Ep. 197 – Water Pollution: Everything You Need to Know About Environmental Toxins in Our Water

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I am delighted to have Lara Adler with me again today! Lara is a self-proclaimed environmental toxins nerd. She was on the show last year, in episode 159, where we spoke about the link between chemical exposure, weight gain, and other hormonal imbalances. I asked her to join me again today, to highlight the impact of the quality of our water on our health.

Lara Adler is an Environmental Toxins Expert & Educator and a Certified Holistic Health Coach who teaches health coaches, nutritionists, and other health professionals how to eliminate the number one thing holding their clients back from the results they are seeking – the unaddressed link between chemicals and chronic health problems. She trains practitioners to become experts in everyday toxic exposures so they can improve client outcomes without spending hundreds of hours researching on their own.

There have recently been so many questions about water! In this episode, Lara and I take a deep dive into the scope of the water issue. We discuss the problems around regulation, water contamination, and the crumbling water infrastructure in the United States. We discuss how differences in geography affect our exposure to certain types of industrial toxins and pesticides and talk about how our water gets disinfected with chlorine, chloramine, and fluoride. We get into the impact of biological contaminants, the role of industry and government, the effects of climate change and pollution, why we need to understand the water quality reports for our homes, and how micro-plastics can impair our health and longevity. We also talk about bottled water, water filters, and Lara’s favorite environmental health books, bottles, and reverse osmosis.

I hope you enjoy today’s interesting and insightful conversation! Stay tuned for more!

“People assume that the water is good because you live in America.”

– Lara Adler


  • The concerns expressed in the book Silent Spring started changing the tide around environmental pollutants.
  • The United States still has very poor regulations around the number of industrial chemicals present in the water system.
  • There might be traces of antibiotics, antidepressants, and other drugs in our drinking water.
  • Lara explains why she purposefully does not promote any specific water filtration systems.
  • Problems that exist in the American water infrastructure.
  • Even though utilities in the United States are legally required to produce water quality reports (or consumer confidence reports) every year, they do not always do that.
  • Why is it vital for you to obtain your water quality report, regardless of where you live?
  • Lara explains the difference between groundwater and surface water.
  • The pros and cons of disinfecting water.
  • Why should you avoid drinking untreated spring water?
  • The government and industry in America have not been good stewards of the country’s water supply.
  • Lara talks about the intentional campaign run by the American government and industry to push the environmental responsibility onto the consumer.
  • Why is chlorine added to our water supply? What does it do, and how does it impact our health?
  • Lara shares her thoughts on fluoride.
  • What are micro-plastics, and how do they impact our health?
  • Some advice for re-mineralizing water purified by reverse osmosis.
  • Some advice for re-mineralizing water purified by reverse osmosis.


Lara Adler is an Environmental Toxins Expert & Educator and a Certified Holistic Health Coach who teaches health coaches, nutritionists, and other health professionals how to eliminate the #1 thing holding their clients back from the results they are seeking – the unaddressed link between chemicals and chronic health problems. She trains practitioners to become experts in everyday toxic exposures so they can improve client outcomes without spending hundreds of hours researching on their own. 

Combining environmental health education and business consulting, she’s helped thousands of health professionals in over 25 countries around the world elevate their skill set, get better results for their clients, and become sought out leaders in the growing environmental health & detoxification field. 

Connect with Cynthia Thurlow

Connect with Lara Adler



Books mentioned:

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

The Fluoride Deception by Christopher Bryson

Slow Death By Rubber Duck by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith

Documentary mentioned:



Presenter: This is Everyday Wellness, a podcast dedicated to helping you achieve your health, and wellness goals, and provide practical strategies that you can use in your real life. And now, here’s your host, Nurse Practitioner Cynthia Thurlow.


Cynthia: Today, I’m joined again by Lara Adler, who is a self-proclaimed environmental toxins nerd. She joined us earlier last year for Episode 159. We dove deep into the link between chemical exposures, and weight gain, as well as other hormonal imbalances. And today, I asked her to come back, I think it’s really so incredibly important to talk about the impact of the quality of our water on our health, we dove deep into the scope of the issue, issues surrounding both regulation and water contamination, the impact of a crumbling water infrastructure here in the United States, differences in geography and its impact on our exposures to specific types of pesticides and industrial toxins, how our water is disinfected with not only chloramine, as well as fluoride, the impact of biological contaminants, which thankfully, are not as much of an issue here in the United States, the role of the industry and government, the impact of climate change and pollution, the need for understanding water quality reports for each one of our homes, how microplastics can impact our health and longevity, the role of bottled water, the use of water filters, and her favorite environmental health books, bottles, and reverse osmosis. I hope you will enjoy this conversation as much as I enjoyed recording it. 


Well, there, it’s always a pleasure to connect with you. It’s good to have you back, again. How are your holidays?


Lara: Pretty chill. I like them that way. So, I’m happy to move through the holiday season without the stress and anxiety that a lot of people often have during that time.


Cynthia: Yes, we actually went away, we went somewhere warm. We weren’t around a lot of other humans. Highly recommend. It was very therapeutic. I think it’s all good. 


Lara: Yeah. 


Cynthia: But in light of the fact that I wanted to bring you back on, because there have been so many questions about water, the scope of the issue around water, the scope of contamination, you really do a beautiful job with your content and I thought I could not think of any better person than I wanted to come on and really dive into what has gone on with the lack of regulation? Obviously, Silent Spring might have started the discussion 56 years ago, but when we’re really looking at the scope of the problem, even now, even in 2022, hard to believe, it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, that book came out. Where did things stem from, what were the concerns for the benefit of the listeners, what were the concerns that were expressed in this book that got the tide changing in terms of government looking a little more closely at things we were exposed to contaminants, environmental pollutants, etc., that were brought up in this book that I really think about is really changing the trajectory of looking at how water can be a benefit and can also be profoundly detrimental as well?


Lara: Yeah, it’s definitely a seminal work in this whole conversation. Rachel Carson’s 1962 Silent Spring is credited with launching what we now know is this environmental movement. She really made it incredibly strong and highly, highly referenced at scientific chronicle, if you will, but delivered in this prose. She was a beautiful writer that really detailed the connection between pesticides that we put on our agricultural crops, and how that affects wildlife, and then ultimately, how that can in turn affect us. She was probably, I would say, one of the first to make that connection. This skipped connection, it’s not just the agricultural use and then us, instead it’s passing through wildlife, and they’re being effective, and the potential for us also being affected is significant, and that really did put a spotlight on a conversation that people weren’t really having at that time. DDT was the chemical that she really focuses on a lot in that book. It’s not the only one that she talks about. Her research, and the writing, and publishing of that book is ultimately what led to the phase out of DDT. It was like a pretty big deal and it’s definitely one of those books that you can read now. 


A lot of her quotes, a lot of the things that she says in there can ring just as loudly and just as true today as they did in the 1960s and that’s heartbreaking to me to think. We’ve advanced so much, we understand so much more about environmental chemicals, and their fate in the environment, and how they can cycle back to us, and chemicals and consumer products and how they affect us, and yet, we haven’t really progressed too much in the way that we regulate chemicals. Certainly, water is one of the places where we have really poor regulations here in the United States. There’re millions of pounds of industrial chemicals that are legally dumped into our waterways every year, because there is no regulation on the amount of chemical that can be present in the water systems. If there’s no limit that’s set companies can dump with impunity, like they don’t care, and there’s no fine, and it’s legal, and that’s the huge problem. 


