Is Tap Water Safe To Drink? Filtering Out The Misconceptions

By Will Brendza | Last Updated: February 2, 2016

Is Tap Water Safe To DrinkThere is one chemical that can be thanked entirely for life on Earth; Water.

Without water, every life form on this planet would shrivel up and die a very thirsty death.

Humans consume water in extremely large quantities and at an exceptionally rapid rate.

And the most convenient way to go about quenching thirst is by turning on the tap and pouring yourself a glass.

But is your tap water safe to drink? Should it be trusted?

This thirst has forced us to develop clever and necessary methods for distributing water.

We’ve accomplished this monumental task via a vast array of pipelines and plumbing.

We’ve also devised ingenious ways to recycle our gray water to mitigate unnecessary losses.

But that spirit of ingenuity may be causing us more problems than expected. Otherwise known as the law of unintended consequences.

When a complex system like water distribution becomes widespread, inevitably some serious obstacles arise.

Maintaining high water quality standards may be the most challenging problem engineers face today. And the safety of your tap water depends upon its success.

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How Water Gets From Source To Tap

Water travels from the source (i.e., lake, river, reservoir) to a filtration treatment plant. Once treated, it is routed through miles and miles of pipelines before it finally runs out of your tap.

And between the water source and your glass, there’s a lot of room for contamination. From eroding pipes, chemical additives, and inadequate treatments.

The consequences of consuming tainted water vary. The type of toxins ingested causes different illnesses. But elevated levels of any toxins in your water will cause health problems.

From nausea, loss of consciousness, and even death in severe cases.

orange colored tap water running down sink drain

So Is Tap Water Safe To Drink?

There are a lot of competing answers to that simple question.

Local municipalities claim that it’s safe and nothing to worry about. But that’s like asking a politician if they’ve ever lied.

They claim to be trustworthy and would notify you immediately if anything was ever amiss. But as we’ll discuss shortly, it’s in your best interests to be highly skeptical.

Those who are more independent-minded and skeptical in nature refute their “safe” assertion. Instead, we believe it’s in everyone’s best interest to filter tap water before consumption. Otherwise, we risk our health by putting our faith in an imperfect system.

So this article aims to shed light on the question: Is tap water safe to drink?. Using historical examples, facts, modern context, and scientific evidence.


It was perhaps the greatest empire of all time.

At its height, Rome blanketed all of Europe, parts of Africa, and the Middle East. Romans were well known for their art, fabulous architecture, brilliant military, and rich culture.

They philosophized, politicized, sexualized, and influenced the history of humanity.

Then Rome fell. It broke into a thousand pieces after half a millennia of unhampered progress and prosperity. Why?

Water quality, chiefly.

There are a lot of reasons why this once great monument to human refinement collapsed like a circus tent. But it is widely believed that severe water contamination had a lot to do with it.

At the time, the Romans had a very advanced system of water distribution. They built out extensive lead-lined aqueducts and lead piping for dispersal and distribution.

And in case you missed it in grade school chemistry; Lead consumption is very bad for humans.

In fact, it’s dreadfully poisonous.

If regularly consumed (even in small doses), it can kill quickly. The Romans knew this. They were well aware of lead’s poisonous qualities.

Heck, they even had terracotta piping they could have used as an alternative, but they did not.

Instead, they kept their lead aquifers and plumbing because lead was powerful and masculine. A metal closely associated with the Roman God, Saturn.

Today, Rome is no longer an empire.

This is important to us for two reasons:

  1. First, it illustrates how essential it is for a culture to maintain a high level of water purity.
  2. Second, it proves that even the most well-established societies can be brought to their knees by contaminated water.

Polluted River Runs Orange

A Water Crisis In America

Without a doubt, America is currently one of the greatest nations on Earth. Like the Romans, we are a prosperous society supporting millions of citizens. So by necessity, also have an extensive water distribution system.

We are powerful, wealthy, and well established. But we are not without our own water problems. Some every bit as serious as those the Romans had.

Fracking pollution. America requires a lot of energy, and we have an extensive reservoir of natural gas energy trapped in the ground beneath our feet.

Fracking is new drilling practice that yields huge quantities of natural gas. Fracking often releases natural that’s completely inaccessible using conventional extraction methods. But the fracking extraction technique has drawbacks.

Many communities located near fracking operations complain of contaminated water.

