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Blanco County News
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Health and Wellness
Clean Water?
Wellness Consultant
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 • Posted April 12, 2012 9:15 AM

Most of us who live in the USA take it for granted that we will always have access to pure, clean water. We assume that the supply is both endless and safe… not so!

This week, we have the annual opportunity to get personal wells and water sources checked by our County Extension Service. Our screening date is April 16. Samples should be turned in by 10:00 a.m. Samples from private water wells will be screened for common contaminants including fecal coli form bacteria, nitrates, and high salinity. The cost is $10 per sample. Pick up and drop-off for the sample bags is at K&C Supply in Blanco on N Hwy. 281 and at the Extension Service Office in Johnson City (see Blanco County News, March 28 edition.)

Maybe you remember stories from your grandparents, or even know of recent cases of typhoid and e. coli spread via the water supplies. Let’s take care of our precious water source; collect our samples this weekend or Monday morning to turn in by 10:00 am… for best results we need to make the collection as close to pick-up time as possible.

Does it matter what type of water we drink? Absolutely! Still, there is a great deal of concern about the quality of our drinking water. A problem with tap water, other than the taste, is that the chlorine found in tap water is a strong, highly reactive oxidizing agent that tends to combine with organic matter in water to form toxic by-products that can cause heart disease, cancer, miscarriage, or birth defects. Chlorine is needed to make tap water safer to drink by killing bacteria and other contaminants before the water arrives at the point of use. But, chlorine does not need to be consumed. Additionally, other contaminants we should be concerned about in our water include herbicides, pesticides, gaseous chemicals, lead, nitrates and radon. The conclusion is that we will need to find an alternative to tap water. There are two options - bottled water and home filtration.

Bottled water is expensive and often very inconvenient. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of all bottled water is actually tap water in a bottle. The bottled water industry is largely unregulated. Between 60 to 70 percent of all bottled water sold in the U.S. is exempt from any of the Federal Government's standards because it is sold in the same state in which it is bottled. If you do use bottled water, purchase only those brands that display a mineral breakdown on the label. Otherwise, the water most likely contains no minerals and long-term consumption of de-mineralized water is not advised.

Reverse osmosis water filtration is water from the tap that passes through a sedimentation filter allowing particulate matter to settle. Water molecules pass through special membranes but the organic and inorganic materials do not. Then the water passes through a carbon filter which takes out anything remaining. There are several problems with this type of filter. It is expensive and inefficient as only 10 to 25 percent of the water that goes through the unit is used and the balance is wasted. Most important is the fact that all minerals are removed from the water, which are necessary for body function.

Distilled water involves vaporizing water, turning it into steam and then condensing it again into liquid. This process removes all useful minerals, gases such as oxygen and electrolytes from the water. Substantial health concerns about drinking distilled water for long periods of time are that it causes the development of mineral deficiencies and an acid state in the body. Ideally, water consumed should be slightly alkaline. Again, the problem with this method is the fact that the water is totally de-mineralized and it uses several gallons to yield one gallon of filtered water, making it environmentally unfriendly.

In activated carbon filtration, the carbon is activated by exposing it to chemicals at high temperatures and steam in the absence oxygen. This gives the carbon a large surface area on which to attach and absorb chemicals. Carbon removes organic chemicals and chlorine, while leaving the minerals in the water. In other words, carbon takes out much of what man puts in the water and leaves what is supposed to be in the water. Silver is used in many carbon filters to prevent the growth of bacteria, which makes these units virtually maintenance free for long periods of time. These units are also significantly less expensive than reverse osmosis or distillation units. Additionally, it is best to purchase a filter with loose carbon, since water tends to channel. Information published in the Water Conditioning and Purification the efficacy of Granular Activated Carbon for removing various substances from the water. More information is available on-line or from Texas A&M and Todd Swift at the Blanco Country Extension Office. 830-868-7167

Disclaimer: Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published trade books. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. Consult your health care provider for your specific medical needs. For any questions, comments or suggestions contact Maryella at or

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