I think, with the conversation of water, like drinking water and tap water, I think we have to put it into perspective. There are plenty of developing countries around the world that have communicable diseases that are transmitted through water. We don’t really have that problem. We don’t have that problem because of modernization, and disinfection, and different treatments. In some ways, yeah, sure, water is a lot better than in other places. But just because we don’t have communicable diseases like typhoid, and dysentery, and cholera in our water, that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily better. It’s just different with different set of problems in industrialized nations with our water quality. That’s why I’m such a big advocate and pretty vocal about talking about this topic, because people assume that their water is good, because you live in America and that is not– ‘Good’ is relative is a very subjective term. So, yeah, so, it’s a big topic.


Cynthia: Well, and I think having had the opportunity to travel outside the United States in the past year, I was in Rwanda, and then I was in Tanzania in September with my husband, and I was pretty impressed with Rwanda’s focus. It’s probably the cleanest country I’ve ever visited in my entire life. The Rwandan people are absolutely lovely and so committed to ensuring that they remain happy, healthy, committed to supporting one another. They spend one day out of the month pretty pandemic cleaning. Literally, cleaning outside, like, even the President will go out and pick up trash and garbage. They’re very committed. The people travel miles to get water. 


Lara: Yeah.


Cynthia: They’re these little yellow jugs. I kept saying to my husband, when we think about the fact I’ve teenage boys, and sometimes the shower runs a long time, oftentimes, it’s not because the child is in the shower, it’s because they turn it on, they go downstairs to get something, they come upstairs, they get distracted by their phone. I’ve tried to explain that such a valuable commodity and yet, it’s oftentimes not appreciated and valued. I think starting the conversation from there and saying, “Yes, we assume being in the United States or in a Westernized country that the water that we have available to us is clean, it’s free of contaminants, it’s free of cancer or carcinogenic-type things, it’s free of plastics, it’s free of hormones.” Through the conversation today, we will definitely touch on all of these areas. But one thing I found really interesting when I was going through some of your material and really looking at acts in the past, the EPA was developed in the early 1970s [crosstalk] 


Lara: 70s, yeah. 


Cynthia: 1970, yep, they had the Safe Drinking Water Act. Then we assumed someone else is looking out for our best interest. I’ll be the first person to say, “Never assume.” Never assume that a governmental regulating agency is focused more on your health than they are on. In some instances, being affiliated with big ag and corporations that are giving them a lot of money to be quiet about things that are not properly regulated. When we’re thinking about big things that we should be conscientious or concerned about, the things that stood out for me were, as you mentioned, agricultural pesticides, obviously, depending on where you live in the country, pharmaceuticals, and I want everyone to think about this. We don’t think about this enough. I, as a prescribing provider didn’t think about this a whole lot until I read some of your material and said, “Okay, how many women are on oral contraceptives? How many people are taking synthetic or [crosstalk]?


Lara: There’s antidepressants in the water, there’s antibiotics in the water. We have to think that when we take these medications, our bodies don’t utilize all of it. When they metabolize in our livers and we pee them out. We’re peeing out. If you’re taking birth control, you’re peeing out those estrogen, estradiols, or whatever. Those molecules are incredibly tiny. Our water treatment plants that process our water and clean our water, they don’t often have the capacity to filter those out. They reach us recirculate constantly in the water system. This is the challenge with a lot of especially when it comes to pharmaceuticals is, we don’t have data that I’m aware of of the direct implications for human health on that. Can we make an educated guess that like, “Hey, if we’re taking micro doses of antibiotics every day unknowingly in our drinking water, or antidepressants, or whatever it is, that might be a problem.” I think it’s not a stretch by any means to say maybe we don’t know if it’s a problem 100%, but it can’t be good that they’re in there. There can’t be a net positive benefit for everyone that that’s there. 


I think there was a university study years ago that was actually looking at– They’d created some framework or formula to predict how many drug users there were in their community based on the residues of narcotics in the water supply, so they could extrapolate. The average user is going to do this. They’re going to pee out this much, let’s do some big math, figure that out, and then we can say, “Hey, there’s maybe 3,000 people that are using crystal meth, or cocaine, or whatever, or heroin in the system in this community. I’m not suggesting that those are the biggest concerns. I would say, those are actually probably quite low on the totem pole of or the priority list, I should say of what we’re being exposed to in our drinking water. I think the thing that is challenging for people to grasp and actually, I’m getting ready to release a video that actually walks through my own water testing report is that, everyone’s water is different. Everyone’s water has a different set of challenges. This is where in the influencer social media space, I have a bone to pick with folks that are like, “This is the water filter you should get, because they are affiliates for that brand.” 


I’m an affiliate for a lot of products, but I don’t actually promote specific water filtration systems on purpose, because I don’t know if it’s the right filter for you, because I don’t know what’s in your water. There’re so many different variables that can determine the thumbprint so to speak of the your contaminant profile. I moved from the Pacific Northwest and Oregon to New Mexico, my water is totally different, completely different and requires some specialized filtration, because of how different it is. I think this is like a lot of things, we’re looking for the easy button, we’re looking to just go into Costco, or Home Depot, or Target and just buy a filter off the shelf. To me, that’s a yes hand. Anything is better than nothing, but we don’t know if it’s actually doing the thing that we need it to.


Cynthia: I think that’s an important distinction much like I always say, bio individuality rules, well, all of our water might be very different. I have a good friend, who left the Washington DC area and said, “The water was better in Northern Virginia that it is where she is in San Diego” and I was shocked. There are areas of the country, where you feel many municipalities or certain cities are leading the way in terms of looking at whether it’s advanced filtration systems. Obviously, there are examples on the opposite end of the spectrum. There are tragic examples I lived, and trained in Baltimore. There were issues with lead pipes, and just people were exposed to so many things just living in older communities. So, I’m curious if you feel there are any communities that are on your radar or parts of the country where people are doing an exceptionally good job.


Lara: Not really. I think this slides into another facet of this conversation, which is first of all, I’ll say this. Our water infrastructure in the United States is old, is very old. Our water treatment plants typically have 30 or 40-year lifespan. We’re at a point in time when the majority of our water treatment plans have surpassed their useful life. They were built decades ago and they don’t have the capacity to filter out PFAS, and microplastics, and herbicides, and pests. They weren’t designed for that. One, we have this problem where we have an entire nationwide system that is in desperate need of a major economic, injection of cash to overhaul this system. The American Society of Civil Engineers, which is the organization that rates our nation’s infrastructure, like, it rates our roads and our bridges. They give our water infrastructure like a C or a C minus and that’s up from a D. It’s been in the C, D range for the decade that I’ve been doing this work and it’s going to cost billions of dollars to overhaul that. 


