Ahhhhhh, here were are. Solution Day. These past few days have been BRUTAL . . . writing about toxins in water was much harder than I realized. I don’t want to scare anyone, but it seemed important to examine concerns about water before talking solutions. Speaking of solutions, I’ve got two to share. One that is expensive and one that costs less per gallon than a Brita pitcher.
Want to hear something funny? I’ve been using the same counter top filter (with fluoride removal cartridge) for years and I planned on recommending it to you. I called the manufacturer and asked them to donate one for a giveaway, which they happily agreed to.
And then I found out my filter didn’t work!!!
Well, it sort of works, but it only removes most of the fluoride if you run the tap really, really slow. Who wants to spend 10 minutes waiting for a glass of water?
So there I was with all this research about how unhealthy tap water is and I had no solution. Fortunately, this review from Lisa of Mama Says (who was guest posting at Kitchen Stewardship) got my attention.
The Berkey filter is so good, you can even put creek water or rain water through it if there’s a major emergency and it will filter out all of the parasites and bacteria. After Ike, there was water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink. Our area was flooded – with nasty, rank floodwater, with sewage, dead squirrels, and rotting fish in it. Now that’s just nasty! The Berkey is not just a filter, it is a purifier and removes 100% of pathogens from the water. (Note: I do not recommend testing your Berkey out by adding dead animals to the tank. Just sayin’.)
Berkey will also filter out VOCs, volatile organic compounds, including chemical runoff and contamination from PVC. It will also purify water of chlorine, benzene, and toluene along with a slew of other chemical nastiness that don’t even have real names, just numbers and letters (like 2,4,5-TP)
Berkey removes 95% of heavy metals such as lead and mercury – and this matters. Water is the second largest source of lead exposure in children, and even if you have plastic pipes your kids might not be safe. Many glues used on PVC pipes contain lead.
~Lisa Professes Love For Berkey; Frugal Crunchy Catholic Tells All
No one says it quite like this momma of eight, so for a good laugh read the whole review. Lisa was quite convincing, so I made some calls and this is what I found out. There are basically two options for dealing with fluoride, pharmaceuticals and chlorine byproducts: Reverse osmosis and The Berkey (which is an activated granular charcoal/activated alumina system). Here’s a breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses. I also threw in the specs for a Brita pitcher for comparison.
|Filter||Removes Fluoride||Removes Pharmaceuticals||Removes Chlorine||Cost Factor||Environmentally Friendly|
|Reverse Osmosis||Yes||Research indicates yes to a lesser degree ¹||Yes||Moderate to High||No|
|Berkey||Yes if the optional PF2 filter is installed||Research indicates yes to a greater degree ¹||Yes||Low – About $.06 -$.08 per gallon||Yes|
|Brita Pitcher||No||Unknown||Chlorine – Yes Byproducts – Unknown||Moderate – About $.25 per gallon||Yes|
As you can see, the Berkey wins on all fronts: cost, environmental friendliness, and effectiveness. At $.06-.08 cents per gallon it’s a steal compared to the $.25 cent per gallon Brita pricetag. Oh, and that $.06-.08 estimate is with the optional fluoride filters. It’s only $.02 per gallon otherwise. Also, unlike reverse osmosis systems, the Berkey is portable. The downside is that you have to fill it manually (it’s not hooked up to the sink). Not that I will take it on vacation or anything . . . okay I probably will.
Berkey claims to be the most powerful and economical water purification systems in the world. Based on corroborating studies from the University of Arizona, Spectrum Labs, and the LSU Department of Toxicology and Environmental Science . . . I believe them.
We are talking about waaay more than the big three here. As Lisa mentioned, Berkey purifiers remove 99.99999% of pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites while extracting chemicals including herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, VOCs, detergents, cloudiness, silt and sediment.
Cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, aluminum, mercury and other dangerous heavy metals are also removed (95%), as well as nitrates and nitrites, without removing beneficial minerals! Here’s how it works.
