Combat Hard Water’s Negative Effect on Hair and Skin

We can choose where we live, but we can’t always choose the type of water that’s flowing through our pipes. Hard water makes it harder to clean our bathtubs and showers and can leave a weird residue on our pots after boiling water. It can also have a variety of negative effects on your hair and skin. What causes hard water, and how can you combat these negative effects?

What Causes Hard Water?

Water tends to pick up ions from whatever it flows over on its way to our pipes. In the case of hard water, the H2O has picked up high amounts of magnesium, manganese and calcium which can lead to many problems, for your house, clothes, skin and hair. These excess minerals make it harder for soap to form later in the shower or the kitchen sink.

It can lead to other problems with your home as well. The minerals in the water can build up in your pipes, causing clogs and low water pressure. It can build up in your water heater, coating the elements, causing your energy bills to climb and lowering the efficiency of your hot water production. It can even make it hard to wash your clothes because hard water doesn’t wash away soap as well as soft water.

This water can also negatively affect your skin and hair if you use it for washing or bathing. What are some of the most common adverse effects of hard water on skin and hair?

Skin Irritation

If you’re getting skin irritation or rashes from your clothing, it might not be your clothes — it might be the water in which they’re being washed. Hard water prevents laundry soap from dissolving, leaving a soap residue on your clothing that ends up on your skin as you wear your supposedly clean apparel. This situation can be a problem for babies, toddlers or anyone with sensitive skin.

According to Morton Salt, upwards of 85 percent of households could benefit from soft water, but how can you get it? We’ll look into that in depth in just a moment.


Hard water causes dry…everything. Dry skin, dry scalp and dry hair can make it hard to look or feel good. The issue can even cause problems with hair styling and makeup application.

This dryness is caused by some of the same problems you experience with hard water in your washing machine — the soap and shampoo you use don’t get washed away entirely. The residue irritates your skin and scalp and prevents your hair from being able to produce its own oils, leading to dry hair and split ends.

In the short term, you can mitigate these problems by doing your last rinse in the shower with bottled water to remove the soap residue, but that’s an expensive proposition in the long term.

Hard water can exacerbate skin problems like eczema and psoriasis. First, there’s the problem of the soap residue that we’ve already discussed. The other issue here is that hard water prevents soap from lathering well, so you have to scrub harder to get the same effect. This process can make existing skin problems even worse.

Solving the Hard Water Problem

What can you do to solve the problem of hard water in your home? First, test to ensure that you actually have hard water. If you’re on city water, you can request their test results. If you’re on well water or your house is hooked up to a private water company, you can pick up a hard water testing kit and test the water yourself. The tests are easy to use, and it can give you a great idea of the kind of problem you need to fix.

Once you’ve confirmed that you have hard water, you can start fixing the problem. The best way to protect your appliances and prevent hard water damage to your hair and skin is to install a water softening system in your home. It will connect where fresh water comes into your home and filter the water that flows to all your taps and faucets.

If this kind of system isn’t an option due to costs or the fact that you’re renting your home, you can still take some steps. In the shower, install a water-softening showerhead. This product will at least soften the water coming out of your showerhead to help prevent hair and skin problems. In addition, chelating shampoos and demineralizing hair treatments can help to remove mineral buildup and make your hair healthier.

Hard water is a common problem, but there are plenty of easy and affordable solutions. You don’t have to live with the negative effects of hard water on your hair and skin, even if you can’t have a water softener installed in your home for whatever reason. If you’re dealing with dry, broken hair or skin irritation, it might not be your perfume or your detergent — it might just be your water, which means you can fix the problem right away!

Is it REALLY Safe to Drink Bottled Water?

Bottled water is sold all over the world. Available in grocery and convenience stores, restaurants, recreation centers, schools, gas stations, and almost everywhere… bottled water is a staple stock item. But is bottled water safe?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy about water. Some say the water in the bottles, even in fancy labeled brands claiming to come from far away mountain springs, is actually from city tap water. Others say that city tap water is actually good for you because it’s fluoridated and fluoride is good for your teeth − especially children’s teeth.

But what is the truth about bottled water? And how safe is plastic, really? And how are these chemicals impacting your health?

In this article I will be shedding some light on these very important questions.

As a child, I remember my teacher in school getting us to memorize this famous slogan: “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Now, the majority of Americans know they should recycle their plastic bottles. But where does all this plastic come from in the first place?

