drinking water

  • Is Drinking Recycled Sewage Water Really that Gross?

    In a move that will improve the city's water security and make it more resilient to drought, residents of El Paso, Texas, will soon be drinking recycled wastewater.

    According to a recent report by CNN, the city is currently constructing a closed-loop water reticulation system that will recycle and treat sewage effluent, turning it back into potable water — a process known as 'advanced purification' or 'direct potable reuse' in the water treatment industry.

    Recycling wastewater is not new to El Paso or other drought prone urban centers such as Scottsdale, Arizona, Orange County, California and other water-stressed utilities across the US, who currently pump treated sewage water back into aquifers where it will ultimately be used for drinking water. Once water is returned to the aquifer, "it can take about five years for the water to filter through the ground before being pumped back out and treated to the standards of clean drinking water," Gilbert Trejo, chief technical officer at El Paso Water, told CNN.

    Recycled sewage water safe to drink? Recycled sewage water safe to drink?

    But El Paso is now taking this one step further. Instead of returning the treated wastewater back to the aquifer, it will be filtered further before being returned to the drinking water supply network in the closed-loop system.

    According to Trejo, after treatment, "we see this water that's clear and it's of good quality. The next thing for us to do is to take a high-quality water we produce at a state-of-the-art facility and then treat it a little bit more with multiple treatment processes so we can drink it."

    According to an EPA report, the volume of wastewater generated by some large cities represents up to 60% of total volume of water supplied. This can potentially provide a huge resource to water stressed cities such as El Paso that are constantly searching for additional water sources to ensure there is sufficient supply to meet the demand.

    In order to ensure that recycled wastewater is clean and safe to drink, the treated effluent water undergoes several additional filtration steps, including UV and carbon filtration, to remove harmful pathogens and bacteria. In fact, water treated in this manner has been found to contain less contaminants than untreated water from a river, dam or lake.

    But while this may be so, treated sewage water is not widely accepted as a drinking water source, largely due to the 'gross' factor. But the fact of the matter is that anyone who lives downstream from a wastewater treatment discharge point effectively drinks treated wastewater in some form or another. Just one reason why it is wise to treat your drinking water with a good quality water purifier.

    For El Paso and other urban areas located in arid regions where water scarcity is a reality, water utilities do what they have to to provide their customers with a reliable source of drinking water that is safe to drink. This includes advanced purification of sewage water and desalination, which El Paso Water expects will provide 6% and 10% of the city's water supply by 2030 respectively.

    As the world becomes hotter and drier in future, other cities faced with water shortages as a result of increased demand and decreasing water resources may have to follow the same route.

    According to Trejo, "water really is all around us in every city" and we have the technology available that allows us to treat it to a very high standard to make it safe to drink.

  • Hungry Antibiotic Loving Bacteria Could Help Rid Environment of Antibiotic Contaminants

    Antibiotic drugs can be a lifesaver for anyone suffering from a bacterial infection such as meningitis or pneumonia. Antibiotics kill bacteria, and thus help fight infection. But some types of bacteria can develop a resistance to these drugs, while others not only become resistant but also utilize antibiotics as a source of food.

    Until now, scientists have not fully understood how drug resistant bacteria manage to safely consume antibiotics, but a study that was published in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology earlier this year reveals important steps in this process. The study's findings could help establish new methods to remove antibiotics from soil and water, thus ridding the environment of antibiotic contaminants which promote drug resistance, undermining our ability to cure bacterial infections effectively.

    "Ten years ago we stumbled onto the fact that bacteria can eat antibiotics, and everyone was shocked by it," said senior author Gautam Dantas, an associate professor of pathology and immunology, of molecular microbiology, and of biomedical engineering at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. "But now it's beginning to make sense. It's just carbon, and wherever there's carbon, somebody will figure out how to eat it. Now that we understand how these bacteria do it, we can start thinking of ways to use this ability to get rid of antibiotics where they are causing harm."

    Antibiotics in the environment contribute to drug resistance. But researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have figured out how some soil bacteria turn the drugs into food. The information could lead to new ways to clean up antibiotic-contaminated soil and waterways. Antibiotics in the environment contribute to drug resistance. But researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have figured out how some soil bacteria turn the drugs into food. The information could lead to new ways to clean up antibiotic-contaminated soil and waterways.

