What's in Your Water? Pt. 3

By Hema Mullur
NewsWest 9

We've shown you what's in the water, but what does it mean for you?  Your health, your family's health, and your budget.

Chlorine.  Lead.  Fluoride.  And a lot of things we haven't quite identified.
That's what's running out of your tap.     
And the federal government says that's okay.

"Chlorine was founded in 1914," said Matt Alderson, President of AquaFuzion.  "It was used as a war agent in World War I, we know it as mustard gas."

The EPA allows up to 4 parts per billion of chloramines, and according to city water reports, maximums have been tested up to 4.7.

"It can sterilize the water," said Dr. Richard Bartlett of Permian Prompt Care in Odessa.  "But if it gets too high it is an irritant to the nasal passages and the mucosa, and can cause GI upset because of the mucosa being irritated in the guts."

We've all heard about arsenic in the water.

"That's a silent poison," said Bartlett.  "It doesn't have any noticeable or traceable effects."

Used as a poison for centuries, the government allows 10 parts per billion in the water you drink.  But in our area, that number has been tested as high as 29 parts per billion.

"Unfortunately, arsenic's a pretty tough thing to get out of the water," Alderson said.

Instances of diabetes are growing at an alarming rate.  But have you ever considered it may be related to our water?

"Selenium when it's at high levels actually is linked to diabetes, adult onset diabetes, which is in an epidemic right now in the United States and especially in Texas."

The EPA allows up to 50 parts per billion of this refinery discharge, and they say it themselves, selenium can also cause hair or fingernail loss and circulatory problems.

And here's one that may puzzle you.

"Most people since the 70's or so have been under the facade that fluoride in the water was good or good for your teeth," Alderson said.

"There is some research now suggesting that high fluoride in the water can actually cause dental carries and cavities," Bartlett said.  "That is the cause for the discoloration of the teeth that you see in the area."

The disparity is clear.  
Listed as the source for why fluoride is in the water, the EPA states it's a "Water additive which promotes strong teeth."
Yet right next to that, as the potential health effects from ingesting the water, "Bone disease, and children may get mottled teeth."

And our water may not only be hazardous to your health, but also your home.

"Water heaters are actually designed to last about 10 to 15 years, in West Texas on average they last 3 to 5," Alderson sad.  "Dishwashers, clothes washers, about 30% faster.  Toilets, sinks about 70% faster.  Your clothes wear out about 33% faster just washing them in it.  The plumbing in your house actually wears out about 50% faster as well."

Though the city is doing their part.

"The city's doing all that they can with what we give them," said Alderson.  "So it's definitely not the city's fault that our water comes in this way."

We asked, would you tell someone to drink our water for the rest of their lives?

"I wouldn't recommend it," he said.

"A person shouldn't drink the tap water regularly," agreed Dr. Bartlett.  "The problem is a cumulative effect.  It's like smoking.  Smoking one time may not lead to cancer, but smoking over a period time is exposing a person to known carcinogens, and some of those are tested for in our water."

You can have your water tested for free at the same company we did, AquaFuzion.
You can find their information under News Links.
There, you'll also find a link to the EPA's drinking water regulations.

Your city's water reports are public, you can see yours either at your city's website or by calling their offices.