The US is watching a radical shift in the kind of water people are consuming. In recent times, the New York Times reports, an increasing number of people are shifting from drinking tap water to untreated water — also known as "raw water" — and this could raise health concerns.
The shift, which is deemed as a "water consciousness movement," notes that people are turning towards unsterilised water consumption because they feel their water is "toxic" and loaded with chemicals. However, experts warn that untreated water could contain E coli bacteria, viruses, and parasites that could be deadly.
According to the NYT report, there are several firms who are selling unfiltered water in the United States. The fad for this popular trend is evident in the Silicon Valley as the demand for such water is increasing. The cost of water goes up to $60.99 for a 2.5-gallon jug. The report also explains that water companies have witnessed their sales double every year.
Many are cutting off from using tap water calling it "toxic" because it is treated in lead pipes. A believer of "raw water" went on to share that he feels tap water is like "drinking toilet water with birth-control drugs in them."
"Chloramine, and on top of that, they're putting in fluoride. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it's a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health," he said. While there is no evidence that fluoride is a mind-control drug, numerous studies hint that it aids dental health.
However, Dr Donald Hensrud, the director of the Healthy Living Programme at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, told the US news outlet that sterilising water is an important safety measure.
"Without water treatment, there are acute and then chronic risks," Hensrud said. He noted that compounds like E coli bacteria, viruses, parasites and carcinogenic substances could be present in untreated water.
"There's evidence all over the world of this, and the reason we don't have those conditions is because of our very efficient water treatment," he added.
Food-safety experts also shared the same opinion while talking to Business Insider. Bill Marler, a Seattle-based expert, told the site that unfiltered could cause more problems than filtered water. "Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water," he said.
Addressing the fluoride issue raised in the article, Grant Ritchey, a Kansas City-area dentist, told The Daily Beast, that there is a possibility of getting too much of the mineral from untreated water.
"There's not just the problem with getting too little fluoride to help prevent tooth decay," Ritchey said before adding: "There's also the possibility of getting too much of it from a natural source, which can cause health problems of its own. In either case, how is the consumer to know?"
Numerous reports suggest that it is because water has been treated that several diseases have been combated. Business Insider noted that raw water, even from the cleanest streams, could contain animal faeces and could spread Giardia.
Also known as Beaver Fever, this ailment's symptoms involve vomiting and diarrhoea. Hepatitis A also spreads through water if it isn't treated. E coli and cholera can also be transmitted through untreated water.