    When these resistant bacteria get into soil, waterways and ultimately drinking water sources, they can cause antibiotic resistance in people who are exposed to them. Antibiotic resistance is an increasingly common problem that adversely affects medical treatment of infectious diseases, eroding the advances made in medical care since antibiotics were discovered, and ultimately putting people's lives at risk.

    Modern day agricultural and industrial practices which saturate the environment with antibiotic drugs are fueling the growth of antibiotic resistance. In China and India, the two largest producers of antibiotic drugs, pharmaceutical companies often discharge antibiotic-laden wastewater into local waterbodies. Back home in the US, farmers routinely feed antibiotics to their livestock to help them grow healthy and strong, resulting in animal waste that is laded with these drugs.

    Because bacterial communities readily exchange genetic material, when soil and water become polluted with antibiotics, bacteria living in these habitats respond by sharing their antibiotic resistant genes with their neighbors.

    The researchers wanted to gain a clearer understanding of how some bacteria in the environment are not only resistant to antibiotics, but also feed on the drugs. They examined four types of soil bacteria that were distantly related and which flourished on a diet consisting solely of penicillin — the first antibiotic ever discovered, which until recently was widely used but is prescribed less often now due to antibiotic resistance. They found three sets of genes that were activated when the bacteria consumed penicillin, but which became inactive when the bacteria consumed sugar. The three genetic sets correspond to the three steps the bacteria take to convert what should be a lethal drug into a nutritious meal.

    According to the authors, "all of the bacteria start by neutralizing the dangerous part of the antibiotic. Once the toxin is disarmed, they snip off a tasty portion and eat it."

    Gaining a clearer understanding of the steps the bacteria take to convert antibiotics into a source of food may help scientists bioengineer bacteria and put them to work ridding soil and waterbodies that are contaminated with antibiotics in an effort to combat the rise in drug resistance.

    Because soil dwelling bacteria that typically consume antibiotics are not so easy to work with, the researchers suggest that with some genetic tweaking, "a more tractable species such as E. coli potentially could be engineered to feed on antibiotics in polluted land or water."

    "With some smart engineering, we may be able to modify bacteria to break down antibiotics in the environment," said Terence Crofts, a post-doctoral researcher and primary author of the study.

    While bacteria are effective at removing antibiotics from soil, their rate of consumption is slow. Consequently, if we have any hope of eradicating antibiotics from hotspots such as sites located near sewage plants' or pharmaceutical manufacturers' discharge outlets, any bioengineering project with this goal in mind would need to encourage the bacteria to consume antibiotics faster.

    "You couldn't just douse a field with these soil bacteria today and expect them to clean everything up," Dantas said. "But now we know how they do it. It is much easier to improve on something that you already have than to try to design a system from scratch."

    Journal Reference

    T.S. Crofts, et al. Shared strategies for β-lactam catabolism in the soil microbiome. Nature Chemical Biology. Vol.14, 556-564; (2018)

  • Water Quality Study Identifies 'Hot Spots' of Water Safety Violations

    While extreme water quality violations such as those experienced in the Flint water crisis seldom occur, ensuring a reliable supply of safe drinking water poses a challenge for communities all around the country, a recent University of California, Irvine study has revealed.

    The results of the study, which were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that from 1982 to 2015, between 9 million and 45 million people were impacted by water quality issues every year, with low-income rural areas being particularly vulnerable. The study identified certain 'hot spots' in Idaho, Oklahoma and Texas, were water quality infractions occurred more often, implying that these water providers are susceptible to recurring water quality problems.

    “Overall, this study informs a more directed approach to increasing compliance with drinking water quality regulations,” says author Maura Allaire, UCI assistant professor of urban planning & public policy. “Identifying hot spots and vulnerability factors associated with violations can allow public policies to target underperforming water systems.” Steve Zylius / UCI “Overall, this study informs a more directed approach to increasing compliance with drinking water quality regulations,” says author Maura Allaire, UCI assistant professor of urban planning & public policy. “Identifying hot spots and vulnerability factors associated with violations can allow public policies to target under-performing water systems.” Steve Zylius / UCI

    First Nationwide Water Quality Long Term Study

    This is the first national study to assess the quality of drinking water across the nation, spanning several decades. The study evaluated factors that made certain communities more vulnerable to water safety violations, as well as health incidences that could potentially be linked to water contamination events since the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1974. While not every infraction poses an immediate health concern, drinking water contaminants are often responsible for short-term health issues such as stomach upsets that result in vomiting and diarrhea, and can also cause more chronic health issues such as neurological disorders and cancer.

