Water, Water Everywhere… Part One
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“Water, water, everywhere…nor any drop to drink.”
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
This poor fellow is lost at sea and acutely aware of the irony of being surrounded by water but unable to drink it. He is the character with an Albatross tied around his neck, punishment from his shipmates for killing the bird that guided them to safety. Having destroyed the natural aspect that protected them, they now all succumb to death by thirst, trapped on their lost, idle ship. All die except the Mariner, who suffers much until he learns to love all of God’s creations “both great and small”, and then is saved to forever tell his tale to others.
Meanwhile, as the world prepares for the coming Water-Wars, we in Canada still have plenty of water, but difficulty in understanding which form is the healthiest way to drink it. Herein I will examine the majority of those options including bottled water from stores, carbon-based filters, Reverse Osmosis water, distilled water, and spring water.
In The Beginning
Thirty-some years ago when I lived in Northern California, no one I knew drank tap water. Even my trailer park friend, whose family apparently lived off pop and junk food, knew enough not to drink the tap water. At that point most Canadians were not yet into bottled water, so I found it amazing that every corner store in California sold bottled water.
Things are of course much worse now, but even then in the 80s, the average person in California knew that the unpalatable tap water was unsafe. This area in which I lived at the time, Northern California, was home to many orchards, vineyards and farms, and the agricultural run-off, primarily nitrates from fertilizers, and chemical residues from pesticides and fungicides, had by then already contaminated most of the sources of drinking water.
Being an agricultural state, this problem of groundwater contamination from agribusiness was occurring throughout California, not just in Northern California. Well, as goes California, so goes the rest of the world eventually, as they are the fountainhead of fashion and trend. Since us commoners are historically known to follow the lead of the upper classes, and the new nobility is represented by stars and media personalities found on television and in movies, which (up until recently) were mostly made in California, bottled water became hip. And soon almost everyone, almost everywhere, was choosing bottled water instead of tap water. Which, like most things, has its pros and cons.
In recent times, the authorities, including our local city hall, are trying to reassure us that we have some of the best tap water in the world, and we are creating a landfill crisis with the millions of extra plastic bottles that this new industry is leaving behind. The waste produced is part of the problem, but as we will see, there are other problems with drinking commercial bottled waters.
What city hall is not considering when they tell us we have some of the safest tap water in the world, is that the water contains chlorine, heavy metals (particularly lead and copper from old piping), often fluoride, and possibly plastic contaminants from the new generation of pipes that transfer the water into your kitchen.
Confirming this was a detailed study that came out in 2019: “Hundreds of thousands of Canadians could be consuming tap water laced with high levels of lead leaching from aging infrastructure and plumbing, a large collection of newly released data and documents reveals.” (Source)
Among those in the natural health field, the original impetus behind not drinking tap water began with the discovery that chlorine was a cumulative carcinogen. That is, like radiation, it is not how much you get in a day but in a lifetime that matters, and, like radiation, it can cause cancer.
As a related aside, we absorb chlorine better through our lungs than our stomachs, so we actually store more chlorine from a shower, than we would get from drinking gallons of water. To combat this, a shower filter can be obtained at health food stores, or places like London Drugs for not much money. (However, I will warn you that the Santevia water company informed me that here, in Victoria, B.C., we have so much sediment in our municipal water that shower filters clog up pretty fast.)
One tip for avoiding chlorine while bathing is to add 1 gram of ascorbic acid to the bath. This will cause a chemical reaction that neutralizes the chlorine so that you don’t absorb it.
Furthermore, natural health advocates were starting to suspect that adding fluoride to drinking water also was not a good idea. Which it is not, but this is a topic too large for this newsletter. Suffice to say, fluoride is also a cumulative toxin, compromises the immune system, calcifies the pineal gland, and may make us dumber.
Those of us living in British Columbia, for the most part, have escaped water fluoridation, as for some reason it is seldom used in this province. Evidently, carbon water filters will remove chlorine but not fluoride (Source).
I covered the subject of iodine briefly in an old blog, and in far more detail in Health Secrets Volume 2, but for our purposes here, just know that if you take in a good amount of iodine on a regular basis (I recommend 2-3 mg, five days a week, a level comparable to Japanese intake) you will occupy your halogen receptors and forbid the dangerous halogens (chloride, fluoride, and bromide) from gaining purchase in the body.
Store-Bought Bottled Water
Now let’s look at regular, store-bought bottled water.
