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We hear comments like this from people from time to time when we offer Free Water Testing and Home Assessments. Mostly its on Facebook and unfortunately, we just don’t have enough space in a post to give this comment the time and analysis that it deserves.
So let’s break that down and take a proper look at the quality of water coming from our taps.
Firstly we need to be very clear here that we absolutely acknowledge that the water suppliers across the country- especially Water Corp WA- do a fantastic job of delivering water that complies with the government standards outlined in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).
Here in WA the Water Corp publishes their results from their own testing of the water- you can go on the website to see the results.
In fact, adding a sanitising agent to water is essential to prevent mass public outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and other water born diseases, bacteria’s and parasites. I speak first hand when I say it is absolutely terrifying to have a child sick with Giardia (a lovely water born parasite that when it gets in your gut gives chronic diarrhoea and vomiting which left untreated would undoubtedly lead to death), picked up from enjoying the taste of the water at Lake Garda!!
We are not suggesting that chlorine be removed from the water at all- only that aesthetically it makes sense to remove it at the end of its journey before you consume it. Many of our customers. if not all, report better tasting water, a difference in the feel of their skin and hair and for some, easier to clean bathrooms.
After all, we live in a first world country- where we spend upwards of $5,000 on the latest TV’s, so an investment into a filtration system at your home to permanently improve the quality of water coming in, surely makes sense?? Cause water is important right??
If you don’t think that good water is crucially important, if not the basis of good health then no point in reading on. But if you do then this is essential reading for you.
OK so back to the question at hand – How good is our water and can it be better??
Again to be crystal clear, we know that Australian water is good, safe and compliant with the ADWG.
A few quick facts from the ADWG’s in case you don’t fancy reading all the 1167 pages!!!
The maximum amount of free chlorine in Australian tap water should be under 5mg/L – yes that’s right for those of you who are thinking about your swimming pool test kit – that’s the very top of the gauge – in fact if you took that sample to the pool shop they may say not to let the kids swim in it for a little while as it might sting their eyes. If you Google ideal swimming pool chlorine levels this will come up at the top of the page:
Regardless of how frequently or what system you use to add chlorine to the water, the chlorine level should stay between 1.0 and 3.0 parts per million (ppm) to maintain a healthy pool. Any higher and you start to run the risk of red eyes and swimmers itch.
1 ppm = 1mg/L
OK so we have hopefully illustrated that although the chlorine levels in your tap water may comply with the ADWG, in that the chlorine is under 5mg/L – this in fact is not very hard to do – even for an overdosed pool sample!
Now we are certainly not stating that your tap water has 5mg/L of chlorine in it, simply that this is the limit.
Have you ever noticed animals drinking the pool water and thought ‘that’s gross- they mustn’t be able to taste the high amounts of chlorine in that!’. In fact, dogs have a better sense of smell than we do. What they have probably recognise is that there isn’t much of a difference in what can be in their bowl and what’s in the pool. (But who knows exactly what goes on in a dog’s mind- they might just like the how chlorine tastes) 😉
OK so that is chlorine and the limits allowed in your tap water. If you are OK with the levels potentially being consistent with a healthy pool then keep drinking without a filtration system.
There are some other concerns that we need to consider when we look at chlorine in the tap water.
The first one is – can it be absorbed by your skin and are there risks associated with inhalation in a hot bath or shower?
The second concern centres around Disinfection By Products (DBP’s) such as chloroform and other Tri Halomethanes (THM’s).
Anecdotally many people contact use because they have just come back either from a remote site up north, from another country like Bali or from the country on tank water, and after a few days using the water in the city, their skin is dry and itchy. What we hear from our customers is that they experience a dramatic difference in the feel of their skin and hair after their systems are installed. But let’s not just rely on stories from customers, lets look at what the scientists say:
The World Health Organisation publication https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/chlorine.pdf
States ‘It has been reported that asthma can be triggered by exposure to chlorinated water. Episodes of dermatitis have also been associated with exposure to chlorine and hypochlorite’ (Page 4).
Chloroform Exposure and the Health Risk Associated with Multiple Uses of Chlorinated Tap Water
Their abstract states:
‘Recently, showers have been suspected to be an important source of indoor exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOC). The chloroform dose to an individual from showering was determined based on exhaled breath analysis. The post exposure chloroform breath concentration ranged from 6.0‐21 μg/m3, while all corresponding background breath concentrations were less than 0.86 μg/m3.
The internal dose from showering (inhalation plus dermal) was comparable to estimates of the dose from daily water ingestion. The risk associated with a single, 10‐min shower was estimated to be 1.22 10‐4, while the estimated risk from daily ingestion of tap water ranged from 0.130 10‐4 to 1.80 10‐4 for 0.15 and 2.0 L, respectively. Since the estimates of chloroform risk from domestic water use for the three exposure routes—ingestion, inhalation, and dermal—are similar, all routes must be used to calculate the total risk when making policy decisions regarding the quality of the municipal water supply.’
So it looks like we really need to think twice before jumping into that shower or bath! In fact, based on their findings it exposes you to more dangerous VOC’s than drinking chlorinated water.
The ADWG says this about DBP’s such as THM’s:
Whilst every effort should be taken to minimise the formation and concentration of DBP this should never be done in a manner that compromises disinfection as poor microbiological quality represents a greater and more immediate risk to human health than short term exposure to DBP (Hrudey 2009). (This quote is from the ADWG section 10.3.7. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/reports/aust-drinking-water-guidelines.pdf)
So there you have it!
In a nutshell – Yes your water is compliant and inline with global limits on chlorine in the water but they are generally comparing the risks associated with it to the risks of cholera and typhoid outbreaks.
In which case they are significantly lower. However if you want the best of both worlds you can have the safe and sanitary water delivered to your home then remove the chlorine and chlorine by products before you use it.
So..Yes you’re water is safe, but are question to you is “Do you want better Water?”..