Nitrates are one of the biggest concerns. Nitrates are found predominately in water that comes from a well. Nitrates can find their way into groundwater from the excessive use of fertilizer, septic systems, run-off from barnyards or feedlots. When nitrates collect in a baby’s system it can cause an illness known as “blue baby syndrome.” The symptoms of this illness are characterized by a distinctive blue-gray tint to the baby’s skin. It can cause babies to become irritable and lethargic and if left untreated can lead to coma or even death. Fortunately, there are drinking water systems available than can reduce the level of nitrates to non-detect levels, thus eliminating the risk of blue baby syndrome.
Lead is also of particular concern for babies. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) approximately 6% of children have toxic levels of lead in their system. Lead can come from a variety of sources, but when found in water, it usually comes from lead pipes somewhere in the water supply system. The symptoms of first stage lead toxicity are irritability, inattentiveness or hyperactivity. When the levels increase children may experience problems with learning and reading, and could have delayed growth or hearing loss. When levels become acutely toxic, permanent brain damage and death are possible.
One other concern in community supplied water is the presence of chlorine and fluoride. Chlorine is used to destroy harmful bacteria in the water and was once thought to be harmless. Recent studies have shown that is not the case however; when chlorine reacts with organic material already dissolved in water, it forms carcinogenic trihalomethanes also know as DBP’s which are 100 times more toxic than chlorine alone. There has also been a link between people who drink chlorinated water, with increased bladder and rectal cancer.
Fluoride also was thought to be a good thing and is routinely added to publicly supplied water. Unfortunately, when ingested it can cause more damage to developing teeth than not. When applied to the outside of the teeth it prevents cavities, but ingesting it can be harmful to teeth. So when given the choice of what to give our children and what we drink ourselves, it only makes sense to filter out as many chemicals and impurities as possible and to only drink the cleanest form of water possible.