The concern is that the gas released by fracking activity ends up in the groundwater. This groundwater is the source for local communities. Then this contaminated groundwater eventually comes out of the taps in their homes.

The severity of this pollution varies, but in many instances, people have been able to light their tap water on fire.  This is due to the highly flammable nature of natural gas.

Needless to say, such water would be harmful to consume.

Mountaintop removal. A surface mining method, popular on the east coast of America, involves literally blasting the tops off of mountains in the Appalachians to access the coal beneath.

Like fracking, this method of resource extraction is renowned for contaminating nearby water sources.

High levels of mine-derived chemical constituents have been found in many community water sources. This has lead to increased numbers of adult hospitalizations for varying health issues. Complications such as pulmonary disorders, lung cancer, and chronic lung, heart, and kidney disease.

Their health has been at the expense of this devastating mining method.

Colorado’s Animas River. This year in Colorado, a mine near Durango sprung a violent leak. The leak was so toxic it stained an entire river a nasty, glowing shade of orange.

The spill was deemed unintentional and altogether unstoppable (although it was not unpreventable).

Thousands of gallons of water contaminated with extremely dangerous cadmium, manganese, lead, copper, and arsenic, was blasted from the side of a hill and mixed with the once-freshwater of the Animas River.

This catastrophe choked off water downstream. Poisoning0 drinking water supplies for several towns, and the entire Navajo Nation.

And this crisis is still far from over…

Flint, Michigan. It will go down in history as one of the biggest and most devastating instances of drinking water pollution in the United States ever.

To save themselves $100 per month, the city decided to switch water sources. After all, the cheaper, the better – right?

Shortly after the switch, complaints started pouring in. People were concerned about their funny tasting, weird-smelling, and strange-looking water. Soon those complaints turned into real cases of developing rashes and unnatural hair loss. And before the city council could say “Oops,” President Obama declared Flint, Michigan a State of Emergency.

It will cost them roughly 1.5 billion dollars to resolve this problem. Which, on a $100 per month payment plan, the city could resolve in 1,250,000 years.

But what will it cost the families of Flint Michigan? They are paying for this government betrayal with their deteriorating health.

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Garbage and Plastic Bottle In Polluted River

What Is In Tap Water? Even More Tap Water Contaminants 

While these cases are frightening on their own, you may be thinking they are rare and isolated. However, I assure you drinking water contamination comes in all shapes and sizes.

The instances listed above illustrated what some real worst-case scenarios look like. How the “blunders” of state officials and private businesses can affect your health in a serious way.

But the full list of contaminants that have been turned up in American drinking water is far more frightening.

Not just because of how extensive the list is, but how widespread it is as well.

We’ve got drugs! If you live with chronic pain, your doctor might prescribe you hydrocodone. If you’ve got acid reflux, they might tell you to take ranitidine. And if you are experiencing congestive heart failure, you will probably get some hydrochlorothiazide.

But what you might not realize is that it’s not always necessary to get a prescription to get your fill of these medications.

According to a national study, drugs are detectable in our water in higher doses than previously imagined.

These meds are released into our water systems through human urination, poor disposal practices, and accidental loss. Because the majority of water we consume is recycled, chances are good that when you turn on your tap, you just poured yourself a diluted pharmaceutical cocktail.

These medications have been researched comprehensively and are known to affect animals and aquatic life in very strange ways.

Nitrates or nitrites? Both, actually. These chemical compounds occur naturally in food and water but can react with other additives to form cancer-causing substances. Nitrates and nitrites are both used as fertilizer for non-organic farming and are introduced to water systems through natural runoff.

These chemicals are known to be especially toxic to children (including the unborn). Consumption by minors can result in what is commonly known as, “Blue Baby Syndrome” (when a child unexpectedly stops breathing).

The symptoms for this are shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of consciousness, and even death.

US Water Floride Statistics Chart

Fluoride. This chemical is intentionally added to many water sources in the US. It’s added to, “decrease the number of cavities in American children.” This chemical is also found in both toothpaste and mouthwash.


Because it’s great for scrubbing enamel and getting rid of pesky plaque, but it is not meant for ingestion.

Fluoride is helpful when applied to teeth, not when it is run through a human being’s digestive system. The government adds this chemical to our water consistently and without our consent.

