Is your drinking water safe?


Around 71-72 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. The oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all water on this planet. The human body is between 50-75 percent water, about 57-60 percent in an average adult and about 75-78 percent in infants, dropping down to 65 percent by age one. Our brain and heart are 73 percent water and the brain, 83 percent, body fat, 10 percent, and muscles, 75 percent. Some organisms contain up to 90 percent water.

While we can survive a month without food, we won’t survive more than a week without water.  Indeed, water is essential to all living things, including animals, plants, and to farming, other industries, etc. Clean water is not only of major importance to our health but to our survival. This is especially true for our drinking and cooking water.

How much water on earth is potable?

Of the 71-72 percent water on earth, which is massive, only almost one (1) percent is available and usable as drinking water. More than 97 percent of Earth’s water is salt water in seas and oceans, and about 2 percent is frozen in glaciers and icecaps, and some in the atmosphere, salt water lakes and rivers. So, less than one percent is what we have for our use. As the world’s population grows, potable water might, centuries from now, become a precious limited commodity, more valuable than oil, diamond, or gold, possibly a cause of future wars to ensure survival in our planet.

Why is EPA important?

The EPA is one of the most valuable governmental agencies. It regulates water standard and safety to protect and provide the public clean water. Here are some information from the US EPA: “Because your drinking water comes from natural sources, it is exposed to pollutants. Anything on the ground or in the air can end up in the water. Some of these things can cause health problems when you drink the water including pollutants like bacteria, lead, and nitrates. There are other pollutants that aren’t dangerous, but cause bad odors and tastes or stain your sinks, such as iron, manganese, and chloride. (Hormones, antibiotics, steroids, pesticides, other medications and cleaning chemicals are also contaminants in 80 percent of our streams.) The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has established Safe Drinking Water Standards, based on research and water testing. The Safe Drinking Water Standards state what amount of each of these pollutants is acceptable in your drinking water.” (Details are on its website.) …”When a public water supply fails to meet the Safe Drinking Water Standards for bacteria or a similar pollutant, they are required to notify you and advise you to boil your water before drinking it. Public drinking water suppliers are required by law to conduct regular tests of their drinking water. The water must meet the US EPA’s Drinking Water Standards.”

Are water filters available for homes?

There are various water filters available in the market, from table top, to under the sink, and to central water tank filters. There are 2- to 7-stage water filtration systems. The 7-stage basically includes Reverse Osmosis, with Alkaline Remineralization Filter and UV Sterilizers for microorganisms. All these are commercially available for homes. Boiling faucet water is one way to further remove mineral contamination (crystal sediments) and microbes.

What is Zero Water filtration system?

Zero Water tabletop pitcher, canister, or portable tumbler filtration system is a 5-stage ion exchange filter that totally eliminates total dissolved solids, but not microorganisms. After water goes through the Zero Water filter, the TDS reading is zero. This, in essence, transforms the chlorinated (microbe-free) faucet water to distilled water. Untreated water from wells, filtered by Zero Water system, will not eliminate microorganisms. The 5-6-7 stage systems, with reverse osmosis, membrane filter, and UV lights will.

What is TDS?

This refers to the Totally Dissolved Solids (inorganic salts like calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates, and traces of organic substances and heavy metals) in water, which give water a bitter or salty taste, and bad odor. TDS does not include microbes. The EPA standard for TDS is 500 mg/liter or parts per million (ppm). Using a small TDS meter I bought for less than $20 on amazon.com, I tested the TDS level of water in Las Vegas, Chicago, Quezon City and Cebu, and found them well below 500 mg/L. Non-mineral bottled water has TDS levels less than 200 mg/L. Distilled water, like Absolute, has zero TDS. Distilled water, devoid of all minerals, is not ideal for regular daily drinking. It is used in machines, like CPAP, in irons, cleaning baby utensils, etc., and in delicate scientific/laboratory instruments, etc., to prevent deposits, corrosion, and damage.

Is bottled water safe?

In general, bottled water produced by reputable companies is safe. The occasional incidents in third world countries where faucet water was used to fill up empty (used) bottles, recapped, sealed, and sold are reminders for us to be vigilant and careful. When ordering bottled water, ask the waiter not to open the bottle; do it yourself to be sure the seal is not broken. When I am in doubt, I use my TDS meter to check. Below 100 is fine with me.

Is alkaline water necessary?

For daily regular drinking, alkaline water is not necessary. Occasional use is fine. Unless a person has an illness that makes the blood more acidic where the physician might include alkaline water in his treatment regimen, drinking alkaline water under normal situation is a waste of money. Billions of people on earth have been healthy for centuries without alkaline water. Eating a lot of vegetables, nuts, less red meats, and staying away from tobacco, alcohol, and soft drinks will balance our body pH to more healthy levels, between 7.35 to 7.45, a bit on the alkaline side. Level 7 is neutral. Seawater has a pH of 8, baking soda, 9, and Milk of Magnesia, 10. So, normally we do not need more alkaline blood than 7.45. Our body automatically adjusts and balances our electrolyte and pH non-stop, depending on what we eat or drink, unless we abuse ourselves or are ill. So, save your money and enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle. Go on cruises, instead.

Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a joyous Christmas and a magic New Year of good health, love, peace, and prosperity!

***

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

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