You may drink bottled water like more than 60 percent of Americans, which is often reliably safe to drink. But you may not be thinking about all the ways you consume tap water on a daily basis.
For example, you probably use it in your oatmeal and coffee. And while boiling your water removes most of the harmful contaminants, your water may not be reaching the boiling point every time you use it. So, how can you make sure your drinking water is safe for you and your family?
What can contaminate drinking water?
Water can be contaminated by various substances like viruses, bacteria, and parasites. But these contaminants are most commonly found in well water. If your water comes from a municipal water system, it is likely treated and monitored under government direction.
However, a common substance that can seep into our water is lead. Lead is one of the most dangerous toxins we can consume, and has been found to cause irreversible damage, especially in young children. It can affect their behaviors and learning abilities, among other things. In fact, in 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called for stricter regulations on public water supplies.They claim that even trace amounts of the mineral can be extremely detrimental to children.
How does lead get into the water supply?
Water is typically treated and tested at the municipal facility to make sure it is free of contaminants, including lead. However, as it travels through the pipes in the city system, it may go through lead pipes, solder, and fittings. This is especially true if the system was installed before the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986. In June of that year, Ronald Reagan signed the act that put stricter guidelines on EPA standards for drinking water.
After this event, water systems could not be built with lead pipes. However, it did not call for the complete removal of lead pipes, although many cities tried to do so. Other water facilities treat their water with phosphates to coat the pipes and prevent lead from contaminating the water. But this method does not always work like it should.
How to check your drinking water
The only way to know for sure if there are contaminants in your water is to take a sample to a certified lab. They will tell you to collect your samples first thing in the morning before anyone runs water and possibly flushes out contaminants. If you use well water in your home, it’s a good idea to have your water tested regularly.
This is because chemicals, sewage, and bacteria can seep into your water system from the ground. If you use a municipal water system, usually testing it once a year or less is plenty. There shouldn’t be any major changes that occur frequently enough to change the results.
How to decontaminate your water supply
If the testing facility does detect even trace amounts of lead in your water, it’s important to take it to your water department. You should be able to see the test results which they are required to obtain. If the source of the contamination isn’t their system, there’s a good chance the source is from your end.
You can contact a reputable company like General Drain Works to find out if you have lead pipes and what you can do to fix it. If, however, there is just some buildup that needs to be removed, the same professionals can also simply flush out your pipes and make general repairs.