How about that indoor plumbing?

We love our indoor plumbing. From the bathhouses of the ancient Roman Empire to the invention of flush toilets and central sewer treatment plants introduced in the late 1700 to early 1800s, down to the modern industrial era, Plumbing has evolved and overall increased the quality of our lives.  At the same time, it has reduced the prevalence of disease, as readily available water encourages more hygienic practices such as bathing, frequent washing of hands, and clean laundry. The addition of various chemicals to remove viruses and bacteria from water has virtually eliminated most water-borne diseases such as cholera, Giardia, and typhoid in municipally supplied water systems in the united states and in other countries as well.

That being said indoor plumbing is not without problems. Clear evidence of this is the recent issue with the lead in the water in the now-famous Flint Michigan. I make no attempt to place blame or try to explain exactly why this situation occurred, the point is it happened. Since the early days of plumbing, various products have been used to deliver water to buildings and various places in the home. Products such as galvanized pipe, and later copper which was held together by using lead-based solder, various plastics have been utilized, as well as brass pumps and fixtures which contain lead to making the alloy more malleable, and even pipes made of fiberglass were used by some municipalities. Water has accurately been described as the ultimate solvent and has a tendency to leach products from the pipes and fixtures It comes in contact with. Most of these products were used for many decades and may still exist in dated buildings. Just 2 years ago on January 4th, 2014 the “reduction of lead in drinking water act” went into effect. The point is there is still the risk of lead exposure even in buildings built within the last few years.

In addition to contamination from various pipes and fixtures, there are other concerns such as the effects derived from chemicals used to help keep water safe such as chlorine and other disinfectant by-products, all of which serve a purpose, however, it would be best not to consume such products. And finally, new contaminants may occur such as pharmaceuticals in the water and more.

On May 4th, 2016, President Obama paid a visit to Flint and after reviewing the situation stated the following “right now, it is safe for you to install a filter in your home, or to use a standalone filter and to go ahead and drink that water but you got to use it” Several organizations, such as the water Quality Association have made such devices available at no charge In a previous statement the president’s council on health said that the best defense against communicable disease is a point of use water filter. He stopped short of saying which type however several are available, from activated carbon filters, ultra-filtration devices, and reverse osmosis units, all of which could be combined with ultraviolet light to assure bacteria-free water. The President is correct using a point-of-use drinking water system especially one that receives the required routine maintenance, is a good way to protect our health. To see the Water Quality Association’s statement on this click here.