What’s In Your Water? (Filter Guide)

In 2019, the Environmental Working group, an authority on environmental health matters, released a peer-reviewed study estimating that chemical pollutants in drinking water could result in more than 100,000 cancer cases in the USA alone. Read the report here.

It’s vital to know your water is safe. You can have your drinking water tested with Doctor’s Data labs (click here for more info). Below is all you need to know about the water you drink and how to make sure it’s as clean and healthy as possible.

Do you know what’s in your water?

      • City water usually has high sodium levels
      • Soft water replaces calcium and magnesium with sodium
      • City water is chlorinated to kill bacteria
      • City water is fluorinated to prevent tooth decay, though many cities are stopping this but Edmonton continues to flouridate
      • City water may contain calcium hydroxide or other alkaline substances to change pH of water so it doesn’t corrode pipes
      • Chlorine and other additives used to treat water can react with other organic chemicals to produce toxic chlorinated hydrocarbons, chloramines including chloroform and other trihalomethanes.
      • Water pipes may contribute chemicals or metals – especially copper and lead.

What’s in a typical supply of:

Tap Water

      • Sanitation process may not clean up tap water supply of animal wastes, local fertilizers, and insecticides, and chemical wastes.
      • Tap water can also have lead, radon, nitrates, mercury, aluminum, cadmium, organic solvents, bacteria, viruses, parasites, industrial chemicals, pesticides, asbestos, chlorine, fluoride, and sodium.

Well Water

      • No sanitation process. It’s important to test well water annually.
      • May contain heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, radon, asbestos, hydrocarbons, bacteria.

Spring Water

      • Mineral content varies widely depending on region; water from lakes, streams, and spring water from east coast and pacific north west areas are low in minerals, central North America is high minerals
      • May also be polluted – is important to test

Filtered Water

  1. Activated carbon (eg. Brita)

  • Clears bacteria, parasites, most viruses, Cl2, and heavy metals, particulate matter
  • Cannot use hot water in filter – releases contaminants
  • Not for inorganic minerals i.e. fluoride, rather it is best for removing organic chemicals and chlorine, micro-organisms and metals
  • Carbon is granulated – has direct pockets between carbon particles to trap bacteria and remove from water but bacteria may multiply, silver is used to kill bacteria
  1. Solid Carbon Block (eg. Berkey filter)

  • Traps more chemicals, organic pollutants, radon, asbestos than granulated carbon filters
  • Change regularly to avoid dumping more bacteria and chemicals into drinking water
  • Will filter 400-1,000 gallons until they need be to changed.
  1. Reverse Osmosis

  • Under pressure, water flows through special membranes with microporous holes (size of water) allowing water to pass through and reject larger molecules.
  • Removes 100% of all organic material and almost all minerals – minerals need to be added back in
  • Are energy efficient as they only require pressure from the tap water
  1. Distilled Water

  • Vaporizing water (i.e. steam) in one chamber and then condensing in the 2nd chamber, removes all minerals, organisms and chemicals
  • Should be pure water but there may be organic chemicals that evaporate along with the water
  • Similarly devoid of minerals; may need to be added back.

What do we drink at Natural Terrain?

Of all the options (tap, brita, solid carbon, well, spring, distilled, reverse osmosis), we recommend solid carbon (Berkey) and reverse osmosis.

  • Solid carbon filters (eg Berkey filter) – removes bacteria, chlorine, most chemical pollutants
  • Reverse osmosis removes nitrates and Fl, be aware of possible need to re-mineralize water

The Environmental working group has also released an updated water filter guide that helps you to understand the different types, and even helps you decide which is best for you and your water. Check out this link for the guide.


Photo by Imani on Unsplash

Dirty Dozen Chemicals to Avoid for your Hormones, part 2

This is part 2 of the endocrine dirty dozen list: a deep dive into the 12 most toxic substances we are exposed to, and how to reduce your exposure. Check the blog for part 1! Also download the Healthy Home & Body Detox Guide to really get a good handle on cleaning up your health.


Arsenic isn’t just for murder mysteries anymore. In fact, this poison is lurking in your food and drinking water. If you eat enough of it, arsenic will kill you outright. In smaller amounts, arsenic can cause skin, bladder and lung cancer. Basically, bad news. Less well known: arsenic messes with your hormones! Specifically it can interfere with normal hormone functioning in the glucocorticoid system that regulates how our bodies’ process sugars and carbohydrates. What does that mean for you? Well disrupting the glucocorticoid system has been linked to weight gain/loss, immunosuppression, insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes), osteoporosis, growth retardation and high blood pressure. Recent discoveries show that it is in chicken, due to it being placed in their feed to increase their growth more quickly.


Eat organic chicken and avoid chicken raised on factory farms. Reduce your exposure by using a water filter that lowers arsenic levels. For help finding a good water filter, check out EWG’s buying guide


You may or may not like heavy metal music, but lead is one heavy metal you want to avoid. It’s well known that lead is toxic, especially to children. Lead harms almost every organ system in the body and has been linked to a staggering array of health effects, including permanent brain damage, lower IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems. But few people realize that one other way that lead may affect your body is by disrupting your hormones. In animals, lead has been found to lower sex hormone levels. Research has also shown that lead can disrupt the hormone signalling that regulates the body’s major stress system (called the HPA axis). You probably have more stress in your life now than you want, so the last thing you need is something to make it harder for your body to deal with it- especially since this stress system is implicated in high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression.


Keep your home clean and well maintained. Crumbling old paint (prior to 1978) is a major source of lead exposure, so get rid of it carefully. A good water filter can also reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water. Check out this link by the EWG for better help finding a filter. If you need another reason to eat better, studies have also shown that children with healthy diets absorb less lead.


