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Wednesday, September 25, 2013
All of us tend to take safe drinking water for granted – we simply turn on the tap and water that we assume will be pure will tumble out. However, after a disaster of one sort or another has occurred, it could be difficult or impossible to have access to safe water. When one considers the length of time that people in Louisiana and adjacent regions were without clean water after Hurricane Katrina, it may be time to think about your own situation.

Where Disasters Can Occur

Frankly, there is no spot on earth that is safe from some kind of disaster. The East and Gulf Coasts are subject to hurricanes, the West Coast to tsunamis and earthquakes, the Central states to tornadoes, and the Upper Midwest to blizzards.

If an emergency or disaster has occurred, the duration can be only a few hours, or it could be weeks. Disruption of electrical service means that there will not only be no lights, but also that no water will be coming out of the faucet.

A long term disaster will mean that you will have to find safe drinking water as quickly as possible. If you have stored water, you will not have to worry until your supply runs out.

Safe Drinking Water when the Tap Is Dry

In most cases, people will be living near some sort of water source that they can access for drinking water. However, water from lakes, rivers, and ponds can be contaminated with both organic and inorganic pollutants that can cause both short term and long term health problems.

Bacteria, viruses, and protozoans can cause acute gastrointestinal distress, and chemical residues in water from industrial or agricultural concerns can result in permanent damage to kidneys, liver, and other organs, and have been linked to the development of cancers and other chronic diseases in later years.

Boiling water is always an option and this works fine at getting rid of organic pathogens, but it will concentrate VOCs and other chemicals and heavy metals. Adding bleach to water will kill most bacteria and viruses, but will leave protozoan cysts intact and ready to go once you ingest them.

Water purification filters are the answer, but if electric power has been severed units that depend upon electricity will be useless. Having a whole house or even an under the sink filter is a great idea, but it’s also a good idea to have a non-electric back up filter to use in times of emergency. There are a number of excellent countertop gravity feed filters that require that you simply put water into an upper chamber and let it percolate down to the holding chamber. These filters will usually provide you with thousands of gallons of pure water.

Camp water filters are another good option for emergencies, but make sure that the model you choose has a long lasting filter or one that you can clean. Depending on the brand, you can expect to get hundreds to about a thousand gallons of safe water from camp filters before the filter element needs changing.

by: Chris Tracey

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Why Drinking Water Is Chlorinated

During the course of history, millions of people have been killed by drinking water that was contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or protozoans. A number of very nasty diseases are transmissible by water including cholera, E. coli infections, amoebiasis, giardiasis, typhoid fever, and legionellosis.

During the 19th Century, repeated cholera epidemics, many starting in India then spreading nearly worldwide caused approximately 40 million people to die. These deaths were due, basically, to drinking water that had been contaminated with human feces. Sadly, for a long period of time the connection between the disease and the water supply was not made, resulting in people repeatedly drinking the same water that was killing their families and neighbors.

It wasn’t until 1854, when there was an outbreak of cholera in London that Dr. John Snow finally understood that cholera was transmitted through water. Sewage from cesspools in cellars contaminated local water supplies, and water from the Thames, which had received the contents of cesspools, was also delivered to homes for their drinking water supply. This epidemic did prompt the authorities to working out safe ways to dispose of human waste.

The early 20th Century saw health officials searching for a means to purify water on a large scale, and it was found that chlorine would do this. Chlorinated water does provide a way for large numbers of people to drink water that would otherwise make them very ill. Chlorine kills bacteria, viruses, and many other pathogens; however it does present some problems of its own.

The Trouble with Chlorine and What to Do About It

Although chlorinated water has undoubtedly saved millions upon millions of lives over the years, this may not be the best, or only, solution to providing safe drinking water. Chlorine in water can cause problems not only when used for drinking or cooking, but also when released as a gas during a shower, bath, or when washing dishes or clothing. Chlorine is absorbed not only through the digestive system, but also through the lungs and skin.

Chlorine in water has been linked not only to cancers of the colon or bladder, but also to the increase in cardiovascular disease and senile dementia. The increased incidence of allergies and asthma can also be traced back to chlorine. Some city water systems, both in the United States and Europe, are now using ozone to clean the water.

If you are concerned about possible chlorine contamination of your family and home, there are a number of very reliable water filters available to remove chlorine from your water. These can be attached right to the taps to provide pure water when you need it and there are also shower and bath filters that will take chlorine out of the water to help prevent chlorine gas from entering the home. Shower filters will be attached directly to the water pipe, while bath chlorine filters can either be hung below the faucet or swished through the bath water itself.

by: Chris Tracey

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