    "We felt that in the aftermath of the Flint lead crisis, there was an urgent need to assess the current state of drinking water in the U.S.," said study author Maura Allaire, UCI assistant professor of urban planning & public policy. "Generally, the country's utilities deliver high-quality water, but every year, about 7 to 8 percent of community systems do not meet health-related standards. Identifying hot spots and vulnerability factors associated with violations indicates the types of communities that can benefit from greater regulatory oversight and assistance to help reduce quality issues, improve compliance and ensure safe drinking water across the nation."

    The study found that in general, rural areas are more likely to struggle to meet federal water safety standards. This is largely attributed to lack of funding needed to maintain water supply systems due to smaller populations, lower household incomes, limited access to financing to fund major maintenance or upgrade infrastructure, and lack of technical expertise.

    Water quality compliance tends to be associated with private ownership and water sources that are purchased. This is because wholesale agencies, who have more resources available to enable them to comply with water quality regulations, supply purchased water, while private water utilities run the risk of losing valuable assets should they be sued, or they risk being taken over by municipal managers if they supply contaminated water.

    According to Allaire, public policies that can assist underperforming water utilities include providing financial support, as well as technical guidance and training, particularly in areas such as protecting source water, and improving monitoring and system maintenance.

  • Is Organic Raw Water as Healthy as it's Made Out to Be?

    Raw water seems to be the latest organic health food trend for those wishing to pursue a more natural diet. But water treatment officials are more than just a little concerned.

    According to a recent report in the The New York Times, raw water being sold under the brand name 'Live Water' by Rainbow Grocery — a coop based in Mission District, San Fransisco — is so popular it literally flies off the supermarket shelves. When the grocery does have stock, the untreated, unfiltered, unsterilized bottles of raw spring water sell for $36.99 each, while a refill costs $14.99.

    Collecting raw water froma   stream. Collecting raw water from a stream.

    Besides the usual criticisms that bottled water face, such as high prices and the environmental issue of more plastic bottles entering the waste stream, the notion of untreated and unfiltered raw water being sold as a healthy drinking water option poses some potentially serious health risks. Which begs the question: why are consumers choosing to put their health at risk by opting for an unsafe, albeit organic, source of drinking water?

    According to The Verge, "Proponents claim that raw water's health benefits include naturally occurring minerals and microbes. But the reality for any inadequately treated water from the tap or a spring is that those minerals can sometimes include arsenic, and those microbes can be deadly."

    While officials within the water treatment industry, who would consider this to be common sense, no doubt shake their heads in disbelief, the raw water trend seems to have been born as a result of public mistrust of water treatment institutions responsible for supplying drinking water to their homes, as well as a distrust of the companies that sell conventional bottled water, for two reasons: they either remove beneficial constituents from the water or they add harmful ones.

    Consumers are becoming increasing wary of tap water. Contaminants such as fluoride, which many utilities routinely add to drinking water, as well as lead that leaches from water distribution pipes as water flows through, are issues of concern. Adherents of raw water believe that filtration methods employed by water treatment facilities remove components that are beneficial to our health, While companies that supply conventional bottled water use ozone or ultraviolet light to kill algae and then filter it to remove algal cells. They maintain that these processes kill beneficial bacteria, or probiotics.

    A woman drinking raw unfiltered water. A woman drinking raw unfiltered water.

    However, as healthy as this alternative may seem for those seeking a more natural, organic source of water, consumers should seriously think twice before jumping off the conventional water supply bandwagon and simply opting for yet another unregulated, potentially unsafe, money-grabbing scheme. Consumers who have concerns regarding the quality of drinking water supplied to their homes may be better off voicing their concerns to municipalities in an effort to improve water treatment practices, and put pressure on them to supply water that is healthy and safe to drink.

