We talk quite a bit about the effects of poor water quality on your home and family and how contaminants get into your water. But what happens after it leaves your home? You may not realize it, but your household water quality can also impact the environment. Learn how and what you can do about it.
Our drinking water comes from groundwater and surface waters. Whether you have a well or are on a municipal water line, the water is pumped to your home through pipes. But once you use the water, what happens? Where does it go after you have rinsed it down the drain?
If you have a well and septic system, water from toilets, sinks, and showers, known as “wastewater,” sinks into an underground tank and drains through porous pipes into a leach field. The soil naturally filters harmful bacteria, viruses, and other contamination, and the liquid eventually returns to the groundwater.
With municipal water supplies, the wastewater goes to a treatment plant, where it undergoes several processes to remove contaminants and is disinfected. The water is then released into local waterways to be used again. If the water coming into your home is contaminated, the wastewater leaving your home is likely contaminated, too. And that can be a problem since all your household water eventually returns to the ground, sea, and sky, adversely affecting the natural environment.
To illustrate the point: Researchers found artificial sweeteners in 30% of the groundwater tested in one study. So, those sweeteners made it from people’s homes into the groundwater tables. While sweeteners are considered safe for human consumption, their effect on aquatic organisms is unknown. Other water contaminants may include bacteria, pathogens, viruses, heavy metals, and chemicals.
A newer threat is a group of contaminants that have only recently been discovered in water supplies. They include pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. These contaminants, known as contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), are not removed by wastewater treatment or septic systems. According to a study published in Chemosphere, CECs “pose a severe threat to human health and disturb the ecological balance.”
The soaps, cosmetics, shampoos, and fragrances used in the average home also make their way to the water supplies – and back into your home water.
EDCs are chemical mixtures that disrupt the way our hormones work. They come from several different sources, including industrial and household chemicals, among other places. We can be exposed to them via air, food, and water.
It is estimated that about 1,000 manufactured chemicals may have endocrine-acting properties. In a survey of 38 U.S. streams, hundreds of chemical contaminants related to human activity were found. The most common were pesticides, caffeine, and metformin, a diabetes drug. These contaminants were detected in 26 to 32 of the 38 streams.
Excess household water use strains the local water supply, thus reducing groundwater tables. While 70 percent of the world is covered in water, only about 2.5 percent is fresh, and only about 1 percent of that is accessible. Our water sources are not infinite.
As our population grows, more water is used, depleting water levels. Lower water levels can lead to an increased concentration of contaminants in the water, some of which will end up in our household water. Two of those contaminants include magnesium and calcium, the culprits behind hard water.
With hard water, limescale can build up, clogging pipes and lowering water pressure. As a result, you may use more water less efficiently. Clothes and dishes require more soap and water to get clean—even washing your hands requires more water because hard water does not lather well and leaves a slimy feel to your hands. Water use was exceptionally high during the pandemic when more people were using more water at home.
Consumer Reports suggests multiple avenues to reduce your water consumption at home, watch the video above to learn more. Beyond these traditional steps to reduce water consumption here are Aqualite's 4 recommendations to reduce your impact on water resources and the environment:
A multi-stage filtration system with reverse osmosis (RO), such as the Puronics® MicroMax™ series, removes many harmful molecules from water, including chemicals, PFAs, ions and metals, protozoa, bacteria, and some viruses. Water treated through reverse osmosis is clean enough to be consumed by patients with cancer undergoing radiation or chemotherapy.
Hard water problems can easily be solved by installing a water softener system. Aqualite installs both whole-home water softeners – with and without added salts – and under-sink reverse osmosis systems.
Installing a water softener will result in:
According to water experts, a reverse osmosis system is one of the best ways to remove EDCs from your drinking water. Reverse osmosis systems work by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure, separating contaminants from the water based on their molecular weight.
These RO systems also rely on multiple filtration stages to progressively reduce fine particles and common water contaminants, reducing impurities such as chlorine, chloride, lead, sodium, sulfate, calcium, mercury, arsenic, and fluoride.
You can save on water usage by replacing inefficient toilets, upgrading to ENERGY STAR-certified appliances, and replacing your water heater. You can also install a water softener to mitigate hard water problems and decrease limescale buildup. As a result, you will use less soap, less water, and your appliances will last longer.
The first step toward clean, fresh household water is to get your water tested. We offer a free in-home water test so you can know exactly what is in your water. It takes 10 minutes or less, and afterward, our friendly technician will provide recommendations for addressing any water quality issues you may have. Every program is individually tailored, so you know you will get the best solution for your needs. Contact us today!
The PFAS water pollution crisis is a complex issue of public health and environmental issues. To provide better insight into how PFAS is affecting homeowners and families all over the nation. Aqualite's water quality experts have to put together a comprehensive guide referencing the growing concern of PFAS water contamination in the North East. Click below to our PFAS guide download now.