Over 60 million water bottles are thrown away each day in the United States alone and only a small percentage of these (around one in six) get recycled. No wonder so many chemicals are being leached into our precious soil. Imagine the environmental impact this has.

Bottled water is a trillion dollar industry. How does that affect the environment and our drinking water? If the toxic chemicals are leaching into the soil, how much more is going into our rivers and lakes? Could there be a connection too between our drinking water and cancer?

3 Hazards Commonly Found in Plastic Water Bottles
1. Bisphenol A (BPA)

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that Big Industry uses to stabilize epoxy resins and polycarbonate plastics or hard plastics. It is also used in softer plastics to prevent cracking.

What does that have to do with your drinking water? It’s important to know that the plastic used for bottled water often contains BPA. It’s known to leach into the water when exposed to heat, which in turn creates “faux estrogen” or what is also known as bad estrogen. High levels of circulating bad estrogen is recognized as a cause of ovarian, prostate, and breast cancers.

Furthermore, BPA has been found to adversely affect fetuses, infants and children’s brains, and prostate glands. Behavior disorders are also prevalent from BPA contamination leading to hyperactivity and aggression in children.

BPA is used in plastic containers for food, and the linings of cans of infant formula and many food products. Again the problem is the leaching of the chemicals into the food − especially if it is microwaved. When you eat foods from these containers, you’re at risk of being poisoned by this dangerous chemical. Some say that it is such a small amount that the effects are negligible. But many researchers are now pointing out that the chemicals accumulate and are the reason for such a high concentration of BPA found in umbilical cords and soft tissues in the body.

BPA also affects marine life in freshwater in a similar fashion as humans. It gets in the air from evaporation out of contaminated water so it’s possible to get more doses via breathing infected air. Finally, it is used in paper receipts so whenever we touch them we get a small dose of BPA. All these small sources add up over time to a large dose that accumulates in the body and can lead to the following health hazards.

BPA has been found to adversely affect the endocrine and reproductive systems and to increase the risk of breast, prostate, ovarian, and brain cancer. It also increases the occurrence of hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder, aggressive behavior, and asthma.

These problems can be prevented if we use glass and stainless steel containers instead of plastic.
It’s important to take a stand and push for the discontinued use of BPAs to protect our environment and our bodies.

2. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

PET bottles are BPA-free but they pose other potential health risks. According to the North Dakota State University reports, PET bottles contain contaminants of fecal matter, saliva, and food residues in the plastic so they are hazardous to your health when re-used. This is primarily as a result of the soft plastic which is nearly impossible to clean, thus the reason for the significant presence of contaminants after multiple usage.

3. Phthalates

Phthalates are another chemical compound used to make plastic flexible, particularly PVC (polyvinyl chloride). These also leach into the water contained in their bottles or water supplied by PVC pipes. The problems they cause in humans include: liver cancer, testicular atrophy, and sterility in males.

How Do You Know What’s in Your Plastic Water Bottle?

How do you know what kind of plastic was used in the various brands of water bottles? In my opinion, there is no way that you can be certain whether the plastic used was free from contaminants or dangerous chemicals because bottling companies change plastics without notice. As a result I suggest avoiding plastic water bottles altogether.

Is Tap Water Better than Bottled Water?

So, the next question is…why don’t I just get rid of all this plastic bottled water nonsense and just use tap water? Since statistics show 40% of the water in bottled water is from the tap anyway… then why not?
<strong.Yes, you should use tap water. But only after you’ve filtered it with a quality filtration system, which I will discuss in a moment.

If you use tap water without filtration you risk contamination of heavy metals, chemicals, bacteria, and other potentially dangerous unknown substances. If you think about it, city tap water is held in massive containers that come to your home through a large network of pipes with questionable hygienic standards. Therefore, the water itself has to be treated with chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, and other unhealthy chemical poisons in order to ensure you’re getting “clean” water.

And then you might ask, “What’s wrong with that? It’s clean water after all.” The problem is the chemicals. Even in small amounts you don’t want fluoride and chlorine accumulating in your system. Yes, it’s only small quantities, but if you’re taking them in regularly it adds up to a big problem. And if you’re cooking with and showering in fluoridated and chlorinated water, it’s even worse.

How Fluoride and Chlorine Adversely Affect Your Body

Boiling water kills bacteria but concentrates the fluoride and other chemicals. This is a problem because fluoride is a neurotoxic chemical causing brain damage. Man-made fluoride has been reported by researchers to reduce IQ levels and make people more docile.

