How to Protect Your Children From Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water
by Peter Lombardi
Quality Specialist, Consultant
> 4 min read
Across the United States, there are hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals in groundwater supplies, wells, and privately run water systems that aren’t regulated by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
These contaminants include lead, chlorine, mercury, and arsenic, volatile organic compounds like benzene, ethylene, xylene, and various man-made pesticides and herbicides.
If your kids drink tap water that contains high levels of these chemicals, they’re at risk of developing chronic respiratory issues, anemia, kidney damage, and cancer. So, if you suspect that your local groundwater supply or regional water system is contaminated with harmful substances, you must take measures to protect your family from illness and damaging, long-term health problems.
HERE ARE OTHER QUESTIONS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT WATER:
Useful Ways to Protect Your Children From Toxic Chemicals in Drinking Water
Get a premium-grade reverse osmosis water filter
Reverse osmosis systems are efficient and innovative. They usually contain either 3, 4, or 5 filtration stages and remove toxic substances and chemicals from your household water supply, including various inorganic compounds, nitrates, sodium, and petrochemicals.
Your contaminated water supply flows through a pre-filtration unit. This means it passes through a sediment filter and a carbon filter before moving toward the semi-permeable membrane in the center of the system.
The sediment filter works to remove larger particles of dirt, sand, and debris from the water supply, while the carbon filter contains mixed media that absorbs harmful chemicals like volatile organic compounds and chlorine, cleaning your water supply in the process.
When the pre-filtered water reaches the reverse osmosis stage, the small water molecules can get through the tiny holes in the semi-permanent membrane, but the larger contaminant particles won’t fit, making the supply cleaner. Nearly 99% of all the water’s dissolved solids are extracted by this method.
After this step, the clean water flows through a post-filter system. This unit normally works to remove any unpleasant odors or tastes from your household supply.
"If your kids drink tap water that contains high levels of these chemicals, they’re at risk of developing chronic respiratory issues, anemia, kidney damage, and cancer."
Buy an under-sink filter
This water filtration system is different from the reverse osmosis system but still utilizes effective technology to remove harmful contaminants and chemicals from your water supply.
The under-sink filter is easy to install and maintain. You simply modify your plumbing so your cold water supply passes through the filter unit before reaching your kitchen or bathroom faucet. You can choose different types of filters depending upon which contaminants you want to remove from your household water.
For example, if you’re looking to extract chlorine and monochloramine compounds from your supply, get a filter that has integrated Activated Carbon media. These media trigger a chemical reaction that turns chlorine molecules into chloride ions, purifying your water.
On the other hand, if you want to extract arsenic, a highly toxic chemical from drinking water, you should invest in a filter with Activated Alumina. When contaminated water passes through this mixed media, the aluminum material absorbs and removes fluoride, arsenic, and several harmful organic compounds from the supply. You’ll also find that specialist ion exchange filters use a highly effective physical-chemical method to remove arsenic from water.
Invest in a proper distillation unit
All the benefits of a reverse osmosis water filtration system may seem too good to be true, but there are some drawbacks to consider. RO systems are initially more expensive to install, and they require professional repairs if they malfunction or sustain damage, which they rarely do.
These systems often filter water slowly, so it's essential to ensure that the filtration system you’re looking at has an adequate holding tank that can sustain your household. If you have an extra-large family, you will need a sufficient holding tank with the capacity to meet all your drinking water needs daily.
It is recommended that you purchase a tank that provides at least 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day, with a 10% margin to account for wastage and cooking water. For example, a four person household needs four gallons plus 0.4 gallons for a total holding tank capacity of 4.4 gallons.
Other aspects include the amount of brine or wastewater that an RO system puts out, but there are ways you can reduce the amount. Adding a permeate pump to your system may make it work more efficiently, decreasing the amount of wastewater it produces.
You can also use the wastewater from your RO system to water your garden or for a water feature. An automatic shutoff valve can also help your system maintain maximum efficiency.
Help keep your local water system or groundwater supply clean
One especially effective way to protect your children from toxic chemicals and substances in your household water supply is to take suitable steps to help protect your home’s source of water.
If you want to throw away hazardous household waste like pesticides, forms of medication, disinfectant, paint, or old engine oil, make sure you’re not pouring these potentially toxic contaminants down the sink or drain. Instead, go online to search for local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) management sites. If the state’s environmental agency or solid waste disposal service does monthly collections, keep the HHW in its original packaging and make sure never to mix the substance with anything else while you store it for pickup.
Try to buy fewer products that contain volatile organic compounds, chlorine, and any other toxic products. For instance, glass cleaner often contains ammonia and glycol ether. Try combining a dash of vinegar with a liter of water and using this environmentally-friendly solution to clean your windows, mirrors, and glass cabinets.
You could also consider joining a local water protection or environmental conservation group and get involved with cleaning waste away from any marshland or coastal areas that bring water to your local groundwater supply.
The Bottom Line
If your child drinks water that’s contaminated with traces of toxic chemicals like arsenic, lead, disinfection by-products, radionuclides, or chlorine, they can experience severe and long-term health problems. So, it’s important to take measures to ensure your household supply is as clean as possible.
If you’re concerned about potential contamination in your local groundwater source, install a water filtration system to protect your family.
About the Author
Peter is a Los Angeles based water quality specialist, and works as a surveyor for businesses and communities looking to be informed and active about the quality of their water. He shares his expertise with 64 oz. to ensure everything is accurate, and to prevent the spread of misinformation about water contaminants.