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Heavy Metals in Your Water?

The term "heavy metal" refers to any metallic chemical element that has a relatively high density and is toxic or poisonous at low concentrations.

Heavy metals are natural components of the Earth's crust. They cannot be degraded or destroyed. To a small extent they enter our bodies via food, drinking water and air. In small quantities, certain heavy metals are nutritionally essential for a healthy life. Some of these are referred to as the trace elements (e.g., iron, copper, manganese, and zinc). These elements, or some form of them, are commonly found naturally in foodstuffs, in fruits and vegetables, and in commercially available multivitamin products.

Heavy metal poisoning could result, for instance, from drinking-water contamination (e.g. lead pipes), high ambient air concentrations near emission sources, or intake via the food chain.

Heavy Metals


What are the negative health effects from heavy metals?

Heavy metals are dangerous because they tend to bio-accumulate. Bioaccumulation means an increase in the concentration of a chemical in a biological organism over time, compared to the chemical's concentration in the environment. Compounds accumulate in living things any time they are taken up and stored faster than they are broken down (metabolized) or excreted.

Heavy metals can enter a water supply by industrial and consumer waste, or even from acidic rain breaking down soils and releasing heavy metals into streams, lakes, rivers, and groundwater.

Heavy metal toxicity can result in damaged or reduced mental and central nervous function, lower energy levels, and damage to blood composition, lungs, kidneys, liver, and other vital organs. Long-term exposure may result in slowly progressing physical, muscular, and neurological degenerative processes that mimic Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, muscular dystrophy, and multiple sclerosis. Allergies are not uncommon and repeated long-term contact with some metals or their compounds may even cause cancer (International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre 1999).

Single Heavy Metals Reduction Cartridge w/Housing
Heavy Metals-Arsenic-Lead-Fluoride Double Filter w/Housing
Heavy Metal Filter
Heavy Metals-Arsenic-Lead-Fluoride
Lead and mercury exact their most devastating toll on the developing brain.

. Children exposed to lead at a young age are more likely to suffer from shorter attention spans.
. Children with above-average mercury exposures have learning difficulties.
. Recent studies also suggest that arsenic can harm the developing brain.

Many other health effects of these metals are well-known.

Common Health Effects


Aluminum

Although aluminum is not a heavy metal, it makes up about 8% of the surface of the earth and is the third most abundant element. It is readily available for human ingestion through drinking water.

Studies began to emerge about 20 years ago suggesting that aluminium might have a possible connection with developing Alzheimer's disease when researchers found what they considered to be significant amounts of aluminum in the brain tissue of Alzheimer's patients. Although aluminum was also found in the brain tissue of people who did not have Alzheimer's disease, recommendations to avoid sources of aluminum received widespread public attention. As a result, many organizations and individuals reached a level of concern that prompted them to dispose of all their aluminum cookware and storage containers and to become wary of other possible sources of aluminum, such as soda cans, personal care products, and even their drinking water.

However, the World Health Organization (WHO 1998) concluded that, although there were studies that demonstrate a positive relationship between aluminum in drinking water and Alzheimer's disease, the WHO had reservations about a causal relationship because the studies did not account for total aluminum intake from all possible sources. Although there is no conclusive evidence for or against aluminum as a primary cause for Alzheimer's disease, most researchers agree that it is an important factor in the dementia component and most certainly deserves continuing research efforts. Therefore, at this time, reducing exposure to aluminum is a personal decision.

Target organs for aluminum are the central nervous system, kidney, and digestive system.
      

Arsenic

Arsenic is the most common cause of acute heavy metal poisoning in adults. Arsenic is released into the environment by the smelting process of copper, zinc, and lead, as well as by the manufacturing of chemicals and glasses. Arsine gas is a common byproduct produced by the manufacturing of pesticides that contain arsenic. Arsenic may be also be found in water supplies worldwide, leading to exposure of shellfish, cod, and haddock. Other sources are paints, rat poisoning, fungicides, and wood preservatives.

Target organs are the blood, kidneys, and central nervous, digestive, and skin systems.
     

Cadmium   

Cadmium is a byproduct of the mining and smelting of lead and zinc. It is used in nickel-cadmium batteries, PVC plastics, and paint pigments. It occurs mostly in association with zinc and gets into water from corrosion of zinc-coated ("galvanized") pipes and fittings.

Target organs are the liver, placenta, kidneys, lungs, brain, and bones.
      
Copper   

Copper at very high levels is toxic and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of strength or, for serious exposure, cirrhosis of the liver. Water turns blue-green in colour as the corroded copper comes off the inside of the pipes and appears in the water as a precipitate. This reaction only occurs in a small percentage of cases.
      

Iron   

Iron is a heavy metal of concern, particularly because ingesting dietary iron supplements may acutely poison young children. Ingestion accounts for most of the toxic effects of iron because iron is absorbed rapidly in the gastrointestinal tract. The corrosive nature of iron seems to further increase the absorption. It can cause a rusty red or brown stain on fixtures or laundry and/or cause your water to develop a metallic taste.

Target organs are the liver, cardiovascular system, and kidneys.


Mercury   

Mercury is generated naturally in the environment from the degassing of the earth's crust, from volcanic emissions. It exists in three forms: elemental mercury and organic and inorganic mercury. Atmospheric mercury is dispersed across the globe by winds and returns to the earth in rainfall, accumulating in aquatic food chains and fish in lakes. Mercury compounds were added to paint as a fungicide until 1990.

These compounds are now banned; however, old paint supplies and surfaces painted with these old supplies still exist. Mercury continues to be used in thermometers, thermostats, and dental amalgam. Certain bacteria are able to transform it into methyl mercury, which is concentrated in the food chain and can cause malformations.

Target organs are the brain and kidneys.
      

Lead   

Lead accounts for most of the cases of pediatric heavy metal poisoning (Roberts 1999). It is a very soft metal and was used in pipes, drains, and soldering materials for many years. Millions of homes built before 1940 still contain lead (e.g., in painted surfaces), leading to chronic exposure from weathering, flaking, chalking, and dust. Every year, industry produces about 2.5 million tons of lead throughout the world. Most of this lead is used for batteries.

Target organs are the bones, brain, blood, kidneys, and thyroid gland.

Filtering out Heavy Metals

There are two basic types of water filter. Those that are installed inside a water ionizer and those that are installed outside a water ionizer or as a standalone filter. External filter systems can be configured in any number of stages with each stage removing a particular type or group of contaminants. Removing one type or group of contaminants is often considered a 1-Stage filter (i.e. removing either chlorine, fluoride-lead-arsenic, or nitrates). Filters can be combined to form any number of stages to form: 2-Stage, 3-Stage, and even 7-Stage (i.e. reverse osmosis) filter systems. How many stages you need to filter your water depends on the possible contaminants in your water. The most common water contaminants include:

By combining different filters into a 2-Stage or 3-Stage system, you can remove multiple contaminants to produce a higher quality drinking water than with just a 1-Stage filter. Reverse osmosis filtration systems are more expensive, however, they are recommended for removing the highest percent (up to 99%) of contaminants from your water.

Please contact our customer support center for help with your water ionizer questions.

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