Chlorine, on the other hand, is poisonous. Pool water is a highly concentrated form and is known to cause breathing problems, red itchy eyes, swelling of the mucous membranes, dizziness, headaches, and more in many people.

If you are sitting near the pool sunbathing you will be breathing in the gaseous form which is highly toxic. Consistent exposure will lead to a dramatic increase of free radical damage to your skin and airways as well as hair. This means high risk for contracting cancer.

If you have your own pool you may consider using a silver-copper ion generator instead. This is an issue that should be taken seriously as people who are exposed to chlorinated water are at a 93% higher risk of developing various cancers.

Breast cancer has been linked to high levels of chlorine compounds found in the breast tissue, according to a study from Hartford Connecticut. So a little chlorine to kill bacteria has gone a long way to killing humans bit by bit through the accumulation of the chemicals in the body.

Furthermore, chlorine is effective in destroying probiotics, the healthy bacteria that aids in digestion in the body. This in turn leads to digestive distress, heartburn, acid reflux, leaky gut, ulcers, constipation, and eventually gastrointestinal tract related cancers.

What about Home Water Filtration Methods?

Reverse Osmosis is becoming popular, but it removes minerals that need to be replaced to avoid loss of minerals due to leaching.

Ionized water machines boast higher energy and alkalinity to restore the body to a balanced pH. These should be used with caution, following the instructions carefully, and possibly consulting a health professional that can assist you.

Distilled Water is formed from boiling the water and collecting the steam in a condenser that collects the purified water in a clean container. If you distill your own water using glass and storing it in glass, then it should be okay as far as being contaminant free. But when it is ingested it leaches the minerals from the body causing all manner of mineral damage.If you purchase distilled water that has been stored in plastic bottles it contains phthalates − components of the plastic- which are dangerous for your health. It has been reported that phthalates interrupt endocrine functions in the body resulting in breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid problems, and more. So, get distilled water in glass and add minerals from quality mineral salt if you want to prevent leaching.

Is Vitamin Water a Healthy Choice?

One of the worst health scams Big Industry has come up with (other than deceptive labels on other products) is Vitamin Water.

Most vitamin water contains high fructose corn syrup and food dyes which wreak havoc on the body’s delicate internal systems.

Corn syrup has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and immune and metabolic disorders. It also feeds cancer and creates acidic conditions in the body that encourage bacteria growth and the proliferation of viruses as well as other chronic diseases.

Food dyes, on the other hand, are linked to various cancers, behavioral disorders, mental dysfunctions, and metabolic problems. So avoid vitamin water and other so-called “health drinks” manufactured by Big Industry. The truth is that man-made water enriched with synthetic vitamins and minerals is as bad as or worse than sodas. But at least with soda you are aware of the health risk and can limit your intake.

With supposed health drinks you are unlikely to recognize the disastrous effects until after you have been duly poisoned. Even then you may not make the connection until a serious problem occurs.

Is Fluoride Bad for You? Or Is Adding Fluoride to Water A Good Thing?

Introduction and Editor’s Notes by Ocean Robbins Two-thirds of all Americans are drinking water with added fluoride. Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

Proponents of water fluoridation point out that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking fluoridated water reduces tooth decay and cavities by about 25% in children and adults.

The fluoridation of drinking water has been endorsed by the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization. A spokesperson for the American Dental Association has even said that every dollar invested in water fluoridation by a community saves $38 in dental costs. As a result, many people, including much of the medical community, think the fluoridation of our water supply is an entirely beneficial thing to do.

But there’s another, darker side to this story. Fluorosis is a defect in tooth enamel, caused by ingesting too much fluoride in childhood. It causes brown splotches and mottling of the teeth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that 41% of our adolescents today have fluorosis.

We can see our children’s teeth. We can see the brown and discolored splotches that are the telltale signs of fluorosis. But what about parts of our bodies that we can’t see? What is fluoride doing to our thyroid glands, to our brains, to our nervous systems, and to our hormones?

Studies have found that fluoride is a neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor. Could the spots on nearly half of our children’s teeth be warning us of further damage?

There is a certain amount of topical exposure to fluoride that can prevent cavities. But with the addition of fluoride to the water supply, there is no control of the level of exposure that children and adults will receive. People have died from acute fluoride poisoning from public water supplies. Meanwhile, many scientists today believe that fluoride’s primary benefit to teeth comes, not from ingestion, but from topical application to the outside of the teeth.

