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Friday, May 28, 2010
We have all heard of arsenic. It is a very well known poison, but did you know it may be found in water? Arsenic is odorless and tasteless, and it can enter virtually any drinking water supply either through natural deposits that are found in the earth or it can enter the water supply via agricultural and industrial practices and discharges.

When it comes to adverse health effects, arsenic is one of the most toxic. Health effects can include: nausea, vomiting, thickening and discoloration of the skin, intense stomach pain, diarrhea, partial paralysis, numbness in hands and feet, and even blindness. If that isn't enough, arsenic has also been linked to cancer of the kidney, prostate, bladder, lungs, skin, liver and nasal passages.

Because of these many adverse effects to the human body, the EPA has set the maximum arsenic standard for drinking water at .010 parts per million. This level applies to public water systems.

As mentioned above, arsenic can enter water sources via natural processes. But much of it is also released through industrial uses or other man-made processes. A big source of arsenic is in wood preservatives which can be discharged from lumber yards or can leech out of treated wood. Arsenic can also be found in dyes, paints, drugs, and electronic parts and semi-conductors. Certain types of fertilizers may also contain high levels of arsenic and all of the above can contaminate both surface and ground water sources.

Studies have shown that western states in the US have more water systems with arsenic levels above the EPA standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb). This is also true for some states in the Midwest and in New England.

Municipal water systems must test for arsenic on a routine basis. If they discover a violation has occurred, they are required to report the violation to their customers within 30 days and to correct the problem as soon as possible. Depending on where you live, and how you feel about the notification process, you may wish to add your own level of protection to your drinking water. This can be done with arsenic water filters.

Many high-quality water filters that are available for home use are able to filter out arsenic from water that comes into the home. You can find arsenic water filters that are whole house devices or smaller devices that are very affordable and easy to install. These are commonly known as point of use water filters.

If you live in an area where arsenic contamination is possible, you should consult with a reliable water filter vendor to find out what your options are for providing safer drinking water to your home and family. You might be surprised at how inexpensive this added protection can be.

by: Chris Tracey

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Thursday, May 27, 2010
Drinking private well water does not have to be hazardous to your health. Like the water that comes from public treatment plants, private well water can contain certain water-borne organisms, such as Giardia, that must be removed before you ingest the water in order to avoid illnesses.

So what is Giardia? Giardia is a microscopic parasite. This parasite can easily live within infected humans and animals and the parasite is discharged into the environment through the waste of human and animals. Humans that consume this parasite may come down with Giardiasis which is a diarrhea illness that can become serious for certain individuals—children, elderly people and those with lowered immune systems.

The Giardia parasite is protected by an outer shell (cyst) which makes it very hardy and able to live in the environment for weeks or even months, even in water.

It is important to understand that literally millions of Giardia parasites are released with each bowel movement from infected animals and humans. The means in which these parasites can get into private well water are numerous. For instance, sewage overflows or leaky septic tanks can be a source of contamination into the well water. Heavy rains or snow melts on areas where livestock defecate can cause water run off into the well. Storm drains the overflow with contaminated water are yet another possible source of Giardia.

Those who consume well water can have their water tested for Giardia by licensed local labs. While testing is a good idea for all private wells, it must be noted that well water that is clean and fresh today may not be clean and fresh after a storm, snow melt, or other type of event that can bring the parasite into your well water.

One of the best options you have available today is the use of water filters inside the home. You honestly never know if or when Giardia will get into your water supply. The best way to protect your family is to prevent the parasite from ever exiting the faucet.

Keep in mind as you shop for a water filter that some filters are not designed to remove Giardia. You must be careful to get the right type of filter. Water filters that are rated at absolute zero or 1 micron and are also tested and certified by NSF 53 for cyst removal or reduction are the ones you need.

Larger filters that are reverse osmosis in nature and design will also remove Giardia parasites, along with many other common water contaminants.

Private well owners should also understand that Giardia is somewhat chlorine resistant. This means that adding chlorine to the well water may not kill all of the parasites. Adding an appropriate water filter will deliver the added protection that you need.

by: Chris Tracey

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010
In Part 1 of our two-part series we discussed some general concerns affecting all parents who provide unfiltered tap water to their children. In this second part, we want to narrow our focus and address some important concerns as they apply to minority and rural households and the children who may live in those households.

As mentioned in Part 1, Federal and State water contaminant limits (aka maximum contaminant levels) are based on what healthy adults can ingest without harm. That same amount of contamination, when ingested by a child, can lead to illnesses and possible developmental problems later on in life for that child. This is true universally, but the hazards of water-borne disease and tap water contaminants in general, increases for certain socio-economic populations. This increased exposure takes place primarily within minority communities and rural communities. Let's look at these individually.

Minority communities may be more at risk to tap water contamination because these communities are often housed in older homes and apartments. Older homes and apartments often have old pipes and lots of lead solder within their plumbing. In addition to increased exposure to lead, these same structures often have older copper piping which can leach copper into the drinking water, along with several other types of contaminants.