    Another alternative is to simply filter your tap water with drinking water filter like a berkey water filter that is capable of removing fluoride, lead, and any other potentially harmful contaminants you are concerned about. For those that truly believe in the health benefits of raw water — and there arguably are several benefits — it would be advisable to filter raw water with a good quality home drinking water filter to ensure all the nasty naturally occurring elements, such as bacteria, viruses, arsenic, etc are removed, without adding any harmful chemicals in the process.

  • California Wildfires Highlight Threat to Drinking Water Quality

    With California still reeling in the aftermath of devastating fires that forced thousands of residents to flee their homes and destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of land, the threat is still not over. Now that the fires have been quelled, authorities are trying to deal with the impact on local drinking water sources and water supply systems.

    Fires not only contaminate water sources with ash, silt and sediment, they also cause power outages that can affect water treatment plant's ability to treat water properly. This is exacerbated when water pressures drop as large volumes of water are used for fighting the fires. When mountain slopes are left bare after a fire, ash and sediment can be washed or blown into streams where it can clog up reservoirs, smother aquatic life and disrupt local water supplies.


    The latest Californian fires demonstrate just how disruptive forest fires can be to local water supplies. According to a report in High Country News, long after the Californian blaze was extinguished, heavy rainstorms continued to wash silt and other debris downstream, causing disruptions to water treatment facilities that forced local water utilities to stop drawing water.

    In forested watersheds — which provide nearly two-thirds of the West's water — trees, leaf litter and soil act as a sponge, soaking up rainfall and slowly releasing it to underground aquifers and waterways. Wildfires destroy that mechanism by baking the upper layers of soil, forming a compact, water-repellant layer, while at the same time burning plant roots that stabilize the soil. So when rain falls, instead of being absorbed by leaf litter, soil and roots, the water simply runs off, carrying sediment, debris and nutrients along with it, transporting them further downstream. This can result in devastating mudslides that can bury roads and destroy homes. It can also cause river beds, wetlands and reservoirs to become overloaded with silt, often requiring some form of intervention, such as dredging, to fix the problem. This silt and debris can make its way into water supplies, where it can compromise water quality.

    While sediment in drinking water is primarily an aesthetic issue — i.e. murky water — smaller particles can also clog filters. Organic matter can also react with chemicals used in the water treatment process to produce harmful compounds such as chloroform. Spikes in nutrient levels can fuel algal blooms that can affect both the taste and smell of drinking water.

    It is anticipated that huge fires such as these will occur more and more frequently in future, fueled by increasingly hot and dry conditions associated with climate change. While the onus rests on federal regulators and water managers to ensure that these events do not disrupt water services, you can take steps to ensure your family has access to safe drinking water should the authorities fail to do so. By investing in a good quality drinking water filter you will be able to filter out silt, sediment and potentially dangerous nutrients such as nitrates, as well as other common toxins, including bacteria. This will allow you to tap into practically any water source in the event that your water supply is disrupted.

  • Consumer Guide to Safe Drinking Water

    The average American tends to take safe drinking water for granted; that is until a new drinking, water crisis such as the Flint lead contamination saga, surfaces, leading everyone to wonder what contaminants might be lurking in the water that flows from their taps.

    The Flint water crisis was certainly a wake-up call for American consumers, and according to Erik Olson, director of the Natural Resource Defense Council's Health program, when it comes to water safety issues, Flint is not an isolated case. Millions of Americans living in other towns and cities around the country are supplied with water contaminated with lead or other pollutants.


    The NRDC together with the NGO Clean Water Action have been hard at work trying to enforce the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, serving as a public watchdog during every stage of the process. While these organizations have realized many victories in their fight for clean water, consumers should still be cautious about potential pollutants that may be present in their water supply or distribution network.

    Lead is Not the Only Issue

    All water suppliers providing drinking water to consumers in the US must ensure that the water they supply meets drinking water safety standards. If these standards are met, consumers can safely drink the water that flows from their taps. However, violations are widespread, and very often water supplied to consumers contains pollutants that are not regulated by the EPA.