Critics of water fluoridation say that common sense and common decency tell us not to use the public water supply to deliver any medicine. With most other medications, it is the patient, not the doctor and certainly not the government, who gets to choose whether or not to take a medication. With the addition of a medicine to our water supply, that right is taken away.

Critics of water fluoridation also point out that most western countries have rejected institutionalized fluoridation, without any detrimental effects on their teeth. And there is evidence that the incidence of many forms of cancer rises with water fluoridation.

The article below, written by Brian Bienkowski, tells of some recent studies that suggest that the fluoridation of our water supplies may be hurting us more than we’ve realized…

Three new studies link fluoride exposure to ADHD and thyroid problems — and point to drinking water as the major source of exposure.

By Brian Bienkowski • A version of this article was originally published on Environmental Health News

Two studies — one from Canada and one Mexico — released on October 10th, 2018, point to potential health problems from fluoride, which, in a majority of U.S. communities, is purposefully added to drinking water to protect people’s teeth.

The Canada study found that

adults who are iodine deficient and have higher levels of fluoride in their system have a greater risk of an underactive thyroid.

The Mexico study found mothers with higher fluoride exposure during pregnancy were more likely to have children with symptoms of ADHD. Both studies were published in the journal Environmental International.

A third study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found that among 1,566 pregnant women in Canada, fluoride levels in urine were almost two times higher for women who lived in regions where the element was added to their drinking water compared to pregnant women in regions with non-fluoridated water.

The studies call into question the practice of purposely adding fluoride to water or salt, which is done to prevent cavities and, to a lesser extent, osteoporosis. Many cities in the U.S. and Canada add fluoride to public drinking water, and in Mexico, it’s added to some salt. Approximately 66% of people in the U.S. receive drinking water with added fluoride, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 80% of fluoride exposure comes from water and beverages, such as tea, which can leach fluoride from soil. Other sources include grapes and shellfish.

“I have grave concerns about the health effects of fluoride exposure,” Ashley Malin, lead author of the Canada thyroid study and a researcher at the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told EHN. “And not just from my study but the other studies that have come out in recent years.”

Fluoride Dangers: High Amounts of Fluoride May Contribute to Thyroid Problems

Malin and colleagues had massive amounts of information from the Canadian Health Measure study. They looked at fluoride levels in the urine of nearly seven million Canadians, as well as iodine deficiency and thyroid gland activity.

They found Canadians who were deficient in iodine — a mineral crucial for proper functioning of the thyroid — and who had high amounts of fluoride in their urine also had higher levels of thyroid stimulating hormones. Elevated levels of these hormones are a marker for a suppressed thyroid gland — commonly referred to as hypothyroidism, a condition that can cause a host of problems including fatigue, disrupted heart rates, and altered metabolism.

Small increases in thyroid-stimulating hormones can be problematic, Malin said.

“Someone doesn’t need to have full-blown hypothyroidism to have an elevation in [thyroid stimulating hormones]. Research is showing more and more that subclinical elevations are associated with bad health effects,” Malin said.

Iodine helps flush fluoride from the body, so a deficiency leaves the body with more fluoride, which has been shown to interfere with certain enzymes important for thyroid function. This could explain why only iodine deficient Canadians seemed sensitive to fluoride impacts.

Malin said 18% of the nearly seven million people they studied were iodine deficient. “We’re talking about potentially [more than] a million people at risk of an underactive thyroid due to fluoride exposure.”

Potential Benefits of Fluoride for Oral Health

But there are major health benefits of fluoride in water. According to the CDC, drinking fluoridated water reduces cavities (also called tooth decay) by about 25% in children and adults. The agency named water fluoridation one of its “Ten Great Public Health Achievements” of the 20th Century.

Dr. Manish Arora, a dentist and Vice Chairman of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told EHN via email that it “…is important to balance these results with what we know about the benefits of water fluoridation as well.”

“There have been tremendous gains in children’s oral health worldwide over the past decades that, at least in part, can be attributed to the beneficial effects of fluoride,” said Arora, who was not involved in any of the studies released today but is collaborating with some of the researchers on other projects.

While the new study doesn’t prove fluoride impacts thyroid function, previous studies have linked the element to reduced thyroid hormones, to elevated thyroid stimulating hormones, and an increased likelihood of hypothyroidism
and diabetes in adults.

Fluoride Dangers: Mothers with High Fluoride Levels More Likely to Have Children with ADHD Symptoms

In the other study published today, researchers looked at 213 Mexican mother-children pairs and examined the mothers’ urine fluoride levels during pregnancy and assessed children for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms from ages six to 12. They found mothers with higher levels of fluoride during pregnancy were more likely to have children with ADHD symptoms, especially inattention.