This water is a nicely recyclable PET plastic that unfortunately seems to leach antimony (a metal-like element used in the manufacturing of this plastic) into the water. This substance is toxic at high levels, its symptoms being similar to arsenic poisoning.
Professor Shotyk, of Germany, first found this in Canada then confirmed it in European waters. While groundwater has about 2 parts per billion of antimony, bottled water has about 160 ppb, and after six months in storage contains about 630 ppb of antimony. European safety guidelines for antimony are at about 6 ppb, with the World Health Organization allowing 20 ppb.
As well as antimony, PET plastic, while claiming to be free of bisphenol-A, also leaches other xenoestrogens (hormone-disrupting, carcinogenic chemicals) into beverages stored in these containers, particularly phthalates. The amount of phthalates leached into the beverage or food depends on two things: the pH of the product, and the temperature at which it was stored.
Phthalates leach more easily into low pH products (more acidic), examples being soda waters and pop, as well as tomato juice and vinegar. As well, those products stored in hot warehouses, or left in the sun in store windows, or allowed to heat up in your car on a hot day, greatly increase the leaching of both antimony and xenoestrogens into substances stored in PET containers.
If we are out and need to purchase bottled water, it is now apparent the the safe choice is to buy water in glass bottles, as this study confirmed: “Montuori et al. (2008) tested 71 commercial brands of bottled water, all of which were available both in glass bottles and in PET bottles. Across all brands, they found that the concentration of all phthalates combined was “more than 12 times higher in PET than in glass bottled water.” In most cases, the concentration of phthalates in water from glass bottles was below the limits of detection.” (Source)
The other important thing to remember about bottled water, and the reason that Japan rejected a number of Canadian water products, is that when the chlorine is removed bacteria can thrive in the water. So a good product will be ozonated, in essence increasing the amount of oxygen in the water to forbid bacteria from breeding.
Carbon Filtered Water
Like many of us, my journey through the wonderful world of water began with Brita Water Filter pitcher, a product that now has many imitators.
Using an old fashioned Brita-style jug with a carbon filter is a much better choice than drinking tap water, but has some limitations.
These filters (www.waterfiltercomparisons.net) remove bacteria, chlorine, pesticides and most heavy metals, but leave in most of the trace minerals. This water can then be further alkalized by adding trace mineral drops (like Concentrace Mineral Drops), and further disinfected by adding colloidal silver, grapefruit seed extract (though bitter), or iodine (which can also be used at higher amounts to purify unclean water during emergencies).
You will consider further disinfecting if you live in an area where the water may be contaminated with single-celled organisms (such as toxoplasma gondil), since the carbon filters will not remove these. This contamination can occur when the reservoir becomes too full and overflows onto land, picking up contaminants.
The carbon filters that one attaches to the faucet are not much different in structure than the replaceable units used in Brita-style pitchers, but claim to last a year or more. However, some studies have found that after just a few months they are teeming with bacteria.
Manufacturers of these products often claim that their filters can go up to 2 years without being changed, and will be free of bacterial build up. Tell that to the lady in Seattle who developed parasitic worms in her brain from using tap water filtered through a carbon filter pitcher for her nasal rinse. That is a double fail, since the parasite eggs must have made it through the city’s water purification system, and past the Brita filter as well.
At least with the jug, the filter is changed on a monthly basis, preventing the problem of too much bacterial build-up. The water also does not sit in the jug for long periods of time, unlike store purchased and home delivery water, so there is less chance of any plastic leaching. It may even be possible to find glass jugs.
And, for water needs while out and about, companies such as Sigg make ceramic coated, non-reactive portable water containers, or one can just find a glass jar of appropriate size. Do ensure that portable water containers are properly washed at least once a week (soap and/or bleach, and hot water), to ensure that there is no bacteria build-up.
Now one other problem: ammonia. About three years after I wrote the original version of this newsletter (2010), I discovered that the water in my city (Victoria, B.C.) rather than just using chlorine as a disinfectant, instead used chloramine. Chloramine is a compound made of chlorine bound to ammonia, and while chlorine is easily removed from water by carbon filters, boiling, or letting the water sit for 8 hours, ammonia is almost impossible to remove. (This subject is covered in the newsletter I wrote following this discovery: Does Your Water Contain Chloramine?)
In part two we will examine distilled water, reverse osmosis filtration, and spring water.