Pollutants in drinking water

Our drinking water contains medicines and pesticides. We use 30,000 chemicals every day, hidden in everyday products, or for agricultural and industrial processes. These chemicals also end up in our waters and, ultimately, in our drinking water. For example, we ourselves are responsible for loading our drinking water with active ingredients from medicines. Only fractions of analgesics, diabetes drugs, antibiotics and contraceptive hormones remain in our bodies, while the majority is excreted back out.

Pollutants in drinking water

Microplastics in drinking water

Plastic is everywhere, and that includes in our tap water. Researchers from the USA have investigated tap water samples from across the world and found plastic particles – including in ours.

“If microscopic plastic is in oceans, lakes and rivers, is it in drinking water as well?” This question formed the starting point for a recent study carried out by the NGO “Orb Media” working in collaboration with the University of Minnesota.

The research team collected 159 tap water samples from across the world for the study, and investigated them for plastic. According to the British “Guardian” newspaper, the samples came from more than a dozen nations across five continents. The results of the analyses: the experts found plastic particles in 83 percent of the samples.

Swiss government on microplastics
Plastic from the tap
The invisible danger from your tap
Switzerland – the microplastic rubbish dump
Swiss lakes contaminated with microplastics

Nitrate in drinking water

Nitrate inhibits the formation of vitamin A, and consequently leads to thyroid disorders. The WHO recommends a maximum upper limit of 10 mg/l. However, the German Drinking Water Regulation establishes a limit of 50 mg/l, far too high.

Bacteria in the body convert nitrate into the toxic product nitrite (nitrosamine), which is carcinogenic. In babies, it can cause a life-threatening Blausucht (blue baby syndrome). According to a US study, just 2.5 mg of nitrate per litre of drinking water represent an increased risk of ovarian and bladder cancers. In Switzerland, the limit is 25 mg/l, while the WHO recommends a limit of under 10 mg/l.

Cancer from nitrate in fruit, vegetables and drinking water
Overview of nitrate levels in Germany
Overview of nitrate levels in Switzerland
Cancer from nitrate in drinking water and mineral water

Drinking water contaminated with uranium

Most people only think about uranium in relation to nuclear power. Only very few people know that this highly toxic metal is also found in drinking water.

We are being poisoned by modern agriculture. Uranium on our fields means uranium in our drinking water. Many phosphate fertilisers contain uranium. The chemical then makes its way into the soil and into our groundwater. If spring water or groundwater flows through rock containing uranium, the water will inevitably draw up the water-soluble heavy metal .

High uranium levels in our drinking water lead primarily to kidney damage, according to University of Kiel toxicologist Hermann Kruse. Our tap water and mineral water may have higher levels of this toxic chemical than was previously recognised.

The limit of 10 micrograms of uranium per litre was not introduced until 1st November 2011, when the consumer rights organisation Foodwatch publicised significantly high levels of uranium in drinking water. There is still no limit for mineral water. However, even 10 micrograms is not good enough to protect babies. Foodwatch is calling for a limit of 2 micrograms.

Uranium in water
Uranium in tap water
No limits for uranium
Uranium levels in Swiss regions

The pharmacy in your drinking water

Environmental experts state that residues from pharmaceutical products in our drinking water are an increasing problem. Toxicologist Dr Hermann Dieter from the Federal Ministry for the Environment reports that ten active ingredients have been found repeatedly, including various analgesics. Products that are reported to have been found repeatedly in water include bezafibrate, diclofenac, ibuprofen, antibiotics and X-ray contrast agents.

The reality is: Over 100,000 pharmaceutical products are in circulation around the world, with 80,000 in Germany alone. Around 90 tonnes of the analgesic diclofenac are consumed in Germany every year. Around 70% of the active ingredients leave the body naturally via urine and enter the water cycle.

Factory farming is the cause of another problem. Antibiotics and hormones enter the groundwater via meadows and fields treated with manure. Sewage systems are not capable of filtering these products out of the water.

Medicines and pesticides in Swiss drinking water
The drug cocktail in our drinking water
Unlimited chemicals in water
Pharmaceutical product residues in drinking water
Multi-resistant bacteria and drugs in our water

Hard water

Permanent limescale deposits build up everywhere: on our taps, in the kettle, in the coffee machine, in the bath, and even in the pipes.
The result is that the kettle takes longer to heat water, the washing machine uses more energy and the pipe system “grows”.

Hard water is the hidden cause of some, if not all, diseases resulting from toxins in the digestive tract.

