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Healthy Habits: Drink Pure Water

Chlorine kills bacteria and viruses in our water supply, but not the parasites. The two most common, giardia and cryptosporidium, occur in water supplies as hard-shelled cysts that are chlorine-resistant. Thus, even if your source water is being disinfected, these "critters" are able to make it through to your tap. They can cause severe gastrointestinal problems in healthy people, while being life-threatening in people with impaired immune systems.22

How To Ensure Pure Drinking Water
What can you do on a practical basis to ensure that you're drinking the purest water possible? Some tips follow.

Get Your Water Checked
Start by asking your utility or public health department for a copy of its latest water analysis. However, that's only part of the story. More importantly, try to determine the quality of your water once it's made its way through the delivery system to your house.

Call upon the services of an independent, state-certified lab. Check your yellow pages under "Laboratories-Testing." Never ask a company that sells water-purifying equipment to test your water for you. The folks at Consumer Reports magazine liken that to asking a barber if you need a haircut. If you're unable to locate a lab near you, Consumer Reports (January 1990) recommends the following mail-order labs:

National Testing Laboratories
6151 Wilson Mills Road
Cleveland, OH 44143

33 S. Commercial Street
Manchester, NH 03101

Rudimentary Precautions
Here are three no-cost ways to reduce chlorine in your water:23

  1. Let water stand in open, wide-mouthed containers for several hours. The chlorine will slowly be vaporized into the air.
  2. Stir water in an uncovered blender or mixer for several minutes.
  3. Boiling your water will help to remove residual chlorine, plus kill any microorganisms that might be in it.
Here are two no-cost ways to reduce the possibility of lead and other plumbing contaminants from your tap water.24
  1. Let water run from the tap for a minute or two in the morning or after periods of nonuse. This flushes water that has had extensive contact with plumbing.
  2. Never draw water from the hot-water tap for drinking or cooking. Hot water leaches out impurities much more readily than cold, and it's been sitting in a less-than-sterile hot-water tank. Dr. Weil contends that "water from the hot tap is unfit for human consumption, no matter what your pipes are made of."
Intermediate Provision
Purchase bottled water or water from a vending machine. Colin Ingram points out that there are basically five kinds of bottled water: purified or distilled water (contaminants and minerals removed); drinking water (contaminants removed, minerals left or replaced); fluoridated water (same as drinking water, fluoride added); natural-source water (not always safe, may contain toxic chemicals and metals); and specialty water (flavored natural-source or regular tap water).25 (Note: There is significant debate as to whether or not water-borne minerals are necessary for human health. See below.)
  1. If you plan to buy bottled water on a regular basis, go to the library and get a copy of the most recent Consumer Reports magazine that deals with this subject (January 1987, at the time of this writing). Know all you can and what you want before you buy.
  2. Consider signing up with a company that will deliver pure drinking water to your home or office, in large glass bottles. Water is a solvent and tends to leach molecules from the plastic jugs it's often sold in.26
  3. Many grocery and health-food stores now have their own "in-house" pure-water vending machines for use by customers. Look for a sticker on it that indicates certification and regular servicing. Most let you choose between drinking water or purified (distilled) water.

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From HEALTHY HABITS: 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health by David J. Frahm as used by arrangement with Jeremy P. Tarcher, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright © 2003 by David and Anne Frahm. All rights reserved.

To order this book visit www.penguin.com. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

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