Are You Drinking Clean H20?

Want an easy way to be good to your body? Stay hydrated by guzzling down more water throughout the day. Water has zero calories, so it doesn't add to your waistline. Plus, it aids in just about every bodily function, including fat burning and energy production.

Unfortunately, the water that comes out of your tap may not be free of flaws. Water authorities do not yet regulate many endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and conventional water-treatment methods weren't designed to remove them. Studies have found trace amounts of pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other substances in municipal water supplies.

Don't be worried thirsty, though. You can get clean water by using water filters religiously. First, go to EPA's Web site to learn about your local water quality and the substances you're dealing with. Then, consider the following three types of filters. Each has its pros and cons, but combining two kinds of filters should get good results.

Reverse-osmosis unit: Using a semipermeable membrane (which allows some molecules to pass through but not others), this type of filter removes particles and molecules of dissolved contaminants. Reverse osmosis can remove heavy metals, bacteria, and viruses, and it may remove some pharmaceuticals. However, it isn't effective for removing pesticides.

Distillation unit: This type of filtration system brings water to a boil, then collects the steam and condenses it back into water, leaving impurities (which need higher temperatures to boil) behind. Distillers can remove heavy metals, bacteria, and viruses, but they can't remove pesticides or pharmaceuticals.

Activated carbon filter: This type is the easiest to find and use. It's available in faucet-mounted models, under-the-sink units, and pitchers. Water flows through a carbon filter that attracts and traps many impurities. The types of contaminants filtered vary by brand, but all activated carbon filters remove chlorine, improve taste, and reduce sediment. Most remove heavy metals and disinfection by-products, and some remove parasites, pesticides, radon, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

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