Why Should We Filter Our Tap Water?

PUBThose of us living in Singapore are fortunate in that the PUB sets a very high standard for the quality of water that comes out from our taps. Whether or not one agrees with the taste of the water, most Singaporeans are comfortable with the fact that they can drink the water straight from the tap without fear of catching some waterborne disease. Even when they may not drink the water straight from the tap when they are at home, they will invariably drink it when they are eating out – as most restaurants and eating places will usually serve water straight from the tap!

However in spite of such high hygiene standards, I find it surprising that in the majority of homes, at least those that do not filter their tap water (and even some that do) they will boil the tap water before using it for drinking and cooking purposes. When asked why do they do this, the answers vary from

A pot of boiling water

Boiling water

  • I guess it’s a habit I inherited from my parents,
  • I feel safer drinking boiled water as boiling will kill all the germs,
  • I don’t like the taste of the chlorine and boiling removes it.

I am sure there are other reasons not listed here.

The other thing that I find surprising is that many households also “invest” in expensive water purification / treatment equipment. Most of us I am sure have heard about Diamond water or Kangen water or MRET water. Those that use such devices invariably claim that drinking the water produced by them has improved their health, or the health of their loved ones. Of course there are also some people who think that all this is just a plain waste of money. I am not here to criticise people who have invested in such expensive equipment. There is enough empirical evidence to show  that in many cases, those who were consuming water from such devices have witnessed dramatic improvements in their health, or the health of their loved ones.

Coming back to our main question, why should we filter our tap water? I can suggest the following reasons:

Corroded water pipe

Corroded water pipe

Even though the water produced by the PUB is clean and safe for drinking directly, it may become contaminated because of the delivery system. The entire system of pipes and intermediate storage tanks that convey the water to our tap is a primary source of contamination. Old corroded metal pipes may leech toxic heavy metals into the water. Plastic pipes are no better. Ever heard of BPAs? These are additives added to the plastic and they are endocrine disrupters. In layman terms, they are bad for our long-term health.

Those of us that live in HDB flats and even some private condos are well aware of the contamination problems associated with the rooftop water tanks. Due to breaches in security, maintenance workers have been known to use these tanks as their private swimming pools and also in an extreme case, to dispose of their paramours. Yuks!

YuksOne of the PUB’s main concerns after the water leaves their plant is the possibility of bacterial contamination. To combat this, they add extra chlorine to the system, especially when the water is stored in the rooftop tanks. This is one of the main reasons why our tap water often has a strong chlorine smell. It is really the lesser of 2 evils. Without the additional chlorine, the risk of a catching a water borne disease from bacterial contamination cannot be ruled out. The added chlorine is extremely effective in killing off such bacteria. Unfortunately, the chlorine imparts a nasty odour to the water.

This is probably the main reason why most families boil their water, as boiling effectively removes this chlorine odour. (Hint: If chlorine odour is a problem, and you want to save money by avoiding the need to boil the water, just let the water stand in a cover container for 24 hours before drinking it. Most of the dissolved chlorine would have evaporated by then!) But boiling does not remove the other possible sources of contamination post water-treatment. For example, it will not remove rust, heavy metals and other toxins.

Then we come to the issue of fluoride. Most people have been told, and they strongly believe fluoride is essential for healthy teeth, hence fluoride in the drinking water is a good thing. Besides, most of the oral hygiene products sold in Singapore are fortified with fluoride. Have you tried to get fluoride free toothpaste? Not only are they hard to find, when you do find them, they cost a lot more than normal toothpaste!

Fluoride free toothpaste is expensive!

Fluoride free toothpaste is expensive!

Did you know the Singapore is only one of 9 countries in the world that still fluoridate their tap water? (Source.) Fluoridation of tap water is no longer practiced, in fact, it is banned in most of Europe, and also in Japan, China, Russia. Just a few months ago, Israel also stopped fluoridating their drinking water. Do all these countries know something that we don’t? I know this can be a rather controversial subject, so I will not want to dwell on it too long. Those that want to know more can easier do their own research on the Internet. A good place to start may be Dr Mercola’s website.

[Latest newsflash – 20 Dec 14: The City of Prince George in British Columbia, Canada, has just voted to stop fluoridation of its municipal water! Read more…]

Suppose you want to remove fluoride from your drinking water: Did you know that fluoride is one of the hardest substances to remove? Very few water filters have the capacity to remove fluoride. As far as I know, only the Berkey filter can remove it without any energy input, and at a reasonable cost. The other methods to remove fluoride would involve either distillation or the use of a reverse osmosis system. These methods will remove all the fluoride, but their running costs are quite high.

Many water filter companies make bold claims for their products. However, very few of them can back up their claims with test reports done by independent laboratories. The company that makes the Berkey filters is one of the few that has done so. Test reports from independent laboratories are available.

The Berkey system had a real boost recently when Mike Adams from Natural News did an independent laboratory test (at his own cost) on a whole range of counter-top and pitcher water filter systems. In the counter-top category, the Berkey came out tops in their testing.

So, why should we filter our tap water before drinking it?

The primary reason why a person or family should filter their tap water before drinking should be the primary reason – which is to remove all possible contaminants – whether organic or inorganic. I.e. remove all bacteria, fungi, viruses, and also heavy metals (which are toxic to us), and other toxic substances. The Berkey is the system that does this very well, and at a very competitive price.

Berkey water filter

Berkey water filter

To those people who swear by their alkaline water or energy water, or water with smaller molecular cluster size, I say, more power to you!

However, I would strongly recommend that before you put your tap water into those devices that will treat and enhance the water, ask yourself this question, “How good are the pre-filters in your system?” Most of these systems use only a simple carbon filter to remove odours and other impurities. I would suggest that if you really care for the quality of your drinking water, you should use a Berkey filter to purify the water before enhancing it further with your expensive water treatment system. You have already invested so much into buying these systems, why don’t you take your system further by feeding it really clean water for it to “enhance”?

The Berkey system only costs a fraction of these “high tech” systems, but what it does, it does really well. It will clean the water of all toxins and other impurities. I daresay the Berkey is the best compliment to your high-tech water treatment system.

And it also has a very low running cost. For example, for a family of 4, you will probably only need to change your black filters every 5 years or so, at a cost of $180 a pair. That’s less than $40 a year!

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