In the US, only an estimated 22% of people meet the recommended amount of daily water intake. Rather, the average US consumer only drinks about five glasses each day. That’s only half of what they should consume!
This doesn’t mean that it’s okay to drink too much H2O, as it can also lead to water intoxication. Minor overhydration can cause symptoms like nausea and vomiting. In the long-term, it can result in life-threatening conditions.
Then, there’s the matter of drinking hot tap water. Is it safe to drink hot water from the tap? Is there anything that can go wrong if you do?
All these are vital questions, and we’re here to answer them for you. Read on to learn what exactly happens if you keep drinking hot water straight from the tap.
What Can Possibly Be Bad With Hot Tap Water?
Many types of metals, such as lead, copper, and brass, are sensitive to heat. When exposed to high levels of temperature, these elements can corrode at a faster rate.
The thing is, many homes in the US have lead, copper, and brass plumbing components. According to the EPA, buildings and homes built pre-1986 are likely to have lead pipes. However, even if your home doesn’t have lead lines, lead may still be in brass fixtures or soldered pipes.
In any case, the heat generated by hot water lines can degrade these metal pipes. When this happens, the toxic metals can leach into and mix with the water.
So, if you drink hot water straight from the tap, you’re at risk of also consuming the dissolved particles. This can then put you at risk of metal toxicity, including lead poisoning.
How Bad Is Lead Poisoning?
You may have heard or read about the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, which began in 2014. Early reports estimate that the incident affected at least 9,000 children.
Scientists say that even low levels of lead can already hinder brain development. As such, fetuses, babies, and young kids are at a high risk of lead’s negative effects.
This doesn’t mean that adults are immune. Regardless of one’s age, lead exposure can impair all body organs and functions. From anemia to hypertension and even low sperm counts, all these can arise from lead exposure.
Unfortunately, lead poisoning isn’t a Flint-only issue, as it’s a nationwide problem. When the Michigan city made headlines, it prompted researchers to test other cities. One study found that more than 3,800 other communities in the US also had lead problems.
What’s worse, many of these areas had lead levels more than twice of those in Flint!
That should be enough reason to get your water tested to ensure it doesn’t poison you. More than that, you should stop drinking hot water straight from the tap.
Is It Safe to Drink Hot Water From the Tap if You Have Plastic Pipes?
Suppose that you don’t have metal water supply pipes but plastic pipes instead. Is it safe to drink hot tap water in this case?
Unfortunately, it may still be unsafe, as plastic pipes can still leach chemicals. As with metal pipes, hot water can also cause faster degradation in plastic pipes.
Researchers found at least 11 plastic-released chemicals in water supplied by PEX pipes. They even found a water sample to contain ETBE, an ingredient that you can find in gasoline products.
What Can You Do to Make Tap Water Safe to Drink Then?
First, find out if your community water supply meets EPA health standards. According to the agency, 92% of such facilities satisfy their stringent standards. If your supply comes from these EPA “passers,” then it can be safe to drink tap water, so long as it’s cold.
If your water supply fails EPA standards, make sure you take the steps below to make your water safe to drink.
Get Ahold of Your Consumer Confidence Report
This is a yearly report, usually issued by community water facilities every July. It’s a comprehensive report, as it lists the contaminants found in the water. Use this to determine how safe your tap water is and what kind of bad stuff you need to remove from it.
Kick the Lead Out With Activated Carbon Filters
If there’s lead in your water, activated carbon water filters can help get rid of it. Most filters are “point-of-use,” which means you can use them for individual fixtures. For example, you can install these filters for your kitchen and bathroom taps.
You’ll find carbon filters for refrigerators with built-in dispensers and ice makers. An example is a Samsung refrigerator water filter, which is most often carbon-type.
Regardless of the type of generic carbon filter you’ll go with, make sure you never run hot water through it. These standard filters are specifically for cold water use. There are only a few special filters rated for hot water use.
Consider Reverse Osmosis Systems
Reverse osmosis (RO) water treatment systems will remove lead from water. They can also get rid of other metal ions and aqueous salts. So, aside from lead, an RO unit can also keep you safe from copper and chromium.
RO systems also have a high effectiveness rate in removing waterborne pathogens. These include protozoa, such as Cryptosporidium, and bacteria, like E. coli and salmonella. They’re also highly effective in eradicating waterborne viruses like noroviruses and rotaviruses.
What’s more, some RO systems can provide you with hot water. These are more expensive, though, so keep that in mind as you shop for one. You can also go with a standard RO unit (cold water only) and then use the purified water to make hot water.
Don’t Let Contaminated Hot Water Get Your Blood Boiling
There you have it, the ultimate guide that answers your question, “is it safe to drink hot water from the tap?” Now that you know it’s not, your safer bet is to stick to cold water taps for consumption.
However, you should also consider investing in water treatment systems. This way, you can be sure that your treated tap water is always safe for drinking and cooking.
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