First, we have a crumbling infrastructure. There are certainly some parts of the country, I think this is far less common, but they still have pipes in the city that date back to the Civil War. These are old, old systems. Biden actually just, I don’t know what the outcome of this was, but there was discussion of identifying and replacing lead pipes. There’re millions of miles of lead pipe still in this country all around the country. We don’t actually know, because there was no requirement for record keeping of which street has a lead pipe, which street doesn’t. We’ve got millions of miles of lead piping in our water delivery system that should probably be replaced. 


To your question, though about, are some places doing it better than others? Yes, those places are more affluent. Places that are more affluent have the resources to build multimillion dollar state of the art water treatment facilities. That’s great. I would love to see more of that. But what we also see on the other end of the spectrum is that marginalized communities, low-income communities often have the worst. Not only do they have more industries situated in their communities, so that means more pollution on its own, they also don’t often have the resources to modernize their water treatment and water distribution systems. They have this double layer of this non-ideal situation. The thing that makes the difference between a better water system and a not better water system is money. In money and motivation to prioritize water versus putting in a new stadium or doing whatever else you’re going to do with your city resources.


Cynthia: Certainly, not a sexy topic,-


Lara: Oh, it’s not sexy.


Cynthia: -but it’s an important topic. 


Lara: Yeah.


Cynthia: One thing that I think is really, really important for people to understand is that we have crumbling infrastructure combined with a degree of apathy. Perhaps, by politicians to really tackle the hard discussions, because I’m sure in many ways, they’re thinking about revenue. Yes, bringing out the new stadium in or bringing a new airport is going to generate more money for the area that people live within. It was interesting to me that just the differences in geography in terms of, if you’re in a part of the country where you have a lot of livestock or crops [crosstalk] the pesticide residue, and things that you’re exposed to are very different than someone perhaps who lives on the coast versus as you mentioned, these urban areas. Certainly, for me, having been a suburban girl my entire life, living in Baltimore was the best thing I could have ever done, because it shook me outside my comfort zone and forced me to really see the way that my patients lived. It was a requirement of both programs that I did that we had to do a lot of community outreach. My discomfort was minimal compared to how these people were living.


I think about lead levels that we used to draw on children. This always makes me cry when I think about this now being a parent myself, the lead levels that we draw on children that we’re going to permanently impact their neurologic function for the rest of their lives and they were young. If it wasn’t lead paint, it was other contaminants that were found in their water supply that was impacting them neurologically, cognitively. This really is a problem for all of us to be concerned about. But I love that you are encouraging and obviously, we’ll dive deeper into this. Testing your water to know exactly what you need to be doing, because the blanket one size fits all recommendation as it pertains to protecting our water, improving our water, it could be very different– You take a cross section of the population, it could be very different for every single person. So, I love that you’re honoring that individuality portion as opposed to just saying, “This Berkey filter is what everyone needs to use and I’m going to live and die on my Berkey.” 


Lara: Right. It’s fine. People are obsessed with their Berkeys. I’m like, “I don’t think that they should be, frankly.” I think there’s other factors aside from efficacy of removing contaminants like I, for nine years lived in a 600 square foot one bedroom apartment in New York City and I had 24 inches of counterspace. I had a tiny little kitchen. it’s a great place. I have a kitchen, where if you went open the oven door, it would hit the fridge door, so you’d have to open the fridge in order to open the oven, like, I had that situation for nine years. That’s wonderful. But people all the time even then we’re like, “Oh, you should get a Berkey.” I’m like, “Where am I going to put Berkey? I don’t have countertop space.” If you’re in an efficiency apartment like that, you every nook and cranny under the couch, under the bed, everything is storage. There’re other factors to consider as well. Convenience, whether or not they rely on electricity, whether or not you have the space, whether or not you have the money. Sure, there’re certain filters that I think are exceptionally good filters that will remove a large portion of most of the questionable contaminants. But they’re like $500 or $600. That’s not helpful for me to be making blanket recommendation. When maybe all somebody needs is a basic carbon filter that would cost them 100 bucks. 


I’m sensitive to making sure that and not just within water, but within all facets of this conversation around environmental health is like accessibility and not positioning, addressing environmental exposures as being something only for those who are affluent, it’s an exclusionary way to have the conversation that I can take. I have a bone to pick with that type of delivery of this information. I’m very sensitive to that making it accessible. That’s hard. I had a conversation with a prospective student just recently and she had taken– I have a course on water, she took the course, she’s working in a low-income community, and she’s like, “How do I bring this information to them?” I’m like, “That’s really hard, because it costs money. The interventions all cost money.” This is where I think we have this we take this dual

approach. We’re like, “Sure, yeah, let’s learn about how to deal with our individual water. But let’s also at the same time be vocal about demanding better practices from our water utilities from our federal regulations as they pertain to water.” 


Look, I live in New Mexico, the majority of New Mexico is reservation land. There are some people here, who turn on the tap water and their water is brown, like it is mud brown. We have a big problem. Just because your water looks clean, and smells clean, and it tastes good, it doesn’t mean it’s not problematic. The other end of the spectrum, we have people that literally can’t drink the water or people who live near hydrofracking operations in their water, you can set their water on fire because it has so many flammable gas components in it. We have a whole spectrum here. I think, again, going back to the assumption that just because we don’t have communicable diseases that our water is great. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA only regulates around 90 contaminants. There are hundreds that have been measured. Just because a contaminant is regulated, it doesn’t mean that it’s not showing up in excess in our water systems. 


This was a couple years ago, but there was an analysis that found that 77 million Americans are drinking water that violates the Safe Drinking Water Act. Just because a chemical is regulated, it doesn’t mean that you’re not still in violation. The levels that the EPA sets under the Safe Drinking Water Act and ties in to this economic conversation, those are not health standards. First of all, anybody in the United States and I don’t know if this is available outside, everybody does it differently. In the United States, your water utility is legally required to produce a water quality report. Sometimes, it’s referred to as a consumer confidence report or CCR. They are legally required to produce these every year. They don’t always do that. My city, for example, on the link that says 2021 is 2020’s report. Even though, the file name is 2021, it’s literally 2020’s report. I don’t know if that was a mistake or not, but either way. These water quality reports are produced by your water utility and it tells you information about your water. It tells you where your water comes from, does it come from an aquifer, is it a surface water, is it groundwater? We know, they usually draw a little map. I guess, it depends on how much money your community has. I’ve seen some really basic one sheet, just text, and a table with numbers and people are like, “I don’t know what I’m looking at.” Then I see these beautifully designed ones. They have graphics and illustrations, but those reports will tell you a little bit about your water. Where comes from, what it’s treated with, what are the levels that are tested and monitored, what’s the lowest, what’s the average level, what’s the highest level? They are looking, their benchmark that they’re using is the federal, it’s called the maximum contaminant level, the MCL. The MCL is that regulation threshold level, where if you exceed that level, that’s in violation of the federal drinking water standards for that particular contaminant.


The problem is that maximum contaminant level number is not a health standard. It is a negotiation between what public health experts would like to see and what the federal government feels is feasible to impose on all utilities across the country. If they have to factor in that economic, like, what’s realistic? We can’t tell everyone that the level of lead has to be zero. Because we know a lot of municipalities, millions of them don’t have the funds. They don’t have the resources to be able to meet the standard. It’s a negotiation. But people think it’s a health standard. For example, on my water quality report, if we look at all of the levels that have been measured at the utility, so, these are not measured at my house, they’re measured at the utility. Next to every single one, there’s a little green checkmark that says, “Safe to drink per the EPA.” But it’s not. It’s not a safety standard. It’s just the regulatory standard. That’s incredibly misleading, I think for a lot of contaminants.


