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Is Sydney Water Safe?

Immune, Dental | January 1, 2018 | Author: Naturopath


Is Sydney Water Safe?

Sydney prides itself on having safe drinking water. It is derived from natural sources, filtered and monitored for harmful contaminants such as certain pesticides and microbes including cryptosporidium. In many aspects Sydney water is actually very good. All water regulators strictly adhere to guidelines laid down by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). But is this good enough?

Despite the purity of water straight from our tap there are still concerns regarding chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals and other contaminants which are not tested for and may be problematic for our health.

What chemicals are tested?

Sydney water is only monitored for 70 chemicals, whilst there are over 300 chemicals that should be of concern. These include pharmaceutical medicines and pesticides which find their way into our water supply. Even after the water has been treated there are other contaminants which can affect the quality of the water. Some of these include lead, plastic and copper which can accumulate in the body and cause all sorts of health problems.

Another concern is that the chemicals being tested are only based on their short-term affect rather than the accumulation of an assortment of chemicals over a longer period. This can interfere with our bodies natural detoxification processes –making it unable to appropriately eliminate toxins from the body.

The problem with chlorine

Chlorine is added to the water as a natural disinfectant—helping to remove deadly diseases such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid. Although it has been considered a ‘safe’ additive it does have an impact on our health. A 2002 study found that drinking 5 glasses of chlorinated water each day increased the risk of miscarriage by 14%. It was also concluded that this may increase the incidence of stillbirth and birth defects. Other concerns with chlorine include bladder and colon cancers and triggering thyroid disease by interfering with the uptake of iodine essential for healthy thyroid function. Evidence also exists for chlorine increasing cholesterol levels, possibly by depleting the antioxidant Vitamin E.

If you suffer from digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome and gastritis, then chlorine could be to blame. Ingesting chlorine kills off healthy bacteria in the gut, resulting in dysbiosis and poor digestive function. Many people find that the chlorine in water irritates the skin and may result in eczema.


Fluoride has been added to Sydney water since the 60’s in an attempt to prevent dental caries.

The problem with fluoride is that it’s benefits are from direct application and not from ingestion. Unfortunately, a well-known side-effect of fluoride is damage to teeth and bones called fluorosis.

Dental fluorosis causes the teeth to have a mottled appearance. It is characterised by hypo mineralization of tooth enamel caused by ingesting excess fluoride during its formation.

Fluoride has also been strongly associated with cancer, arthritis, nerve damage and metabolic disease. 

Studies performed overseas have linked chlorinated water to lowered IQ. However, the link may not be relevant to Australians as our water is significantly less chlorinated compared to the amounts found in the studies.

How to filter tap water

There are many ways in which you can filter tap water—from buying a water jug or drink bottle to having one installed under the sink.

Carbon filters

Carbon filtersThese kinds of filters are the most popular choice due to their low cost and availability.They work by removing larger particles like sediment and silt from your water, resulting in improved taste and odour. They also remove pesticides, petrochemicals, lead, cryptosporidium, chlorine and its carcinogenic by-products. Unfortunately, carbon filters aren’t very efficient at removing fluoride and other inorganic contaminants. 
The benefit of carbon filters is that they are relatively inexpensive and can be used as a drink bottle, water jug or a unit can be installed under the sink or on the bench.

Ceramic filters

These filters are cheap, long-lasting and portable. They remove bacteria, chlorine, sediment and rust. However, they are not effective in removing heavy metals or pesticides and require regular maintenance to avoid bacteria overgrowth and the filter clogging. Some ceramic filters use an additional carbon filter which further assists in removing pesticides and petrochemicals.

Reverse osmosis

Effectively removes fluoride, pesticides, petrochemicals, chlorine and heavy metals.

Filtration involves a multi-stage system which dissolves inorganic solids such as salts and removes from water. This is accomplished by household water pressure pushing the tap water through a semipermeable membrane. On the downside these units are usually expensive to buy, install and maintain as they will need to be plumbed in and expend a considerable amount of diverted waste water. Reverse osmosis, because it removes beneficial minerals and most substances is often referred to as ‘dead’ water and is also slightly acidic.

Water ioniser

Water ionisers use electromagnetism to separate the minerals in tap water from the bicarbonate. During ionisation process, alkaline minerals are drawn towards negatively charged plates. The main benefit of this method of water purification is that the result is alkaline water. It is believed that this antioxidant-rich water combats free radical damage, reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, increases energy and improves digestion. It removes 99.9% of contaminants including chloride, fluoride, heavy metals, volatile organics and pharmaceutical compounds. Usually these products are very expensive but simpler models are more cost effective.

Even though Sydney water is safe to drink straight from the tap, there are still concerns regarding other harmful chemicals that aren’t monitored and removed. Fluoride and chlorine are added to the water but still pose risks for our health. Filtering tap water ensures we are making further improvements to the quality of our drinking water.

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Hwang BFMagnus PJaakkola JJ. Risk of specific birth defects in relation to chlorination and the amount of natural organic matter in the water supply. Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Aug 15;156(4):374-82


Sasada T, et al. Chlorinated Water Modulates the Development of Colorectal Tumours with Chromosomal Instability and Gut Microbiota in Apc-Deficient Mice. PLoS One. 2015 Jul 17;10(7):e0132435


Buzalaf MALevy SM. Fluoride intake of children: considerations for dental caries and dental fluorosis. Monogr Oral Sci. 2011;22:1-19





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