It’s not clear from this study why fluoride may impact a child’s behavior, but it could be driving thyroid hormone insufficiency in pregnant mothers (which can lead to problems in their unborn), or altering children’s levels of dopamine, which moves signals from nerve cells to the brain and is vital for behavioral development.

Christine Till, an associate professor and a researcher at York University, told EHN one of her main concerns is that pregnant women are susceptible to iodine deficiency, which, according to the study from Canada, could leave the mothers-to-be with thyroid problems.

Also, fluoride easily crosses the placenta from mother to her unborn. The study is not the first to find a fluoride-behavioral link: A previous study linked the element to ADHD in U.S. children.

Dr. Howard Hu, a co-author of the Mexico study and an epidemiological researcher at the University of Washington, told EHN the research from Canada on fluoride levels in pregnant women “makes the results of this study from Mexico even more applicable to what might be going on in North America.”

Fluoride in Water: To Add or Not to Add?

The evidence that fluoride may have negative impacts on health is building, Hu said, adding that one of the “most awkward features of this debate” is that it pits one branch of public health vs another.

Arora said, “As a dentist and environmental health scientist, I feel this is an opportune moment in our professions to have an honest discussion.”

“A question that is becoming increasingly important — is fluoridation of water supplies the best way to deliver the oral health benefits of fluoride?” Arora said. “For me, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to this. Socioeconomics, background risk, and other aspects of the community have to be considered, but now is the time to have the scientific debate.”

In a statement, the American Dental Association told EHN their National Fluoridation Advisory Committee would review the new studies, adding that “public health policy is based on a collective weight of scientific evidence, not the results of a single (or few) studies. The ADA remains committed to fluoridation of public water supplies as the single most effective public health measure to help prevent tooth decay.”

Hu echoed Arora and said the answer in moving forward with fluoride is more nuanced than being pro- or anti-fluoride.

“Clearly this warrants additional research and consideration with how policies related to fluoride may need to be rethought,” Hu said. “And not simply ‘do we use fluoride or not,’ but can we figure out a way to preserve the benefits while minimizing the potential adverse effects.”

Till said she is “certain the safety of fluoride ingestion has not been proven.”

“The problem is that it’s an uncontrolled dose — everyone is exposed to different levels. It may be prudent for pregnant women to reduce ingesting fluoride during pregnancy.”

Editor’s Note: What You Can Do About Fluoride in Water

Do you agree with the American Dental Association when the organization says that the “fluoridation of public water supplies” is “the single most effective public health measure to help prevent tooth decay”?

What about cutting down on soda pop and other forms of sugar consumption? What about a diet rich in bone- and tooth-building nutrients?

At Food Revolution Network, we’ve been repeatedly asked by our members what they can do if their water supply is fluoridated. One answer is to make sure your public officials know how you feel about this issue.

And if you don’t want to ingest fluoride, and you are drinking from a municipal water source that is fluoridated, you have several options. One is to buy bottled water. But when done frequently, that becomes expensive and environmentally damaging.

Another option is to filter your water to remove fluoride and other chemicals.

Our members have asked us for recommendations for effective and inexpensive water filtration methods, and I wrote an article about it, here. The bottom line is that after extensive research, I concluded that the AquaTru provided the highest value for the price and represents somewhat of a breakthrough. You can find out more about it, get a special $100 discount, and support our work at the same time, using this link.

Water fluoridation affects all of us, so it’s important to engage in the conversation. What do you think?

Tell us in the comments below:

Is adding fluoride to drinking water a good thing, or a bad thing?

What about toothpaste? Should fluoride be mandated, as it is when it’s added to our water supplies? Or should it be a choice?

3 Long Island communities show high cancer rates

A cluster of three Long Island communities was found to have elevated rates of several forms of cancer, which were identified in a special initiative that had been launched by the governor, officials with the State Department of Health said Thursday.

Centereach, Farmingville and Selden in Suffolk County were found to have statistically significant rates of leukemia, bladder, lung and thyroid cancers, based on studies of data in the New York State Cancer Registry.

The registry, an ongoing statistical record of cancer in New York for the past 75 years, is a database of demographic, diagnostic and cancer prevalence. All cases of cancer that are diagnosed in the state are reported to the registry. A public meeting on the new Long Island findings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on July 17 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Stony Brook.

