Water is vital to our health and very existence, but without the proper filtration it can damage our bodies. We get a lot of questions from our neighbors and customers relating to water contaminants. This week, we’re taking a look at pesticides in our drinking water. Recent studies have linked pesticides to birth defects, cancer, autism spectrum disorders, and ADHD in children. Here’s what you need to know from our top pesticide questions:
What is a pesticide?
A pesticide is a general term for any chemical used to kill “pests” like rodents, plants, molds, and insects. They’re designed to kill, so it’s no wonder they can harm us too. The American Academy of Pediatrics has cited evidence that ties pesticide exposure to cancer in children, behavioral problems, and lower IQs.
How do pesticides get into our drinking water?
We can be exposed to pesticides in a number of ways, but our drinking water is probably one of the most disturbing sources. The main reason these chemicals end up in our water supply is from industrial facilities and runoff. Rain water washes the pesticides from the fields and farmlands and pushes it into our rivers and streams. Pesticides are also absorbed into our groundwater. These chemicals eventually make their way into our drinking water because we have to pull our tap water from these contaminated sources.
A recent report by Environmental America put Indiana at the top of the list for waterway pollutants. The report said that we add more toxic chemicals to our water supply than any other state. This seems to connect with another study about pesticides used in the spring season, conducted in part by Indiana University School of Medicine researches. They looked at babies conceived between April and July and found a surprising correlation. The amount of pesticides used in those springtime months appears to influence the higher number of birth defects.
What are the health risks related to pesticide exposure?
There are quite a few! Let’s start with the most common pesticide found in our waterways: atrazine. As an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), the pesticide atrazine disrupts normal hormone activity. It has links to neurological problems, abnormal reproductive organs, breast and prostate cancer, reduced sperm counts, as well as pregnancy loss in adults.
Pesticides are even more risky for children because their bodies absorb chemicals faster. (As we saw with the lead-contaminated water in Flint.) Most pesticides are only meant for agricultural, but they can still drift from their application point. The common pesticide compound chlorpyrifos has been linked to an increased risk of an autism diagnosis or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) when mothers lived near fields where pesticides were applied. The report shows that environmental exposures and pesticides can connect to autism—not just genetics.
Other studies have looked at the effects of the pyrethroid pesticide deltamethrin. Exposure to the pesticide in utero and during breastfeeding has strong correlations to ADHD features in mice, including impulsive-like behavior and hyperactivity. These findings, on top all the other research on pesticides and health risks, show that something needs to change.
How can I keep pesticides out of my drinking water?
While there are multiple regulations in place to keep contaminants out of our drinking water, no single system is fail proof. The USDA has reportedly found 59 pesticides in our drinking water, and the Pesticide Action Network has been fighting to get our exposure reduced.
The EPA has its own set of drinking water standards, but when it comes to pesticide contaminants in water, the levels can vary drastically from month to month. That’s why we like to opt for in-home filtration.
What’s the best drinking water filter for pesticides?
A reverse osmosis (RO) filter works to remove nearly all the contaminants in your family’s drinking water. They remove any contaminants that the treatment plant missed, or that your water picked up traveling to your home. Multi-stage reverse osmosis systems can remove pesticides and even lead from your home’s water right at your tap.
Not all filters are created equal, but the right RO system can keep your drinking water safe and remove pesticides for good. If you’re ready for more information on your family’s water filter options, contact your local water experts today!