Is Our Fountain Water Safe?

Water’s good for you… right?

We’ve been brought up all our lives thinking this statement to be steadfastly true and therefore trust the gallons of liquid that flow through the rusty pipes and into our bodies without a second thought. Should we?

Well, in the most extreme case, citizens in the town of Flint, Michigan trusted their tap water that elected officials continuously insisted was safe, and ended up with lead poisoning that caused people to be diagnosed with a scary number of diseases, long-term illnesses, and even brain damage, profound in children. Their lives were destroyed by the very thing they relied on to live.

This preventable tragedy was part of the impetus for SERP students Matthew Durney and Youssef Fahmy, interviewed for this article, to investigate the water quality at Tech while they aimed to improve students’ water consumption. In fact, according to a survey they conducted, a major reason students don’t drink water is because they are concerned with the water quality in our school.

They began by testing the quality of the water fountains by using kits that checked for high levels of impurities such as lead, nitrates, nitrites and other contaminants, and also checked for pH and hardness. Their results indicated that the water contained no high concentrations of any contaminants. Mr. Erlenwein then informed them that an official testing had recently taken place and that professionals had drawn the same conclusion the students had made. Matthew and Youssef were able to confirm their results; that despite the unfair stigma against fountain water, it is perfectly safe for drinking! 

Furthermore, they tested the effects of water consumption. This was a significant experiment in a school setting because first, poor water quality has the most effect in youths and, second, it is proven that dehydration has a direct link to cognitive abilities. They ran an experiment on two freshman classes. Students were asked to report their water consumption throughout the day and they were administered exams that would test their cognitive abilities (replicating an official experiment done in another setting). They found that students who drank water immediately prior to the test, showed cognitive abilities were improved for major portions of the exam.

It’s essential for everyone to be aware of the impact of hydration on performance in school. You can study for hours on end, but taking care of yourself and intaking three to four bottles of water per day can give you the boost needed to fully maximize your results.

This importance (as well many other benefits of consumption besides brain function), is why a Brita hydration station was installed in our school. If it can increase consumption, it is a worthy investment. Although we now know that fountain water is very safe to drink, it’s no secret students are more confident in drinking the filtered water from the Brita stations. Our school pays for it by selling water bottles the Brita company gives the school to sell. By continuing to purchase water bottles, the school can pay off the filter we have now and can purchase another.   

Whether it’s from the perfectly good fountain or fancy hydration station, do your body a favor and chug down some clean H2O, it may just be the missing ingredient in your recipe for success.

SERP Research by: Matthew Durney and Youssef Fahmy

Article by: Shivanie Rambaran

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