Do you drink bottled water? If so, you’re creating a lot more waste than you have to. A plastic water bottle requires multiple large-scale operations to extract oil, turn it into plastic, shape that into bottles, fill them with water, and ship them to distribution centers and stores. These eat up lots of fuel and create lots of pollution. Be better to the earth—use a whole house water filter instead!
Do you feel safe drinking the water in your home? If you’re not drinking purified water that’s been put through an RO system, you probably shouldn’t.
We’ve written before about how specific contaminants like lead, mercury, and chromium-6 affect your health when consumed in your drinking water. We’ve also written about how these and other contaminants are present in Chicago’s drinking water supply. To bring it all together, here’s a breakdown of how unfiltered Chicago water may affect your total health. We’ve provided a brief explanation and list of health consequences for each contaminant.
Read on to understand the serious health risks of drinking unpurified water that contains these harmful contaminants.
Contaminants in the Fox River Make Water Quality Testing a Must for Your Water
Do you live near the Fox River in northwestern Chicagoland? If so, you probably know the river’s negative reputation. Many residents regard it as dirty and grimy. It supports wildlife and recreational activities, but you may not want to drink it, and you’ll definitely want a shower after touching it. Yet, thousands of people still get their drinking water from the Fox. So, what does water quality testing tell us about the river and any contaminants it may contain? Is it safe?
Water Quality Testing Reveals Many Contaminants
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency regularly conducts water quality testing in all the state’s lakes, rivers, and streams. It then publishes the results in a biennial Illinois Water Quality Report. The report includes detailed breakdowns of what contaminants are found, what segments of river or stream they’re found in, and potential sources. Here are just some of the contaminants that the Illinois EPA’s water quality testing has detected in the Fox River over the years:
- Mercury—Toxic metal. Damages the nervous system causing shaking, tremors, pain, numbness, and other symptoms.
- Phosphorus—Excessive levels of phosphorus have led to algal blooms in the region. The resulting cyanobacteria make the water smell and kill aquatic organisms.
- Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)—These manufactured chemicals have been widely dumped into the environment. Studies show that PCBs impair neurological development in children. They also harm the reproductive and immune systems, disrupt the endocrine system, and may cause cancer.
- Fecal Bacteria—Potentially cause illness and affect swimming conditions.
- Sediment—Negatively impacts clarity and potability of water.
- Pesticides (hexachlorobenzene and methoxychlor)—Short-term exposure to high levels of hexachlorobenzene harms the nervous system, inducing tremors, convulsions, and weakness. It also causes liver problems. Exposure to methoxychlor in animals causes similar effects but there hasn’t been much research into human exposure.
Does Your Town Drink from the Fox?
So, does your drinking water originate in the Fox River? What towns get their water from the Fox?
As of 2012, the Fox River supplied over 330,000 people in Elgin and Aurora with drinking water. The water has also caused problems in both towns in the past. For example, in 2016 both Elgin and Aurora had to temporarily switch to using well water after residents complained of a foul taste and odor in the water. Algae had grown on the river and caused those issues, which then weren’t properly resolved with water treatment.
Other towns along the river may also use the Fox to fulfill a portion of their drinking water needs. Towns often tweak or renegotiate their water sourcing, so you should look for the most current information for your town. Check out our Local Water Information page to find information about your town’s water supply. Alternatively, give your city hall a call and inquire about water sourcing.
Get Water Quality Testing for Your Drinking Water
Knowing the water in the region has these sorts of contaminants, it’s important to take precautions to protect the health of you and your family. One important such measure is water quality testing.
Angel Water has been conducting thorough water quality testing in Barrington, IL and the Chicago area for many years. Our lab will tell you what’s in your water, and our qualified water professionals will advise you on what to do about it. Just give us a call at (847) 382-7800 and schedule water testing today!
Angel Water, Inc.
28214 W Northwest Hwy
Barrington, IL 60010
Do you have calcium in your water? Watch this video to learn more and how a water softener can help!
It’s almost Earth Day! What are you doing to reduce your impact on the environment? Here’s a great resolution—cutting back on plastic waste. Plastic bottles are responsible for a lot of pollution, and may even affect public health. You can cut back by replacing them with reusable bottles, and recycling ones you do buy. You can also eliminate bottled water usage at home and at work, with a water filter from Angel Water!
Bottled water companies say they provide high-quality water, but do you really trust that? To start with, half of them are just selling you the same tap water you get for free at home. The other half misleads consumers about the sources of their spring water. Not only that, but companies often skimp on water treatment and aren’t strictly regulated. With a track record like that, don’t buy into bottled—rest easy with a water purifier from Angel Water!
Did you know the government says you can’t eat fish high in mercury, but lets you drink the water that fills these fish with mercury in the first place? That’s crazy! Lake Michigan contains mercury from coal-fired power plants lining its shore, and this lake supplies most of Chicagoland’s drinking water. Mercury ingestion can cause liver failure and neurological disorders. Yet, the EPA’s standards still haven’t been updated since the 70s. Protect your health by removing the mercury with a water purifier from Angel Water.
You turn on your faucet and suddenly—ugh! That rotten egg smell! You may have hydrogen sulfide in your water. Hydrogen sulfide is a compound that occurs naturally in wells with inadequate wellhead protection but can also enter water supplies in runoff from sewage treatment and other manmade processes. The jury’s out on what the long-term health effects are at low concentrations, but we do know that hydrogen sulfide corrodes your plumbing, tarnishes your silverware, stains your laundry and fixtures, and keeps your water softener from working right. Luckily, there are many options for getting rid of it. Call Angel Water today, and we’ll help you get rid of that gross swampy smell!
Iron bacteria may be forming deposits in your well—did you know this slimy rust-colored buildup is made up of not just living bacteria but also dead bacteria and their secretions, sheathes, stalks, and other waste? Gross! These bacteria make your water smell and taste musty and swampy, and stain your fixtures and clothes brown or yellow. The slime deposits also corrode plumbing equipment and clog screens and pipes, wasting your hard-earned money. Don’t let this happen to you: have Angel Water test your drinking water, and get rid of that bacteria with a chlorine injection system!
How does a reverse osmosis (RO) system work? First you need to understand diffusion and osmosis. Diffusion is the quality water has where it always tries to spread out evenly in all directions. Osmosis is when it’s kept from being able to do that by solutes, such as minerals or other dissolved materials, whose charges pull water together on the more concentrated side of a semipermeable membrane. Reverse osmosis, then, is forcing the water back through the membrane, leaving behind solutes that include contaminants like lead, mercury, volatile organic compounds, and more. You don’t want to be drinking those—which is what makes an RO system so valuable for purifying your water.