What's wrong with regular tap water?

Written by William Fryer - MA Oxon

While the UK does have some of the cleanest tap water in Europe, unfortunately there are still many additives and impurities in our water which may be causing your body long term damage. There are up to 79 different polluting chemicals which find their way into our water and could be making you ill. Here are just a few of the problems with our tap water and the negative impacts they can have on your health.

Lead

Lead gets into our water as it travels through lead water pipes which over time corrode, allowing the lead to enter the water system. Exposure to lead in drinking water can have serious health implications such as kidney problems, high blood pressure and stunted mental and physical growth in children.

Viruses

Unfortunately, due to leaks in our water systems, contaminants can sometimes enter the way supply. When a contaminant such as faeces enters the water supply, it brings with it a host of bacteria and viruses which are likely to make anyone who drinks it very ill. There is also a risk of pathogens entering the water which cause viral diseases such as hepatitis A and norovirus. 

Hardness

When metal ions such as calcium, sodium and magnesium are present in your drinking water supply, it can result in too many of these metal ions building up in your body, which can lead to hardening of the arteries and also contributes to kidney stone. Not only that, but water hardness can also cause skin irritations, acne and wrinkles!

Nitrates

When arable farms use fertilises such as ammonium nitrate, these fertilisers can be washed into our rivers when it rains, meaning the nitrates end up contaminating our drinking water. When they get into our body, these nitrates can interfere with the blood’s ability to transport oxygen which can be fatal for children.

Fluoride

Fluoride has been artificially added to our drinking water with the intention of improving the health of our teeth, yet there is little evidence to suggest it actually does that. In some cases, it even causes a condition called fluorosis which discolours and damages the teeth. Furthermore, fluoride has been associated with lowering IQ, arthritis, bone cancer and reproductive problems.

Chlorine

Chlorine (and chloramines) has been added to our drinking water in order to kill bacteria in the water, however it can have a damaging effect to the human body too and has been linked to cancer and genetic damage. While water companies argue that chlorine evaporates from the water within half an hour, it’s unlikely that you will leave your water for half an hour for this to happen!

Unfortunately. There are a whole host of other contaminants in our tap water which can cause real health issues, including:

Pesticides

Growth hormones

Asbestos

Antibiotics

You can see a full list of the contaminants in our water supply here.