Rural communities face the same challenges as mentioned above. Many farms and homes in rural areas are older and will have old pipes, leading to the same health hazards—lead and copper contamination. But rural area children who drink tap water may be faced with another health hazard, namely pesticides.

Pesticides, fertilizers, and nitrates are commonly found in ground water sources in rural areas. Due to run off from fields into streams, rivers, and lakes these same chemicals may be found in treated surface water as well. It is particularly important for parents who live in these areas to be aware of heavy rains and snow melts as these events often lead to rivers and other water sources being overloaded with potentially contaminated run off water. Tap water in these areas can change composition virtually overnight, and may not be easily detected by the consumer who is drinking that water.

The best way to avoid water contamination problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. This can be accomplished by install quality water filters. Today's modern water filters are both affordable and effective. Consumers can purchase very affordable point of use water filters or they can invest in whole-house water filtration systems. Parents who reside in older buildings should, at a minimum, purchase water filters to remove lead from their drinking water taps (kitchen and bathroom). In all honesty, your child's health may depend on it.

If you are not sure which type of water filter to use, contact a reliable water filter vendor and discuss your needs. They will be more than happy to assist you with the proper purchase.

by: Chris Tracey

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Parents want healthy children. This is a simple fact of life. We want our kids to eat well, exercise, and stay hydrated. But did you know that drinking tap water can, in some cases, cause health problems in children? It would be wonderful if all tap water was pure and clean, but the truthfully it is not. Study after study after study has shown that tap water is never as clean and pure as we would like to believe it is. And this can be especially important when we consider the health of young people.

Most experts agree that tap water that is contaminated in some way will have a more adverse effect on children than it will on adults who drink the same water. It should be noted that Federal and State water quality parameters are set based on what will affect healthy adults. In other words, the maximum contaminant levels that are set by law do not take children into account and are not based on the best health guidance for kids. As a result, millions of infants, children, women who may be pregnant and even the fetuses they carry, may be in danger. This is not a small problem, and it is not a problem without consequences.

One reason water contamination can have such a dire effect on children has to do with proportion. Generally speaking, infants and children will consume more than 2.5 times as much water as will adults, as a proportion of their body weight. For example, a baby who ingests only baby formula will consume about one-seventh of its own body weight of water each day. This would correspond to about 3 gallons of water for a 150-pound adult male.

Of the many water contaminants parents have to worry about, lead is perhaps the most dangerous and pervasive. We all know the hazards of lead poisoning and how it affects the development of children exposed to it. But many highly intelligent, well-meaning parents have no idea that lead can be in their drinking water at surprisingly high levels. Many parents do not realize that lead can come right from within the home! Lead can, and does, leach from old pipes and lead solder and goes directly into the water that is being carried by those pipes. Children of all ages who drink this water can be at risk, but infants who rely on water-based formula can be especially at risk.

And lead is only ONE of the possible contaminants we often find in our drinking water. Chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, and copper are a few more, but these, too, only represent a tiny portion of the more than 2000 known contaminants!

Parents are not helpless in this matter. In-home water filters can reduce and remove many of the most hazardous contaminants in drinking water, including lead. Water filters should be installed on all outlets where people normally drink water—kitchen sink, bathroom, etc. Homes that have a refrigerator with built-in ice maker should install a simple in-line filter to clean the water that is used in the making of ice. And all homes that utilize showers should install affordable, effective shower head filters to catch chlorine by-products so as to avoid inhaling those dangerous compounds.

To learn more about the hazards of tap water and how it can affect minorities and rural children, please read our article: Tap Water: Children at Risk Part 2.

by: Chris Tracey

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Monday, May 24, 2010
A lot has been written about the possible health hazards tap water might cause, but not much is written about the many benefits of pure, clean water on the human body. This article shares some interesting facts about your body and why it needs water.

Many of us learned in school that our bodies are mostly water—some 80 percent or so—with the other 20 percent being bone, muscle, organs, and nerves. Generally, when we think of health or health issues, we think of the solid parts, even though they make up only a small percentage of our overall anatomy. This can be misleading as it tends to diminish the importance of water consumption and utilization within the body.

Recent studies are beginning to suggest that we should place much more importance on water than we have in the past. It is now known that the fluids inside our bodies are a main contributor to our overall level of wellness. This only makes sense since the human body is basically made of water.

Over the last decade or so, science has proven that water is a major contributor to the healing process. From healing broken bones to fighting off colds and flu, water is the cornerstone to healing.

Consider your blood supply, for instance. Blood is nearly 85 percent water. It carries oxygen, antibodies, and nutrients throughout the body and in order to do that to its optimum level it must be continually hydrated with clean, fresh water.

It should also be noted that drinking water that has contaminants in it can result in changes in the composition of our blood. These changes can lead to a variety of problems including low energy, lower resistance to infections and illness, and slower healing.

Clean, fresh water is also a key element to healthy brain activity. The brain is 80 percent water, and it manages every process that takes place within the body. From moving to breathing, the brain is the master controller and it does all of this work through our nervous system. The signals that move through our nerves do so in a fluid that is nearly 100 percent water!

