We live in a country where the drinking water we depend on for life increasingly is contaminated. From lead leaching from old pipes in cities to fertilizers and medications that flow into the water supply from farms and homes, the sources of water contamination — including pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, heavy metals and even radioactive elements — are growing. Unfortunately, that’s led many people to choose water bottled in plastic, which is itself problematic.
There are ways to get clean water you can trust. It requires a dedicated effort to discover what is in your local water and informed decisions when shopping for water filters or your own clean supply of drinking water if you can drill a well.
Contaminants to Avoid
One of the most worrying substances in U.S. drinking water is glyphosate. A powerful weed-killer, glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in agriculture in the United States. It’s especially prevalent in fields growing genetically engineered Round-Up Ready Corn and Round-Up Ready Soybeans, which have been modified to survive contact with the substance.
Growing research shows glyphosate to be cancer-causing, leading California to name it a known carcinogen in 2017. As new studies show, glyphosate is also now running off from farms in some places in the U.S. and entering the drinking water supply.
But while corn and soybeans can grow unscathed from contact with glyphosate, can we humans as well? Levels of glyphosate in the bodies of people in some areas appear to have jumped over 1,300 percent in the past 20 years, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Plaintiffs claiming that Roundup weed-killer caused them to develop cancer have won three recent lawsuits, winning tens of millions of dollars in damages. There are nearly 20,000 other pending lawsuits alleging that glyphosate-powered Roundup has caused plaintiffs’ cancers.
Other contaminants that can be found in tap water include lead, arsenic, the manufacturing chemical hexavalent chromium, and nitrates used in fertilizers.
Bottled Water Is Not the Answer
Research shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans don’t trust or like the taste of tap water. So, you might think drinking water from plastic bottles is the answer.
But it turns out water in plastic bottles might not be any safer. Recent news reports show that microplastics, lead, arsenic, chromium, PFAS, pharmaceutical and other agriculture runoff are showing up in both tap and bottled drinking water.
Only a small percentage of plastic water bottles ever get recycled. Too often, they are incinerated, releasing toxic chemicals into our air; end up landfills, where they will survive for hundreds of years; or enter our oceans, where they break down into microplastics themselves. This creates a cascade effect with the microplastics from degraded plastic water bottles subsequently turning up in newly bottled water.
I’ve long thought of plastic water bottles as akin to cigarettes; they are bad for you and they are bad for the environment. The way that we are befouling the natural ecosystems of our planet is a preventable tragedy that has longstanding implications. It requires urgent course correction now.
Consider a Water Filtration System
To avoid drinking a toxic cocktail — when all you want to do is hydrate — stop buying water in single-use plastic water bottles and get a refillable water bottle to go along with your reusable grocery shopping bag. There are many great systems for setting up filtration systems in your own home. And if your workplace, school, or gym is still selling water in plastic bottles, you can demand better, plastic-free alternatives.
My company developed the FloWater 7-stage Advanced Purification system, which is able to eliminate up to 99.9 percent of all toxins — including herbicides and also microplastics — right at the tap. It eliminates the need for both plastic water bottles and the expense of replacing old pipes with expensive retrofits. In Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of lead were discovered in the city’s water supply in 2014, third-party testing showed that FloWater filters dramatically reduced lead in the water – from up to 45 times the EPA limit to levels that were undetectable.
What I love about the work we do is that our company has already eliminated the need for 130-million single-use plastic water bottles in just six years. This packaging would have otherwise gone into oceans, lakes, rivers, and landfills. We are on target to save 1 billion bottles from the environment by 2022.
We have plans in the works to introduce an at-home version of our refill stations as well as multi-use aluminum refill vessels that can be purchased in case you left your own refillable bottle at home (at a price that’s similar to that of a single-use packaged water vessel). Addressing the high level of consumer interest in “taste,” our technology also oxygenates and alkalizes the purified tap water, adds electrolytes for better hydration, and “finishes” the water with a carbon coconut filter.
Refilling your own bottles from sources you trust is part of the solution to the plastic water bottle crisis. I’m excited to be part of this massive trend away from single-use plastic and other single-use packaged waters — and helping create a changed future where we don’t have to worry about whether our water is safe to drink.
About the Author
Rich Razgaitis is CEO of FloWater, a company he co-founded in 2013 to provide contaminant-free drinking water while eliminating single-use plastic water bottles.