    A recent NRDC report shows that in 2015, around 77 million US consumers received drinking water from water systems that were in violation of federal protections, and more than 30% of these consumers were dependent on water supplies that failed to meet federal health standards. Furthermore, water suppliers serving millions of other US consumers either didn't conduct adequate water safety tests or failed to warn consumers or report the results of these tests to the health authorities. Considering that many pollutants are not even regulated or monitored, these figures are likely to be an understatement rather than a true reflection of how widespread the problem is. For example, pollutants such as PFOA/PFOS and perchlorate occur in tap water across America, but they are not regulated and therefore are not included in the already staggeringly high figures mentioned above.

    Children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems face a higher health risk when exposed to the following pollutants:

    • Lead - a heavy metal that can leach into water from lead water pipes, fixtures and fittings, particularly when corrosive water is moving through the system, can cause behavioral and neurological problems in children and also pose a health risk to adults.

    "It's a more common problem in cities with older water systems," explains Kristi Pullen Fedinick a scientist with NRDC Health program, "but what a lot of people don't realize is that even relatively new brass fixtures and faucets can still contain significant amounts of lead. Just because your home is less than 20 years old doesn't necessarily mean you're lead-free."

    • Atrazine - an endocrine-disrupting pesticide that is widespread in US freshwaters, as well as drinking water supplied to homes across the Midwest and southern states.

    • Pathogens - disease causing parasites, bacteria and viruses can make their way into drinking water supplies that are not properly treated to kill these pathogens.

    • Chlorine treatment by-products - when present in high concentrations, by-products of the water disinfection process may pose a health risk, including a risk of cancer and a reproductive health risk.

    • Other contaminants - arsenic, nitrates, radioactive contaminants, vinyl chloride, perchlorate and pharmaceuticals are other potentially hazardous contaminants found in drinking water across the country.

    To ensure that you water is free from these contaminants we highly recommend that you filter your drinking water with a good quality drinking water filter from our range of Berkey filters.

  • World Water Woes

    Flint's water woes, highlight the consequences of neglect, inadequate monitoring, and poor water infrastructure. However, Flint is not an isolated case; many other cities both nationally and globally face similar challenges.

    It is not unusual for governments to forgo investing in critical water infrastructure, or to fail to take changing environmental conditions and/or growing consumer markets into account. For many places, such as Flint, Mumbai, Johannesburg and Sao Paulo, the consequences of this lack of foresight results in decrepit water systems that are inadequate, leaving consumers with a water supply that is unsafe to drink, if they have water at all.

    credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/108886459@N03/ credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/108886459@N03/

    Because governments around the world have procrastinated on taking action to combat climate change, countries now have to drastically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions if we have any hope of preventing environmental collapse. Many are still reluctant to do so. Droughts are increasing in their frequency and intensity, and are occurring in all regions of the world, threatening crops and drinking water supplies. In India and the US Midwest, depleted aquifers threaten crops, and thus food production. In Lake Taihu, China, and Lake Erie, US, nutrient pollution gives rise to toxic algal blooms that impacts the water quality of communities that depend on these lakes for their drinking water, often resulting in residents not being able to use water from their taps. A toxic algal bloom in Lake Taihu in 2007 left millions of residents in Wuxi, China without water for several days — a logistical nightmare considering the amount of residents affected.

    With water resources already under severe pressure, when water infrastructure breaks down, the fallout can be swift and crippling to society. Sao Paulo recently suffered the consequences of a severe 2-year drought, exacerbated by inadequate and poorly maintained water infrastructure, leaving Brazil's largest city — with a population of 20 million inhabitants — facing the prospect of having no water. The South African capital of Johannesburg suffered a similar fate in November 2015, when taps in some areas in the city ran dry.

    To prevent potential disaster, aging water systems need to be maintained, upgraded, and in some cases expanded. But this is costly, and many cities simply don't have the budget to undertake the much needed upgrades.

    Yet, while governments may aim to save operating costs, the consequences of not maintaining and upgrading water infrastructure to keep up with consumer demand and changing environmental conditions can be more costly to rectify than the any savings attained in their efforts to cut costs.

    Consumers can take measures to ensure they have a steady supply of safe drinking water at all times. Firstly, consumers can take measures to ensure a backup supply of water should the taps run dry by installing rainwater tanks to catch and store rainwater during the rainy season for use in the dry season. Secondly, investing in a good quality drinking water filter that can purify water will ensure that both water flowing out the tap, or stored rainwater used for drinking in times of drought, is free from harmful pollutants, ensuring that there is always a safe supply of drinking water on hand.