Did you know that science has proven that a 5 percent decrease in body fluids will result in a 25 to 30 percent loss of energy? Want to boost your energy level? Drink more water.

While this sounds well and good, it must be noted that we are talking about clean, fresh water. Tap water, while safe to drink in most areas, still contains contaminants that can adversely affect your health. It is not uncommon for households to have lead in their water or copper or other types of contaminants. The solution to this wide-spread problem is water filters.

In-home water filters can remove or reduce most water-borne contaminants. Modern water filters are affordable and many of them are easy to install either as countertop devices or in-line devices. Best of all, once installed they produce clean, fresh water at a fraction of what bottled water cost. Look into your water filtration options today. You will be glad you did.

by: Chris Tracey

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Friday, May 21, 2010
Private well water has its own challenges. Those who already have private wells and get their water from them know that private wells are not under any legal guidelines such as those imposed on public water systems. In other words, well owners must provide their own purification systems or do without.

While there are many different contaminants that can get into underground water sources, nitrate can be particularly dangerous, especially for children and pregnant women.

So what is nitrate anyway?

When nitrogen and oxygen combine, nitrate is formed. Nitrogen, itself, is essential to all living things, including plants, which makes its presence abundant. It is when the nitrogen combines with oxygen that the troublesome compound of nitrate is produced. Water containing nitrate can easily seep into the ground and enter any underground water source. Once there it can be consumed by those using that well or aquifer water.

It should be noted that low levels of nitrate is not hazardous to humans. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to remove every trace of nitrate from ground water. It is when levels get high that health problems can arise.

Higher than normal levels of nitrate in well water is often the result of improper or poorly constructed wells. It can also occur if the well is not located properly. The overuse of certain types of chemical fertilizers can also add to the level of nitrate in well water. And nitrate levels can also increase if human or animal waste is not disposed of properly.

Some common sources of nitrate include animal feeding pens or feeding lots, manure piles, septic tanks, food processing waste outlets, and various kinds of fertilizers. Any of these sites can produce nitrate which can get into wells, and thusly get into the household water supply.

Private well owners should always be cautious after heavy rains or flooding. These types of weather events can easily carry nitrate in run-off waters or cause nitrate to seep into the ground water.

If you suspect your well water may have high levels of nitrate in it, or if you simply want to be safe, you should have the water tested by an accredited lab or state certificated lab.

There are several water filtration methods you can use to remove nitrate from your household water. Nitrate can be removed by using water treatment processes such as distillation, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange. A reliable water filter vendor can help you decide which method is best for your home and circumstance.

It should be noted in closing that boiling your water will not remove nitrate. In fact, due to evaporation boiling your water may actually increase the nitrate level.

by: Chris Tracey

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Thursday, May 20, 2010
Private well owners may not realize that fluoride can be in their water, just as it is in most municipal water supplies. The reason is simple: fluoride is present in just about all sources of untreated water to some degree. That phrase "to some degree" is important.

The amount of naturally occurring fluoride in water varies wildly from one location to another and this applies to well water, too. The U.S. Geological Survey did a study in 2008 on well water and found that over four percent of those sampled had fluoride levels over the EPA Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level of 2 mg/L. Some wells tested at even higher rates, exceeding 4 mg/L.

While the number of private wells that have high levels of fluoride are small in comparison to the overall numbers, it is worth noting that fluoride levels can be much higher than many people suspect. And, again, this is natural forming fluoride, not fluoride that is added to the water after it had been treated.

As you may know, many people are concerned about the possible health effects of fluoride, especially as they apply to children. Many of today's toothpastes and mouth rinses have added fluoride to their list of ingredients. When this amount is added to the fluoride naturally present in well water, the total amount can be greater than is healthy for developing teeth.

Experts suggest that the optimum fluoride level in water for good oral health should be somewhere between 0.7 to 1.2 mg/L. Well water that has more than 1.2 mg/L can increase the risk of enamel fluorosis in children under the age of eight. Well water with levels above 2.0 mg/L should be treated before allowing children to drink it.

The only way to know how much fluoride is in your well water is to have it tested by a certified lab. Once you know what the level is, you can take whatever action is needed.

A very good option for homes that wish to limit fluoride in drinking water is to install in-home water filters that are rated to remove fluoride. This should not be done unless you are using toothpaste or mouth wash/rinse that has fluoride in it. The proper amount of fluoride is beneficial to developing teeth in younger children.

For an in-home point-of-use water filter to claim it can reduce fluoride, it must meet National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Standard 58 criteria for fluoride removal.

by: Chris Tracey

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010
We have all heard of water filters, and many of us have either already purchased one or plan to do so in the future. But like everything else, consumers must do their research before they make a purchase. Water filters come in a variety of quality levels, from top grade to counterfeit knock-off's, and you need to know what you are buying. Your family's health depends on your decision, so making the right choice is crucial.

