Our bodies are on average 60% water, and maintaining this level is essential for our wellbeing. Studies have shown that to do this we need to be drinking between 1.6 and 2.5 litres per day. Any less than that, and you risk dehydration, which at 1% can lead to a decrease in performance, thermoregulation, and appetite, and at 4% can produce irritability, difficulties in concentration, and headaches.
You may need to drink more water than the recommended amount if exercising, in hot weather, or have a bout of illness, such as sickness and Diarrhoea .
So how do we know our water is safe?
The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for ensuring that all public water is safe. However, reports have found that your tap water may contain certain chemicals and elements, such as the following:
- Arsenic – this is a toxic heavy metal, as classified by the Academy for Research on Cancer, but as it’s naturally occurring, an acceptable level of it is 10 parts per billion.
- Fluoride – this has always been purposely added to water, but it’s starting to be seen as dangerous and the process is slowly being stopped.
- Chlorine – this is added to water to kill certain bacteria.
- Organisms – water is filtered before it reaches the home, but occasionally things will slip through.
- Pesticides – companies must reach a certain set of standards, but again sometimes they fail to do so.
To name just a few. Of course, water is treated to get it to you to the best standard possible, but some of the systems and pipes are very old, and occasionally human error comes into play. You can never be 100% sure that you’re getting exactly what you think you are.
If you ever notice any illness that you suspect may have come from your water, it’s advisable to get this confirmed right away by a doctor so that you can report it – preventing it from happening to other people. The EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline is (800) 426-4791. The people most at risk, who really need to consider what they are drinking are people undergoing chemotherapy, aids and HIV sufferers, transplant patients, young children (under 6 years old especially), and pregnant women.
So how can you help to protect yourself?
Greatist has some tips for helping to get the best out of your tap water:
- Consider other sources of water – there are other choices, maybe something like a drinking fountain or of course, bottled water.
- Run it – flush your pipes out by running your water until it gets very cold.
- Only drink cold – cold water is much safer for consumption than hot, which can store bacteria.
- Re-strain – routinely clean out and replace your water strainers.
- Smell it – if anything about it isn’t quite right, then don’t drink it. In fact, contact your local public water department to report the smell.
- Filter it – this is the best way to keep harmful contaminants away.