate NY:
    "The federal government doesn't require any testing and hasn't set safety limits for drugs in water. Of the 62 major water providers contacted, the drinking water for only 28 was tested. Among the 34 that haven't: Houston, Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Phoenix, Boston and New York City's Department of Environmental Protection, which delivers water to 9 million people."

    "The New York state health department and the USGS tested the source of the city's water, upstate. They found trace concentrations of heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and a tranquilizer."

  4. Here's another quote:
    "'We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking water, and that can't be good,' says Dr. David Carpenter, who directs the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany."