Water safety and kids
Children are especially at risk for contaminants in the water supply as their bodies are still developing and are more susceptible to environmental threats. Children also drink proportionately more water than adults, which places a still greater risk on them. Here are some things to consider:
Plumbing may affect the taste and quality.
Less expensive than bottled water.
Many municipal water plants fluoridate the water supply.
Drinking water comes from ground water sources, such as aquifers, or from surface water sources, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.
Can taste better, due to different methods of disinfecting.
Quality can be more consistent, tap water can differ due to plumbing systems.
Relatively expensive and can be inconvenient.
Usually lacks fluoridation.
Sometimes comes from the same source as tap water.
Concerns with Drinking Tap Water:
Many older homes built before 1930 have lead pipes and lead soldering, which was used up until the mid to late 80's, which can affect the level of lead in the water. Exposure to high levels of lead in infants and children can result in lead poisoning, characterized by IQ deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, reduced attention spans, impaired hearing, hyperactivity, and antisocial behavior among other problems.
What you can do:
If you live in an older home, it might be a good idea to have your water tested for lead. If high levels are detected, options include replacement of plumbing, adding water filters, or switching to bottled water. After prolonged periods of non-use, allowing the tap to run cold for at least thirty seconds before using can also help to lower lead exposure. Also, because lead dissolves more readily in hot water, always use cold water for drinking and cooking. Boiling water before use will only concentrate lead in the water, it will not get rid of it.
Cryptosporidium and Giardia
Crytosporoidium and Giardia are intestinal parasites found in animal waste. Both cause flu-like illnesses that can include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, upset stomach and
fever. Those at risk for infection are the immuno compromised, elderly and infants.
What you can do:
As this problem is normally a result of drinking from untreated water sources, educate your children to never drink from roadside springs, rivers, streams or lakes. Rarely, municipal systems become contaminated and alerts along with instructions will be given. If you suspect that your water is contaminated, boiling your water for one full minute will destroy both Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
Nitrate, a compound commonly used in fertilizers, can seep into the water supply. When nitrate gets into the bodyís circulatory system, it can interfere with the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. Enough contamination can cause serious illness in adults as well as children. It can lead to Blue baby syndrome in small children, especially those under six months.
What you can do:
Again, check with your water supplier to be sure that the levels of nitrates are not at a dangerous level. If you have a private well, make sure to get your water tested by a certified lab. Do not boil the water to try to remove nitrates, they will only become concentrated if this is done. If you are concerned, another option is to drink bottled water or install an appropriate filtration system.
Many water treatment facilities use chlorine to disinfect the water supply which can leave an unpleasant taste. The taste may also be a result of local conditions, such as the minerals in the water supply or conditions in the river or lake.
What you can do:
If you or your children find the taste unpleasant, one option is to keep a clean container of tap water in the refrigerator. Some of the chlorine taste will dissipate and cold water always tastes better. Other options are bottled water or a water filter. Bottled water is usually disinfected with other methods, such as reverse osmosis or ozination, which does not leave a taste. Most water filters will also remove the chlorine as well as other substances from the tap water. Check with the manufacturer to make sure it will remove the things you are concerned about.
Things to Consider When Drinking Bottled Water:
The water may be coming from the same place as your tap water. Look at the label which will give the source of the water. If it says artesian, mineral, or spring, the water is coming from an underground source. Some bottlers may also add caffeine or other additives to the water. Look at the label carefully to make sure you are not drinking something you donít want.
Most areas have fluoridated municipal tap water and only about twenty brands of bottled water available are fluoridated. Recently, there has also been opposition to fluoridation. One thing to keep in mind, children who receive too much fluoride, especially while their teeth are developing, may develop dental fluorosis, a permanent mottling or staining of the teeth.
What to do:
If your main source of drinking water is bottled water, talk to your pediatrician or dentist about the possible use of fluoride supplements for your children. Also, consult your dentist or pediatrician about the proper use of fluoridated toothpaste, especially with very young children. Make sure they are not receiving too much fluoride and also watch to be sure that they are not swallowing the toothpaste.