Home Blog Home and Wellness Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Is Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Dr. Jonathan Doyle - Updated December 14, 2023
Drinking enough water is essential to keeping one’s health at its best. For the body to perform functions like digestion, nutrient absorption, and temperature regulation, it must have enough water. Water also promotes healthy organ function and helps the body eliminate toxins.
Tap water is treated to meet safety standards, and it is typically obtained from municipal water supplies. The option is simple and accessible through most household faucets, making it an excellent choice. However, depending on the area, its quality and taste may differ.
Tap water safety has become a source of concern in recent times. Public awareness has increased in response to reports of contaminants in certain water supplies. This has led to an increase in interest in alternative water sources and water filtration systems .

The Composition of Tap Water

Numerous trace minerals are essential to human health and can be found in tap water. Common minerals that support healthy bones and muscles include calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Furthermore, trace elements that are important for enzymatic processes include copper and zinc.
break down water composition
However, too much of some minerals can cause problems, such as hard water and the accumulation of scale in pipes and appliances. Finding the ideal balance is essential to providing water that is both safe and palatable and meets the different requirements of various communities.

Additives and Disinfectants

In order to remove dangerous microorganisms and improve the quality of the water, water treatment facilities frequently use additives and disinfectants. Common disinfectants that work well at eradicating bacteria and viruses include chlorine and chloramine. These substances can alter the taste and smell of tap water, even though they are essential for protecting the public’s health.
Additionally, to prevent tooth decay and promote dental health, fluoridated tap water may contain fluoride additives. The careful application of these chemicals demonstrates a precise balancing act between guaranteeing the safety of the water and reducing any possible effect on taste or odor.

Potential Pollutants

Even after thorough treatment procedures, contaminants may still be present in tap water. Health risks can arise from lead, a heavy metal that is known to seep into water through pipes. Moreover, runoff from industrial chemicals and pesticides can contaminate water sources.
Treatment plants conduct routine testing and monitoring to identify and quickly resolve these problems. Homeowners can ensure that the water they consume is safe and of the highest quality by installing advanced filtration systems as an extra line of defense against unwanted impurities. Identifying and addressing these issues helps to ensure that tap water safety standards continue to improve.
washing fruits with tap water

United States Drinking Water Standards

Making sure that drinking water is safe is especially important in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets extremely strict rules for this. The EPA is authorized to establish and implement regulations that save public health.
To determine the maximum permissible concentrations of certain contaminants in drinking water, the EPA has established a list of contaminants known as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). To guarantee adherence to these requirements, water utilities must periodically check and report on the quality of their water.
The regulatory framework of the EPA is dynamic, changing to reflect new contaminants and advances in scientific understanding. MCL updates and reviews regularly show ongoing efforts to protect public health and address contemporary issues.
Concerns over new pollutants such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are becoming more widespread, and the EPA is still dedicated to doing research and enacting regulations to deal with these possible hazards. Technology and water treatment techniques are always improving, which helps the country fulfill its goal of providing every community with clean, trustworthy drinking water.
us environmental protection agency

Typical Methods of Water Treatment

An essential first step in guaranteeing the security and caliber of drinking water is water treatment. It entails several procedures meant to rid water of pollutants and impurities and make it fit for human consumption. Filtration, chlorination, reverse osmosis and UV treatment are common methods of treating water; each has a distinct function in cleaning the water and guaranteeing its safety for human consumption.

Typical Techniques for Purifying Water

The Filtering Process

Using physical barriers like sand or membranes, filters extract particles and impurities from water. This procedure provides a first purification step by efficiently removing larger contaminants such as silt and debris.
filtration process

Chlorination

Chlorination is a common disinfection technique that involves adding chlorine or compounds derived from chlorine to water. As the water passes through the distribution system, this helps destroy or make dangerous microorganisms—like bacteria and viruses inactive, guaranteeing that it is safe to drink.

UV Protection

UV treatment uses light from the sun to make microorganisms in water inactive. By altering the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and parasites, this non-chemical technique stops them from reproducing and spreading illness. The water’s taste and odor remain unaltered by UV treatment, which effectively eradicates a wide range of pathogens.

Why Is Human Health Dependent on Clean Water?

If you go without food for more than a month, you’ll probably only last a few days without water. Water consumption is crucial for overall health. Your heartbeat and eye blinks are two examples of bodily functions that depend on water.
Water consumption is essential for normal breathing, temperature regulation, and digestion. We lose water from our bodies when we breathe, perspire, and urinate. If we don’t replenish this lost water, dehydration can set in quickly. Dehydration, even in mild cases, can have negative health effects such as headaches, dry mouth, and decreased urine production.
water matters a lot for human health
The majority of us do not consume enough water during the day. Although there are many guidelines regarding the amount of water we should consume, each person has different requirements for hydration.
It’s simple to follow the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, particularly if you don’t drink a lot of it already. As long as you’re not following a diet that restricts fluids, you’re free to drink as much water as you like. Preventing thirst and maintaining adequate hydration are crucial. If it is hot outside, you’re physically active, or you have diarrhea or vomiting, you’ll need to drink more water.

Health Problems Connected to Water Quality

Our water’s contaminants can cause neurological disorders, reproductive troubles, and gastrointestinal illnesses, among other health problems. After drinking tainted water, those with weakened immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women, small children, and newborns may be more vulnerable to illness. For example, elevated levels of lead can be harmful to health, especially in expectant mothers and young children. Federal law requires systems to protect public health by lowering certain pollutants to predefined levels.

Tips for Safe Use of Tap Water

These suggestions may be useful if you’re worried about the purity of the drinking water in your household:

Employ a System for Filtering Water

An estimated one in three homes in America have a water filtration system. In addition to improving the taste of your water, these systems can remove some dangerous chemicals. Viruses and bacteria are not eliminated by filters. Various kinds of water filters are available, such as whole-house systems, countertop models, and reverse osmosis systems.
You can find out which contaminants a filter removes by looking at its NSF certification. For products like water filters, the NSF creates public health standards. Smaller pores or holes in filters allow for the removal of more pollutants.

Regularly Test Your Water

A once-a-year water test is advisable, even if your local water provider issues a clean report. It is not the public water supply that can contain lead or other contaminants; rather, it is the pipes within your home that could leak. Kits for testing your water can be purchased online or at your neighborhood hardware store.

Boil the Water

Boiling water for at least one minute is necessary to eradicate bacteria and germs. Allow the water to cool down before using. Unfortunately, lead and other harmful substances cannot be eliminated by boiling.
boil water

Let It Run

To remove impurities from the pipes, run water through your faucets for three to five minutes each morning. You can gather this water to use for cleaning or for your plants. If you reside in a home with water pipes installed in the 1990s or later, this is unnecessary.

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Contaminants Detected in  Fruitland Water Special Service District
30
Contaminants
EXCEED EWG HEALTH GUIDELINES

30  Total Contaminants in Your Water

Water Provider

Fruitland Water Special Service District

Population Affected

120,000

Water Source

Ground water
Exceeds Guidelines

Others Detected

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