Gone are the days we could drink directly from a clear stream. Today, the clean water flowing from our faucets – and even bottled water – can harbor hidden pollutants. However, thanks to advances in technology, many modern-day contaminants can be filtered out; we just need to know what to look for. 

Water companies work hard to comply with federal and state regulations and although California does have some of the highest water quality standards in the world, they still fall short of the more protective Water Quality Standards set by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). This respected non-profit organization is dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, erring on the side of caution when it comes to water quality.

Install water filters. In the Coachella Valley, contaminants including arsenic, hexavalent chromium and radon have been found in local water supplies at levels exceeding EWG health guidelines. These contaminants mainly come from industrial, agricultural and urban run-off and discharges. The EWG
(ewg.org) provides charts that show what kinds of filters are effective at removing these contaminants, helping reduce long-term exposure to these substances which can lead to health issues including developmental delays in children. 

Investing in a high-quality filter is a positive step towards protecting your health and is significantly more cost-effective in the long run than buying bottled water making it a financially savvy choice for most families. 

Use glass and metal water containers. Many turn to bottled water believing it is safer than tap water, however, bottled water is often subject to less stringent testing and regulation compared to the municipal water supply. Additionally, plastic bottles can leach harmful chemicals, such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates into the water they contain, especially when exposed to heat. 

A particularly concerning group of contaminants found in both tap and bottled water is per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly known as “forever chemicals.” These substances, used in products like non-stick cookware and some plastic bottles, do not break down in the environment and thus may accumulate in the human body over time. Research links PFAS exposure to liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, increased cholesterol levels and cancer. Thankfully, some filters can also trap and remove these forever chemicals. 

Stay informed. Regularly check your local water utility quality reports and compare them to EWG standards. Awareness is the first step toward addressing the issue. Support policies and initiatives for stricter water quality regulations and engage with local representatives and organizations working to improve water safety standards. Making mindful choices contributes to our overall well-being and supports a healthier planet.

Dr. Annissa Ceja is a primary care naturopathic doctor and resident at Live Well Clinic in La Quinta and can be reached at (760) 771.5970 or visit www.livewellclinic.org.

Sources available upon request. 

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