A: Drinking water testing standards in Ireland originate from WHO – World Health Organisation and EU Drinking Water Directives. Irish drinking water testing standards are enforced nationally by the EPA – Environmental Protection Agency. Then monitored regionally by sanitation authorities or HSE’s.
The EPA enforce drinking water testing parametric values (usually in parts per million – PPM or mg/l or more finite values – ug/l) for many substances commonly found in water. Water that meets these drinking water testing standards is considered to be potable and safe.
Drinking water testing standards are set not by the individual sensitivities of any given person or by age or immunity. Drinking water testing standards are a statistical health orientated and budgetary reality of the EU wide community to meet water testing goals. Every human being has specific genetic, age and health related sensitivities. So threshold concentrations of a given substance that could lead to a negative physiological reaction can be different from person to person.
That being said, the acceptable concentration levels currently in use are among the toughest globally. We now benefit from the best regulated water testing standards in thousands of years of defined water potability in large populations.
A: Pure H2O (water) does not exist in the natural world. Water – known as the ‘universal solvent’ dissolves almost everything it comes into contact with to a greater or lesser extent. And therefore “water” hides within some sort of solution that is water-based but is not entirely pure, this applies even to rainwater. Even when water is classed as “clean water” it is most often a cocktail of water and dissolved substances that are in combination but known to be safe, clear, and palatable.
A: The concept of “unclean water” or “impure water” is as much conditional as that of “clean” water. Water may taste bad and have an unpleasant smell, yet it could be completely safe to drink. Or it could be perfectly palatable, appear pristine and clear and yet it could be a poisonous cocktail. “Unclean water” is normally defined as none drinking quality.
A safe and acceptably potable water within WHO, EU, EPA and HSE limitations, could be hard water with a below neutral pH, a yellow colour caused by tannins leached from dead vegetation, with fluoride and other borderline levels of aluminum, nitrates, sodium and with an odour of chlorine. You could drink this water and be in tip top health throughout your life.
A deadly toxic and non-potable water failing many safe water testing standards, (unclean water) could be perfectly clear, odour free and without any undesirable taste. Yet it could contain unsafe levels of carcinogenic heavy metals, trihalomethanes, virus, legionella and cysts. All undetectable to the consumer and capable of killing someone with low immunity in days or of normal immunity in months or those with high immunity by chronic cancers later in life.
The best investment for those with a newly drilled well, with water that even looks, tastes and smells fine, would be to carry out water testing in an approved HSE laboratory.
A: Water can lose purity when it combines with mediums that are unsafe for human consumption. Water polluted by the environment can occur at any stage of the water cycle – through the atmosphere, when water is in vapour form, also in reservoirs, aquaducts and pipework that supply water to your home.
It is worth noting that rain tank water is too often not fit to drink, water polluted to a varying degree the moment even when it forms in clouds. This is due to bacteria in water drained off roofs through bird’s faecal matter. Also organic materials fouled in gutters and stagnating algae found in rain tanks. Freshly fallen rainwater itself is considered safe and unpolluted. Except when it percolates through bird droppings, gutter muck and stagnates in rain tanks, then it is not so good.
A: One of the unique properties of water is the ability to dissolve mineral compounds, especially calcium and magnesium as it courses through limestone rock underground over many miles of travel, which causes hard water.
Underground pot holes and caves that were once occupied by solid rock, started life as small cracks and fissures that eventually opened wider as the action of flowing water dissolved and eroded this soluble rock over millions of years.
Hard water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium salts. The problematic issue with hard water is the ability to leave behind mineral deposits. This impairs the life of heating elements. Hot beverages made with hard water tend to have unpleasant aesthetics.
A: Water transports important nutrients (vitamins and minerals) throughout the body. It removes metabolic wastes from cells. Water is crucial for thermoregulation, digestion and lubrication of joints and eyes. It is essential for skin, kidney and bowel activity and respiration processes.
Filtered water has a lower amount of toxins and undesirable substances. The lower the amount of toxins entering cell tissues in the body, making way for vital nutrients, means the body is less occupied by alien substances playing host to and overpopulating cell density.
People require varying volumes of water daily depending on gender, age, size and activity. A diametrically opposed idea is that water is essential for life, but also one of the main causes of illness in the world. Water in nature contains countless microorganisms, many causing serious diseases like cholera, typhus, hepatitis, and gastroenteritis. Filtered water with bacteria safely removed is more preferable than water with questionable microbiological characteristics.
Water can be polluted with chemicals and naturally occurring compounds, such as chloroforms, heavy metals, oil, pesticides, herbicides and trace pharmaceuticals. The symptoms of ingesting polluted water can be felt immediately, or may be felt after several years. Even harmless microorganisms can reproduce in water, making it unpleasant to consume.
A: For taste, smell and clarity you can distinguish filtered water easily. Your immune system can improve and you may notice you get ill less often and have more energy. You may distinguish filtered water by the senses, although for peace of mind it is good to know filtered water is rendered safe by screening out all the impurities that you can’t taste, smell or see.
The benefits of drinking clean water is multiplied by using clean water for bathing. If you also use purified water domestically, with chlorine and hardness removed, your skin will feel softer and more supple, with fewer irritations and less dryness after bathing.