For the first week, my husband kept looking at the Berkey and expecting a glass of iced tea. It DOES look a little like an iced tea container at your local restaurant. The two downsides of the Berkey are counter top space and daily refilling. Luckily for us, we don’t own a microwave, so the Berkey takes up less counter space than a microwave and we manage to make it work even in our tiny kitchen. It doesn’t take more than a couple minutes to refill if you use a large container to fill up at the tap, but you could run out of filtered water for an hour if you forget one day to fill it up. We’ve made it a habit of topping it off before bed each night just to be sure.
Daddypotamus is still brainstorming a solution where we run a hose from the sink to the Berkey so he can have all the conveniences of our previous filtration system. I don’t think that will work unless our next house has a laundry room sink. If you’re used to a faucet head filter, you’ll feel a little inconvenienced at first at having to refill. But if you use a Brita pitcher or something similar, you’re doing the same thing except having more filtered water at your disposal at any given time, which is great for cooking (why boil your veggies and noodles in yucky fluoride water if you don’t HAVE to?).
Check back, though, because I’m hosting new ones all the time! Does this sound infomercially? I don’t know how else to put it. In case you might be wondering, I contacted several Berkey resellers and was given the option to receive a FREE Berkey to test and review here. Instead I chose to purchase mine at full price from The Berkey Guy and he kindly offered to – YES – give away a free Royal Berkey System with two fluoride/arsenic removal filters to one of you lovely people!* Although there are more affordable options, this is the extra large model worth two-hundred and seventy-five buckaroos. Plus he’s adding in two fluoride filters, bumping the prize value to $320! There are three ways to enter: 1) Leave a comment below for one entry in the contest. 2) Post on Facebook for one entry. Leave an additional comment here to let me know. 3) Tweet this contest for one entry. Leave an additional comment here to let me know.
Check back next week for the announcement!
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And yet we hardly ever think about it. What is it? Basically . . . bleach.
The addition of chlorine to our drinking water began in the late 1800s and became the standard in water treatment by 1904. For the most part, it remains the standard today. We do not use chlorine because it is the safest or even the most effective means of disinfection, we use it because it is the cheapest. In spite of all our technological advances, we essentially still pour bleach in our water before we drink it. The long-term effects of chlorinated drinking water are just now being recognized.
According to the U.S. Council Of Environmental Quality, “Cancer risk among people drinking chlorinated water is 93% higher than among those whose water does not contain chlorine.”
Dangers and Health Side Effects of Chlorine (emphasis mine)
Chlorine is usually thought of as a relatively safe disinfectant, but it’s not. When “chlorine is added to our water, it combines with other natural compounds to form Trihalomethanes (chlorination byproducts), or THMs. These chlorine byproducts trigger the production of free radicals in the body, causing cell damage, and are highly carcinogenic. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, ‘Although concentrations of these carcinogens (THMs) are low, it is precisely these low levels that cancer scientists believe are responsible for the majority of human cancers in the United States.”¹
One of the byproducts of chlorine, dioxin, has been found by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be 300,000 times more potents a carcinogen than DDT. This is the same chemical that was used in an assassination attempt on Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. The attempt failed, but ingesting the poison resulted in permanent disfigurement and chronic health problems. The President was dosed ONE TIME during dinner with General Igor Smeshko, causing acute toxicity.
Tasteless but highly toxic, the dioxin Yushchenko ingested was administered in a dose probably less than 1 mg. A drop in a bowl of soup would have gone undetected, said Prodanchuk.
Although dioxin is present in much smaller concentrations in tap water, the problem is that it’s almost impossible for our bodies to break it down so it just stays with us. As it accumulates in our systems it can cause “cancer, organ disease, miscarriages, menstrual ailments, low birth weight, abnormal hair growth or a severe form of acne called chloracne.”²
Chloracne is actually more common than you might think – for some it simply looks like raw, red skin while others have more severe outbreaks. Unfortunately, that’s just one byproduct. Other compounds in chlorinated water have been linked to heart disease, adrenal fatigue, asthma and allergies.
Ozone – which is the preferred way of treating water in Europe – is chemical free and low-cost. Currently about 350 U.S. cities have ozone treatment plants. Mine, however, does not. Although most filters remove chlorine, few claim to effectively remove byproducts such as dioxin, so next time we’ll discuss a few filters that do. That’s right, enough with the scary stuff. Tomorrow is solution day!!!
