What contaminants are lurking in your water?

“Is my water safe to drink?” –this is something we all wonder on occasion. We like to think our water is clean and free of contaminants, but what exactly is in tap water?

Sometimes we can taste the heavy metals in our tap water, a strong chlorine smell, or even feel the dirt and silt as we’re gargling the water down. Sometimes we don’t taste, smell or feel anything in the tap water, but this doesn’t always mean it’s safe to drink.

Contaminants or waterborne pollutants aren’t always detectable by our human senses, so waterborne illnesses sometimes are attributed to other external factors instead of the water source. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that water sources near agricultural or industrial plants may contain pollutants from these facilities like pesticides, fertilizers, lead, or other chemicals. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies potential health risks from contaminated water—such as increased cancer risk, reproductive issues, and impair organ function, to name a few.

In an article by the New York Times, scientists like Dr. Griffiths, the former chairman of the EPA’s Drinking Water Committee noted that there are thousands of chemicals, viruses and microbes that the EPA has not even begun to assess, which leaves a big question mark on whether or not our water is safe. There is a slew of contaminants that can be harmful to your health. Constantly ingesting these contaminants can lead to chronic illnesses, cancer, and other health issues. To better understand what’s in our water, let’s start with the most common contaminants in tap water.


Lead can contaminate water through lead service lines that connect the home to main water lines, or from other plumbing systems soldered with lead. Some drinking water fountains, lab faucets, sinks, hoses, and spigots are connected to lead-lined water tanks. Aging pipes and corrosion of household plumbing systems can lead to lead pollution in water. The CDC notes that lead is a toxic metal and can be harmful to human health even at low levels so the maximum contaminant level is set to zero. Despite this, some water goes unregulated; this is evident in the case of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

For those of you who don’t know, the residents of Flint have been served lead-polluted water for several years now. In fact, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) points out that “nearly 9,000 children were supplied lead-contaminated water for 18 months”—a severe detriment to the health of those children and many other residents of the area. Make no mistake—Flint is just one case where lead poisoning is widespread. Many cities across the country are faced with varying levels of lead in their water.


Water treatment facilities add chlorine as an antimicrobial agent. Chlorine deters the growth and presence of bio-contaminants like bacteria, viruses, and mold. Failure for municipalities to regulate sufficient amounts of chlorine in water mains can lead to waterborne illnesses and bacterial contamination. Flint faced a similar issue where levels of fecal coliform bacteria were discovered in city water. Adding more chlorine, however, is not the be-all-end-all. Chlorination of water can elevate levels of total trihalomethanes (TTHM), by-products of chlorination known to cause cancer. In a 2008 study, scientists determined that the presence of chlorinated disinfection by-products in drinking water was an issue of public health, posing health risks such as cancer in males and adverse developmental effect on infants.


Fluorides are compounds of the element fluorine with another substance. They can naturally occur in the ground, air, water and even plant and animal sources. Fluoridation of water began in the US in 1945 when scientists noticed that people living in areas with high fluoride levels had fewer cavities. That should be a good thing, right? Natural drinking water sources in the US also have fluoride in them, but some areas contain more fluoride than others. In fact, long-term exposure to high levels of fluoride can result in a condition known as skeletal fluorosis–fluoride build-up in the bones. Fluoride tends to collect in parts of the body with high levels of calcium resulting in joint stiffness, pain, and this brittleness can cause weak bones and fractures in older adults.


Mercury is a toxic element that can be found in waterways near refineries, factories, landfills, and cropland. High levels of mercury exposure can lead to kidney damage, brain damage, and damage to a developing fetus. Other health effects include effects on brain function, vision, hearing, or memory issues.


Cadmium naturally occurs in zinc, lead and copper ores, in coal and other fossil fuels, and in shales released during volcanic activity, which come in contact with water sources. However, cadmium can release into the water during the corrosions of galvanized pipes, discharged from metal refineries, and be a result of runoff from waste batteries and paints. When consumed long-term, it can cause kidney, liver, bone, and even blood damage.


Your body needs copper to stay healthy, but too much is harmful to your health. High levels of copper in your drinking water can not only leave an unfavorable metallic taste, but it can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal issues, and headaches.


Zinc is an essential nutrient for the body—of course in the right volumes. However, ingesting zinc in high levels of zinc can cause stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. You might experience the taste in tap water (it’s chalky in appearance). Contamination usually occurs from hazardous waste sites.


