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Is your drinking water safe? In the past, you might have assumed it was. Recent episodes, like the one in Flint, Michigan, have more and more people questioning the quality of the water they drink. In fact, a recent Water Quality Association survey found that 56 percent of people are either concerned or very concerned about the quality of the water in their homes.
It makes sense to want to know for sure whether your drinking water safe. Clean drinking water is crucial for human health. Here are seven ways to ensure that your water is safe and healthy to drink.
1. Check the Source
You should be able to get information from your water company or local government about the quality of your water. Check your water bill for a phone number or contact your local government officials.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires water utilities to provide their customers with Consumer Confidence Reports each year by July 1, which will give you details about water quality. The EPA also provides information about its water quality standards.
2. Test Your Water
If you want to find out how clean your water is for yourself, you can test it. If you get your water from a well, you should do this once a year. You can contact a water testing company that’s certified by your home state or the EPA to test your water. If you have a well, they can come to your home to check your water. You may also be able to send them a sample.
While not as comprehensive as testing by a professional laboratory, you can also purchase at-home water quality testing kits.
3. Upgrade Your Plumbing
If you have an older home, you may have lead pipes, which can leach lead into your water. Corroded copper pipes can also cause high levels of copper in your drinking water. To determine whether your home’s plumbing is causing contamination, you’ll have to conduct a professional or at-home test of your water. Check it early in the morning before anyone has used water, because the more water runs, the more contaminants get flushed it.
If you find high levels of lead, copper or other contaminants from plumbing, replace your pipes. It also pays to check them regularly to make sure they’re still in good condition.
4. Filter It
While waiting to replace plumbing or take other more long-lasting measures, you may want to filter your water. Keeping a filter in place at all times is also a great way to boost the overall quality at all times and avoid contaminants if an incident occurs.
You can purchase various types of filters, including carbon filters that attach to the faucet, standalone pitchers that use carbon filters or reverse osmosis filters, which connect to the pipe under the sink.
5. Boil It
You may have gotten a boil-water advisory from your municipality after a water main break or another issue that could affect water quality. While boiling is not the most effective or efficient way to purify water, it is easy and will kill any bacteria or parasites that are present. Make you boil it for at least a minute to make sure you get everything. The downside to boiling is that it is not effective at removing dirt, chemicals and some other kinds of pollutants.
6. Distill It
Distilling water includes boiling it but takes the process a step further to achieve higher purity. Distillation systems boil water and collect the resulting vapor, leaving behind contaminants. Distillation is useful for removing most impurities except for some pesticides and gases such as chloride. It also eliminates minerals and trace elements that may be beneficial.
7. Talk With Local Leaders
If in your efforts to determine whether your water is clean, you discover any ongoing water quality that could be affecting the broader community, you can take more comprehensive action by lobbying your local government to fix the problem.
Water delivery systems in many communities, for example, still contain lead components. Some components are taking steps to replace them, but this can be a slow process. Contacting local leaders and requesting that they make it a priority can help.
If you discover a serious violation, you can also report it to the EPA.
There’s no way to ensure that your water is 100 percent pure all the time, but if you take these seven steps and stay alert about water advisories and other issues, you can feel confident that you’re drinking clean, healthy water.