I recently had a heavy-metal test (no, not that kind — the sort that detects blood toxins) and found my lead levels were very high. The test’s written interpretation suggested that my life’s work might be as a welder, or someone who works in a battery factory.
A couple of years earlier, I found my blood showed a high level of MTBE, which, as my doctor said, indicated that my life’s work might be pumping gas at a gas station. (Aside: I moved to a state where it’s illegal to pump your own gas, only because I hate the smell so much. So, I don’t think sitting in the driver’s seat while someone puts gas in my jalopy once a month is a high health risk.)
I have a white-collar job. I sit and type in front of a computer all day. While some the emails I receive might be construed as toxic, I don’t think they have a lasting effect on my blood composition. Blood pressure, yes, lead , mercury or cadmium in the veins, no.
I live in a new house, with no metal pipes and no lead paint. I live in a picturesque town that doesn’t tolerate icky industries who pollute. I’ll talk about my amalgam fillings in a separate post — but for the moment, I’ll just say that I don’t think they are a contributing factor.
I really don’t do anything interesting without washing it first. (I’m talking about washing fabric before sewing it, you, with the dirty mind — tons of formaldehyde in that stuff.)
So, I went to work on water quality in my house.
First, I ditched the bottled water company.
Then I bought a water filter.
Then, I bought another water filter.
Now, I’m thinking about distillation.
Let’s rewind to the MTBE part of the story.
“What water do you drink?,” asked the doctor.
“Oh, XYZ water. We have it at work too,” I answered.
“Ix-nay on the bottled water,” she said (that’s a direct quote). “Those companies aren’t regulated enough. You’re better off with tap water.”
“Blergh,” I replied. “My tap water tastes like hard-boiled eggs.”
So, you might say we were at an impasse.
I was quite sure the local tap water was safe, as they’ll give you the test results if you ask. But the smell . . . I grew up on a farm with a deep spring that’s been going strong for centuries. It tasted like water. Or, it tasted what was imprinted on my brain as how water should taste, filtered through layers of limestone.
Since I was renting at the time of the MTBE incident, I bought a counter-top filter from a leading brand. The filters in the unit last from 6 months to a year, depending on how many people are in your family. The water tasted like . . . water. I was happy. And I was drinking tap water, so my doctor was also happy.
This year, I moved to a different apartment with a fancy kitchen faucet, the sort that goes from stream to spray and pulls out to get into all the corners of the sink. That was nifty, but the faucet adapter from the old water filter no longer fit on the spigot. So back to the hard-boiled-egg-tasting water. Again, blergh.
My apartment is rich in sinks; four of them to one of me. Unfortunately, they are from a faucet company that thinks you should buy a different wrench for each one to get the aerator off. I got some help on that, and put the old carbon-based water filter on one of the bathroom faucets, in a bathroom with a his-and-her sink. Happy again.
Then came the high levels of lead in my blood test. I thought maybe I should get a filter to hold the water for use in the kitchen (since it’s a drag fetching it from the bathroom to the kitchen in pitchers–very little-house-on-the-prarie if only Laura had wall-to-wall berber). The new filter was a reservoir brand that says it allows ZERO parts-per-million of particles to pass through its patented filter.
And that claim was true. I got a particle tester with the filter. My tap water was in the high 290s. The two-stage filter in the bathroom reduced the ppm to the 140s. The new filter really did make it 0.000 ppm. “Replace the filter,” said the filter lid (in writing, it doesn’t really speak), “when the level is at 006.”
OK. no problem. Then I discovered how quickly a single filter, with a single person in the house, got to and exceeded that level. I was particularly lazy this month, and found the water was tasting lemony. Lemony, like citric acid, a substance I use frequently — to clean the coffee pot, to boost the dishwasher detergent, to up the acid in preserving. I tested the water. 498 ppm. Yikes! I re-tested the water going into the filter from the bathroom filter. 146 ppm. Hmm.
While I’m not accusing anyone of anything, it seems to me to be a brilliant idea to have a small slow-dissolving capsule of citric acid in a water filter so that the ppm can suddenly go from zero to the hundreds without harming anyone. It might be a safeguard even, so the filter isn’t neglected to the point where nasty things can grow in it. I’m on my fourth filter in six months, and the reservoir holds two gallons of water. Like I said. I do work all day most weekdays, even though not at a gas station. And I live alone.
Now, I’m thinking it might be better to just use the filter carafe and forget the filter. I have some more filters to use, so I’ll keep going, but, honestly, this thing is ADDING stuff to the water I put into it if I don’t replace it every five weeks. I just replaced it today. Back to ZERO.
Now, I’m thinking of a distiller. I’m not sure I really want to drink distilled water — some mineral tastes, I like, but I use distilled water for many things, such as a fountain and my Aerogarden. Alas, I just bought a pack of 10 filters for this zero-thing, because they cost three times as much when bought singly.
Nine more filters to go. Then distiller. I’m sick of carrying bottles up the stairs. To be continued.
Otherwise, I’ve heard there’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold. Going to see if she has a twitter feed. I’m sure she has an opinion on heavy metal. I’ll ask her about water filters too.