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Drinking Water:
The First Rule of Travel
Is to Know Your Source

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page 36 in the July 31, 2014 issue of
The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Beauty, Medicine Matters.
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, Amazon, circa 21 Feb 2008
A very healthy travelling Dr. Kujtan,
atop Machu Picchu, Peru, circa 2007

In Canada, fresh and reliable drinking water is one of our most valuable and abundant resources. Travel to many world destinations will prove the point.

Water can contain many types of contaminants. Dissolved pesticides, radiation and chemicals are difficult to see. The smallest of organisms such as Hepatitis A virus, Giardia cysts are also unseen. Bacteria such as certain non-healthy E.Coli. present problems when livestock excrement is left unchecked and allowed to seep into the groundwater. Many parasites and protozoa such as Amoebas can also be transmitted in water.

The first rule of travel is to know your source. Find out where the water you are drinking originated from and how it has been treated. Lakes, rivers and shallow wells are considered surface water and require treatment. Bottled water tends to be drinkable because of market pressures. Bottlers in foreign lands may not be regulated, but try to keep water potable for market share reasons. Large tourist resorts also tend to maintain their own purification systems to encourage return business.

Deep wells that hit the natural water table tap water that has been subjected to the natural filtration process of temperature and seepage through porous sub-soils. This does not guarantee safety but is more desirable. Check color and clarity. Turbid water is tougher to purify. With bottled water take the "whiff" test. Smell it after opening. An odor may be the result of bacterial metabolism and a clue that the water is unpotable. If it tastes bad, don't drink it. Much of travelers' diarrhea originates when travelers ingest untreated water unknowingly. This occurs with tooth-brushing, washing food, ice-cubes and eating in second class eateries.

The World Health Organization still maintains that the most effective purification method is boiling. Boiling for 10-20 minutes will destroy virtually all-living contaminants. When boiling is not available, using Tincture of Iodine 2% is an effective alternative, but needs to still stand for 30 minutes, and does have a distinctive taste. Liquid chlorine bleach is another alternative but not a method of choice. Two drops per liter of water is enough but works poorly in cold or acidic conditions.

Portable filtration and purifiers are on the market. They do work and are affordable. he better ones are multi-phasic. They filter the water through a fine ceramic filter, then pass it through an iodination or charcoal process. The advantage is readily available water. If you are in the market for one, ensure that the filter pore diameter is less than 5 microns, otherwise, it may not trap viruses.

Related resources:

The Battle for Health Is Over pH: Life and Death Hangs in the Balance [Paperback] by Gary Tunsky
The Battle for Health Is Over pH:
Life and Death Hangs in the Balance
by Gary Tunsky

Environmental Education for Educators. Water and wastewater class presentations from Region of Peel. These presentations are free and available for grade 2 and grade 8 classes. During these 40-minute, engaging and curriculum-connected presentations, Region of Peel educators will use interactive discussions and activities to teach students:
Where our drinking water comes from.
How water and wastewater are treated at our treatment facilities.
What they can do to save water.

Review of The Battle for Health Is Over pH by Gary Tunsky, from Goodreads.

Battle for Health Is Over pH - Reviews. Reviews from Amazon.com, including review by P. J. Sullivanon, May 23, 2009: "The author advises against distilled water, saying that it has no bioavailable minerals. So what? Neither do spring water and tap water! The minerals in spring water are inorganic and therefore harmful. The body cannot use them. He says on page 78 that 'the body needs living minerals coming from living foods.' Agreed! And you won't find living minerals in spring water. He says that drinking distilled water 'leaches valuable minerals from your body.' I have never seen any evidence to support this. Anyway, there is no need to drink any kind of water if you eat enough raw food. He recommends drinking lots of water but I agree with Dr. Emmet Densmore, who said, 'Digestion goes forward much better when the gastric juice is not diluted with fluids.'"

Facts and Statistics: Did You Know? Learn more about water facts from Safe Drinking Water Foundation.

Drinking water advisories - Boil water advisories by community size, Canada from Government of Canada.

Portable water purification from Wikipedia.

Michael Pritchard: How to make filthy water drinkable. TED Talks. YouTube vide, 10:04 min.

How to Purify Water for Drinking | Camping. YouTube video, 3:01 min.

10. Safe Drinking Water: Science and Law. YouTube video, 48:10 min. The lecture reviews water law in the United States, and highlights challenges inherent in regulating water quality. Aging water infrastructure, pesticide and herbicide application, and surface water runoff all pose challenges in maintaining a clean drinking water supply. The lecture covers pesticide management through the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

The Wetter Water Report. What You Don't Know About Water May Kill You. The Secrets to Longevity and Health by Dr. Patrick Flanagan.

What You Should Know About Your Drinking Water from WebMD.

Basic Information about Your Drinking Water from United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). "The United States enjoys one of the world's most reliable and safest supplies of drinking water. Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in 1974 to protect public health, including by regulating public water systems. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requires EPA to establish and enforce standards that public drinking water systems must follow."

The Lazy Man's Guide to Water Filtration vs. Water Purification by Dr. Jonathan Doyle, Waterdrop, Jan. 5, 2021.

Bisphenol A from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. "In January 2011 use of bisphenol A in baby bottles was forbidden in all EU-countries ... In January 2014, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) presented a second part of the draft opinion which discussed the human health risks posed by BPA. The draft opinion was accompanied by an eight-week public consultation and also included adverse effects on the liver and kidney as related to BPA ..."

Bisphenol A: How does it affect our health? By Christian Nordqvist, 25 May 2017. Reviewed by Suzanne Falck, MD, FACP.

Bisphenol A (BPA) from United States National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIH). "Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities for use primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Where is BPA found?

Polycarbonate plastics have many applications including use in some food and drink packaging, e.g., water and infant bottles, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment, and medical devices. Epoxy resins are used as lacquers to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes. Some dental sealants and composites may also contribute to BPA exposure.

The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet. While air, dust, and water are other possible sources of exposure, BPA in food and beverages accounts for the majority of daily human exposure.

Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles.

Why are people concerned about BPA?
One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread ... If I am concerned, what can I do to prevent exposure to BPA?
● Don't microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures.
● Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
● Reduce your use of canned foods.
● When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
● Use baby bottles that are BPA free."

Bisphenol A (BPA) Information for Parents from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Water purification from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Truth of Bottled Water. YouTube video, 8:04 min. Published on Jun 8, 2011 by TheSignsOfTheEnd.

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