We Are Water

In the wise words of Mick Jenkins, "Drink more water, or you might die."


Our podcast, Mind the Roots, is out on Spotify! You can also listen to it through the website here.


Last week, Shealynn O'Toole and I talked about the history of water purification, interesting facts about New Jersey water, green infrastructure, rain gardens, cleanups, conscious consumerism, and ecological activism. You can listen to that jam-packed episode on Spotify or through the website.

Why is water so biologically important?


Water is an insulator, it lubricates joints, it's the principal solvent of the body, it carries oxygen and nutrients to cells, it's used to flush toxins and waste from the body, and it's even nestled amongst our DNA molecules. It maintains our temperature, keeps us hydrated, and prevents aging as well as kidney disease.

How much water are we?


The average human body is overall around 55-60% water by weight, and we're born at around 78% water, so we dehydrate as we age. 2/3 of this water is found in intracellular fluid, inside the cells, while 1/3 is extracellular. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the medium for melatonin secretion from the pineal gland, is 99% water.



Some interesting facts about New Jersey


  • New Jersey is the 5th smallest state in the country and the most densely populated, yet it has the highest number of superfund sites, pieces of land that cannot be bought, sold, or developed until the level of toxic contaminants is addressed. There are 10,000 sites with active contamination, according to the DEP.

  • New Jersey has the highest concentration of PFAS in the country, followed by Michigan and California.

  • Health problems prevalent in NJ may be related to pollution from New York and Philadelphia and associated activities, such as commuting.

  • New Jersey has the highest autism rates in the country, at 1 in 45.

  • Newark, NJ is currently dealing with a lead water crisis. As of April 2019, over 10% of Newark residents have lead levels of over 66 ppb, more than four times the federal action level.

  • New Brunswick, NJ had a water supply containing chlorine, lead, copper, cryptosporidium, turbidity, and trihalomethanes between 2015-17.

  • Learn more about the most toxic sites in each New Jersey county.

This week, I share a couple weeks of research boiled down into one 28-minute episode on 11 common commerical and home water purification methods.


I sound a little less excited about the first 3 methods, but you can hear my voice perk up later in the episode, especially as I get into reverse osmosis. You can listen to this episode on Spotify or through the website.


An overview of 11+ water purification methods

  1. Boiling

  2. Granulated activated carbon

  3. Distillation

  4. Ion exchange: water softeners, deionization, electrodeionization, electrodialysis reversal

  5. Microporous basic filtration: coarse filtration, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration

  6. Reverse osmosis

  7. Chlorination / bleach

  8. Iodine

  9. Ozonation

  10. UV radiation

  11. Desalination: distillation, reverse osmosis, freeze-thaw, electrodialysis


Key ideas:

  • No one method can be relied upon to remove all contaminants; a sequence or combination is needed.

  • In 2020, we Americans should focus our attention on arsenic, disinfection byproducts (chlorine, bleach, fluoride), radium, PFAS, microplastics, and heavy metals like lead in our water supplies.

Key suggestions for consumers:

  • Use a home water filter test to figure out what contaminants are present in your water.

  • Search EWG's tap water database and the EPA's federal reports to find what contaminants are present in your municipal water supply.

  • When researching filters, look for National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) stamp or other certifications.

Follow us on Spotify to stay up-to-date on health, nutrition, and environmental current events!


Resources


  1. Evans, Sydney et al. “Cumulative risk analysis of carcinogenic contaminants in United States drinking water.” Heliyon vol. 5,9 e02314. (2019).

  2. Gross-Sorokin, Melanie Y et al. “Assessment of feminization of male fish in English rivers by the Environment Agency of England and Wales.” Environmental health perspectives vol. 114 Suppl 1, Suppl 1 (2006): 147-51.

  3. Hassan, Saad et al. "Removal of pharmaceutical compounds from urine via chemical coagulation by green synthesized ZnO-nanoparticles followed by microfiltration for safe reuse." Arabian journal of chemistry vol. 12,8 (2019): 4074-83.

  4. Péronnet, François et al. “Pharmacokinetic analysis of absorption, distribution and disappearance of ingested water labeled with D₂O in humans.” European journal of applied physiology vol. 112,6 (2012): 2213-22.

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