Cynthia: Well, they think many, many people much to the point, we assume what’s in the grocery store is safe to eat, nutrient dense. I would argue most of what we find in the grocery store. This could also apply to chemicals you’re exposed to that you bring into your home, etc. Now, you’ve touched on some terminology that people may not be as familiarized with. When we’re talking about groundwater versus surface water, can we talk a little bit about that? Because I think on many levels, when people are looking at these reports, trying to decipher depending on where they live in their municipalities, and certainly, if you do nothing else after listening to my discussion with Lara, go get your water tested.


Lara: Yeah, just google your city name, Atlanta, Georgia Water Quality Report and then year. You come out in the summer or late summer. If you’re looking early in the year

you live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, you’re going to be looking in my 20, [laughs] because that was what’s available. Yeah, so, please, everybody go look up your water quality report.


Cynthia: I think when we’re differentiating between ground versus surface water, it can be impacted by different types of environmental/microorganisms. For full disclosure, and I didn’t share this with Lara before we started recording. I just recently had a bunch of diagnostic testing done. I knew something was wrong and I believe when I was probably outside the country, in September, I picked up a couple parasites. Even if you’re in places, where the water has been termed that it’s potable, you can drink it, it’s safe, sometimes, it’s actually not. 


Lara: Yeah, absolutely. 


Cynthia: [crosstalk] I picked it up while I was outside the United States, but different types of microorganisms can be indigenous to where you live [crosstalk] to where you live outside the United States. 


Lara: Sure.


Cynthia: So, being really clear, the different types of water can expose us to different types of chemicals, microorganisms, contaminants, etc.


Lara: Yeah, this is where as a kid, I traveled internationally a lot. People in Bangladesh or in Delhi, they can drink the water, because their gut is attuned to the microorganisms that are present there. Then we come, and drink the water, and we have traveler’s diarrhea as what they call it, little unpleasant. Because our bodies are just not attuned to that. But to your question about the geography and the difference between groundwater and surface water, the pretty self-explanatory in that groundwater is an underground aquifer and surface water is usually a lake or reservoir, where water is pulled from. These are some of the things that can determine how our water is different. But if we have an underground aquifer provided that aquifer is deep and is not contaminated, because those can become contaminated, that water tends to be lower in things like pesticides or industrial contaminants, because it can take so long or be impossible for chemicals to move through that Earth substrate to get that low into the geography to get into that groundwater system. Not always. Some groundwater some aquifers are quite shallow, some groundwater aquifers are contaminated. But generally speaking, they have less of those contaminants.


But what they can have is more minerals, so that where we have, for example, deposits of fluorine. This is where we often see high levels of fluoride in water, not because it’s

in the geography of the area where your aquifer is. This also might be why we have some metals, this is also why we see radioactives, things like arsenic are coming from those mineral deposits or metal deposits. If you have groundwater, you may be have a higher likelihood of having those types of contaminants. If you have surface water, that’s where we have a greater likelihood of pesticides depending on your geography, or you’re in a rural, or an urban area of industrial pollutants of microorganisms. If you live in an agricultural area and there’s animal husbandry, animal farming, cattle farming, or whatever, and you’ve got, there are ponds where they take their manure, and they let them sit in these ponds, and then you get nitrates that seep into the groundwater. This is why everyone’s water is different. There’re hundreds of variables that can determine that thumbprint. Everybody’s water is different and everybody’s water treatment has to match. It’s going to be unique. That’s my big point there.


Cynthia: What has been your experience when we’re talking about biological contaminants? This is actually how I probably got sick outside the United States. But what are the more common waterborne contaminants that you’ve seen either in reports or your experience working with your students? What are the more common things you see here in the United States? 


Lara: I actually haven’t seen. Yeah, because we disinfect our water and that has pros and cons. I’m sure in some instances, yes, there are going to always be exceptions for people that are on wells that are not regulated by the city, especially if that well is a shallow well and/or in an agricultural area, there’s a higher likelihood of microbial contamination, whether that’s an E. coli or something like that. Certainly, I think, actually where this conversation is more relevant is less in city water and more in this trend that people have towards drinking what’s called raw water. Yeah, your face says it all. 


Cynthia: [laughs] 


Lara: There’s a trend. It is a small trend, thankfully. There is some person I don’t know if he’s still doing this business. The Daily Show quite a while ago did a whole thing on it and I was laughing and slapping my desk. I was like, “Hi, I know, I read articles about that guy years ago.” He is this, I don’t know, Southern California mountain hippie guy, who makes these really expensive glass jugs that have sacred geometry emblazoned on them like it’s very woo-woo. He has what he calls raw water. It is unfiltered, untreated water, and he sells it for $26 a gallon or something. Absolutely astronomical like laughable. I pay 29 cents a gallon for filtered water at the grocery store. Its revolting consumerism is what it is. 


But there is a trend for people, who really want to drink what they call spring water and they just assume, because it’s coming from a natural spring that it’s pure and pristine. That is just not the case. If you have whether it’s a beaver dam, or a hunting range, or wildlife that crosses anywhere upstream at any point and they have waste in the water or whatever, you have no guarantee that there is not teaming with bacteria that can make people sick. That trend for people to drink untreated spring water that’s in the– If the spring is monitored regularly and is consistently shown to not have any microbial contamination, little bit more comfortable with that. Thankfully, this is a small trend, but I just cringe. I make the face that you made when you say raw water and I’m like, “No.”


Cynthia: Yeah, no, no, thank you. What’s interesting is that I’ve had quite a few women that have come up positive for Giardia on stool testing. I’ve had to ask, “Do you have a well?” And almost always they do. If you have a well, don’t panic, get your water tested, really reasonable. The raw water concept– [crosstalk] 


Lara: Is just great.


Cynthia: I respect the creativity. 


Lara: No, I don’t even respect that creative. 


Cynthia: [crosstalk] nice.


Lara: Yeah.


Cynthia: It’s interesting. We went away for the holidays, and we were hiking in this park, and our wonderful guide was explaining that certain animals will defecate, urinate in certain springs. He’s explained like, “Don’t ever drink the water while you’re in this big national park.” None of us had any desire to do this, but he was saying, “Occasionally, I get people who are thirsty by the time they get to this point.” I always remind them, you’re like, “One step away from Tapir urine, or Tapir poo, or whatever other animal has defecated or urinated in the water supply.” 


Lara: Right.


Cynthia: I’m like, “Yeah, I think that’s a hard pass.”


Lara: Yeah.


