Introduction to Filtered Water
A 2014 Chinese study suggests that pregnant women who drink filtered water will have smarter children. The study compared the effects of 5 different types of drinking water on the learning ability of young rats.
The study suggests that using a kitchen water filter instead of drinking unfiltered tap water while a woman is pregnant enhances the learning and memory ability of children.
The study provided five types of water to female rats just prior to and during pregnancy and to their offspring. The learning ability of young rats was then compared. The rat pups that drank filtered tap water scored highest in learning and memory ability.
Tap water, although regulated by USEPA, contains numerous contaminants and a number of carcinogenic compounds as a result of chlorination.
The latter include the trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, groups of compounds formed when chlorine is added to public water supplies.
It may be these and yet unidentified contaminants that are responsible for the decrease in learning ability and memory.
Both groups of compounds, the trihalomethanes, and haloacetic acids, are known carcinogens. Some individual compounds within each group are more detrimental than others.
Because the trihalomethanes are volatile they may easily volatilize into the air when showering and then be inhaled.
This is much like chlorine, but much worse. You may ingest them by drinking, inhaling, or absorption through the skin.
The Chinese study focused only on drinking water. But given the volatile nature of the harmful compounds removing them from bath or shower water may also be advisable.
As consumers have become aware of the problems with tap water they have increasingly moved toward bottled water as a substitute.
Americans consumed 14.4 billion gallons of bottled water in 2019. The only reason to drink bottled water at home is the avoidance of tap water.
National media stories like the one in Flint Michigan where lead in tap water caused permanent brain damage to children scare consumers into drinking bottled water in its place.
The purpose of the Chinese study was to determine which type of water is best suited for pregnant women and their children.
Tap water, filtered tap water, purified bottled water, water with minerals added, and bottled natural or spring water was provided to the pregnant adult rats and their pups.
The learning ability of the offspring was then compared. The young rats who drank the filtered water scored highest in learning and memory ability.
The young rats who drank tap water scored the lowest on these tests. Clearly, consumer concern about tap water is justified.
The rats who drank bottled water fared slightly better than the tap water group but not as good as the filtered tap water group.
Reading the actual study it appears the authors are suggesting that the bottled water contained contamination from the plastic bottles themselves.
They suggest it was this contamination that limited the effectiveness of the bottled water. The purified bottled water was only slightly better than untreated tap water in affecting learning ability.
This is quite enlightening. Those of you drinking bottled water as a substitute for tap water may want to rethink that choice. Plus, kitchen water filters tend to be less expensive in the long term than buying bottled water.
The study also attempted to look at specific minerals in the water, including calcium, magnesium, and zinc. While the authors seem to prefer water containing natural levels of minerals, as are present in tap water, they found no correlation between these minerals and learning ability in pups.
Minerals are generally derived from food. According to some studies water only contributes to these when food sources are lacking. The presence of zinc seemed to contribute positively to reproduction but the results were not clear.
What difference does all this make to you? Your kid isn’t a baby rat. No, but the chemical interactions are similar. Since early man’s history if we were thirsty we’d head down to the river for a drink.
Now we’ve polluted that water in ways we don’t completely understand. For instance, it was a surprise to learn that adding chlorine to water created a bunch of carcinogens. Chlorine was originally added to kill bacteria.
More recently, cities have been adding both chlorine and ammonia, or chloramine, to water. The chloramine is intended specifically to reduce the levels of trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids.
Yet new research demonstrates that chloramine creates a set of compounds uniquely different and just as dangerous.
While bottled water appeared to provide some kind of panacea to many consumers it turns out that isn’t true, according to this study’s findings. I personally only drink bottled water when I travel.
And at such times I pick local bottled spring water that hasn’t traveled too far or sat in its bottle too long. If it’s sitting in the sun outside a grocery store I walk right on by.
The best and least expensive alternative is to buy a kitchen water filter. But even that can be tricky. The Chinese filter used a combination of granular activated carbon (GAC) and KDF™.
The best way to find the right filter for your situation is to start by finding your local water quality report. That report will identify the contaminants in your water. With a little bit of research, you can buy a filter that removes the contaminants in your water.
Buying a carbon filter somewhere is better than nothing but most likely will not be the right choice. For instance, if your water contains chloramine you need a particular kind of carbon to remove it.
You would buy a filter that employs catalytic carbon. There are also numerous contaminants that would lead you to choose a reverse osmosis system in place of a simple kitchen water filter. These include contaminants like arsenic, nitrates, uranium, or other radioactive metals.
What type of water are you drinking? Selecting the right kitchen water filter is a bit complex but worth the effort. What the Chinese study has demonstrated is that drinking filtered water while pregnant benefits your children significantly. An increase in learning ability and memory can aid them in living a successful life.
Live long and stay healthy!
Author: James P McMahon is an ecologist and writer living in Durango, Colorado. He is the owner of Sweetwater LLC.