About the new plan to help people afford their medications? Thanks to them I’m now on prozac, premarin, lopid, equanil, midol extended relief, bactrim, and proloprim. It’s great, really, after you get over the nausea/headaches/excessive bloating/ joint pain and risk of death stuff. Just minor inconveniences. The best part? I doesn’t even have a copay. They give it away in the water now!!!
Just kidding. Welcome to day two of water week. If you missed yesterday my mission is to cover three major areas of concern regarding tap water quality and then to share the best solutions I know of. Yesterday we talked about fluoride, today is pharmaceuticals. Tomorrow I’ll cover the rest of the scary stuff and then we’ll move on to solutions, promise!
In a study conducted by the Southern Nevada Water Authority, researchers found that drinking water is often laced with a wide variety of pharmaceuticals and hormonally active chemicals.
The 11 most frequently detected compounds were:
That the concentrations found were too small to cause any harm to us or the environment. If that’s true, then what’s the deal with transexual fish scaring biological research associates? And what about those poor hermaphroditic frogs found near human waterways? Yes, I’m sure our sons will be just fine with these, ahem, “acceptable levels” of estrogen being pumped into their developing bodies everyday.
Yeah right. Pharmaceuticals are reshaping our environment and our bodies in unintended ways.
[Freshwater] habitats around the world have been found contaminated with the synthetic estrogen used in contraceptive pills, ethynylestradiol. While concentrations are generally found around .5 nanograms per liter, concentrations as high as several hundred nanograms per liter have been reported, as well. A large body of evidence has connected this contamination with excess feminization in fish.
In one study, U.S. and Canadian government scientists purposely contaminated an experimental lake in Ontario with around 5 nanograms per liter of ethynyl estradiol, and studied the effects on the lake’s fathead minnow population, a common species that fish like lake trout and northern pike feed on. Minnows normally become sexually mature at two years of age and enjoy a single mating season before perishing.
Exposed to ethynyl estradiol, the male minnows’ testicular development was arrested and they started making early-stage eggs instead. That year’s mating season was disastrous. Within two years, the minnow population crashed.
Yale Environment 360 Online Magazine (emphasis mine)
These chemicals are known to bioaccumulate and be passed from mama to baby, increasing each generations chances of a particular penile defect in newborn boys, infertility and even cancer. Although ecotoxicologists are beginning to draw attention to this issue, it will most likely be a long time before public policy demands that we screen for and remove these compounds. In the meantime, little research has been done on how effective current filtration systems are at removing them. However, I did run across ONE study that indicated a solution, which I’ll be sharing on Thursday. Hang in there, just one more to go!
Congratulations, Morgan Mayes! Our random number generator selected YOU for free enrollment in Jenny’s Happy Healthy Holidays E-Course!Read More »
Question: Is there any research regarding the water filter jugs by BRITA? I drink a lot of water and use BRITA instead of bottled water. I and my son drink it, cook on it, soak in it, and sometimes wash with it. I wonder if it is safe. Thanks!!!
~ Anna D
Wow, Anna, you sure know how to ask a loaded question! Rather than skimp on the answer to such an important topic, I’ve officially declared this “Water Week.” On the surface tap water seems pretty safe. We’ve all consumed it and we’re still kicking, right?
I mean YES we’re still kicking, but NO it’s not safe. In reading over 300 pages of research for this post, one fact became unavoidably certain: The harmful effects of tap water may occur gradually, but they are very real.
So, what exactly is in a glass of tap water? Hydrogen and oxygen, of course. But there are also living organisms like bacteria and parasites, the chemicals we use to kill those organisms, chemicals from environmental pollution and pharmaceutical drugs. And then there are the chemicals we add for no good reason, like fluoride.
If you’ve ever brushed with fluoride toothpaste you may have noticed this label:
[warning_box]WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek PROFESSIONAL HELP or contact a POISON CONTROL center immediately.[/warning_box]
Now, I read this label for YEARS and didn’t think anything of it. In a society that has warnings like:
. . . how are we supposed to take cautionary labels seriously!?!?!