  • Thirsty Business: What Causes Our Thirst

    Scientists discover the mechanism in the human brain that controls body temperature and hydration.

    A team of researchers from Duke University and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) have unraveled how the human brain is able to determine when our bodies are becoming dehydrated and how it prevents the body from dehydrating by identifying a key protein that is thought to control body temperature and hydration.

    Their findings, which could potentially be used to clinically treat a wide range of health issues associated with an imbalance of body fluids often seen in emergency room situations, were recently published in the scientific journal Cell Reports.

    “We have identified what we think is the first protein that could allow the brain to monitor physiological temperature and it is important because this protein contributes to how the brain detects heat and triggers adaptive responses such as thirst,” explains study leader Dr. Charles Bourque, a research scientist in the Medicine Faculty of McGill University and at the Centre for Research in Neuroscience, RI-MUHC. “This protein, which is an ion channel, that regulates the flow of ions across the cell membrane, is thought to play a crucial role in balancing body fluids (water, blood, etc.) and sodium (salts) levels, and changes in its regulation could be involved in linking salt to hypertension, and provoking fluid retention following cardiac failure, sepsis or brain trauma.”



    Dr. Bourque and his team are researching how the human brain maintains the balance of salt and water concentrations in body fluids as they moving through membranes — a process known as osmoregulation. Any changes in osmoregulation can cause health problems in humans. Sodium, for example, plays an vital role in regulating water content within our bodies; consequently high levels of salt can damage the kidneys and cause high blood pressure.

    An imbalance in body fluids, such as hyponatremia — a condition that results when blood sodium levels drop to abnormally low levels, is one of the more common reasons that patients admitted to an emergency room are hospitalized, says Dr Bourque. Sodium plays an important role in regulating the water content within and surrounding the cells in our body. When sodium levels drop, it causes water levels within the body to rise, which in turn causes brain cells to swell, resulting in symptoms such as headaches, nausea and vomiting. This condition is very common in older adults, where it can cause cognitive changes or even seizures.

    The discovery of this protein’s structure will help the scientists better understand the role played by this ion channel in hyponatremia and other medical conditions, and give them tools to make modifications to the channel to treat or prevent the condition, says lead author, Christian Zaelzer, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the RI-MUHC.

    According to Dr Wolgang Liedtke, an associate professor of neurology, anesthesiology and neurobiology at Duke University, who collaborated with Dr Bourque and his team on the investigation, this ion channel activates when dehydration sets in, turning on neurons in the brain’s hypothalamus — the part of the brain that tells the body to take action to maintain the body’s fluid balance. It uses two mechanism to achieve this: 1) It triggers a sensation of thirst to encourage a person to increase fluid intake; and 2) by secreting vasopressin — a hormone that has antidiuretic properties that promotes water retention in the kidneys, which maintains body-fluid balance.

    Journal Reference:

    Cristian Zaelzer, Pierce Hua, Masha Prager-Khoutorsky, Sorana Ciura, Daniel L. Voisin, Wolfgang Liedtke, Charles W. Bourque. ΔN-TRPV1: A Molecular Co-detector of Body Temperature and Osmotic Stress. Cell Reports, 2015; 13 (1): 23 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.08.061

  • Can Tap Water Go Bad?

    Is there such a thing as water fresh from the tap?

    If you drink water that's been standing for a day or so does it taste any different? We think so. When tap water is left to stand, the chlorine that was added during the treatment phase to kill any microorganisms slowly dissipates allowing any bacteria that may be present to multiply if the water is not refrigerated. Bacteria are all around us, and can enter the water via the glass, your lips, or from airborne pet- and household-dust.

    Furthermore, according to an article published recently on Time, if you leave a glass of water standing for more than twelve hours, carbon dioxide in the surrounding air is absorbed by the water standing in the glass, and can cause it to start to go flat with a drop in pH.  This may also result in a stale taste. This is one of the reasons we recommend that if one doesn't use their berkey for more than 3 days, that they then dump the water out and start fresh. However, while it may not taste ideal, it is still safe to drink at this point. But why drink inferior quality water when there is no need?

