Are there chemicals in my drinking water?

Published on 15/11/2020 Last updated on 17/08/2023

In the Netherlands, drinking water is extracted from groundwater and surface water. Increasingly chemicals are found in the water used to make our drinking water. As a result, it will be an increasing challenge for water purification companies to continue to produce clean drinking water a report by the NOS has already shown. Every day we receive a small dose of different harmful substances through our tap water. But where do these chemicals come from?

Activities such as agriculture and industrial production or processing are sources of contamination of groundwater and surface water. Remnants will always be left which we ingest through our tap water.

Agricultural runoff

Fertilizers and pesticides in particular end up in surface water sources through agricultural runoff. During heavy downpours or melting snow water flows over the topsoil and into waterways. This water isn’t always absorbed by the soil, but flows into streams, rivers and lakes. This water is called runoff. It picks up all kinds of contaminants along the way. When the water passes a farm, it can pick up contaminants such as pesticides, fertilizers and animal waste. Also known as agricultural runoff. This ends up in our surface water.

Pharmaceutical residue

From painkillers to hormone-disrupting substances, at least 140 tons of pharmaceutical residue end up in the sewer through urine and faeces every year. The amount of pharmaceuticals taken has increased in recent years due to the aging of the population in the Netherlands, according to a report by BNNVara. This results in higher concentrations of pharmaceutical waste. From the sewer this residue ends up in the groundwater and surface water, which are then purified and provide us with drinking water. Pharmaceutical residue also flow into our country from other countries through rivers. For the time being it is indicated that these pharmaceutical residue does not pose a danger to our health, but there are concerns about the future. That is why various sewage treatment plants and drinking water companies launched pilot programs to better filter pharmaceutical residue from water in the future.

Urban and industrial runoff

As with agricultural runoff, rainwater and melted snowwater carries all kinds of pollutants from cities and industry. The water washes over roads, construction sites and along factories, after which it ends up in our ground and surface water. This includes contamination from roads, factory waste, chemicals from vehicles, pesticides and fertilizers from gardens and bacteria from waste water. This pollutes the water of Dutch streams, lakes, rivers and reservoirs from which our drinking water is extracted. Research has shown that PFAS chemicals, which have been used in our industry since the 1940s, are present in Dutch surface water. Our drinking water sometimes contains traces of PFAS. These chemicals are very harmful to our health.

Filter water at home

The water quality at home will not improve in the short term. Even though Dutch drinking water meets the health standard, you would prefer not to ingest leftover chemical contamination. They are substances that do not belong in your body at all. That leaves one solution: filter your tap water at home yourself. This is possible with the ZeroWater water filter jug. You collect the tap water in a water jug with a 5-stage filtration system. This filters all chemical substances from the water, resulting in clean and healthy water. Are you curious about the difference between tap water and ZeroWater filtered water? Then do a TDS-measurement. Hold the TDS measuring device (which you get for free with a ZeroWater filter jug) in a glass of unfiltered tap water and it shows the TDS value. Repeat with a glass of filtered water. TDS stands for Total Dissolved Solids, or the total number of dissolved solids. You will see that the ZeroWater filtered water shows TDS below “006”, while the value for the unfiltered water will be much higher. ZeroWater is the only filter that can completely filter all dissolved solids from the water. This ensures that you’ll always drink clean water.