You turn on the tap in the morning... and what flows out may LOOK clean and clear.
But water can APPEAR as pure as a mountain spring even when it's loaded with toxic stuff that -- if you knew about it -- would send you running for the hills.
Now, you might think that you only have to worry about getting sick from the water when you're hitting some exotic island on a tropical cruise.
But according to a new study, the good ol' H20 coming right from your own kitchen faucet might be tainted with everything from heavy metals to dangerous bacteria!
And it happens more often than you may think.
In the study out of the University of California, Irvine, researchers analyzed nearly 35 years of data on water contamination across the U.S.
It turned out that in EACH year that they studied, up to a QUARTER of all Americans were affected by contaminated water from their local water systems.
That's up to 45 million people annually!
And in the majority of cases, that contamination was due to BUGS.
No, not roaches, spiders, ants, or other creepy-crawlies... but harmful viruses, parasites, and bacteria (including the kind found in animal and human poop).
How's that for "ick" factor?!
And according to the study, those bad bugs in the water have led to 16 million cases of "acute gastroenteritis" -- a nasty condition that gives you miserable cramps, nausea, and vomiting -- each and every year.
But that's not all -- because there were also plenty of incidents of chemical contamination with toxic heavy metals (like arsenic, lead, and copper) and nitrites (from fertilizers and industrial waste).
How in the heck did American water get so filthy?
Well, as the researchers pointed out, our lakes, rivers, and reservoirs have been polluted by everything from farming to manufacturing for decades. And in many areas of the country, the underground pipes that deliver water are SO old that small cracks allow contaminants to leak into the water as it travels to your tap.
And if you live in a rural community, your water may be particularly vulnerable -- because water systems (i.e. wells) that serve small populations often lack the technical tools and human oversight needed to effectively monitor water safety.
In fact, the study found "hotspots" of contamination in rural communities across Texas, Oklahoma, and Idaho.
So much for America's "heartland"! More like America's bacteria belt.
Unfortunately, there's no way to know if your water is tainted just by looking at it or even smelling it, because bad bugs typically have no color or odor. (Same with heavy metals, though sometimes water that comes out of rusty, lead pipes can taste metallic.)
Boiling all of your drinking water may be a precaution against germs... but it's obviously inconvenient... and you CAN'T boil away chemical and metal toxins.
You can switch to bottled water until you're confident that what's coming out of your tap is harmless, but just make sure that it's pure water and nothing (like fluoride) has been added.
And regardless of what tests show, consider installing a reverse osmosis system to filter all of the nasty stuff out of your water supply at home.