Let's begin by stating a simple, albeit unpleasant, fact. Some water filters and the companies that make them are defrauding the public. These devices can run from poorly constructed models that will not last long at all, to other models that do not even filter water effectively, even though they say they do. These are cheap, ineffective devices produced by unethical companies.

Why would they do this? Money. The in-home water filter industry has boomed over the last decade or so, and these companies want to cash in on this business. They can do this by exaggerating their claims or by producing low-quality devices or both. Many of these companies are based overseas where it is easy to get cheap labor and cheap parts and exporting laws are lax, to say the least.

When you are shopping for a water filter (of any size), always look for the tell-tale signs of possible trouble:

Unsubstantiated Claims of Performance: Water filters they simply say they can remove contaminants or say that they provide clean, safe water and do not also include any test data to back those claims up should be avoided. High-quality water filters have been tested and rated by third-party agencies and these ratings and approvals are always put on the device as proof of testing. Devices that do not have these testing and rating seals are suspect.

Consumer Reviews and Reports: It is an easy matter to use the Internet to get information from past buyers of a device to see what they think. If you find a product that has several negative comments about it made from different people, you can assume the product is suspect and should not be purchased.

Government Reviews: It is also possible to find reviews and reports published by governmental agencies. State and Federal sources often share information about water filter companies that are conning the public or making exaggerated claims about their products.

Vendor Integrity: One of the best ways to avoid buying knock off products is to buy through a reputable, reliable water filter vendor. These companies have already done the due diligence for you, and they will offer only name brands of high quality that are legit.

Spending a few minutes online to do some research will pay off handsomely when it comes to buying your water filter. By investing a few moments of your time, you can be assured that you are purchasing the best product for your family.

by: Chris Tracey

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Atrazine is one of those water contaminants that may or may not be present in your drinking water. It many respects, it depends on where you live and how well regulated the area is by state and Federal environmental officials.

So what exactly is atrazine and what are its uses?

It is a crystalline solid organic compound, usually white in color, that dissolves in water. Before 1993, it was widely used but since then its use has been greatly restricted. For the most part, it was used as an herbicide for control of broadleaf and grassy weeds.

This is where things can get a little murky. Even though its use was restricted in '93 that does not mean that certain persons no longer use it. If you live in a rural area where broadleaf and weedy grass is a problem, especially on farms, you may or may not have this compound in your groundwater sources. The major source of atrazine in drinking water comes from runoff from herbicide used on row crops. Can atrazine cause health problems? Yes. Those who drink water containing atrazine above the maximum contaminant level (MCL), over long periods of time, may experience health problems with their cardiovascular system or they may encounter reproductive difficulties. In addition, other health issues may arise as well.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set an enforceable regulation for atrazine at 0.003 mg/L or 3 ppb. Some states have more stringent rules concerning this chemical.
Municipal water suppliers routinely test for atrazine in water and are required to treat it when present in water so that it is below the limit set by the EPA or State. In the event they discover a violation has been made, they must notify customers within 30 days of the violation and they must also correct the problem in order to bring the level down below the maximum allowable

Those who live in areas where they may be susceptible to atrazine contamination may want to protect themselves further by using a granular activated carbon water filter system or similar in-home water filter. Granular activated carbon water filter systems have been proven to be effective for removing atrazine to below 0.003 mg/L or 3 ppb.

If you are not sure which water filter system best suits your overall needs, contact a reliable water filter vendor and have them discuss your particular needs with you. This can be an especially important discussion if you live in an area that has used or still uses atrazine for weed control on farms.

by: Chris Tracey

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Monday, May 17, 2010
When you think of water filters and safe drinking water in general, you often run into the word micron. But what is a micron, and why is it important? This information article provides you with a basic look at microns and how you can use this information to get safer drinking water in your home or office.

The use of the word micron, in conjunction with water filters, is almost always associated with filtration. Filtration is simply the process of allowing water to flow through a particular type of substance in order for that substance to trap and collect particles that may be in the water. Filtration has been around for thousands of years and it is one of the best lines of defense when people want safer drinking water.

Some of the more popular options for water filtration include: sand, charcoal, anthracite, and paper. Modern water filters may use a combination of media to filter the water, and these are often the best systems to look into if you have problem water.

The term micron comes into play when you want to know just how small a particle can be and still be trapped by the filter media that you are using. For example, a water filter that has been rated at 1 micron or below will trap both Cryptosporidium and Guardia. It can do this because the cysts for those bacteria are larger than 1 micron. On the other hand, most viruses cannot be trapped unless the filter is rated at least 0.01 microns.

Most high-quality water filters will take all of this into account, making it much easier for you to select a good, reliable filter for your home. But there are some instances when you need to know a bit more about microns and how they work. This is especially true if you have cloudy water or sediment in your water.

So what is a micron rating?

In simple terms, a micron rating calculates the average size of the openings within the filter media. For example, a filter that has been rated at 40-microns will have larger openings than one that has been rated at 5-microns. Because the openings are larger, the 40-micron filter will allow larger particles pass through the filter than the 5-micron filter.

