Tap Water Safety and Your Fertility

Water safetyDrinking bottled water or filtering tap water has been regarded by many as something only paranoid health freaks or rich and famous do out of fashion whims. It’s in the same category as eating organic food.

Many people are more than happy when the news reports ‘organic food is no healthier than non-organic food’ or ‘tap water is healthy and safe to drink’. In my part of the world—Switzerland—you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t believe that tap water is healthy. There is an urban myth that water coming from the Alps is rich in calcium. This is true for the mineral water, which is naturally filtered for centuries before it ends up in your bottle. Tap water is actually rich in rock sediment and sand which is why there is a high prevalence of kidney stones.

My father who is a radiologist won’t go near the tap water out of fear of developing painful kidney stones which he sees in many of the patients he treats. If you boil tap water in your tea-kettle in Switzerland, in a couple of weeks the heater will be completely calcified, looking like a fossil.

However, in the scheme of tap water safety and potential dangers kidney stones are the least of our worries.

Our Waterways Are Constantly Being Polluted By...

  • industrial waste and byproducts
  • pharmaceutical drugs for humans and animals
  • pesticides and herbicides
  • commercial cleaning products
These chemicals get into the tap water through...

Industrial Waste and By-Products

You may have heard of the movie Erin Brokovich—the story is about a company polluting water with extremely toxic hexavalent chromium. The substance caused cancer and many other diseases in a small town. This was a true story. There are many companies polluting the water regardless of the country you live in. They simply can get around the law or there is no law for the XYZ chemical getting into the water, or there are no environmental laws at all.

Heavy metals are the most common industrial waste product. They are known for causing infertility. Jet fuel is another concoction of heavy metals and chemicals that planes emit through their exhaust residue and is commonly found in the sea.

Pharmaceutical Drugs for Humans and Animals

74% of the US population is taking prescription drugs. This figure in other parts of the world is generally lower but not by much. The drugs do not metabolize 100% percent. Some of the drugs will be excreted via feces and urine and flushed away. Toilet water gets treated and filtered before it’s discharged into the lakes and rivers. The trouble is, many drugs can not be filtered out. Minute quantities of chemotherapy drugs, contraceptive pill, antidepressants, anxiolytics, anabolic steroids, HRT (hormone replacement therapy), heart drugs, and others, have been found in tap water.

According to Science Daily, ‘the Montreal water treatment plant dumps 90 times the critical amount of certain estrogen products into the river’. Studies show that 128 million contraceptive pills and 107 million doses of hormone therapy are consumed every year in Quebec. Now imagine how much of this ends up in your tap water? Associated Press reported that over 41 million Americans are exposed to pharmaceutical drugs in tap water. Do you think that exposure to these drugs over a decade or two decades can negatively impact your fertility or the growing embryo? And how many of these drugs are contraindicated in pregnancy and small children? The bottom line is, the long term effects of exposure to these drugs are not known as they’ve only been around for 50 years.

Similarly, on farms where cattle graze and barns are stationed, excrement ends up on the soil, where it’s absorbed and washed away into the streams, rivers and the seas with the next rainfall.

Studies have found deformities in fish, whales and otters as well as feminization among males which led to infertility. These deformities and hormonal changes have been directly linked to exposure to environmental pollution.

Zoologist John Sumpter from Brunel University in London says: “These are chemicals that are designed to have very specific effects at very low concentrations. That’s what pharmaceuticals do. So when they get out to the environment, it should not be a shock to people that they have effects”. Dr. Sumpter studies the effects of trace hormones and heart medication on the environment.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Pesticides are sprayed on all non-organically grown crops, fruit and vegetables. Nonorganically grown animals are often fed feed which contains pesticides. Pesticides can be carried by wind and spread into the rivers and streams, or washed away by rain ending up in the waterways. They are known endocrine disruptors leading to hormonal imbalances and infertility. Pesticides have been linked to endometriosis, fibroids and PCOS.

The so-called Xenoestrogens – foreign compounds that act like estrogens, and dock on the same receptors in the body – are know for their damaging effect on fertility in both men and women.

Some pesticides are consistent organic pollutants and contribute to soil contamination. Organochlorines have been linked to respiratory problems, some cancers, skin disorders, depression, poor memory, neurological disorders, miscarriages, birth defects, diabetes and infertility. Do you still believe non-organically grown food is safe?

Commercial Cleaning Products

Did you know that chemicals used in commercial cleaning products don’t need to be rigorously tested like pharmaceutical drugs? This means that companies can get away with using pretty much any cheap chemical. These chemicals are not only inhaled by you while you are cleaning, or absorbed through your skin if you are not wearing gloves, but they also end up in your sewage water which ends up in the rivers and oceans.

Many of these chemicals are known endocrine disruptors, heavy metals, and toxic substances which have been linked to cancer, infertility, asthma, and eczema in children and adults. Can you imagine how much damage you could be causing to the fast-dividing cells of an embryo or your reproductive cells by being regularly exposed to these toxins?

It’s Time to Wisen Up

What’s damaging to the Planet and the Ecosystem is damaging to your fertility. Don’t trust companies that plaster ‘all-natural’ on the labels only to read a long list of unpronounceable chemicals on the back. Do your own research on water and fertility. Don’t drink unfiltered tap water assuming it is safe for you and your fertility, don’t assume the government will protect your health, avoid eating non-organically grown food, and don’t support companies which are not environmentally sound by buying their products.

What Should You Do?

  1. Buy a dual filtration water system that filters particles smaller than 1 micron (this will filter out the drugs as well as heavy metals). I personally use and recommend the Aquasana drinking water system.
  2. Use the filter in your shower and your kitchen. Shower steam contains the same chemicals which you can end up inhaling or can be absorbed through your skin. Use this shower filter.
  3. Eat organically grown food.
  4. Only use household cleaners which are safe for the environment. Check the ingredients.
  5. Shop from your local organic store/ health food shop. Speak to the staff in those shops for more information, they are usually more than happy to share their knowledge and to help you.
  6. Do your own research. Google and Wikipedia should be a good start.
  7. Support green companies by buying their products and participating in their activities to help the environment.
  8. Speak to your friends and families. Educate them and spread the word about the damage we are doing to the environment and our health.
So on the subject of tap water and fertility, it pays to exercise caution and avoid unfiltered tap water for your own safety. What are your thoughts on this topic?
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About the Author: Iva Keene MRMed. ND. - Natural Fertility Specialist

Iva Keene is co-founder, creator and award-winning author of the NFP Program and director of Natural-Fertility-Prescription.com. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Health Science in Naturopathy and a Master Degree in Reproductive Medicine. She has been a qualified and internationally accredited Naturopathic Physician for over 15 years. Since founding NFP in 2008, Iva’s articles, videos, guides, and reports have reached over 1.3 million people. Iva has dedicated her professional life to supporting couples on their path to parenthood with scientifically grounded information, protocols, and coaching around preconception care, natural infertility treatments, and integrative reproductive health.