Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Patricia Wersinger

Kids are more vulnerable than adults to trace levels of lead and toxic chemicals in drinking water. Diseases and learning disabilities in later years can originate from exposure to lead and chemicals in formative years. I don’t pay too much attention to alarming headlines in newspapers but recent ones announcing that lead water levels were up in New York City have made me a bit nervous.

Another headline pointed at higher levels of Hexavalent Chromium, a dangerous industrial chemical and carcinogen, found in the water systems of 35 US cities. I also read that prescription drug residues have been found in tap water all around the country. Are you in a panic yet? In order to keep the germs out, a dash of chlorine, orthophosphate and sodium hydroxide is added to New York City water. I drink as much bottled water as possible thinking it is safer but according to experts, bottled water is no better than tap water though it may taste better, as traces of industrial chemicals and fertilizers that have leached into ground water are commonly found in it too. Well if all this wonderful news is enough to make you want to give up drinking water for the rest of your life, I am with you. There is no need to panic though as the levels of contaminants are relatively low and water is still considered overall safe to drink. Yet in a world of less than perfect water, it is good to be aware of what is going on and to learn your options. This is just part of living in our wonderful post-industrial age!

Let’s start by looking at what the experts say: Though lead solder was banned in plumbing in 1986, if you live in a buildling in NYC that was built before 1986, you should have a reasonable concern about having lead in your water, informs the NY State Department of Health website (http://www.health.ny.gov), as the lead in the pipes can dissolve into your drinking water. According to the same website, to lower lead levels, let the water run so that water left standing in pipes over a long period of time can be evacuated. One should also only use cold water for cooking, drinking or for making baby’s formula as hot water is more likely to leach lead from old pipes and solder. If you follow these precautions, there is no need for alarm. I have been using a Britta filtering device to filter my drinking water for years. These basic water filters help to get rid of a lot of contaminents but according to experts, they do not remove all lead, synthetic chemicals and hexavalent chromium effectively.

If you want to be extra cautious, some say you may want to invest in acquiring a high level filtering device. Such a device will guarantee that the water you drink and that will reach every cell in your body is clean, pure and healthy. While searching for filtering devices for the home, I found the Aquasana water filtering systems that are the best rated on the market. I had a conversation with the Aquasana CEO, Todd Bartee.

“Aquasana drinking water filters are really effective ” said Todd “because they use a patented process to strip out more than 99% of the chlorine, lead, herbicides, pesticides, industrial solvents and cysts found in tap water while preserving its healthiest elements which include calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium”. He recommends installing an under-countertop water filter or over the countertop filter that is hooked directly to your faucet. It is the best way to ensure that your water is clean and safe. “Smaller filtering devices, he says, “use a single cartridge system that can usually only filter out a small amount of contaminants. They miss some of the more complex and potentially harmful contaminants in tap water like hexavalent chromium.” Todd also recommends families to remove the chlorine from bath and shower water. Chlorinated water is a well- known oxidizer that irritates skin and hair and offsets ph balance. Chlorine vapors in the shower can be exacerbating for children with breathing difficulties and asthma. Our bodies absorb up to 100 times the same amount of chlorine and chemicals/toxins in a 10-minute shower as when we drink from a gallon of the same unfiltered tap water.

I installed an under-counter filter and since I do suffer from an allergy to chlorine, I decided to get a shower filter too. The taste of the water is so fresh that I drink more water than before and I don’t suffer anymore from that bitter after taste that tap water gave me even when I used a pitcher filter. Using a filter in my shower is like taking a shower in a spring and you don’t need to lather in moisturizers afterwards.

I don’t want to freak all NYC mothers out and have them run out and grab a counter water filter as soon as possible but if you want to be on the safe side, it is not a bad idea. “When searching for a water filter, be sure to look for one that is certified by NSF or UL,” says Todd Bartee. Though there are many similar types of counter filter devices on the market, I chose to write about Aquasana filters because they have been named a Consumers Digest “Best Buy” for six consecutive years and one of the seven healthiest products for your home by Health Magazine in June 2010. More information can be obtained at http://www.aquasana.com.

Originally published March 2011
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