Cover image for The water we drink : water quality and its effects on health
The water we drink : water quality and its effects on health
Barzilay, Joshua I., 1951-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
vi, 180 pages ; 22 cm



Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RA591 .B38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
RA591 .B38 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



We all drink water and water-based fluids, yet most of us take water for granted. We assume that when we turn on the tap to fill our glass, bathtub, or washing machine, clean water will flow. But is it really safe? And if it is not, what can we do about it? The doctors who have written The Water We Drink provide readers with practical information on the health issues relating to water quality and suggest ways we can improve the quality and safety of our drinking water.

Most of us do not realize that any small amount of contaminants found in drinking water may, over time, increase our susceptibility to many of the chronic illnesses that are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society as the population ages, illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease and cancer. Contaminants have also been linked to increased rates of infertility.

The Water We Drink begins with a review of the history of water, disease, and drinking water as it relates to disease and sanitation. The manner in which drinking water is currently regulated is described, along with information on water sources and treatment. The authors then examine health issues relating to drinking water, including infectious diseases, cancer risks, estrogens and fertility, and the effects of mineral and heavy metal content. They look at the benefits and risks of bottled waters and of water purification systems currently available to consumers.

The book also provides clear, understandable lists of contaminants levels in drinking water both regulated and unregulated by law, cancer causing contaminants of drinking water and their sources, and the mineral and sodium contents of commonly used bottled waters. A helpful glossary of terms, as well as a bibliography of additional agencies, books, and web sites to consult for more information on drinking water and health, are also provided.

Author Notes

Dr. Joshua I. Barzilay is in the division of endocrinology of the Southeast Permanente Medical Group and a faculty member at the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Winkler G. Weinberg is chief of infectious diseases for the Southeast Permanente Medical Group and the author of No Germs Allowed! How to Avoid Infectious Diseases at Home and on the Road (Rutgers University Press). Dr. J. William Eley is an associate professor at the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The emphasis in the purification of drinking water has shifted from avoidance of infectious diseases to avoidance of chemical pollution. Barzilay and his colleagues give a brief history of the subject and then look at the methods, regulations, and science behind the current U.S. water supply. Their book is an attempt to give consumers the information they need about how the water purification system works, what problems it has, and where additional research is needed to clarify or dispose of those problems; accordingly, they cite relevant Web sites in the text so that readers can pursue particular subjects. The problems include antibiotics from farm runoff, dangerous because they can help raise the resistance of disease-causing bacteria, and chlorine, whose possible dangers need to be further researched and discovered. The authors even underline the faddishness of bottled drinking water. Appended tables of government-regulated and unregulated contaminant levels, of cancer-causing contaminants, and of mineral content in various bottled waters add further value to the informative, readable book. --William Beatty

Library Journal Review

Drinking and bathing in water are risky activities. The authors of this book, medical doctors specializing in endocrinology and infectious diseases, demonstrate how current water purification methods control health risks but do not eliminate themÄa theme they develop by providing a wide range of current information on water quality within a historical context. Featured are summaries of drinking water contaminants and their known health effects, a review of purification technologies for public and private supplies, including bottled water, and a discussion of government regulations. However, the range of potential contaminants discussed does not always mirror current public debate. For example, although controversies such as the possible contribution of aluminum in drinking water to the incidence of Alzheimer's disease are reviewed, and although fluoridation of public water supplies is discussed, the controversy over the potential health effects of fluoridation is not mentioned. Despite this quibble, The Water We Drink is a useful guide for the educated consumer who wishes to safeguard his or her health. For all public libraries.ÄNoemie Maxwell Vassilakis, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

A stated goal of this book is to present educated consumers with information about the "commodity" drinking water. Barzilay and colleagues, all medical doctors, devote most of their material to drinking water-related health issues. Included are low-level but informative discussions of waterborne infectious diseases, risks of cancer from drinking water, and effects of heavy metals and other inorganic substances on health. One chapter is devoted to effects of estrogen-like substances on fertility, a topic that is currently under investigation by the scientific community. To place their material in context, the authors also present brief histories of drinking water treatment, regulation, and disease control. The book ends with a chapter on bottled water, another describing common methods of water purification, several appendixes, and a glossary. Unlike many books on environmental topics for the general public, this book does not appear to have been written for ideological purposes. It contains up-to-date material not commonly found in books of this kind. It is suitable for readers concerned about the nation's water quality and, especially, about the quality of the water they drink. General readers; lower-division undergraduates; two-year technical program students. R. W. Sheets; Southwest Missouri State University