The sad fact is, in this case we really should. In The Flouride Deception, investigative reporter Christopher Bryson presents compelling evidence that water fluoridation results in lowered IQ, weakened bones, thyroid suppression and lowered metabolic function. It also kills our immune systems first line of defense – the beneficial bacteria in our guts.
Some will say “I thought fluoride prevented cavities . . . what do you mean it damages bones?“ It’s ironic, but although fluoride thickens bones studies show it actually makes them more fragile by displacing bone mineral. Oh, and did you know that prior to 1938 fluoride was solely sold as RAT POISON??? No, that’s not disturbing AT ALL.
Additional research indicates it could cause Alzheimer’s:
Many municipal water supplies are treated with both alum (aluminum sulfate) and fluoride. These two chemicals combine with each other easily in the blood to form aluminum fluoride. Although elemental aluminum can not pass the blood-brain barrier, some compounds such as aluminum fluoride do. Aluminum fluoride is very poorly excreted in the urine. It is poisonous to the kidneys. Aluminum salts in the brain lead to Alzheimer’s Disease.
AND Down’s Syndrome
Studies dating back to the 1950s have shown links between Down’s Syndrome and natural fluoridation. Ionel Rapaport also showed how the age of women bearing Down’s Syndrome children decreased in direct relation to the increase of fluoride in the water supply. The more fluoride that was in the water, the younger the age of the women bearing Down’s Syndrome children.
Nations in Western Europe that stopped fluoridating their water have not seen an increase in dental cavities, so why aren’t we seeing this dangerous compound pulled from products? Two reasons.
First, fluoride is an industrial byproduct. Right now companies are able to unload this stuff into public water supplies for a profit instead of being required to dispose of it as hazardous waste.
By selling the fluoride byproducts for this purpose, companies avoid the huge cost of disposing of these chemicals in the environment safely, and according to regulation. Back in the 1930’s, a band of industrial corporations – including Monsanto, U.S. Steel, Union Carbide, and Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA), the leading producer of aluminum – had been cheaply disposing of their fluoride byproducts into the environment for years. This changed when their toxic waste became the target of negative press in the local news. A 1933 toxicology report by the USDA had warned of fluoride’s toxicity, singling out the aluminum industry as the biggest culprit.
The Fluoride Fraud
The second reason is liability. Can you imagine the class action lawsuits that would inevitably be brought against Colgate and other major corporations if fluoride is officially recognized as a health and environmental hazard? The research has been available for fifty years. Not to the public, mind you, but recently declassified Manhattan Project documents confirm that researchers and industry leaders knew fluoride was dangerous.
I know this sounds crazy and maybe a little to heavy on the conspiracy theory side, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this before. Remember when the tobacco industry refused to acknowledge that cigarettes cause cancer? The brilliant PR mind behind that campaign was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays.
Now, guess who else was a client of Bernays? The fluoride industry!
They know. They’re liable. One need not be a conspiracy theorist to track the almighty dollar on this one.
Most home filters do not remove fluoride from water. In fact, if you bought it at any local retail store, you can be pretty sure it doesn’t. There ARE some options, though, which I’ll be covering in an upcoming post. In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure.
So, the answer to your question, Anna: in my opinion, Brita, Pur and most other filters do not filter water to a safe level. How’s that for long-winded?
As I sit here, watching Daniel teach Katie to build a fire in the fireplace, I feel comforted by the fact that I will NOT be leaving the house today. Black Friday is not my thing, but I do understand the excitement about kicking off the holiday season and the joy of shopping for loved ones. So, in that spirit, here are three gifts I am giving this year.
When it comes to gifts, there’s nothing like handmade. Unfortunately, some of us are not gifted in the realms of sewing, designing jewelry, painting, or anything of the sort. But hey, who needs actual skills? Dragging and dropping photos onto the Shutterfly storyboard makes it a handmade gift, right? I used my hands!!!
