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The tap water in Spain is in general approved as drinking water, but many will however not like the taste of it as it is treated with chlorine to kill bacteria and germs and therefore choose to buy bottled water instead. If you do choose to drink the tap water there are however a few concerns you should be aware of:
Disinfection by chlorination can be problematic, in some circumstances. One drawback is that chlorine from any source reacts with natural organic compounds in the water to form potentially harmful chemical by-products. One of these by-products is trihalomethanes (THMs). THMs is the main suspect behind 1 in 20 bladder cancer cases and thought to affect reproduction as well. Scientists from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) analysed the presence of the chemicals in the tap water in 26 EU countries and Spain has the 4. highest concentration of THMs in EU with 10,9%. Compared in Denmark the number is 0,1% . Researchers have also come to the conclusion that showering and bathing in the water can cause the disease too, as steam given off can allow the water to seep into people’s pores.
The use of chloramine is becoming more common as a disinfectant. Although chloramine is not as strong an oxidant, it provides a longer-lasting residual than free chlorine because of its lower redox potential compared to free chlorine. It also does not readily form THMs or haloacetic acids (disinfection byproducts).
It is possible to convert chlorine to chloramine by adding ammonia to the water after adding chlorine. The chlorine and ammonia react to form chloramine. Water distribution systems disinfected with chloramines may experience nitrification, as ammonia is a nutrient for bacterial growth, with nitrates being generated as a by-product.
One of the most complicated contaminants is lead and other heavy metals that leach from pipes. The reason is that all house built prior to 1980 could in theory contain lead pipes. What makes the matter even worse is that there’s no reliable way of checking or measuring as leaching can happen on and off. Cities/regions with soft tap water are especially exposed.
Although WHO, EU and EPA have guidelines for lead and mercury there is no safe level for infants and kids. Therefore all lead exposure should be avoided.
Another unregulated contaminant is microplastics. Research carried out 2017-2018 found microplastics in 93% of all bottled water and 92% of tap water. We currently don’t know if there is any health impact on humans but it’s probably better to be safe than sorry.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. These chemicals are used to make household and commercial products that resist heat and chemical reactions and repel oil, stains, grease and water. PFAS chemicals include PFOA and PFOS. In recent years they’ve been found more and more frequently in tap water around the world. Since they are unregulated the normal water tests don’t detect PFAS.
We do recommend when living in Spain that you filter your water with either one of our solutions or any other high quality filter option.
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