The next part of this article is intended for those who get their water from wells or other direct methods (creeks, streams, etc). As mentioned above, in order to trap dangerous organisms in water you want water filters that can trap very small particles. But if you have sediment in your incoming water, those same filters will clogged up very fast as they will collect virtually all particles that come into the home. This might include grains of sand, dirt, even tiny pebbles. When this is the case, you need to use a pre-filter to strain out those larger particles before you filter the water for bacteria and viruses.

You can accomplish this by using a two-stage filter system wherein the first stage is designed to collect the larger particles before allowing the water to pass onto the second stage. This is a much more effective and affordable system to use when sediment is part of your incoming water.

by: Chris Tracey

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Friday, May 14, 2010
The presence of lead can occur in both public water supplies and private well water supplies. High levels of lead in drinking water can cause severe health problems, especially in children. Many people who drink from their own wells do not assume that lead can be present in underground water. They are wrong.

Let's begin by defining lead. In simple terms, lead is a metal that is naturally occurring in most areas of the world. While lead does occur naturally, higher, dangerous levels are usually caused by man-made events. These can include the burning of fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing to name just three.

Lead can also be found in many products and materials. For example, while many believe lead is no longer in paint, it can be found in some types of paint. Lead can also be found in batteries and many types of metal products. All of these sources can leach lead into ground water supplies and from there get into private well water supplies.

Those consumers who drink from their own private wells should note that lead is often brought to the tap because of old pipes and lead solder that may have been used to connect pipes and faucets. Most experts agree that lead pipes are the major way lead gets into drinking water in both rural and urban settings. This applies to both public water systems and private well water consumers.

Even though brass usually contains low levels of lead, the substance can still dissolve into the water that is delivered to the tap. This is especially true when the plumbing fixtures are new.

Wells that are over twenty years old may contain lead in the "packer" element. This element is used to seal the well above the well screen. It should also be noted that some older model submersible pumps may also contain leaded and brass parts and components.

What all of this means is even though there may be little to no lead in your well water outside, lead can get into your drinking water as it travels through the pump, pipes and fixtures to the tap. Lead can be especially high in the water that comes from some older hot water tanks. You should never drink from the hot water tap, and not use hot tap water for cooking.

The only way to know if you have lead in your drinking water is to have it tested. Those who own private wells may also want to have a professional pump installer come out and inspect the pump and piping for any lead components or parts.

If you discover you do have lead in your drinking water the best course of action is to try to remove the source of the lead. This might mean changing out older pump parts or installing newer pipes that do not have lead solder connects.

Another option to consider is the use of water filters inside the home. Water filters can be purchased that are either whole house filters or point of use filters. Whole house water filters can remove lead from any water that enters the residence. Point of use water filters, which are very affordable these days, are used at the faucets. In addition to removing lead, quality water filters will also remove many other types of water contaminants, making your water much safer for your family to drink and cook with.

by: Chris Tracey

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The water within private wells can become contaminated in a variety of ways. Some sources of well water contamination can be observed with the naked eye, while others cannot. Potential well water contamination may occur naturally, or it may be the result of human activity.

Here are some of the most common sources of private well water contamination:

Microorganisms: These are perhaps the most common avenues of well water contamination of all. Parasites, bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms are often found in well water. Wells that are shallow, meaning the water level is close to ground level, are most at risk. Run off after heavy rains, flooding, or snow melts are another way microorganisms get into well water. Well owners may see the water flowing into the well but will not see the organisms within the water itself.

Heavy Metals: Depending on the geology of your area, heavy metals in your drinking water may pose a risk to your family's health. It is well known that underground rocks and soils may contain lead, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, chromium, and other types of metals that can get into the water.

Nitrate: High levels of nitrate are normally caused by human activity such as locating animal feeding pens or waste areas too close to the well. Septic tanks, fertilizer run off, and other types of sources can also lead to contamination of the well water. Drinking water that has high levels of nitrates can be especially hazardous to young children, pregnant women, and the fetus within the woman.

Fertilizers and Pesticides: These products are necessary for farming in many areas of the country, but when they mix with rain water or water from floods or snow melts, they can run into the well or seep down into well water aquifer. Many types of fertilizers contain nitrogen that can break down into nitrate when combined with oxygen.

Industrial Discharges: Stricter laws regarding the discharge of industrial waste has lowered the potential for well water contamination. But the laws are not always obeyed and industrial waste can and does still get into underground water sources. This can be especially true for those who live in areas where manufacturing plants are abundant.

Leaking or Abandoned Underground Tanks: Storage tanks that were placed underground may leak into the surrounding area. Depending on what was being stored, this, too, can present problems with well water contamination. Most onerous are old gasoline and diesel storage tanks located at abandoned gas stations. Over time, these tanks will leak. Above ground storage tanks, such as those found on many farms, can also leak and cause contamination of well water.

Private well owners know that there is no way they can foresee and plan for every single event that may contaminate their drinking water. This is where installing high-quality in-home water filters can become crucial to good health. Water filters can be installed that clean all of the water that enters the home or they can be installed only at the point of use—faucets and shower heads.