    Now, let’s focus on those germs again. If you keep using the same glass day in and day out without giving it a good wash before topping it up each time, the glass is more likely to get contaminated, and even more so if you share it with your significant other. But if you replace the glass with a clean one every day or so, you won't give those germs a chance to multiply. That's assuming you practice good hygiene and wash your hands properly, etc, etc. If not, you can introduce bacteria onto the glass when you pick it up. Those germs can quickly multiply at room temperature, posing a potential health risk if ingested.

    What About Plastic Water Bottles?

    Plastic water bottles are known to contain the chemical bishpenol-A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor that interferes with the body's hormones, posing serious health risks. It has been associated with many forms of cancer, as well as heart disease, to name a few. When bottled water is left in the sun, BPA can leach out of the plastic and contaminate the water stored within the bottle. Also, plastic water bottles were intended for one time use rather than to be refilled and reused. If you purchase bottled water rather recycle the plastic bottles than reuse them to store drinking water. The best option is to use a BPA-free water bottle that can safely be refilled time and time again -- better still if this if fitted with a filter to remove any impurities that may be lurking in the water.

    How Long Can Water Be Stored?

    Water can be stored in air-tight BPA-free containers for up to 6 months, at which point the chlorine will start to dissipate, allowing microalgae and microorganism to thrive. Stored water is more likely to become contaminated when stored in a warm environment that is conducive to microbe growth, particularly if the storage vessel was not cleaned or sealed properly beforehand. To prepare for emergencies, it is a good idea to invest in a good quality home water filter that will remove any nasties from your water and serve you well all year round.

  • You Can Provide Kids with Water but You Can't Make 'em Drink

    The USDA mandate requiring all schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program to make free drinking water accessible to all students is now in effect. A research team hailing from the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago recently conducted a follow up study assessing compliance with this newly implemented requirement together with general perceptions regarding water quality and drinking fountain hygiene. They found that while most schools provided access to drinking water to meet the new USDA requirement, there is room for improvement both in terms of providing better access to drinking water, and promoting water consumption amongst students.

    water fountain

    Water consumption improves general health and well being. Yet, less than 33% of children and teenagers drink the recommended daily water quota for their age category, and 25% of adolescents consuming less than one glass of water per day. Many children quench their thirst with sugary beverages rather than water, which can lead to dental problems and obesity.

    The study, which was recently published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found that most schools provided access to drinking water via drinking fountains placed in school cafeterias, and in some cases, cups for easily accessing water from drinking fountains; by providing students with free bottled water; or by placing water pitchers on dining tables. While compliance was good overall, the researchers found that schools in Southern states were most likely to meet the new requirements compared to other states in the US.

    According to Dr Lindsey Turner, a Research Scientist at the Institute for Health Research and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and co-author of the paper: “This is consistent with other nationally-representative research showing that school districts in the South have made faster progress in developing nutrition-related school wellness policies, and that they have stronger policies than do districts in other regions of the US.”

    The researchers also examined potential hurdles that may reduce the likelihood of students taking advantage of the free drinking water on offer. They found that while most students surveyed indicated that their school's drinking fountains were 'clean' or 'very clean', there was still concern in terms of drinking fountain hygiene and/or water quality – roughly 25% of students attending middle- and high schools were concerned about drinking water quality.

    In some cases, while free drinking water may be provided, it may not be easily accessible to all students, which could be another hurdle that may prevent students from consuming the free drinking water on offer.

    “Although many schools rely on water fountains,” explains Dr. Turner, “fountains may not be very effective at encouraging water consumption. The elementary students may need permission to get up, and if water is not available on the table with the meal, students must make a special trip and may have to wait in line to get water. So in terms of practicality, drinking fountains may not meet the need for access to water during meals.”

    If your child does not have access to free drinking water at school, or if you are concerned about drinking water quality or the cleanliness of drinking fountains, you could opt for a portable filter water bottle, which can be filled at home and topped up at school. The sport berkey has a filter element that will remove any contaminants from the water, ensuring that it is safe and healthy for your child to drink.

    Journal Reference:

    Nancy Hood, Lindsey Turner, Natalie Colabianchi, Frank Chaloupka, & Lloyd Johnston. Availability of Drinking Water in US Public School Cafeterias. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, April 2014 DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2014.02.001

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