Cynthia: [laughs] 


Lara: This is where and anybody who’s an outdoor enthusiast, a camper, backpacker, we all know you can go to REI and get your water, whether it’s an iodine treatment or a SteriPEN, there’s sterilization pens, there’s LifeStraw, there’s all kinds of tools that people can use to make that water safer to drink, but those type of treatments are typically only targeting those Giardia, or Cryptosporidium, or something like that. Those microorganisms, I’m not looking at whether or not there’s industrial chemicals in there. Because again, I think, look, we have contaminants, chemicals like PFAS compounds that have been measured in snowfall in the Arctic, and polar bears in the Arctic not because there’s any manufacturing, but because these molecules, particularly, these persistent ones that don’t break down, they travel in the air. They travel in the airstreams, they travel in precipitation, they’re everywhere. If those molecules can get all the way up to the Arctic, who says that they can’t get up to the top of the mountain where your snow melt is your feeding your spring water. 


I think unfortunately we’re past the point in time, where we can make the assumption that any of our waterways in the United States are not contaminated. That’s a terrible thing to tie back to our opening conversation of Rachel Carson. We’ve just not been good stewards [crosstalk] despite having the information, we have not been good stewards. By we, I would like to point out, it is not consumers that have not been good stewards. It is industry and government that have not been good stewards. I think in the conversation, whether it’s around environmental chemicals, or climate change, or pollution, there is an intentional orchestrated strategy that industries use to push the blame onto the consumer and say, “it’s your fault.” This is where those like, “No drinking straw movements.” The plastics industry is like, “Yeah, great. Everybody go, freak out about the drinking straw that has to get yanked from the nose of the sea turtle” and that’s pulls at our heartstrings. As a consumer, I’m going to say, “No thanks, I don’t need a straw.” I feel good about myself, and then continue to ignore the massive amounts of pollution that’s being put out by these– whether it’s a Pepsi or Coca Cola with their bottling plants, and billions and billions of plastic bottles. So, it is an intentional campaign to push the responsibility onto the consumer. I think that that’s part of why we as industry and government have not been good stewards and yeah.


Cynthia: Have you watched the documentary, Seaspiracy?


Lara: I did not watch that. I did not watch that one. 

Cynthia: Well, so, it starts off with the premise of, you are diving down the rabbit hole of thinking the problem is about one thing and it turns into much, much more. It was actually like being an animal advocate– I eat animals. Let me be clear. 


Lara: Yeah, right.


Cynthia: I am animal eater and love animals, just the same. But it was a really fascinating foray into really looking at what’s driving the plastics that are found in the ocean and how that impacts sea life. If anyone’s interested– I tend to nerd out on documentaries, when I travel. I try to find balanced ones. Maybe clear about that. But along the same lines that we have not been good stewards, we as in government and industry have not really been looking out for consumers, animal life, etc. But let’s pivot a little bit and talk about one of my least favorite chemicals, which is chlorine. We relocated to a new part of our state in June and almost instantly, there was a very, very strong smell of chlorine when I turn on the faucet, my husband, who tolerates a lot of my idiosyncrasies about these things, we had water delivery, the entire time we lived in this very small condo still waiting for our house to be finished. 


Every time we turn on the water, it was such a strong smell of chlorine, and the water didn’t even– when you would boil, it just never looked the same. I just kept saying to my kids, “Just use the stuff that–” It’s not even necessarily a sustainable thing to have water delivered, but the water was such a strong thing. Really thinking about why chlorine is added to the water supply, what it does, how it impacts our gut microbiome, how it impacts this water vapor that we’re breathing in? We don’t even think about it. It’s not a particularly strong smell, but yet, we are literally bathing in this chlorinated water. I think it’s helpful for listeners to really understand. With good intention, I think these things were added, but [crosstalk] find out they’re not particularly healthy or beneficial. 


Lara: Yeah, I think it’s a yes and right. The reason why I said in the beginning when you asked about microorganisms and bacteria that as we spoke, because we disinfect. Chlorine is the primary disinfectant that we use in our water systems here. The World Health Organization says that, this is the hail water fluoridation is one of the greatest advancements in public health. And in a lot of ways, it was. We wiped out typhoid, dysentery, cholera, all of these really terrible communicable diseases just by chlorinating the water and there’s a price for that. Nothing comes for free, especially, if these things are not thought out well, I should say it that way. Water chlorination I think or I should say this way, disinfection of water, I think is important, how we disinfect that water matters. This is one of those things that– While there’s an upside, there is also a downside. The downside is that we have chlorine in our water distribution system. 


Chlorine is there to kill microorganisms. That is its job. It’s added at the water utility and sometimes, there’s substations along the way where it’s added, how close you are in proximity to your water treatment facility or those substations if they’re added there can influence whether or not your water smells like chlorine. I actually have pretty high levels of chlorine in my house. I have some of the worst water. Happily, talk about that, if that’s of interest. But it was quite a shock. Anyway, so, where you live is, if you live closer to that, you may have more of that chlorine. Chlorine is a volatile chemical. That’s why you can smell it. Not all volatile chemicals have smell, but as soon as you turn it on, it’s vaporizing. This is why, for example, if anybody has amphibians, fish, lizards, whatever, especially fish, it is recommended that you fill a container with water and let it sit for 24 hours before putting it into the tank. Why those volatile chemicals can volatize. You’re not putting chlorine in the water, which can kill your fish, because they’re exquisitely sensitive to that. If you’re a fish owner you should intuitively know that like, “Oh, right, it does. Volatile.” It’s irritating for our skins, for our hair, certainly, we’re breathing it in the shower, because it’s vaporizing, and we’re absorbing it. There’re some estimates that 60% to 70% of the chlorine that we take in every day comes from the shower, not from what we’re drinking, because full body, it’s hot, our pores open up, absorption increases, we’re inhaling it, because it’s turning to steam. There’re some downsides. 


The upshot and there’s very few when it comes to water filtration. Chlorine is one of the easiest chemicals to remove. It’s super easy. You just get an activated carbon filter. It’s one of the few things that’s super easy to get rid of consistently. Where things get a little bit more challenging is when cities add ammonia. Chlorine plus ammonia converts to chloramine. The reason why cities move and this is actually an intentional move that cities across the United States are switching from chlorine to chloramine, because chlorine is super volatile and it smells. It has a strong smell. Chloramine doesn’t. Also, because chlorine is so volatile, it tends to weaken by the time it gets to the end of the distribution system. As I was saying, it’s more concentrated at the front end and on the far end of the distribution system, it peters out in its efficacy. Chloramine is far more stable as a disinfectant. It stays in the distribution system more evenly for much longer than chlorine. An easy way to tell whether or not you have chlorine or chloramine is one to look on your water quality report, because it will tell you the disinfectant, does they use chlorine or chlorine and ammonia sometimes written as chloramine. The other way that you could tell is to fill your bathtub with water. Chlorine is blue, chloramine is green.


Cynthia: Oh.


Lara: When I lived in Oregon, they use chloramine. You could tell when you filled up the water with bath had a really faint green hue. In New Mexico and Albuquerque, it’s chlorine. So I can turn on and fill up my bathtub and I’m like, “Blue.” 


Cynthia: [laughs] 


Lara: It’s blurry. Anyway, so, carbon is the easiest way to get rid of chlorine. Chloramine is much harder to get rid of. That’s the downside. It stays in the distribution system longer, has better efficacy in terms of being a disinfectant. It doesn’t have a noticeable smell, but it’s much harder to get rid of. An activated carbon filter, not going to touch it. You need catalytic carbon or some other type of filter media to remove that. This is just a simple example that what’s in your water determines which direction you go in in terms of filtration. If you walk into Target or Home Depot and you just pull a Brita off the shelf, that’s just activated carbon. It might reduce some lead and it might get rid of some other contaminants, but it’s not going to touch your water if it’s got chloramine in it.


