UK water companies treat our tap water to keep it free from dangerous bacteria and contaminants. However, in order to do this, chemicals such as chlorine are added artificially, which themselves could have harmful effects on our health. In some parts of the country, fluoride is either artificially added to the water supply (to help prevent tooth decay) or occurs naturally. This controversial practice has sparked debate amongst dentists, doctors and health campaigners as to whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks.
We don’t know yet whether the potential risk is big or small. However, before you reach for the bottled water, read on to find out what could be lurking in your water and how to ensure it’s as pure and healthy as possible for you and your family...
So which chemicals in tap water have caused the controversy?
Everyone knows about chlorine. This powerful disinfectant is used to treat the water to destroy microbes. There’s little disagreement that killing these microbes before we ingest them is necessary. However, what about the residual chlorine left over in your drinking water?
Ingesting chlorine in drinking water has been linked to bladder cancer and breast cancer by researchers. Trihalomethanes (THMs) are created when chlorine reacts with organic compounds in water, and these have been linked to growth of cell-killing free radicals in the body.
That’s not to mention the unpleasant taste and smell of chlorine. Hands up if you have ever drank a glass of water from the tap which had that characteristic ‘swimming pool-taste’?
A more divisive additive is fluoride. Not every home in the UK receives fluoridated drinking water. In some areas of the UK such as parts of Cumbria, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, fluoride is added artificially and in other areas it sometimes occurs naturally. Check with your water supplier to see whether fluoride is in your tap water.
The reasoning behind fluoridation is to protect against tooth decay, and indeed there is evidence to suggest that fluoride has a beneficial effect against dental health problems. However, some researchers have questioned the safety of drinking fluoridated water.
Fluoride has been linked to health problems such as hypothyroidism and bone problems. Fluoridation has also been described as “forced medication”; the amount of water people drink per day cannot be controlled, so you cannot control the dosage.
Do you live in an older property? Water that passes through old pipes may be contaminated with lead. Tiny traces from pipework could find their way into your tap water, collected along the way. Lead has been linked to mental development and behavioural problems. The use of lead in water pipes has been banned since the ‘70s, but some older properties could be affected by lead plumbing.
Pesticides, herbicides and medicine residues have also sparked concern. Obviously, most of the harmful chemicals and bacteria are filtered away at the water treatment plant. However, small amounts of certain residues could ‘slip through the net’ and leach into your water supply.
In 2013, levels of metaldehyde (a slug poison) were found in the River Stour at a level over 100 times the EU safety limit. This river supplies water indirectly to homes in Essex and surrounding areas. While water companies claim that you’d need to drink around 1000 litres a day to be poisoned, it’s still not something that any of us want to ingest.
Tiny traces of drugs like antidepressants, antibiotics and synthetic oestrogens have all been detected in some drinking water supplies. It is believed that these trace amounts could reach our taps indirectly as a result of sewage systems, ‘run-off’ from farmland or pharmaceutical plants, and the flushing of unwanted medicines down the toilet. We’ve all heard the story about the ‘sex-changing fish’ experiencing hormonal changes as a result of the synthetic and natural oestrogens from the Pill finding their way into a river near a sewage pipe. Whilst these residues may not be causing humans any short term health effects, who knows whether this could do any damage in the long term?
How to get peace of mind
Many people think that bottled water presents a safer alternative to tap water, but the opposite may actually be true. This is because bottled water may have been stored for months and has no way of staying sterile. Tap water is, at least, inspected much more frequently.
The first step is to take your own precautions where necessary (for example, replacing lead pipework where possible). Then, you need to enhance the quality of your water. At The Healthy House, we believe that the safest, cheapest and most effective way to do this is to use a drinking water filtration system.
We are often asked for advice on which drinking water filter is best. This very much depends on your individual needs, the space you have available and which particles you would like to remove. It may help to consider the following questions:
1. Which impurities do you wish to remove and how efficient do you want your filter to be?
2. Have you got room/the DIY skills/access to a plumber to install a plumbed-in system? Perhaps if you’re in a rented property or lack under sink space would you prefer a countertop system?
3. How often are you prepared to change the filters inside your system?
We offer a large range of drinking water filters to help you enjoy pure, clean, great-tasting water at home. All of these systems are independently tested for your peace of mind.
Depending on the model, our water filter systems can remove bacteria, chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, organic compounds and more. Not all systems remove each one of these so it is really important to check the specifications carefully when choosing your unit.
You can use our simple site to find your ideal water filtration system. If you need assistance, call our knowledgeable customer advisors on 01453 752216. We’ll happily talk you through the available options and answer any questions you may have. We also provide extensive after-sales support to ensure you get the most out of your purchase.
Shop from our Drinking Water Filter Systems
 Fluoride Action Network: "50 reasons to oppose fluoridation"
 The Guardian: "Wake up to the danger of slug pesticides"
Disclaimer: Information in this blog is for information purposes only and is not a replacement for a consultation with a qualified medical professional.