If you are not sure what type of water filter will best serve your needs, contact a reliable vendor and discuss your concerns. They can offer a wide variety of solutions, meeting virtually any budget.

by: Chris Tracey

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The title of this article is Treating E Coli in Drinking Water, but it could also be titled: Why is there Chlorine in My Drinking Water? In order to address one of the above issues, we must also address the other.

Municipal water treatment plants are required by the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide water that has been disinfected both at the plant as well as along the delivery lines (water pipes). The disinfection process can be accomplished in a number of ways including the use of chlorine, ozone, or ultra-violet light. For many water treatment plants, chlorine is the preferred manner of disinfection.

Chlorine is very effective in killing E Coli, which is good. E Coli can cause massive outbreaks of illness in very short amounts of time. What many people do not realize is that E Coli is often found in surface water sources. Lakes, rivers, and streams often contain various strains of this bacterium and unless it is effective removed, people will get sick if they ingest contaminated water.

As mentioned above, water is often injected with chorine gas as it enters the water treatment plant. The water moves through the treatment process and ultimately ends up in a storage tank from which it flows through pipes to homes. Several factors will work against the chlorine, thus reducing the amount of chlorine in the water. For this reason, post-chlorine is added to water after it has left the treatment plant. Water that has zero chlorine in it is susceptible to various forms of contaminants, including E Coli. In this regard, it is actually a good thing for your tap water to have at least the minimum amount of post-chlorine in it as it flows into your home. This protects you and your family from many waterborne diseases.

It should be noted that some water filters alone cannot remove E Coli from water. But they can be used to remove residual chlorine from your water before you drink it. To recap, you want a certain amount of chlorine in your water as it travels to your home in order to kill dangerous bacteria. But you also want to remove that chlorine once it gets to your home in order to avoid the harmful effects that chlorine, chlorine by-products and VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) may have on your overall health.

The answer is a high-quality water filter that is approved for chlorine removal. You can find a variety of water filters that can perform this task for you. Some are inexpensive countertop models, and others are installed under the counter. You can find both point of use water filters and point of entry water filters. The best way to decide which type of water filter best suits your needs and budget is to contact a reliable, experience filter vendor. A short discussion with an expert will get you on the right track with the right filter for your home or office.

by: Chris Tracey

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Monday, May 10, 2010
Anyone who pays attention to the news already knows that E Coli outbreaks happen in the US about once a year or so. Generally, these outbreaks are caused by contaminated vegetables (lettuce, spinach, peppers, etc). But many people do not know that E Coli can live and thrive in water as well as on land. This article examines some of the background information you need to know about E Coli. Our second article in this series, "How to Treat E Coli in Drinking Water" examines how you can eliminate this health hazard from your drinking water.

E Coli is shorthand for Escherichia coli. It is a coliform (ie, coli) bacterium that is found in the intestines of both animals and humans. When animals or humans defecate in or near water sources, the E Coli bacteria can get into the water, and can then be ingested by those drinking from this water source. Another common way that E Coli can be introduced into a water sources is through sewage discharges into creeks, streams, rivers, etc.

While the above are the most common ways for E Coli to be introduced into water supplies, they are not the only avenues of introduction. Heavy rainfall and ice and snow melts can also deliver the bacteria into water sources as runoff.

It should be noted that while E Coli is most often found in surface water, it can also be found in ground water as well. If contaminated fecal matter on the surface is diluted by rainwater or snow melt, it can leech down into the soil and go into underground water supplies. This is important to remember if you get your drinking water from aquifer or well.

E Coli comes in hundreds of different strains and not all of them are hazardous to our health. One of the most dangerous strains, however, is E. Coli 0157:H7. Individuals who ingest this particular strain of E Coli can be become very sick with symptoms including abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea that may or may not be bloody in nature, and a general sense of malaise. Fever may or may not be present.

This particular E Coli infection can be very serious for children under 5 as well as to elderly individuals and those with compromised immune systems. It can lead to kidney failure and other severe health issues. In some cases, it can be fatal. The medical term for this malady is hemolytic uremic syndrome. Unfortunately, hemolytic uremic syndrome is the main cause of sudden kidney failure in children in the US.

As you can see, E Coli contamination is nothing you want to mess with or have your family exposed to. The good news is destroying E Coli in drinking water is fairly easy to do if the proper chemicals are used in the proper manner. Please read our next article in this series, "How to Treat E Coli in Drinking Water" to learn how to protect your family from this dreaded disease.

by: Chris Tracey

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Friday, May 7, 2010
Distilling has been around for thousands of years. It is often thought of as being the main process for creating alcoholic beverages from moonshine to top-label whiskey. Distillation can also be used to purify water. While it is no longer as popular as other purification methods for home use, it is still used in some homes and in many laboratories.

The process of distilling water is fairly simple in principle. It begins with a heat source that is used to vaporize the water. The main objective in distilling water is to separate the clean, pure water molecules from whatever contaminants that may be in the untreated water. In order for this to work, the boiling point for the contaminants must be higher than the boiling point for water.