Cynthia: That’s really interesting. What are your thoughts on fluoride? They regularly get into a discussion, polite discussion with the dentist. Every time my children go in or my husband and I go in, and I just say, “We’ll just agree to disagree.


Lara: Yeah. I have a lot of thoughts on fluoride.


Cynthia: [laughs] 


Lara: First of all–


Cynthia: I have a lot of questions about fluoride. So, this is– [crosstalk] 


Lara: Yeah. Look, fluoride, there’s plenty of evidence that shows absolutely without question that topical application of fluoride has shown benefit. There are still risks, but it has shown benefit. It’s up to the individual to weigh the risks and the benefits of utilizing a top of application. I will come back to alternatives to fluoride for topical dental use in a second, but as it pertains to ingesting fluoride, there is no real evidence to support that ingested fluoride has a meaningful effect on dental caries or cavities. Ingested fluoride is a neurotoxin and there’s plenty of evidence that demonstrates that. There’s a really wonderful book called The fluoride deception. I can’t remember the author’s name. Off the top of my head. But The fluoride deception is an excellent– It reads like a crime novel. I’m talking the Manhattan Project, atomic bombs, the largest steel manufacturers in the United States, Alcoa, these large kings of industry that ultimately turned fluoride into something that was recognized as a hazardous waste into something that– It was a PR campaign to basically turn fluoridated drinking water into this amazing feat of public health. 


This book is, like I said, it just reads like a crime novel. It’s incredibly well cited and documented. For people who want to understand the history of fluoride, and why it’s there, and why the American Dental Association is so onboard, still after all of these decades is go read that book. I don’t think water fluoridation whether it’s done intentionally or whether there are natural deposits of fluoride or fluorine, again, if you have groundwater and there’s fluorine in the geography, you’re going to have fluoride. It will actually tell you on your water quality report added or erosion of natural deposits. They’ll tell you where the source is. Either way, it shouldn’t be there. Fluoride is a halogenated compound. It shares space on the periodic table of elements with chlorine, and bromine, and iodine. All four of those, well, they all essentially zero in on your thyroid. What happens is chlorine, bromine, and fluorine, and compounds that are made of those, so chlorinated, brominated, or fluorinated compounds compete with iodine for space in your thyroid. That’s hugely problematic. 


To know about, it’s a hugely problematic thing for us to be utilizing chlorinated, brominated, or fluorinated compounds, I just posted the other day on Instagram that New York state just banned halogenated flame retardants from use in electronics. Halogenated, meaning all three. They don’t care if they’re chlorinated flame retardants are brominated or fluorinated, the whole class is problematic. In terms of fluoride ingested, to me, it’s a hard no. We want to filter that out. We don’t need a thyroid suppressing chemical, natural or manufactured in our drinking water. The fluoride that’s in your toothpaste, sodium fluoride is not the same compound that’s added to municipal water, which is hydrofluorosilicic acid. Hydrofluorosilicic acid is a waste byproduct from the phosphate fertilizer industry. This is where industries get together and say, “Hey, how can we make money off of this thing that we used to have to pay to get rid of and now, we can make money out of it?” So, that’s my hot take on that. Going back to the thumbtack that I had put about alternatives, at least when it comes to oral care and toothpaste is we do have an alternative. 


I said that topical application of fluoride has absolutely shown benefit for dental caries, but there are risks. The risks are exposure to thyroid suppressing chemicals or gums are very absorbent, we can absorb that, kids will swallow, etc. What we have is an alternative called hydroxyapatite, which is a mineral, it’s what our teeth are actually made out of, it’s been used as an alternative to fluoride in Japan for decades, but it hasn’t caught on as extensively here in the United States, partly, because the American Dietetic Association still refuses to acknowledge the benefit. Because it is basically a mineral, the same mineral that our teeth are made out of, it’s biocompatible and there are no negative side effects. Multiple studies have shown that hydroxyapatite is just as, if not more effective than fluoride at preventing cavities and re-mineralizing your teeth with no side effects. So, if people are like, you just go use hydroxyapatite-based toothpastes. They’re out there.


Cynthia: Well, I think it’s really interesting on so many levels, because this is one of those topics that I feel there’s a degree of cognitive dissonance. 


Lara: Yes.


Cynthia: Because my dentist recommends it, “Therefore, it’s safe.” I remind people– I did my functional nutrition training a long time ago. I learned about this dentist back in the early 1900s, who really revolutionized the way that we looked at indigenous cultures, and their bone structure, and their teeth. We know there’s a direct correlation with dental caries or cavities and there’s a degree of processed foods we’re consuming. On so many levels, if you have a junk food diet, it’s not going to save your teeth by using fluoride toothpaste, at least not from what I have looked at. Certainly, it’s helpful for people to understand there are alternatives to the conventional mindset. It come to find out that most dentists, both pediatric and otherwise, this isn’t the sword they want to die on. They’d rather focus on other areas. I feel things are starting to come around. I love that you differentiated and shared some alternatives. 


Talking about other things that we get exposed to, we talked about pharmaceuticals, obviously, we have a lot of endocrine-disrupting chemicals exposed to, we’ve got kids with precocious puberty, we have the feminization of men, because they’re aromatizing all their testosterone to estrogen, which is not a good thing. I also think about we touched on the heavy metal piece, but then also thinking about one of my least favorite topics of conversation glyphosate and exposure to Roundup, because on a lot of levels we had Robyn O’Brien on, and she was talking about how she was trying to work with farmers to get away from using these types of chemicals, which can be so disruptive to the gut microbiome and to our health. But let’s at least touch on what glyphosate does in our bodies? Because I got a lot of questions about this and fluoride, people asking– I know this is a known carcinogen. I know this is used to eradicate pests and is an herbicide. How can we protect ourselves? What are some of the choices we can make, so that we’re protecting our families as much as we can? Obviously, you would probably have to go live away on an island all by yourself or your family to get no exposure to some of these things. But I know glyphosate is one that people will recognize that name, they understand the association with Monsanto and there’re genuine concerns about it. 


Lara: Right. Yeah, when there’s evidence showing that it disrupts our gut microbiome, that it can lead to leaky gut, it basically acts like an antibiotic in our system, meaning it’s killing off all of that good and bad bacteria that we have in our GI system, which in and of itself can lead to so many downstream effects. Then anything that’s causing an intestinal permeability or leaky gut in and of itself can also lead to a lot of downstream effects like autoimmune conditions. What I think is really interesting and I haven’t seen actual good data on this myself, but in talking to the folks over a Tap Score, which is the water testing company that I work with, and then I recommend. In talking to them, they’ve shared that they’ve actually seen extremely low levels of glyphosate in the water that they tested when their customers are testing for that. Maybe that changes, maybe that’s cyclical, maybe that just require a larger volume of data on their end, pull that together. Certainly, not all of the people who are doing testing through them are adding that, because it’s an add on contaminant to test for.