Skin is able to absorb heavy metals found in well water such as arsenide compounds which can enter the body through the skin. Water can be inhaled in the form of atomised, spray or vapour when showering and bathing. So clean drinking water alone may not be the total solution.
A: Insoluble impurities can cause cloudy water or turbidity to form in water. Often it is a simple matter of fine air bubbles trapped in the water. Air bubbles simply rise to the surface and disappear, where as true cloudiness or turbidity will stay in the water for hours or days.
When water has turbidity, chlorine makes this off-color water taste fairly unpleasant. The condition of household water pipes especially in homes over 20 years old is one of the reasons for aesthetically tainted water. Water can contain traces of heavy metals, such as lead, copper, or zinc. Older pipes accumulate sediments and dissolved metals.
A: Much of the time tap water is chlorinated which isn’t without its effects on human health especially if in combination with tannins or natural colour found in water. The byproduct THM – trihalomethane can be much more harmful than chlorine alone. THM’s have been suspected to increase risk of liver, kidney and central nervous system problems along with elevated cancer risks. https://www.epa.ie/pubs/advice/drinkingwater
It should be appreciated however that the inception of chlorination in water has revolutionised public health and wellbeing globally. Chlorination effectively eliminated typhoid and cholera epidemics over the last century and so the benefits certainly outweigh the consequential risks. The only parts of the world nowadays with regular deaths caused by typhoid, dysentery or cholera epidemics are remote areas of the planet without the benefits of chlorination or the modern distribution of sanitary water backed up by good water testing standards. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_chlorination
Municipal water treatment works are not always state-of-the-art, so if a pollutant passes through treatment it can end up in tap water. Seasonal conditions can also put costly public treatment systems under duress at times causing exceedances in delivered water quality. Even 100% compliant treated water can pick up metals and impurities through the passage of pipes to the end user. Also compliance to legislated water quality controls can vary a little county to county, so perceived water quality can be relative. http://www.citizensinformation.ie/en/environment/water_services/water_quality.html
In the past few years counties in Ireland have met increasingly satisfactory water testing compliance due to an escalating number of DBO – Design-Build-Operate water scheme upgrades. Funding has been put into water infrastructure ahead of the planned water metering roll out in 2015. Good filtration nowadays is more an issue of dealing with the aesthetics of chlorine, fluoride, metals in old pipes, the rare boil water notice, seasonal tannins and especially private well water and water used by rain tank users.http://www.epa.ie/pubs/reports/water/drinking/Drinking%20Water_web.pdf
A: As much as any water filter manufacturer wants to raise concerns about fluoride and sell effective products to remove fluoride from water, the honest debate about fluoride seems at first hard to pin down. In the last century fluoride was studied to have a beneficial effect when dosed in controlled amounts in water for the dental health of the human population. Too little – no effect, too much – (fairly harmless – aesthetic) mottling of dental enamel.
The same century-long parallel findings for the benefits of chlorination, show a positive health benefit, where not using chlorination would have certainly guaranteed mass typhoid and cholera epidemics.
Concentrations for fluoride were proven to be beneficial in at least 0.6 mg/l and up to 1.5 mg/l of water – the current ongoing WHO and EU standards. Levels in excess of 4 mg/l were suggested to be detrimental. Ireland is unique in that it has set the lowest limits in Europe at an upper goal of 0.8 mg/l. Ireland has not exceeded 1.5 mg/l in any water testing samples in the last decade (many other European countries have), and within 99.8% compliance to the more strict 1 mg/l level.
Ireland’s dental health in a finite study of 2% of the population (12 year olds) shows at least a 50% reduction in teeth decay since the 1980′s and a very close match in dental health to larger economies such as Spain, France and Italy. Even when Ireland was fluoridating at its highest levels in the 1980′s, Denmark (no fluoridation) had a 200% higher level of teeth decay in the same age group study than Ireland, maybe a bit like Shane McGowan !
When fluoridated toothpastes came out in the 1970′s, many European countries previously using water fluoridation opted for the turbocharged levels in tooth paste as more effective – the levels are a thousand times higher than in tap water. The larger economies such as UK, Germany and Denmark had more rotten teeth than Ireland in the 1980′s, but having focused on fluoridation in toothpastes and better dental care became easily accessible as their economies grew, they now nudge slightly ahead of Ireland.
The simplest and encouraging approach to the matter is that the best of Ireland’s scientists have served us well in keeping fluoride within the strictest and lowest concentrations for decades, also with the advent of point of use filtration and bottled water, any consumer can choose not to drink water with fluoride, or choose to continue using fluoridated water but still with complete flexibility as it is not an enforced personal choice.
Surely if fluoride was a highly toxic poison, toothpaste would be banned. Really it is all about accurate figures, indeed Arsenic, Chromium, Nickel, Vanadium and Manganese are all potent toxic carcinogenic poisonous heavy metals … in excess. However they are all found in trace levels as minerals as part of our diet and instead of killing us they all carry out vital functions within our bodies when consumed at optimum levels in diets.
The fluoridation debate was always a political football, less about science, and so if better dental care and better toothpastes mean we need to rely less on water based fluorides or reduce levels further, and anti-fluoride lobbyists shout louder, then surely politicians might start looking at potential votes, or if European legislation at some point does not regard fluoride in water as nicely as it does in toothpaste or as chlorination in water, then fluoride (in water) might have its day.