It contains a high dosage of inorganic minerals, which form new insoluble compounds with most of the available oily and fatty substances, and cannot then be utilised by the body. These limescale-fat mixtures are deposited on the internal arterial walls and organs, where they create an impermeable layer that prevents normal metabolic exchange. In addition, when these deposits form in the intestines they create a paradise for bacterial pathogens.

The mixture of fat with cholesterol, salt, and limescale from tap water or mineral water doesn’t just block metabolic processes with these deposits, which initially form a filmy covering on cell walls and organs, later on becoming a crust. It also forms the well-known stones that we refer to as kidney stones, gall stones and bladder stones.

“If we were to supply humans everywhere with low-mineral water, many of the diseases that we associate with old age would disappear.”
– Mayo-Clinic, Rochester, USA

Influence of hard water

Sterility caused by drinking water?

Waste water is full of hormones, e.g. from contraceptive pills. Trials have shown that at a level of 0.5 nanograms, male fish are sufficiently affected that they can no longer procreate.

Sewage works cannot filter out hormones or antibiotics. Trials carried out by the Bochum Ruhr University have even indicated a direct relationship between hormones and the continuously falling male sperm count, as well as increased incidence of testicular cancer.

Infertility disorders
Dangers of plastic bottles
Oestrogens hazardous to aquatic organisms
Hormones create hermaphrodite fish

Heavy metals in drinking water

The scale of the problem of heavy metals in drinking water is highlighted by a quotation from Prof. Hermann Dieter from the Federal Ministry for the Environment: “Alongside nitrate from agriculture, the lead in taps and other fittings is the most serious problem we have” and a quotation from Prof. Andreas Grohmann, also from the Federal Ministry: “We have been issuing warnings about lead pipesfor decades.”

Consumer associations have the following to say about

“Even small traces act as a chronic poison to unborn babies, adolescents and adults. It affects growth, blood formation and the nervous system.”

A study into heavy metals in drinking water carried out by the University of Göttingen discovered that the lead levels in 3,600 homes in Göttingen and Berlin were around 186 µg/litre. The WHO guideline and new limit set down by the German Drinking Water Regulation is 10 µg/litre.

Even in homes with no lead pipes, drinking water may contain heavy metals in the form of light lead values. This is due to sources such as lead released from galvanised steel pipes where lead may be present as a galvanisation impurity, or taps which have some quantity of brass – the brass plating contains lead, which can get into the water.

The Federal Ministry for the Environment issued a warning about this in a press conference in February 2002, stating that the water coming out of the taps may not have the same quality as it did when it left the waterworks.

Drinking water, just like milk, bread or vegetables, has an “expiry date”. Do not consume stale tap water ((stagnated water)), as it may contain substances from taps and fittings. Only drink fresh, cold water from the tap. Let any drinking water that has been in the pipes for four hours or more run for a short time until it feels a bit colder on your fingers. This is necessary to obtain the optimal water quality. You can use the first batch of water for other purposes, such as cleaning.

Lead in drinking water
Danger to small children and babies
Balls that kill again and again

Pesticides, insecticides, fungicides in water

Pesticides are organic-chemical substances used to treat plants and fight pests. Their hazardous potential means that pesticides have absolutely no business in groundwater or drinking water.

Around 40,000 tonnes of pesticides are sprayed every year in Germany alone. The business pays: German pesticide manufacturers boasted a net inland revenue of 1.3 billion euros in 2008.

Extract from Dr Barbara Hendel’s book “Water and Salt”:

Over 280 of the substances have been proven to be carcinogenic… Until 1992, the law only required 63 pesticides and fungicides to be analysed, from a known total of over 300… When in recent years crucial limits for fungicides and pesticides were exceeded, the legislators simply raised the limits and reduced the number of substances to be analysed from 63 to 18.

Too many pesticides in Swiss drinking water
High risk for authorities
Too much fertiliser in Swiss water
Banned pesticides in drinking water
Surrounded by chemicals

Fracking – putting our drinking water at risk

Fracking involves blasting billions of litres of water mixed with sand and tonnes of chemicals into the ground at enormously high pressure. The rock layers are forced open to release the gas they contain.

The chemicals used are highly toxic and carcinogenic. Not to mention: most of the rock layers blasted open are radioactive, as they contain uranium. The groundwater and drinking water is therefore further contaminated with uranium, i.e., radioactivity.

Study demonstrates groundwater contamination
Fracking endangers drinking water
Danger for our drinking water
Irreparable damage to the environment