But my hunch is that the primary exposure is going to be through food and for folks that are living in agricultural regions. And also, I would say in urban areas near parks, there are all kinds of glyphosate derivative under different brand names that are used in public parks. I think that’s going to be a more significant exposure source than what we’re getting in our drinking water. I don’t know why that is, I don’t know if it disassociates in water or something like that. I’m not sure. But I think that our primary exposure there is going to be coming from food and drift or encountering and if you’re walking across the lawn at the park where it was sprayed or what have you. Sometimes and I think we don’t always see this, because I mean I pay attention. But whenever you see those little flags in the ground, most of the time, there’re no labels. It’s just a little pink flag or green flag. Well, that’s usually their demarcating where they’re going to be applying some treatment. But doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to be a pesticide, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to be glyphosate or a derivative, but it’s something’s happened in there. 


Sometimes, in addition to the little flags, they’ll put a little sign, and I usually just take a picture of it, and then I go home, and I look it up. Because it gives you the trademarked chemical name or product name. Then you can find out, “Oh, it’s an organophosphate? Is it some other type of family of herbicides, you can look that up?” I’ve only done that a couple of times, because I’ve only seen those signs a couple times. Usually, it’s just the flags. But that’s where you pick up the phone and you get in touch with the park’s department. I think it’s appropriate for people to be squeaky wheels and to be advocates for their community and for themselves in this way by asking, and posing questions, and finding out what’s being used. If you live near a golf course, atrazine tends to be the herbicide that’s used, not glyphosate on those kinds of map landscape. But if you live near a golf course, I grew up from across the street from a golf course and used to sneak out at night and roll around on the hills in the grass. I’m sure they didn’t like that. But who knows what they were using? Just spraying probably at night, because it was the only time where they didn’t have people on the green. Man, anybody else like me, who went and rolled around on the grass in a golf course that I did high school. But anyway, so, my understanding is that glyphosate is not showing up in water as much as people maybe think that it is.


Cynthia: Yeah, it’s interesting. The irony is that, we lived for almost 20 years in the golf course community outside of Washington, DC and whenever they would spray, so they put those little markers and I always told them not to spray our grass, not our grass. I was the crazy woman, who would ask. When my kids would and I would walk the dogs, if we saw the flags, I would say, “We have to walk.” We would walk outside the community to walk our dogs, so that we lessen the likelihood. My superpower is that I have this ridiculously pungent sense of smell. That benefited me enormously being an ER nurse, I could always sniff out the diabetics- [crosstalk] 


Lara: Amazing. 


Cynthia: -other things. But it also means, when people spray their yards, I smell it so much more than the average person. It actually bothers me a lot. My kids are always like, “Mom, you’re so embarrassing.” But I would say listen, if it’s that strong then it just went down. You have to sometimes– well, now, talking about surface water, pray it would rain, because then it would dissipate it but sometimes you would have days where you just knew you were walking around in a chemical fog, which is just really disgusting and that much worse for animals and children, who are smaller humans. Now, I think it would be a remiss if we didn’t at least end to our conversation talking about microplastics, because I think this is something that a lot of people don’t fully understand. They don’t understand what it represents. But to me, it’s something the more I learn, the more I can’t unlearn, the more I want to change things would go on in the world to ensure that we’re exposed less to these. So, I would love for you to touch on what these are, why we need to be concerned about them, how we can lessen our exposure. It’s not possible to be completely rid of it unless you again live on an island in the middle of nowhere. 


Lara: Yeah.


Cynthia: But even, I was surprised even though washing synthetic clothing in your washing machine can expose your microplastics. It’s like, we can’t get away from– [crosstalk] 


Lara: Well, I think wearing synthetic. So first of all, microfibers are not always microplastics and microplastics aren’t always microfibers either. Our cotton clothes and wool clothes releases microfibers. Those ones are less concerning than the plastic ones. When we’re wearing acrylic or polyester clothes, which is most clothes these days, you’re hard pressed to find things that are 100% cotton. You’re paying a premium for those. Those all shed these little tiny plastic fibers. Those microfibers are so microscopic that they almost never get filtered out. There’re just microplastics in our water system. They’re just there. Until from a municipality standpoint, we’re able to use fine enough filtration that will remove them. Meaning, very good block carbon or reverse osmosis that will remove those. Most of these don’t use that, some do. Then, we’ll] just have water microplastics in our water period. This also means that we have microplastics in our food. Why? Because we’re using water in the manufacturing of our processed foods. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cake, or a soup, or a soda, or if it’s organic or not unless that food producer is filtering the water well, for production, there’s just microplastics in everything. There’re microplastics in bottled water. There’re two layers of concern. I think the second one is the bigger concern. Then there’s a lot of like, we just don’t know, because we’re only just starting to dig into this. There’s only just been research showing that there’re microplastics in the fetal environment, and babies have microplastics while they’re in exposure while in utero. We know that we all have microplastics in us. We don’t necessarily know what the implications of that are. Probably, not good, right? Probably not good, but we don’t actually know what that means. Because we’ve just discovered that they’re there. So, give us another couple of years, maybe a decade and we can make associations in the data that say, “Hey, for people that have this amount of microplastics in their system, if there is associations with these outcomes.” That’s basically how we’re going to be able to navigate the data on that. 


There’re the microplastics themselves, whether if they’re fibers, they’re polyesters, they’re acrylic, I don’t know what chemicals are used to manufacture those types of plastics. Maybe there’s endocrine disruptors, maybe there’s not. Certainly, if there’s microplastics that are coming not from our clothing, but from just the breakdown of other plastic products in commerce, then we might have plastics that have BPA or plastics that have phthalates. Those are endocrine disrupting, that’s concerning. But the bigger problem when we see this in the science around ocean microplastics is that these plastics become sponges for other contaminants. Other contaminants are like, “Hey, look at that thing. Let’s go glom on to it like a life raft.” So, they literally become these magnets for other contaminants in the water to attach to.


Cynthia: Now, I know there were a couple short answer questions. Women in one of my monthly groups, they wanted to know what is your personal favorite? Just take the whole filtration piece out of it, do you have a particular type of water bottle that you’d like to bring with you when you’re traveling? It can be just leaving your house and going to the store. It doesn’t have to be you’re going on an airplane and leaving the country, but what is your favorite brand of water bottle and why? Do you prefer glass, do you like stainless steel? This is your personal choice. There’s no– [crosstalk] 


Lara: [crosstalk] If I’m just driving in the car, it’s usually a mason jar. I actually, there’s a company I discovered many years ago, probably nine years ago called Ecojarz. E-C-O-J-A-R-Z and they make these stainless-steel coffee cup style lids that you can screw on to a mason jar. It just means that if you’re driving, you’re literally not spilling the contents of your entire mason jar all over your face, you just have a little sippy cup that holds the drink out of so it’s a little bit more contained. If I’m just driving around, it’s that. I am a mason jar girl through and through. If I’m traveling, what I usually do is I have a big stainless-steel. I don’t remember even who makes it, I bought it at Whole Foods, it was pretty. I just have a big, I think it’s a 32-ounce bottle. So, I take that with me. Here’s my hack for traveling. Obviously, I love it when airports have those filtered water fountains, those are the best, those refilling stations for bottles, they don’t always. What I always do before I leave the house is, I take a couple lemon slices and I put them in my empty bottle. It makes the water taste better, even if the water tastes a little bad. 