As the water begins to boil, it also begins to vaporize. The temperature at this point in the process needs to remain constant so that the water continues to vaporize but the contaminant molecules do not. The vaporized water molecules are collected in a series of tubes and allowed to cool which brings them back to a fluid state. The fluid, pure water, is collected in a container for dispensing.

The distillation process can remove most minerals from water and it can also remove or kill most bacteria and viruses. Any chemicals that may be in the untreated water will also be removed as long as their boiling point is below that of water.

Distillation removes heavy metal materials such as mercury, lead, and arsenic. It can also remove hardening agents such as calcium and phosphorous. Because of its ability to remove viruses and bacteria, distillation is often used in global areas where the risk of waterborne disease is high.

Distilling water will not remove chlorine, chlorine byproducts, or VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds). The reason is because these chemicals have a lower boiling point than water.

It should be noted that distilling water for drinking can lead to some health issues. Distilled water is more acidic than any other type of treated water and this increased acidity can lead to health problems such as loss of calcium on bones and problems with teeth and gums.

For the above reasons, most homeowners prefer to use water filters to remove contaminants from their drinking water. High-quality water filters can accomplish the job of delivering clean drinking water and do so with less risk to your health.

by: Chris Tracey

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Thursday, May 6, 2010
Are you concerned about the purity and safety of your drinking water? If so, you are not alone. Millions of people, around the globe, are beginning to pay more attention to the water that they drink and the health issues associated with less-than-pure water. This article looks at one of the more common contaminants found in water and how you can protect yourself from it. This contaminant is called Giardia.

Giardia (also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia intestinalis) is a parasite that can cause severe illnesses that include dangerous levels of diarrhea. This particular parasite is one of the more common waterborne contaminants as it is very hearty, protected by an outer layer (cyst) which can allow it to live for months outside the human body or other host. It can be found in all regions of the US, and is commonly found across the globe.

Giardia parasites thrive within the intestines of both infected humans and animals. In one single bowel movement, literally millions of these parasitic cysts can be discharged. If this discharge is near water or into water, the water becomes contaminated. In order for a human to become infected the parasite must be ingested, ie, by drinking contaminated water or eating food that has been contaminated.

There are several ways to remove this dangerous contaminant from water. The first is to filter them out of the water. This is done by your local water treatment plant. Water treatment plants are required by the EPA to filter all surface water that is brought in for treatment. The filtering media catches (or snags) the cysts as they pass through the media. In addition, disinfectant chemicals, such as chlorine, are added to the water as it comes into the plant and again as it leaves the plant.

Boiling water for one to three minutes can also be effective in destroying the cysts and rendering them harmless.

Water filters can also be used to help eliminate the possible presence of Giardia in water. The type of home water filtration system employed must be of a type that will trap (filter) the cysts out of the water as it passes through the media.

Individuals who get their household water from sources other than treatment plants should be especially wary of Giardia contamination and infections. Just because a water supply is clean one day does not guarantee that it will be clean the next day. This is very important for those homes and farms that are in close proximity to animals. Remember, Giardia can live and thrive in both human and animal intestines and is discharged via fecal matter. If animals are depositing in water sources (streams, creeks, lakes, ponds, etc) and you are taking your water from those same sources, you may be in danger of infection.

If you suspect you may be in danger of coming into contact with Giardia cysts contact a reputable water filter vendor and discuss your options. This is time well invested.

by: Chris Tracey

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010
So, you decide you want to protect your family against the harmful effects often found in tap water. You decide that buying bottled water is simply too expensive and cumbersome. After some research, you decide that installing water filters is your best and most affordable option. But how do you know if water filters you are considering are reliable? There is an easy way to determine which water filters are going to be effective and which you should steer clear of. It is called filter certification.

It makes no sense to purchase a water filter if you cannot feel confident that it is performing the tasks you want it to perform. The simple truth is water filters are not all the same. Some perform certain tasks, while others perform other tasks. You need to know which is which before you buy. It is also important to buy filters that have been tested and rated and certified as to their effectiveness and reliability.

There are three types of certifications that you can look for on water filter labels. Filter labels will also detail what the filter can and cannot do. It is important to read this information before you purchase. In the event you come across a water filter that has not been certified, you should either bypass that model or you may want to contact the maker of the filter to get more information.

The three organizations that provide certification for water filters are all accredited by ANSI (American National Standards Institute). Before a water filter can be certified, it must first undergo a series of tests. Some of the issues that the filter must pass before it is allowed to be certified include: verification that it does, indeed, reduce or remove the contaminants that it says it removes or reduces; physical testing of the unit to see if it holds up under normal wear and tear; inspection and testing of its internal parts and filter media; and other performance tests.

In order to receive its certification, the unit must meet or exceed the ANSI and EPA standards for drinking water.

Here are the three certification organizations that you want to look for as you choose your water filter. A product does not need to be certified by all three, just one.

