2010/01/21

Filter choice and water quality in Connecticut

I was asked by one of my patients to do some research on Water filters, to find out which are the best on the market right now. Here is what I learned.

1. You can not simply recommend the “best” water filter. There is no one filter best for all circumstances: you have to know water contaminants in your town.

2. I was surprised to find that both Stamford and Bridgeport have lead in the drinking water. The level was between 0.38 to 3 ppb (health limit is 0; legal limit is 15ppb. As you can see it does not exceed legal limits)(2). Stamford also has Radium-226 and 228 between 0.22 pCi/L to 1.1 pCi/L (health limit is 0; legal limit is 5 pCi/L). For residents of Greenwich and Canaan: please do some research and see what you have in your water.

3. Match your filter with your water contaminants.

4. Make sure that you understand the possible side effects of the filter that you are using; you can run into potential problems. I talked to other health care practitioners and they are aware that water from distillers and reverse osmosis filters is depleted of trace minerals, but most people may not see the negative effects until year 4-5 or even 6.

Choosing Your Filter

Step one: learn about types of filers and water softeners. Here they are in a nut shell.
Activated carbon filter
The most common type of water filter, also sometimes referred to as activated charcoal, made with specially treated carbon designed to absorb contaminants. It is most effective with organic substances. The drawback is that charcoal filters are unable to remove dissolved metals like lead and iron
Distillation system
A water filter system that boils water and captures the resulting steam in a reservoir to be used as drinking water. This system theoretically results in the contaminants being left behind in the boiling tank, but many substances have a higher boiling point than water and are therefore carried with the steam into the drinking water reservoir. Recently there has been growing awareness of distilled water's effects on the balance of minerals in the body, plus the acidic result that a typical distiller creates.
Reverse osmosis (RO)
A filtration process in which water is forced through specific membranes that allow water molecules to pass but trap larger contaminant molecules, including bacteria, fungi, organic compounds and many heavy metals .Reverse osmosis filters also take out beneficial chemicals and minerals.
Ultraviolet disinfection
A filtration method where water is exposed to UV rays that kill microbiological contaminants. This step does not affect other types of contaminants, so it is often used in conjunction with other methods of filtration. Kills bags only.
Water Softener (Hard water: water with an exceptionally high mineral content, typically calcium and magnesium. These minerals cause the premature corrosion of plumbing and fixtures, give water an unpleasant taste and can damage laundry.)
A large, in-line tank that mixes water with treatment pellets or beads that dissolve minerals and some inorganic substances in “hard” water.

Step two: learn about possible contaminants. There are four classes of contaminants in water:
1) microbiological
2) organic substances
3) inorganic substances
4) radioactive pathogens
Each type of contaminant requires a specific type of water filter.

Microbiological contaminants
: bacteria, protozoa and viruses. It takes a distillation system, UV disinfection or reverse osmosis system to effectively remove these contaminants.
Organic substances: pesticides, herbicides and chlorine byproducts. Most of these are easily removed with an activated-carbon water filter or a distillation system.
Inorganic substances: arsenic, fluoride and lead, as well as any man-made substances that do not contain carbon. Reverse osmosis does the best job at getting rid of these contaminants, but these water filters can waste up to five gallons of water to produce one gallon of purified water. They also remove good minerals, like iron, and are among the most expensive water filters, with some under-sink models costing more than a $1,000. For people with compromised immune systems or areas prone to heavy metal contamination, reverse osmosis is the best choice. Water softeners and distillation systems will remove some inorganic compounds as well.
Radioactive pathogens are rare, occurring naturally in some soils or resulting from the mining, disposal or storage of radioactive materials. If you have multiple types of contaminants in your water, then …. Nothing mach you can do about it.

Before you go and buy water filter decide which one you need. Check water quality in your town on this web, just put in your zip code- "search" and then chose Water Company in your area. WHAT'S IN YOUR WATER

http://www.ewg.org/tap-water/fullreport

Here is the result for Bridgeport CT (06604): Lead(total) is “Over Health Guidelines”. It means: Lead is higher than health guidelines (1), (2). Also, nitrate & nitrite were found, they are agricultural pollutants that come from pesticides, fertilizers and factory farms.
Here what we have in Stamford CT(06905)higher then health guidelines(1) : Lead (total). Alpha particle activity (excl radon and uranium) and Radium-226 and 228 are radioactive substances

Step three: Match your water filter to water contaminants.
Both, Bridgeport and Stamford, are require reverse osmosis (RO) filter to filtrate lead. RO filter will take out nitrate & nitrite from the water in Bridgeport, but there are no filters for radioactive substances in Stamford.

Step four: Understanding potential side effects of ware filtration system.
RO filters will take out of the water microminerals (trace elements): Magnesium, Chromium, Calcium, Iodine and many others. You must take supplements of microelements!

For my patients in Stamford: Take extra Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants to combat radioactive substances (alpha particle activity (excl radon and uranium). If you have family history of cancer, set up an appointment and we’ll make a plan for cancer prevention.

When I did my research I contacted Stephen Gladstone, he runs Stonehollow, INC in Stamford and does all sorts of water testing, he said that “the big problem recently is pesticides leaching into well water in CT”. He is easy to reach by phone: 203-327-6824 or e-mail him steve@stonehollow.com if you have more questions about water testing.

If you did independent testing of water in your town, please, post the info or send it to me that I can share it with all my patients and friends.
If you have more info about filtration systems that will combat alpha particle activity (excl radon and uranium) and Radium-226 and 228, please, post that information.

Stay healthy

Dr. Veronica

(1) A Health Guidelines is a non-enforceable health goal that is set at a level at which no known or anticipated adverse effect on the health of person occurs and which allows an adequate margin of safety. Source: US Environmental Protection Agency.
(2)Low-level environmental lead exposure and children's intellectual function: an international pooled analysis. HERE

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

is it better to use boiled water for drinking?

Dr. Veronica said...

there is no harm in boiling water, but there is no need aether. Boiling will kill bacterium and virus, there are no bugs in Stamford/Bridgeport water. they have been killed by chlorination.

Brooke said...

I really like your blog. That is the nice information for the purifier which should be the qualities of it.
Thanks for blog.
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