A few weeks ago, I found myself amazed.
If you read my previous posts, you’ll know I went hiking in North Carolina. It was a tough trip, but the nice thing about the area is there is plenty of water. I carried my little liter bottle with me, and a steripen. A steripen is a small battery-powered UV light that you put in the water and swirl around. The UV kills anything that would give you the explosive bad-mexican-food stomach runs that would make a walk in the woods a very unpleasant (and messy) thing to do. It’s incredible how these things work.
But here’s the thing… I always carry a few things with me in a post-hike bag. A clean cotton shirt (because after two day in a synthetic shirt I stink to high heavens, and a clean cotton shirt to go home in the car with is just awesome), a granola bar (in case I bonk on the way to the car), and some spare water.
So I hiked for two days (okay, the second half of one day and the first half of another) in the backwoods, drinking from streams, eating fruit and nuts, and generally having a good time. I get to the car with a nearly empty bottle, pop the trunk, change my shirt, and go for the bottle of cold water (the high was 45 both days, with a low of 30. That trunk-water was cold).
I almost gagged… like when you drink from the wrong glass of Coke, and instead of getting the cold fizzy stuff, you get the warm flat stuff. Holy crap, who knew water could taste so acrid and unpleasant. And to think, THAT is what we are drinking all the time and cooking with. No wonder people prefer Sodas to water, and have to spice the heck out of pastas and soups. That water was purely awful. Okay, thought to myself, perhaps it was the fact it sat in the trunk for two days… surely that had something to do with it. So I gave it a taste test when I got home. River water, good, water from home in bottle, ick. Water from tap, ick.
There are communities that have decided to take fluoride out of the water. Studies show it doesn’t do that much good, anyway. I say go for it. It can’t be good for the body. Then there’s chlorine… a deadly poison in large quantities. They add that to the water so biological nasty things don’t grow in the water tanks.
But here’s the trick – the same UV technology I carry strapped to my pack is used in swimming pools and hot tubs to clean the water as it recirculates through the pool system. The UV is also used to clean the air in some air conditioning systems. Put the light in a duct near the air return, and boom, airborne nastiness is dead.
So how hard would it really be to put a UV light system in every home? Right where the water comes in… They could add it to the water bill. Surely the cost of chemicals they wouldn’t have to add, could instead be spent on the initial installation? Of course, if the power goes out, now your water is untreated… and the bulb would have to be replaced after a time.
But think of the improvements to our bodies… UV is just LIGHT. If you aren’t looking at it, it doesn’t hurt you.