Underwriters Laboratories: World famous and with a long history, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., is an accredited and independent testing and certification organization.

NSF International: The NSF Water Treatment Device
Certification Program conducts intensive product testing on water treatment devices. They only certify products that have met or exceeded national standards for materials, design, and performance requirements.

The Water Quality Association: The WQA is a trade organization that conducts extensive water treatment device testing. It awards a Gold Seal to those devices that meet or exceed ANSI/NSF standards for water contaminant reduction performance, material safety, and structural integrity.

For more information about water treatment units and certification issues or questions, you can contact them at:

Underwriter’s Laboratories, Inc.
333 Pfingsten Road
Northbrook, IN 60062-2096
(877) 854-3577
mail to:water@us.ul.com

NSF International
P.O. Box 130140
Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0140
877-8-NSF-HELP; (877) 867-3435

Water Quality Association
4151 Naperville Road
Lisle, IL 60632-3696
(630) 505-0160

by: Chris Tracey

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Cryptosporidium (aka Crypto) is a disease-causing parasite that is often found in water. This parasite is similar to Giardia (another parasite found in water) but they are not the same. Like Giardia, Crypto can live and reproduce within the intestines of humans and animals. Also like Giardia, Cryptosporidium resides inside a protective shell called an oocyst. It is discharged through fecal matter and once outside the host, it can survive in the environment (land or water) for several weeks.

For those unfamiliar with waterborne diseases, a reminder may be in order. In 1993, Cryptosporidium became a national news item when an outbreak took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that made over 400,000 people sick and killed more than 100 people who had weakened immune systems.

This parasite becomes a problem for humans when it is ingested. Generally, the illness includes symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, nausea, and fever. Symptoms often show up two to twelve days after ingestion and they can last for ten to fourteen days.

There is some good news and that is that Cryptosporidium does not normally pose a serious health risk to most otherwise healthy Americans. Individuals with weakened immune systems, however, can be at risk. This would include individuals who have AIDS, those who are HIV-positive, those with various types of cancer, and malnourished children.

For those wondering if Cryptosporidium is commonly found in water, the answer is yes. In fact, it is common in soil as well as in untreated water such as rivers, ponds, lakes, and streams. Many of these water sources can become contaminated by runoff from heavy rain or snow melts, which contain contaminated waste from infected animals.

The most common way of ridding Crypto from water is by filtering it at the water treatment plant. It should be noted studies have shown that the treatment filtering process normally removes more than 97 percent of Cryptosporidium oocysts. It should also be noted that because the oocysts are so tiny, some will pass through the filter media.

Homeowners have three options if they wish to make sure no Crypto cysts are in their drinking water.

You can boil your water

You can buy your own water filters and pass your tap water through a filter with pores smaller than Cryptosporidium.

You can put the water through a process known as reverse osmosis.

The only point-of-use water filters that remove Cryptosporidium are those that use reverse osmosis, or are labeled “Absolute” one micron filters, or are certified by NSF International under Standard 53 for “Cyst Removal".

If you are not sure which type of water filter to use, contact a reputable water filter vendor and discuss your concerns with an expert. This is the best way to get the device and filter media that you need.

by: Chris Tracey

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Monday, May 3, 2010
Much has been written about the concerns many consumers have over the dangers of chlorine in their tap water. This article takes a closer look at how and why chlorine in tap water can affect your health.

Trihalomethanes, often referred to as THM's, consist of a group of four chemicals that are when chlorine reacts with organic and inorganic matter in water. THM's are formed with other by-products as they go the business of disinfecting water.

The four trihalomethanes are: chloroform, romodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane, and bromoform. EPA standards allow for a maximum annual average level of 80 parts per billion.

The concern over THM's is that these by-products belong to the Cancer Group B carcinogens. This means that these contaminants have already been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Another concern is that these by-products are not entirely stable. By that we mean that the levels of these by-products can increase according to pH, temperature, time, and the level of organic material they have to react with in the water.

It is important to remember that water treatment plants are required by regulation to maintain a certain level of residual chlorine in the water as it moves through the distribution system (water pipes). This residual chlorine is used to disinfect flowing water as it makes its way from the plant or water tank to your home. It is also important to remember that the minimum residual chlorine level must be maintained all the way to the very last point of discharge. What this means to you is that the closer you live to a treatment plant or water storage tank the higher the level of chlorine will be in your tap water.

Understanding the pro's and con's of chlorine can help consumers make better decisions on whether or not they want to remove chlorine and trihalomethanes from their tap water. In almost all cases, it is better to remove these contaminants than to leave them in the water. This is especially true for the THM's that are found in tap water.

It should also be noted that chlorine and THM's can be introduced into the body through showering. For this reason, most experts recommend homeowners install shower head water filters which are rated to remove both chlorine and THM's.

For point of use systems at homes, activated carbon filters are the most effective means of removing THM's from tap water. These POU filters are very affordable and easy to install. In addition, reverse osmosis units will also eliminate chlorine and trihalomethanes.

by: Chris Tracey

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