Guru Kate: The benefits of filtering tap water

Why should I filter my water?

There is such a large market for filtered water because of suspected contamination of municipal water, the taste associated with certain ions in the water and because of trace minerals that can impact your health over time. Every city’s water is different, however, and therefore citizens of different metropolises have different concerns.

Anchorage municipal water has added chlorine and fluorine. According to Deanna Crump of SGS Environmental Inc., an independent lab commissioned by Anchorage for water testing, Anchorage passes all EPA standards with flying colors.

Adding fluorine to municipal water was recommended by Dr. Richard Foulkes in 1973 through a 1900 page research paper. He could have just said that it should be added to drinking water to aid in the prevention of cavities. Unfortunately, 19 years later, he found out that his research assistants hadn’t been totally honest and falsified data. Whoops. Regardless, we still know that fluorine is good for your dental health, in appropriate amounts. There is such a level of fluorine consumption called fluorosis (only during childhood), where too much fluorine in your diet will make your teeth stained with yellow stripes for life.

Some high-end filters claim the ability to filter out fluorine. Anchorage Waste Water Utility (AWWU) fluorinates their water at 0.7 parts per million, the level recommended by the American Water Works Association and required by an Anchorage mandate. At this level, fluorosis is highly unlikely to happen, even in infants. No harm, no foul.

Sometimes, dangerous minerals enter the water supply such as arsenic or lead. Poisoning of these chemicals can lead to mind-boggling symptoms like confusion, dizziness, memory loss, vomiting and drowsiness. Don’t confuse these with symptoms of a hangover.

However, you can sleep peacefully knowing that AWWU (the business that regulates most of the municipal water of Anchorage) states that traces of lead in our water is so low that it is often non-detectable, and that levels of arsenic meet EPA standards. However, if your pipes have lead solder, amounts of lead could leech from there are therefore would not be detected by standard measurements of city water. This would be the main reason I’d recommend a water filter.

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There are quite a few water filters on the market. They range from ones that filter using sand, carbon, a screen, ion absorption, ceramic plates, UV light and reverse osmosis. Some filters use a combination of all of the above. There are filters that attach to your faucet, installed in your fridge, stored inside your fridge or even mangled into water bottles. The engineering behind filtering water is complex and pretty lucrative. It’s almost worth getting a minor in.