“Our cancer registry scientists have completed their mapping,” said Brad Hutton, deputy commissioner in the state Office of Public Health. He said state researchers assessed the number of cancers that were expected to occur based on the regional population. Then, they compared that total with the actual number of cancers diagnosed in the region. State researchers were able to declare regional rates elevated when the actual number of cancers exceeded the number of those that were expected, Hutton said.

Complete statistical details on the specific number of each form of cancer in the three-community area were not immediately available but will be completed by the time of the meeting on July 17, Hutton said.

The data to be presented involves the mapping phase of the state’s investigation, showing which forms of cancer are elevated and where these cancers are clustered. Additional research will drill deeper into the data to add context to the current findings, but examine other critical criteria to better understand why certain forms of cancer are elevated in specific regions.

“We will be embarking on an investigation to find the hypotheses that will explain the elevated rates,” Hutton said.While the initiative is aimed at gaining an understanding of the regional incidence of cancer and suggesting preventive measures and screening tools, a further purpose is to examine possible occupational, environmental and behavioral factors, such as smoking, that may underlie elevated rates, Hutton said.

Although Long Island has long been known as a region where breast cancer has been particularly elevated, Hutton said state epidemiologists did not find that form of cancer to be at a rate beyond what is considered statistically expected.

Long Island was one of four regions targeted for study in the statewide initiative, which was first announced last fall by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

“We are fortunate in New York State to have one of the highest quality cancer registries in the country,” Dr. Howard Zucker, State Health Commissioner said in a statement.

“This well-established record, as well as local level data analysis to examine patterns and trends in these communities, will help to further inform our cancer control strategies and improve patient outcomes by promoting access to appropriate care,” Zucker said.

Communities were identified for investigation based on their ranking in the state cancer registry, or by applying statistical techniques at the neighborhood level, which helped identify areas that have higher than expected rates of cancer.

“It’s never good hearing about cancer rates increasing anywhere, especially in your own backyard. But it’s important to find the patterns,” said Abby Melendez, who with her husband, Miguel, runs a thyroid cancer support group in Baldwin called ThyCa Long Island.

Melendez, a 20-year survivor of the disease, said her meetings have far more women than men, an observation supported by data from the American Cancer Society, which has estimated in 2018, 40,900 women will develop the cancer nationwide compared with 13,090 men.

Staten Island, which has the highest incidence rate for all forms of cancer in the five New York City boroughs, was targeted as a region in the initiative. Although numerous forms of the disease were found to be elevated, the state investigation is riveted on Staten Island’s high rate of thyroid cancer, which was significantly elevated compared with the state as a whole.

Upstate Warren County was chosen because it had the highest incidence rate for all forms of cancer in New York, including brain tumors. East Buffalo and Western Cheektowaga in Erie County had six forms of cancer that had higher than expected rates, state health department data showed.

Ask Well: Should You Filter Your Water?

Although municipal tap water is regulated and most utilities stay within legally mandated limits on certain contaminants, some of the limits may be too lenient, a research analyst says.

The short answer is yes. While the Environmental Protection Agency regulates municipal tap water and sets legal limits on certain contaminants, and most water utilities generally stay within these limits, “some of the legal limits may be too lenient,” said Paul Pestano, a research analyst with the Environmental Working Group. And more than half of the chemicals found in municipal water are not regulated.

Using the right water filter can help further reduce pollutants like lead from old water pipes, pesticide runoff in rural areas and byproducts of chemicals like chlorine that are used to treat drinking water. Radon, arsenic and nitrates are common pollutants in drinking water, and trace amounts of drugs including antibiotics and hormones have also been found. Certain filters may help remove these impurities as well.

But water contaminants and water quality vary from one local water utility to another, so you want to purchase a filter that is effective at capturing the right contaminants.

You can request a copy of your water utility’s annual water quality report – called a right-to-know or consumer confidence report — to find out which contaminants in your local water are of concern. Some utilities will also run a free lead test on your tap water.

You can then choose a filter that is certified by NSF International, an independent public health organization that assesses products.

Note that it is not enough to buy or install a filter; you need to replace or maintain filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Filtering tap water may be even more important if you are pregnant, older, have young children or suffer from a chronic illness or compromised immune system.

Bottled filtered water is also available, but most environmental groups discourage use of bottled water because of the waste generated; in addition, bottled water is not regulated as stringently as municipal tap water, and contaminants can leach from damaged or overheated plastic into the water.

Do you have a health question? Submit your question to Ask Well.