Water safety warning

Since water is life, it is best to remind ourselves regularly of waster safety guidelines. On average, city water is fairly safe to drink, according to US water standard. It is filtered, chlorinated and carefully monitored for bacteria, etc. However, tourists from other countries, and some local residents not used to drinking city water, may develop gastro-intestinal problems from drinking city water. Modern medical science has proven the superiority of purified water as a “healthier drink” over city water. And clean water is essential to our health. We do not need alkaline or ionized water, unless we have an illness that requires them. Today, they are a common scam, victimizing the uninformed and gullible.

What water is it not safe to drinks?

Turbid water that smells and tastes bad is obviously not safe to drink, but clear water that smells normal and does not taste bad could still have contaminants and chemical solids that are harmful to one’s health. The safest habit is to drink purified water, one that is processed through an effective water filtration system, called reverse osmosis, and UV light exposure. We do not even need to drink mineral water since we get the needed minerals from our food. Distilled water, which is the purest H2O, is too expensive. Purified water is salt-free, bacteria/virus/protozoa-free, a most practical health choice, and cheaper too. 

What happens when one drinks tainted water?

Depending on the type of bacteria, and how severe the contamination is, the symptoms may range from mild stomachache lasting a few hours to severe diarrhea (with or without vomiting) with varying degrees of dehydration, lasting days. If untreated, the more severe form of this gastroenteritis may be serious or even fatal, especially among children and the elderly.

Why can’t some people tolerate city water?

Bacteria is not the only thing that causes problems in the faucet (city) water people drink. There are also inorganic and organic chemicals that greatly affect the quality of water, its clarity and taste. Some of these chemical “solids” in faucet water bother some people. The adverse effect may be so subtle it may take years or even decades before it manifests itself.

What are the common water contaminants?

There are 3 categories of these contaminants: Inorganic (minerals, which may affect taste of water); Organic (from decaying plants, dirt, sediments, bacteria, amoeba and protozoa); and Synthetic (urban, agricultural and industrial pollutants, such as PCB, DBCP, TCE and others, as well as chlorine and its by products, all of which contaminants could cause health problems).

Where do bacterial contaminants come from?

Bacterial contaminants obviously come from human feces and animal excreta, decaying plants, viruses and giardia cysts, that somehow reach the water supply, and which are resistant to chlorine. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes 129 toxic “priority pollutants” in water that pose the greatest health hazard.

Where do chemical water pollutants come from?

We, the people, are the culprits, the sources of these chemical pollutants. Gasoline, oil, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and over 100,000 other agricultural and industrial chemical compounds, eventually contaminate our rivers, lakes and oceans, our sources of water. They kill fish and other water life, and humans too. Human carelessness or callousness are the main causes of most of the pollution problems in our environment today. 

Is Chlorine totally safe?

Chlorine, which is internationally accepted chemical to treat city water, is safe and effective to a great extent. However, chlorine could also combine with naturally occurring organic substances to form chlorinated hydrocarbons known as trihalomethanes (THMs), which are cancer-causing substances. However, the dose and manner used by city filtration programs around the country make water safe. In spite of this, I still recommend drinking bottled water or water that has undergone at least 5 to 6-stage filtration system.

What are the chemical pose major health hazard?

Lead, radon, sodium, nitrates, asbestos, carbon chemicals. Lead could lead to brain damage and seizures, especially in children. Radon causes about 40,000 lung-cancer deaths every year. Excessive salt predisposes one to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disorders. Nitrates are dangerous to infants and they may also form nitrosamines that are potent carcinogens in the digestive tract. Asbestosis also causes cancer in the lining of the chest walls and lungs. Carbon Chemicals may also increase cancer risk.

What are the other toxic metals in unfiltered water?

These are heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, cadnium and lead. The sources of these pollutants are industrial chemicals and wastes. These are dumped to the rivers and lakes every minute of the day, poisoning our water supplies.

What is hard water?

This is water saturated with magnesium, calcium, and iron, and many other inorganic minerals. Water in deep wells, lakes, rivers, is hard water. As a rule, boiling water kills most of the bacteria but concentrates the inorganic minerals in it. This is why one sees “salt-like crystals” or sediments at the bottom of the pot used for boiling water. Many minerals still remain in the water after boiling.

How does one check water at home?

Today, there are TDS (Total dissolved solids) meters available. When one buys Zero Water filter canister or pitcher, a TDS meter comes with it. The complete system is not expensive ($30-$40). Zero water is a 5-stage filtration system. Example: The TDS reading for water in Las Vegas is about 418 (Zip code 89134, in Sun City, Summerlin). Zerowater filtered water reads “Zero” TDS level. Actually, government standard says: “It is excellent if the TDS is less than 300 mg/L. It is good if the TDS is between 300 to 600 mg/L. It is fair if the TDS is between 600 to 900 mg/L. Since Zero water filter also removes good minerals like fluoride. I do not recommend it for daily drinking, especially for children. Occasionally is fine where water is suspect. You can carry this tiny TDS meter with you when you travel.

Which is the best water purification system?

Water purification is now both a science and a technology. Researches in this field, including final post-purification analysis and testing procedures, substantiate the fact that regular faucet water (even boiled) is not the best water for people to drink, that purified water is a lot more superior and healthier to consume, and that Reverse Osmosis and UV light exposure is the most modern system that is safe and most effective. The 16-stage state-of-the-art purification system, a United States technology using Automatic Regenerating Process (ARP), most superior when it comes to producing truly safe purified water for healthy drinking. In this day and age of polluted environment and health-consciousness, drinking purified water is no longer a luxury but an imperative health necessity for everyone. Sadly, many third world countries do not even have safe drinking water because of the pollution of rivers, lakes, and oceans.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

Dr. Philip S. Chua
Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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