This week we start on the last in our series of the 6 environmental stressors, water. We will discuss why water is considered a toxin, how it can be damaging to our health and finally, the steps we can take to reduce its harmful effects.

Water for wellbeing.

The human body consists of 75% water. It is in every cell, tissue and organ. It helps to regulate our temperature and metabolism, aids in digestion, transports nutrients and carries away waste. Water lubricates and cushions your joints, spinal cord, and tissues and can help to reduce joint pain and inflammation.

Adequate hydration is required for absorption, transport, activation, and utilisation of water-soluble vitamins such as B group vitamins, vitamin C as well as other micronutrients.

What is in our water?

Water can be contaminated by a number of sources. From agriculture to mining and industry, runoff enters the waterways and makes its way into the dams. From there the water is carried in pipes containing lead, copper and rust to our homes.

Treatment plants also add a chemical cocktail to the water. This includes chlorine, a disinfectant to remove potentially dangerous bacteria and other micro-organisms, aluminium, to make the water clearer, and fluoride help to reduce tooth decay.

What about bottled water?

Some people might think that a safer option for drinking is bottled water, but that’s not always the case. Besides the effects of plastic bottles on the environment, they can also leech chemicals into the water.

While most plastic bottles are increasingly made from BPA-free plastic, the water is still often contaminated with microplastic residues from the industrial process of bottling the water. These can include nylon, polythene terephthalate (PET) and polypropylene.

Bottled water in Australia is self-regulated and can even just be treated tap water. Companies are not required to disclose the source and have no control as to the activities on or near the water source.

It’s not just about drinking it.

Spending as little as 10 minutes in a hot shower or bath can be even more detrimental to our health than drinking contaminated water. The steam produced by hot water contains the same contaminants which can be more toxic when they are inhaled.

Chlorine can be in either a liquid or a gas state. In a hot shower, it moves to a gaseous state where it vaporizes and is subsequently inhaled.

Inhaled chemicals make their way into the bloodstream much more quickly than ingested chemicals without the added filtration benefits of digestion.

The heat of a shower or bath also opens up the pores of the skin. This increases the risk of dermal absorption of chlorine and other chemicals.

Brush, brush, brush…

Something we do every day, usually twice a day can be increasing our toxic load. Brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth with toxic water can seriously increase your toxic load.

The mucosa under the tongue and in some areas of the mouth is thin and highly vascularized. This allows some substances to be rapidly absorbed, including lead and copper.

Next week we will look at some of the harmful effects that water can have, and more its more direct effects on our wellbeing.

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