You are what you eat and by extension, drink. However, recent coverage of the North Texas Municipal Water District’s chlorine burn, which ended on March 26, has everyone concerned about the quality of their water. Without getting into the nitty gritty, the big names in the game are: chlorine, chloramine, trihalomethanes, and lead. While, according to Texas state guidelines, certain levels of these chemicals is safe to drink, personally, I’d prefer to not have them in my water, thank you very much!
However, a quick internet search will reveal how hard it is to find products that will reliably reduce these contaminants. A lot of products make big claims but finding the evidence to support those claims is frustrating. Fret no more because at the corner of Park and Preston you will find TreeHouse Plano, a place that has many options for water filtration and has done the research for you.
Full disclosure: I am an employee of TreeHouse Plano, a home upgrade company dedicated to making homes sustainable, healthy, and beautiful. Having clean water for yourself, your family, your pets, and your appliances is very important and often overlooked. I’ve personally helped many people over the last few weeks find solutions to their water needs and this most recent water drama has heightened the public awareness over water quality. I’ve even spoken to a woman who told me her dog won’t even drink the water. When Fido won’t drink the tap water then there is definitely a problem!
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Chlorine? Chloramine? Trihalomethanes? Lead!?
Chlorine is the disinfectant that was used during the chlorine burn conducted by the North Texas Municipal Water District that lasted from February 16th to March 26th.
Chloramine is the disinfectant the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) normally uses to disinfect our water. Chloramine is chlorine plus ammonia. Chloramine lasts in the system longer than chlorine and thus its disinfecting power lasts longer too. That’s not the only reason the NTMWD and other municipal water districts have switched from chlorine to chloramine over the years. Chloramine produces less regulated disinfection by-products (DBPs) than chlorine does so it is much easier for these water districts to comply with EPA regulations on DBPs.
Trihalomethanes (THMs) are a sub-group of disinfection by-products. The EPA regulates four specific THMs: chloroform, bromoform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane. These chemicals are produced as a by-product when chlorine and/or chloramine act on organic matter, i.e. disinfect, hence why they are called disinfection by-products. So yes, if you were wondering, these are in your water! However, the EPA regulates them at 80 parts per billion which to put in perspective would be about 80 drops in an olympic-sized swimming pool. The most recent testing released by NTMWD showed THM levels at 54 parts per billion for Plano. Now remember how I mentioned these were the regulated chemicals? There are hundreds of disinfection by-products produced by chlorination/chloramination that are not regulated by the EPA. These emerging unregulated DBPs (source) may be much more toxic than the current regulated ones and chloramine might produce these in higher quantities than chlorine.
Last but not least, is lead. Water districts have to add more pipe corrosion inhibitor to the water supply because chloramine-treated water is more corrosive than chlorine-treated water.
Is the water safe to drink?
This question is similar to the organic versus non-organic food debate. The non-organic foods we find for sale at the supermarket have been FDA-approved and are therefore, technically, safe to eat. Nevertheless, they do contain chemicals. Whether you choose to ingest these chemicals is up to you. The same goes for our water.
The following is an excerpt from a Facebook post published by the City of Plano (view the full post here) to address concerns about the water supplied by North Texas Municipal Water District:
“The City of Plano hired an independent lab to conduct water tests March 22-23, during the final days of the North Texas Municipal Water District’s (NTMWD) 28-day Chlorine Maintenance Program.
Those results (shown here) came back as we anticipated, showing the drinking water we receive from NTMWD is completely safe. The chlorination process commonly produces byproducts, including two groups of chemicals known as Trihalomethanes or THMs and Haloacetic acids (HAAs). THMs and HAAs form when chlorine reacts with natural organic matter in the water.
All 16 sites recently tested in Plano fall below state requirements for water quality.”
In essence, the water received by the City of Plano from the North Texas Municipal Water District does meet state requirements.
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The good news is, TreeHouse offers a solution for any type of situation and the products listed below reduce all of the aforementioned chemicals: chlorine, chloramine, trihalomethanes, and lead.
Berkey water filter
If you are looking for a point-of-use solution to your water filtration needs, then I highly recommend the Berkey gravity-fed water filter. The testing on the Berkey filters is extensive and it has proven effective at reducing organic and inorganic chemicals, microbes and viruses, even radiation! Berkey performance data can be found in the Berkey knowledge base.
The TreeHouse Plano break room is home to a 4 gallon Royal Berkey and the whole team is a big fan of the clean, crisp taste of the water. It is easy to refill and extremely low maintenance. Each Berkey comes with two Black Berkey Elements that last for 3,000 gallons each giving you 6,000 gallons of filtering power right out of the box. The bigger size Berkeys have room for more elements allowing you to get more filtering power and a higher filter rate. An average family of four consuming eight cups a day per person would get eight years of filtered water out of the box! This comes out to about two cents per gallon. The Berkey filters reduce lead, chlorine, chloramine, and THMs by 99% according to testing conducted by Envirotek Laboratories, Inc. (It should be noted the Department of Agricultural Commissioner of the County of Los Angeles found the filters to reduce lead by 97% and chlorine by 85%.)
Another product you might be interested in is a shower filter. Has your skin ever felt dry after a shower? Has a hot steamy shower ever left your chest feeling weird or provoked your asthma? Then you’ve likely absorbed or inhaled chlorine during the shower. This is especially true if you like hot showers (and who doesn’t?) Chlorine is small enough to vaporize in steamy showers and be absorbed by your skin. Buying a Berkey Shower filter was the best decision I’ve made so far in 2018. The installation was incredibly easy (about 3 minutes) and I was able to use my shower immediately following a quick 5-minute activation period. I noticed a difference right away. My skin was so soft after getting out of the shower that I actually stopped moisturizing for a few weeks! My hands glowed and were as soft as a baby’s rump. Even my hair was silkier! It was magical! The shower filter lasts for one year and will filter 95% of free chlorine during the 1st month and by the 12th month it will filter 50 – 75% of free chlorine. This is extremely good for a shower filter as most of the shower filters on the market need to be replaced every two – three months. The filter will also reduce lead and organic material like bacteria and mildew. My shower stays cleaner for longer and soap scum builds up much slower on my glass shower doors.
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TreeHouse Plano also offers over the counter and under the counter filtration systems by Aquasana. These reduce chlorine and chloramine by at least 96%, lead by 99%, and THMs by 95%. The under the counter filters come with faucets in different finishes: polished nickel, chrome, and oil-rubbed bronze. The filters need to be changed at least twice a year.
For a whole-home solution, look no farther than Aquasana’s Chloramine 400,000 gallon filter. This unit relies on a bed of catalytic carbon to effectively reduce chloramine. This unit will reduce 99.7% of chloramine at the beginning of its lifespan and 76.5% at the end of its lifespan. The unit will last for 400,000 gallons for four years.
Each home is different when it comes to installation so I recommend contacting TreeHouse so we can connect you with a performance consultant who can answer all your questions about how whole home filtration systems are installed.
2201 Preston Rd., Plano. (Next door to Whole Foods at Park and Preston.)