Five Surprising Facts about Water and Your Health
A new report from Healthy Stuff reveals some important information about drinking water and hoses that everyone should be aware of this summer. The report provides one of the five surprising facts about water and your health discussed here.
Should you drink from the garden hose?
During the hot summer months, it’s not unusual for people to drink from the garden hose or fill their pet bowls with water from the hose. Yet researchers at the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center have just released a report on the toxins found in garden hoses, so you may want to turn off that spigot.
In this follow-up to a 2012 study in which 90 garden water hoses were tested, this year 21 hoses were evaluated for the presence of bisphenol A (BPA), bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants), cadmium, chlorine (indicates the presence of PVC [polyvinyl chloride]), lead, and phthalates. These substances are associated with impaired learning, premature birth and early puberty in laboratory animals, nerve damage, birth defects, and other health issues.
All the hoses were top selling brands and were purchased at popular big box stores and retailers. Here are some of the findings:
- Eight hoses had high levels of at least one troublesome chemical
- Of the 5 hoses tested for phthalate, the content ranged from 11 to 18 percent by weight. All of the hoses contained at least one phthalate that had been banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in children’s products
- Hazardous metals including antimony (52%) and organic tin stabilizers (29%) were found in some hoses
- Overall lead levels declined from 2012: while half of tested hoses had more than 100 parts per million lead in 2012, that percentage dropped to 14 percent in 2013
- Water tested from a hose left in the sun for two days showed BPA levels 3 to 9 times higher than the safe drinking water level used by the National Science Foundation
- The phthalate DEPH was found at levels twice that regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The bottom line is a recommendation to not use your garden hose as a source of drinking water.
Four other facts about water and health
Too much water. Drinking too much water can be hazardous to your health. A typical amount of water for an adult is 8 glasses (8 oz each) per day. But individuals can drink too much water, causing electrolyte levels (i.e., nutrients such as sodium, magnesium, potassium) in the body to become so diluted they can no longer perform their normal functions.
When someone consumes so much water their concentrations of sodium become abnormal, it results in a condition called hyponatremia, a severe sodium imbalance that can result in coma and death. The amount of water anyone needs to drink to cause hyponatremia varies, depending on the individual and the circumstances (e.g., amount of physical activity, body weight, and so on).
Water and your brain. The human brain is about 75 percent water, and it needs proper hydration to function at its best. If you become dehydrated, you disrupt the fragile balance between water and the numerous elements the brain requires to operate optimally. If you occasionally feel a bit confused or foggy, you may be suffering dehydration and simply drinking a glass of water may help clear your mind.
How to purify water. If you are in a situation where you are uncertain about the safety and purity of your water supply (e.g., after a natural disaster has disrupted your supply), you can purify your water by boiling it at a rolling boil for 10 minutes and adding a pinch of salt to improve the taste.
You also can add unscented chlorine bleach to the water, but only if the bleach contains hypochlorite as the only active ingredient. If you have 1% chlorine, add 40 drops of bleach per one gallon of water; 4% to 6% chlorine, add 8 drops per gallon water. In either case, stir the bleach into the water and let the water stand for 30 minutes. If the water has a slight chlorine smell, it is ready to use. If not, repeat the process and let the water stand for another 15 minutes.
Water is food. According to the FDA, bottled water is not drinking water: it is a food product. Therefore, bottled water products are under the jurisdiction of FDA regulations and not the EPA, which regulates the public water supply.
The relationship between water and your health is a fragile one, and also a matter of life and death. Be sure to drink enough water for your health and honor the health of the planet by conserving water whenever possible.