Caution: that sushi you’re eating could be hazardous to your health. Mercury, a naturally occurring but toxic metal, gets into the air and the oceans primarily through burning coal. Eventually, it can end up on your plate in the form of mercury contaminated seafood. We also get mercury from some vaccinations and amalgam fillings. Pregnant women are the most at risk from the toxic effects of mercury, since the metal is known to concentrate in the fetal brain and can interfere with brain development. Pregnant women are cautioned not to eat more than one can of tuna a month, as tuna is one of the highest fish with mercury contamination. Mercury is also known to bind directly to one particular hormone that regulates women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation, interfering with normal signalling pathways. In other words, hormones don’t work so well when they’ve got mercury stuck to them. The metal may also play a role in diabetes, since mercury has been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, which is critical for the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.

HOW TO AVOID? For people who still want to eat (sustainable) seafood with lots of healthy fats but without a side of toxic hormone disrupting mercury, wild salmon and farmed trout are good choices. See our fish handout for more options of fish with low mercury content. Try to avoid or replace silver fillings, which are 50% mercury. Also avoid vaccines that contain mercury, the “flu shot” for example.


Shrunken testicles: Do we have your full attention now? This is one thing that can happen to rats exposed to chemicals called glycol ethers, which are common solvents in paints, cleaning products, brake fluid and cosmetics. Worried? You should be. The European Union says that some of these chemicals “may damage fertility or the unborn child”. Studies of painters have linked exposure to certain glycol ethers to blood abnormalities and lower sperm counts. Children who are exposed to glycol ethers from paint in their bedrooms have substantially more asthma and allergies.


Start by checking out EWG’s Guide To Healthy Cleaning (ewg.org/guides/cleaners) and avoid products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE0 and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) Source


Originally produced for warfare. Luckily, neurotoxic organophosphate compounds that the Nazis produced in huge quantities for chemical warfare during World War II were never used. After the war ended, American scientists used the same chemistry to develop a long line of pesticides that target the nervous system of insects. Despite many studies linking organophosphate exposure to effects on the brain development, behaviour and fertility, they are still among the more common pesticides in use today. A few of the many ways that organophosphates can affect the human body include interfering with the way testosterone communicates with cells, lowering testosterone and altering thyroid hormone levels.


Buy organic produce and use EWG’s Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, which can help you find the fruits and vegetables that have the fewest pesticide residues. Check it out here


Chemicals used to make non-stick cookware can stick to you. Perfluorinated chemicals are so wide spread and extraordinarily persistent that 99 percent of Americans have them in their bodies. One particularly notorious compound called PFOA has been shown to be “completely resistant to biodegradation” In other words PFOA doesn’t break down in the environment-EVER. That means that even though the chemical was banned after decades of use, it will be showing up in the people’s bodies for countless generations to come. This is worrisome, since PFOA exposure has been linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease and high cholesterol, among other health issues. Scientists are still figuring out how PFOA affects the human body, but animal studies have found that it can affect thyroid and sex hormone levels.


Skip non-stick pans as well as stain and water resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets.

If you want to know more about how to know your levels or how to detox your exposures, download the Healthy Home & Body Detoxification Guide from Natural Terrain. Click here to download.

Sources for this article include: http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors http://www.globalresearch.ca http://www.naturalnews.com/029720_hormones_health.html

Photos by tian kuan on Unsplash, by Ibadah Mimpi on Unsplash, by Alison Marras on Unsplash


Environmental Quiz

Check each item that applies to you:

  • Do you drink pop, calorie free or sugary drinks?  This includes mixing them in with alcohol (ie rum and coke)
  • Do you drink anything out of a plastic bottle?
  • Do you use non-stick frying pans?
  • Do you drink Vitamin mineral or Gatorade water?
  • Do you use a microwave?
  • Do you use a cell phone or a computer for more than 3 hours a day?
  • Do you use Advil, Tylenol, Immodium or any over the counter medication more than 1x/ year?
  • Do you eat foods that have food coloring (ie Smarties, M&Ms, cheddar cheese, etc) ?
  • Do you consume canned goods (ie soup in a can)?
  • Do you use personal care products with phthalates or parabens?
  • Do you drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day?
  • Do you exercise less than 30 minutes per day, 4 days per week?
  • Do you regularly consume foods that are Genetically Modified?  These foods are: Corn, Soybeans, Canola, Cottonseed and Beet sugar.
  • Do you eat any of the following foods in the non-organic form:
1.     Strawberries 7. Nectarines
2.     Spinach 8. Apples
3.     Kale, Collard and Mustard 9. Bell & hot peppers
4.    Grapes 10. Cherries
5.    Peaches 11. Blueberries
6.    Pears 12. Green beans
  • Do you drink manufactured orange juice?
  • Do you suffer from any of the following: ongoing fatigue, headaches, pain, and constant colds and coughs?
  • Do you regularly experience digestive concerns such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome?
  • Have you been diagnosed with low thyroid function or a skin condition (ie eczema, psoriasis, acne)?
  • Do you use hand sanitizer or Colgate toothpaste on a regular basis?
  • Are you more than 15 lbs overweight?
  • Do you use perfume?


Score: _______


Number of checks Category
Less than 5 You win top marks and qualify for the “Squeaky Clean” award  – Congrats!


Between 5 -12 You need to reduce your environmental toxin exposure and may need an integrated detoxification program. Dr. Mason-Wood, ND can provide an assessment to see if a detoxification is right for you and provide lifestyle counselling to help you minimize toxin exposure – call our clinic today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood, ND at (587) 521-3595 or schedule an appointment online at https://naturalterrain.com/contact-us/.
Greater than 12 You need an integrated detoxification program – call our clinic today to schedule a critical care appointment with Dr. Mason-Wood, ND at (587) 521-3595 or schedule an appointment online at https://naturalterrain.com/contact-us/