Okay, maybe not. But despite their dubious handmade status, photo books can be very personal, thoughtful gifts. Last year I created brag books for both of Katie’s grandmothers to show off to their friends. This year I’ve documented a whole year’s worth of memories for the kids great-grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s. Though names and places have lost many of their particulars, Jewell can still connect emotionally with the images of her loved ones. I can already tell this will be my favorite gift selection this year.
And hey, until Dec. 1 you can buy one photobook and get one 50% off plus free shipping! Make one to give and then keep a copy for yourself.
The human foot at birth is not a miniature version of an adult foot. In fact, it contains no bones at all and consists of a mass of cartilage, which, over a period of years, ossifies to become the 28 bones that exist in the adult human foot. This process is not complete until the late teens, so it is crucial that footwear – when worn – is well chosen.
“Most children’s shoes ought to come with a government health warning,” believes Byrne. “They are like awful little bricks – too stiff, too rigid, with no flexibility at the sole and too much heel raise. This is of particular concern with toddlers learning to walk, because it causes them to bounce and tip forward,” she says.
Woodward agrees. “I have in my hand a Nike Air shoe for a three-year-old – quite an expensive item, I would guess. From the heel to the toe there is no ‘bend’ or ‘give’ in the sole. Completely rigid, this shoe will restrict movement of the forefoot to zero. Kids this age should be turning cartwheels, skipping, climbing trees, running around. A shoe like this would seriously restrict such playful physicality – make it less fun, less enjoyable.”
It amazes me how much power I have to influence my children in these early years. What I eat while nursing them will affect their palates for life. Allowing them to deal with illnesses will prep their immune system for future challenges. And as podopaediatric specialist Tracy Byrne explained above, even SHOES have the ability to influence structural and neurological development. It’s kind of overwhelming.
Fortunately there are some shoe companies out there that make shoes that mimic the barefoot experience, so that’s one less thing to think about. Pediped is a great company, but they can be pricey. Right now another great company, Preschoolians, is selling next day ship orders (in stock rather than custom made) for 60% off sale, though! I just found the $50 winter boots I ALREADY bought for Katie for $15! Ugh.
This gift will only be appreciated by other crunchies, but it really is useful. There is so much junk in water these days . . . runoff from pollution, pharmaceutical drugs, carcinogens, parasites and MORE. For years I’ve carried large jugs of purified water in my car, but that’s not always practical. A better solution is the BPA-fee Berkey Sport bottle, which has a long-lasting reusable filter built right in.
I’m giving a Berkey Sport to an adventurous friend that likes to travel to all kinds of exotic places. Hopefully this will increase her chances of actually enjoying her trips instead of fighting a case of Montezuma’s Revenge. It can be useful just about anywhere, though: at the office, in restaurants, parks or while running errands. Last month I bought one for each member of my family plus two to give away.
If you’re wondering about the specifics, it eliminates 99.9% of:
The season has officially begun, so this is the first of many times I will say HAPPY HOLIDAYS. Have a wonderful weekend!Read More »
Happy Thanksgiving!!! When Daniel and I were newlyweds we set a goal to create meaningful and unique holiday traditions. Here’s one we’d like to share with you. It’s our official Thanksgiving greeting, usually given as soon as we arrive to the feast.Read More »
Love the fragrance of buttered apples and cinnamon? Then go sign up for Jenny’s FREE Thanksgiving Mini-Cooking Course! I know it’s almost Thanksgiving and you (hopefully) have your menu set, but the Apple Crisp Recipe she includes is scrumptious enough to delight all season long. The best part? It’s frugal and simple. Any day can be a special occasion, even for busy families on a budget.
If this is any indication of what Jenny has to offer in her upcoming course, I think I’ll have to explore Christianity’s Jewish roots with a Hanukkah celebration. Hello jelly-filled sourdough doughnuts!
Are you convinced yet? Go sign up for that free mini-lesson! And please help me get the word out about Jenny’s course. For a chance to win access to the complete course just go to the Mommypotamus Facebook page and “share” this link. Add a comment when you share so I can keep track of entries, please! I’m not yelling, I’m just really excited!!!
*Contest ends November 28 at 10pmRead More »