Water Quality Impacts Our Immune System
Water quality, of course, is important. According to USGS Water Science School, we’re mostly water — 60% in fact. Our brains and hearts are 73% water. Lungs a whopping 83% water. Muscles and kidneys 79%. And of course it’s not stagnant water.
Water moves throughout our body, oxygenating blood, regulating temperature, absorbing shocks to brain and spinal cord, manufacturing hormones and neurotransmitters, lubricating joints, and flushing out body waste and toxins.
Water also fortifies our immune system. It helps produce lymph. And lymph captures bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. Lymph nodes then destroy the invaders.
Water also helps produce immune cells and circulate white blood cells and nutrients to tissues and bone marrow.
In short, water is an essential nutrient for every cell in our body. It is REALLY essential to our immune system. And it needs to be replaced regularly. Women need about 2.3 quarts a day. Men need a quart more.
High Quality Water is an Essential Nutrient to Our Immune System
And of course the quality of our drinking water impacts the health of every cell in our body.
Simply put, if we drink the highest quality water, we help keep our immune system strong. It’s only one way to strengthen our immune system, of course, but it is a very important way. (We also need to eat lots of vegetables and fruit, exercise, and sleep 6-8 hours every night.)
Neutrophils are part of our innate immune system. They are the first responders during an attack by bacteria, viruses and some cancers.
By drinking the highest quality water, we are helping our body fight off invading bacteria, viruses and other harmful microbes.
In contrast, the quality of tap water is basically unknown. Utility water quality tests are incomplete. Testing for thousand of toxic chemicals that damage our immune system is not available. And our homes’ tap water quality degrades during transport.
Best scientifically proven water quality is through Reverse Osmosis.
On the other hand, if the water we put in our bodies contains toxic chemicals or other harmful agents, we could actually be damaging our immune system.
We may, in fact, be depleting our immune system if our drinking water is not high quality. Our immune system could be tied up defending against the damage toxins and microorganisms in the water could cause. And that leaves our immune system vulnerable to depletion, unavailable to defend us from harmful other invading agents like bacteria and viruses.
Utility Water Quality Tests are Incomplete
The EPA requires water utilities to test for many (but NOT ALL) of the known pollutants and publish results in a yearly “Consumer Confidence Report”.
If you read their reports, you’ll find their measurements are within the EPA’s “safe” limits.
However, the reports do not include every toxic chemical or “emerging contaminant” that finds their way into water supplies.
Our water supplies teem with a multitude of microscopic stuff — from benign to extremely hazardous to our health. All the good, bad and ugly stuff in our tap water that goes down our throat makes their way into virtually every cell of our body.
Some pass through our urine quickly without harm. Others, like lead, cause irreparable damage. Fortunately, tests can measure lead. And the EPA sets a zero tolerance for lead in drinking water. So utilities test for lead and include results in the Consumer Confidence Reports. For the most part, your drinking water should be free of lead (unless your home is old enough to still have lead pipes, fittings or solder). Find out more about water pipes and our re-piping services here.
Thousands of Chemical Contaminants in Water Cannot be Tested
A large group “emerging contaminants” threaten our tap water quality. The largest group is chemical contaminants — in fact over 7,800 of them — known as PFAS chemicals have no scientific methods for testing in drinking water. This chemical group has been around for more than fifty years. They repel water, oil and stains, and are in fire-fighting foam. Useful products, with unfortunate side effects. They’re linked to cancers, liver damage, reproductive, endocrine and immune disorders.
Tests for Only 45 of over 7,800 Chemical Contaminants
So far, scientists have developed tests for only 45 of the over 7,800 PFAS chemicals. That’s according to the Metropolitan Water District, which sells water to most of our local water utilities.
Water Quality Testing at Utilities are Incomplete and Quality Degrades During Transport to Homes
Tests show that PFAS chemicals are in rivers, lakes and even in rainwater. And many of these chemicals, like PFOS and PFOA, remain in our bodies for YEARS.
They continue accumulating with every exposure. On top of that, the EPA has yet to mandate testing for them. Find out more about PFAS contaminants in our water here.
Tests that are available for PFASs show they damage our immune system, leaving us more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. They actually diminish vaccines’ protections.
Therefore, the Consumer Confidence Reports do not provide a complete or accurate picture of the water supply.
With no scientific means of testing for thousands of toxic chemicals, we simply do not know how many of them are in our water.
PFAS Chemicals Damage Our Immune System
And that “unknown” variable is particularly concerning when it comes to PFASs’ impact on our immune system.
Studies have shown that PFAS chemicals — both the older “long chain” versions like PFOS and PFOA — and newer PFAS short-chain replacements — are actually toxic to our immune systems.
A 2019 Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) study raises concerns that they even diminish vaccines’ protections.
“The immune system is a highly sensitive target of PFAS-induced toxicity; observed effects include impaired responses to T-cell dependent antigens, impaired response to infectious disease, decreases in spleen and thymus weights, and in the number of thymic and splenic lymphocytes. … PFAS is associated with reduced antibody titer rise in response to vaccines, resulting in increased risk of not attaining the antibody level needed to provide longterm protection from serious diseases…”Anna Reade, Ph.D.
Natural Resources Defense Council
We do NOT know the level of PFAS chemicals in our water because science has no way to test for thousands of them.
We cannot rely on the utility companies’ “Consumer Confidence Reports” or assurances that our water contains “no” or “safe” levels of PFAS chemicals.
The reports do not even list the specific PFAS chemicals they have tested for.
And at best, scientific testing is available for only 45 of the more than 7,800 PFAS chemical variants. Plus, the EPA has approved testing for only 29 of those tests. On top of that, the EPA does not mandate testing even on those.