Cynthia: [laughs] 


Lara: I say this because there have been times where I’m like, “Look, while I would love to have filtered water all the time, it’s not always possible.” I get very dehydrated in airplanes, so I drink a lot of water. There have been many times where I forgot my water bottle at home, I ran out of water, they didn’t have a thing. I’ll just go buy a plastic bottle. Is it ideal? No. Do I like it? No. But I also really hate being dehydrated and the consequences of that. What I remind people is it’s what we do every day that matters, not what we do every once in a while. I think that any opportunity that we can have to let people know that this is not a zero-sum game, it’s not all or nothing, it’s not about being 100% nontoxic, it’s just about doing the best that we can. Sometimes, we have to loosen our requirements when we’re traveling. 


Cynthia: Well, I love the good, better, best mentality. It’s obviously something I embrace myself. What are the one or two books if someone is just fairly new to following you and hearing this information that you feel are good starting points, if women are interested in just the very like dipping their toe in the pond about awareness?


Lara: Not specifically about water, but there is a

book, Slow Death by Rubber Duck that I think is a good soft intro into this topic. It’ll probably blow people’s hair back if they’re new to this topic, but it’s just two guys who decided to learn about all these environmental exposures. They actually expose to themselves, lock themselves in a room, sprayed a bunch of perfume and cologne, did urine testing before and after, ate a bunch of canned food, did urine testing before and after. It’s a very accessible real-life dive. It’s a well-cited book, it’s well written. Slow Death by Rubber Duck is probably the easiest intro. If somebody’s looking for something a little bit, that book has some humor in it. The topic tends to be a little dry. Go read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. It is prose. It’s heartbreaking, but it is prose. It is beautifully written. She is a wonderful writer. She just had a very poetic way of talking about these heartbreakingly devastating topics. Then I have a whole collection of recommended reading on my website that people can check out just on the page unbox, specifically, just unbox.


Cynthia: I can totally nerd out on reading. I purchased both those books, read them both. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Last question. 


Lara: Yeah.


Cynthia: There are a lot of people that have purchased reverse osmosis systems for their homes. They know they need to add in minerals. Where is the good starting point? Because what I’ve come to find out is a lot of women come to me, they’ve already installed a reverse osmosis filtration and then they don’t realize they need to add back in some of these minerals. What is the easiest way to go around this? Because they find this is so overwhelming. They’re like, “I thought I was doing a good thing. Now, I’m being told I need minerals again.” So, how do I navigate that? Again, everyone listening, test your water to find out what you need to filter out. That’s the prevailing theme throughout this conversation. But for those that have reverse osmosis in their homes, the need to add back in minerals, what are your general recommendations or guidance on this?


Lara: Yeah, first of all, some filtration, some RO systems actually have a stage, a final stage that does this. If yours does that, great. Just make sure that you replace it. You can also buy Trace Minerals. There’s a company called Trace Minerals. They make that. You can also do Quinton Hypertonic. That’s a little bit more expensive. There’re those kinds of mineral replacements. My hot take on those though, and my personal take is that the recommended amount like 40 drops is way overboard. We know that the amount of minerals that we get from our water is negligible, it’s small. It’s not important though. Because when we remove minerals from water, we can make what’s called aggressive water, where our water is trying to seek equilibrium. RO water can be hard on your pipes. It can actually pull minerals and metals from your pipes, we don’t want that. There is some evidence that suggests that the drinking of demineralized water is not good for us, even though, primary source of minerals coming from our food, right. Our mineral content in our food is decreased because of soil erosion, because of over-farming practices. The minerals that we used to get decades ago from our foods, we’re not getting them at that level from our foods anymore, which is probably why we’re starting to see mineral depletion in the population. We eat a lot of processed foods that don’t have minerals. 


Even though, the amount that we have in our water is very, very small, it’s still important. When we have these remineralization drops and they’re at 40 drops the water is so minerally that I feel people won’t drink it because it tastes so bad. It tastes horrendous to me personally. I’m okay with just adding one or two drops, because I know I don’t need to have that much from my water, because I know I’m getting some from other places if that makes sense. I feel that they overdo it with the recommendation for how many drops probably, because they’re like, “Ah, people will run out in 30 days and they’ll need to buy another one.” I don’t think we need that many minerals. Now, caveat, I haven’t talked to anybody who does clinical lab work, who maybe is looking at mineral content, and whether or not people are doing the full 40-drop protocol that they recommend, or if they’re doing a little, or if they’re doing none. So, I could be totally off base on that, but just as a tool to adopt the practice, because if I don’t like it, I’m not going to do it. If it tastes bad, I’m not going to do it. I don’t care how important it is for me. I’m just can’t do it.


Cynthia: Oh, the compliance is huge. 


Lara: I just want to– [crosstalk] 


Cynthia: [crosstalk] my patients, if I can’t get you to do X, Y, or Z, then we have to do a workaround. 


Lara: Yeah.


Cynthia: Much to your point– [crosstalk] 


Lara: I know most people don’t, they’re just like, “I don’t know. Somebody told me to do it, so I’m going to do it.” I know why it’s important and I still don’t do it if it [crosstalk] that.


Cynthia: [laughs] Right. [crosstalk] 


Lara: Yeah, so, this is where I’m like, “Look, if you want to do a drop, great. Do a drop and do a drop all day in the water that you drink all day.” You don’t have to take an eight-ounce glass with 40 drops of Trace Minerals that it just tastes like you’re licking a metal pole is not good.


Cynthia: It is not very satisfactory.


Lara: It’s not. It’s yucky. I think of and this to our seafood conversation. I love oysters. Oysters are very mineral rich. They’re excellent. They have that taste, they have that slightly metallic briny taste, because they’re so rich in minerals. I go out of my way to eat oysters. They’re rich in B12, they’re high in zinc. I go out of my way to eat oysters, and I certainly know not everybody has access or even likes oysters as a counter to having to do mineral drops, sometimes. 


Cynthia: It’s all about balance, right? 


Lara: Yeah, it’s all about balance.


Cynthia: Well, there as always, it is such a pleasure to connect with you. Let listeners how to locate you, your amazing courses, your list of book recommendations, how to connect with you outside of the podcast? Obviously, we’ll reference all of your thinking points. What’s the easiest way to reach out to you?


Lara: Yeah, certainly, on Instagram, I’m there over @environmentaltoxinsnerd, hoping everyone can appreciate how accurate my IG handle is. [laughs] I’m on Instagram @environmentaltoxinsnerd. Then people can just come check out my website, which is just my name, laraadler.com. I have a bunch of health professional courses that people can check out if they’re interested in diving in. I have a whole shop section if people are looking for recommendations, whether it’s for reading materials, or mattresses, or cookware, or skincare products, or household cleaners. I’ve curated a list of some of my favorite products. So, if people want to cut to the front of the line, and just tell me what to do and what to get, that’s why I created those lists.


Cynthia: Such an invaluable resource. Thank you, again, for your time. Glad you got settled in your new home and we’ll connect again soon.


Lara: Yeah, thank you so much for having me back.


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