On top of this, there have been numerous studies proving fluoride added to water has not been effective. It’s not clear that it’s preventing tooth decay as intended. While there are animal studies that have shown fluoride consumption linked to brain damage.

In total, there have now been over 100 animal experiments showing that fluoride can damage the brain and impact learning and behavior. – By Paul Connett

New filters are available that can purify your tap water from this additive.

Fecal Coliform. Coli has made appearances in the news regularly for the last several years. Outbreaks often contaminate a type of food, but can also be extremely dangerous to human health if ingested through water.

E. Coli is a type of bacteria that is frighteningly common, and will often cause acute diarrhea, nausea, and cramps.

Alpha radioactivity. Although you may not consider it a likely problem to have with your drinking water, radioactive water could be devastating to your health. The EPA reports that roughly 200 people a year get cancer from consuming this toxic water.

Sometimes the source of pollution is man-made, but water can also be made radioactive by coming into contact with naturally occurring minerals like radium, radon, and uranium.

So if your house is located near, say, a large uranium mine, you may want to invest in a good water filtration system.

Trihalomethanes? These disinfectant solutions are used in water treatment plants to purify the water. But when chlorine reacts with naturally occurring organic drinking material it can cause rectal, bladder, or pancreatic cancer and birth defects if ingested (such as spinal and neural disorders).

Atrazine is a widely used agricultural pesticide for corn and soybeans. It is frequently found in American drinking water and is known to give animals cancer in their mammary glands. And because human beings are in fact animals, this is a major cause for concern.

LEAD! The EPA has ruled, “there is no safe level of exposure to lead.” The heavy metal interferes with red blood cell chemistry and delays normal physical and mental development.

In the US, 20% of total lead exposure comes from drinking water, which is significantLead in our drinking water comes from the atmosphere, the soil, or from piping and plumbing (as was the case in both Rome and Flint, Michigan).

Treatment technique violations involve the possibility of inadequately treated water. As a society, we recycle wastewater, freshwater, rainwater, and just about any other kind of water we can manage to get our thirsty hands on. But because we reuse so much of it the chances of some still-contaminated water getting through is likely.

The consequences of such an occurrence are unpredictable since no one knows exactly what the persisting pollution is, or where it came from.

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My Answer To Your Question: Is Tap Water Safe To Drink?

In case, you skimmed this article and missed all our supporting evidence, the answer to the question is MAYBE. Your tap water may be safe, or it may not be safe.

Unless you continuously test your tap water, you may never know for certain.

So while I cannot say that your tap water is currently unsafe to drink, I also can’t say that your tap water is guaranteed to be 100% safe at all times. Life happens, mistakes occur, and tap water can be affected.

Is Tap Water Safe To Drink? No, not safe enough for my family.

So What Can We Do?

It is an important question, no doubt as it affects us all.

While the American system of water collection, treatment, and distribution is much more advanced than that of the Romans, we can rest easy knowing that federal and private employees are doing their best to protect the purity of our tap water. Right?

Wrong. If you really, truly want to make sure that your tap water is safe to drink and won’t cause you illness, discomfort, or death then you need to take matters into your own hands.

Sure, the US water system is well funded and highly equipped to manage water treatment and dispersal, but they can’t keep each and every molecule of pollution out of the water.

The job is just too big.

And if are keen on ensuring your health and the health of your family is protected (and you should), then you are going to have to do something about it yourself.

There are a lot of modern filtration systems out there, and some of them are both highly technical and wildly expensive.

Many flat out don’t work well enough to protect you. Fortunately, there’re a few extremely efficient and affordably priced water filters on the market today. One that I have researched at length and has proven to be highly effective is a Brita Purifier.

This is an essential item for every American home. It has been proven time and again to not only produce the clearest and most purified water but also to improve the taste by reducing the additives and pollutants almost entirely.

cuts contamination by 99.99% and is known as the “most cutting-edge water filter” of its class.

This is my recommendation for ensuring that you drink clean, safe water at home.

Some people recommend buying bottled water as an alternative, but the problem here is that bottled water is tampered with and recycled just as much as tap water.

It often contains fluoride, and chlorine, and a variety of other chemicals you might think you are avoiding, but actually are not.

It is much safer to purify the water available to you through your tap in conjunction with a quality, functional water purifier. That way YOU control the quality of YOUR water just before consumption.

Removing all doubts (and chemicals) that might be hiding in your tap water.

Will Brendza

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