Water Quality Differs at Home From Utility’s Quality Readings
Even if the utility companies’ “Consumer Confidence Reports” could be complete in every way, the water quality in our homes would still not be identical to the utility’s water supply. That’s because water companies test after treatment at their source, not at pipes linking to our homes.
Water leaves the utility through a distribution system of huge pipes. Portions of those pipes are corroded and cracking.
According to the San Diego County Water Authority, portions of water pipes are more than 60 years old. So it is no wonder that portions of the pipe occasionally rupture. And it’s no surprise that when water lines crack or rupture, our water quality is at risk.
Water Distribution Pipes Impact Water Quality
More than actual ruptures in the pipes, however, there are many other ways drinking water can become contaminated or degraded within the distribution system. According to National Academies Press publication on Drinking Water Quality Integrity, there are numerous other risks to water quality within the pipes leading to our homes. Here are just a few :
- aging water within the pipes
- pipe materials corrosion
- interactions of disinfectants
- biofilms inside pipes
Below are excerpts from the publication explaining how drinking water can become contaminated or degraded within the distribution pipes:
… there are processes within the distribution system that contribute to degradation of water quality. The large surface area to volume ratio of pipe surfaces, reactive pipe materials, advanced water ages, and bulk water reactions all contribute to deleterious changes in water quality from the treatment plant to the consumer.
There are interactions between the type and concentration of disinfectants, corrosion control schemes, operational practices (e.g., flow characteristics, water age, flushing practices), the materials used for pipes and plumbing, the biological stability of the water, and the efficacy of treatment. In some cases, changes to improve water quality may be reasonably easy, while others may be extremely difficult.
Unfortunately, current microbial detection methods do not lend themselves to early detection, given the many types of microbes possible
National Academies Press: Water Quality Integrity: Drinking Water Distribution Systems
Water Quality WITHIN Our Homes Even Varies
A Purdue University Study shows that water quality differs in homes and even differs from room to room and by season. Researchers took 58 water samples throughout a year within a single house. They call the results “concerning”.
The year-long study sampling water throughout this three bedroom house shows water quality differs dramatically from water utility. More surprisingly, water quality differs in every faucet in the house and differs each season.
Purdue study conducted in this house discovered:
- no disinfectant 10% of time
- increases in water pH
- large fluctuations in organic carbon
- no disinfectant exiting the house’s water heater more than 85% of the time
- chemical fluctuations by season
- lead level exceeded exposure limit for children
- some “lead-free” plumbing components still leached lead
These changes all point to problems predicting water quality within our homes.
“After water enters a home, it continues to age. Older water is more likely to have contaminants that are problematic. Because the quality of water delivered to a single home can vary significantly, and building plumbing can change the water too, predicting drinking water safety at every building faucet is currently not possible,” Whelton said.Andrew Whelton, Purdue University Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
Conclusion: To Strengthen Our Immunity, Drinking Quality Water is Up to Us
Staying healthy is largely up to us. Government agencies and water utilities can only do so much to supply “safe” drinking water.
Of course we need to keep ourselves informed about environmental threats that government agencies can help control. And dangers to public water supplies that water utilities can and should test for and inform us of the results. That’s in part why we consolidate information such as this and put it on our website. However, it is up to each of us to voice our concerns to public representatives and utilities and recommend solutions.
In such a complex and fast-paced world, however, some problems have no immediate solutions.
Why we cannot rely on government agencies or water utilities to guarantee high-quality drinking water
We simply cannot rely completely on government agencies or water utilities to ensure that our drinking water is completely safe. Why not?
- Chemicals are developed and used faster than science can accurately test for them in drinking water.
- Currently we have chemical pollutants in our environment that have no scientific tests to measure.
- Water distribution systems are old and degraded. There are many factors that cause water quality to become degraded before they reach our homes.
- Once water reaches our homes, it still may degrade just sitting stagnant within our plumbing pipes.
- Our own plumbing pipes over time become vulnerable to cracks and breaks that threaten quality of our water.
- Studies show water quality throughout our homes varies throughout each season.
Viruses travel fast with little warning, for example.
So we need to do what is within our power to keep our immune system healthy and ready to fend off such invisible invaders.
The Corona virus pandemic is a perfect example of fast, unexpected challenge to our immune system.
Drinking the cleanest water helps keep our immune system strong and ready.
Drinking high-quality water is up to us
Reverse Osmosis Systems Produce Highest Quality Water
The safest and cleanest drinking water comes from reverse osmosis systems. A February 2020 Duke University study proved it. Reverse Osmosis systems removed more toxic PFAS chemicals than any other filtration system.
For more than 30 years, we’ve been providing a wide range of water treatment systems. And we have the newest reverse osmosis systems that provide the cleanest and best tasting water available.
No Reverse Osmosis Water at home? Consider these measures
If your budget doesn’t allow for us to install a reverse osmosis system, we recommend you consider these measures for your drinking water:
- do not use your hot water faucet for food or drink preparation. If your water heater is a conventional tank-style, water sits stagnant for longer periods of time. Stagnant water is more vulnerable to bacteria and contains fewer, if any, disinfectant agents.
- buy reverse osmosis drinking water from local water stores. If possible, use glass containers instead of plastic. You can re-use your glass containers and bring them back to the water store for refills. Plus plastic bottles, even those labeled BPA-free may not be completely safe.
- use a two-stage carbon filtration system and change filters often. A Duke university study showed that most point-of-use filters do not effectively remove chemicals from tap water. However, the study suggested that two-stage filtration was more effective. So if you have a filter on your refrigerator water dispenser, for example, use it and then pour it into a pitcher filter.