Benzene is released into water from atmospheric deposition, petrol spills and other petroleum products, and chemical plant effluents. Based on a study by the WHO, benzene has been detected in 50-60% of potable water samples from 30 treatment facilities across Canada. It can also be formed naturally through volcanoes and forest fires and is a natural part of cigarette smoke, crude oil, and gasoline. Benzene is also used as a solvent in dry cleaning, paints, printing, etc. Benzene enters water as discharge from industrial factories or leaching from landfills and gas storage tanks. Repeated exposure at low levels of benzene produces toxic levels in the blood and blood-forming tissues.


Sources of asbestos contamination in drinking water include the dissolution of asbestos-containing minerals and ores, industrial effluents, atmospheric pollution, and A/C pipes in water distribution systems. This substance was used in cement pipes to distribute water across the US. As the water pipes decay, the substance is released into the water. According to a water sanitation study by the WHO, most of the US population consumes drinking water containing asbestos below 1 MFL, and suggests that most raw and treated waters in the United Kingdom contain asbestos up to 1 MFL. Asbestos is a known carcinogenic contaminant and may lead to cancer in humans.


VOCs, also known as Volatile Organic Compounds include a slew of chemicals. Organic chemicals are widely used in various industries and products like paints, varnishes, wax, disinfecting, and even cosmetic products. Since there is such a wide variety of pollutants, health risks also vary greatly depending on levels of exposure and length of time exposed. Some effects include eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, liver, and kidney damage.


Radon is a known cancer-causing substance found in water from wells. Approximately half of the drinking water in the US comes from groundwater that is tapped by wells. The water moves through the soil and natural uranium releases radon to the water. As a result, water from wells usually contain more radon than surface water (lakes and streams).


Bio-contaminants include microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and mold. These contaminants can develop organically in water (they LOVE water). Moist areas become the perfect breeding ground for bio-contaminants, which can lead to illnesses and other waterborne diseases. Without antimicrobial agents like chlorine, water is left vulnerable to bio-contamination, which is why the treatment of water with chlorine is so widespread in certain areas.

Bio-contamination perhaps proposes a more serious risk for most of the world. In an article by the Guardian, Microbiologist Joan Rose experienced first-hand the tragedies that can come from bio-contamination in water. In Walkerton, Canada’s worst-ever water pollution incidents, two pathogens entered into the water supply and many of the small town’s residents fell ill and some even died. This was caused by runoff from local agriculture. Incidents like this stem from overall pollution and increased waste around the world. Most waste goes into water, which introduces different waterborne diseases, viruses, and pathogens which are making people sick at alarming rates.


The EPA lists pharmaceuticals as potentially risky contaminants in water. Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications get into lakes, rivers, and streams, whether they are flushed down the toilet or down sink drains. A Harvard Health Letter indicates that water quality experts and environmental advocates are becoming increasingly concerned with the effects of this on human health. Compounds such as estrogen have been linked to sexual changes in fish. The potential health risk for humans of pharmaceutical remnants in water is currently unknown and being monitored as a public health matter.

Our aging water infrastructure has health consequences.

In the U.S., water safety standards are currently based on decades-old studies. Despite all these efforts to regulate levels of contaminants, 27 million Americans are served by water systems violating health standards established by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Additional contaminants that emerge from the water mains and pipes in aging homes are never reported in municipal water quality reports. As a result, 19 million people become ill each year due to contaminated water. In fact, a 2012-2014 study found that nearly 21,000 municipalities across the U.S. issued Boil Water Advisories (BWA) for microbial contamination. On a global scale, over 3 million people in the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, and  Canada have received BWAs.

These issues contribute to an environmental crisis

Since the LARQ Bottle launched in 2018, more than 95,637,301 single-use plastic water bottles have been saved from entering the landfill. Unfortunately, during the same time nearly 1,000,000,000,000 (that’s a trillion with a capital T) single-use plastic bottles have been tossed away–likely due to inaccessibility to clean drinking water.


Creator Series: Ecologist-trained Nature Photographer Charles Post

Welcome back to the Creator Series! If you’re new here, we’re taking this opportunity to chat with our favorite nature photographers who really know adventure. The LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition is our brand-new colorway and we’re excited to share how these nature photographers capture their adventures with LARQ.

This week, we’re speaking with Charles Post, an ecologist-trained, Montana-based photojournalist.

Meet Charles, and his pup–Knute.

Charles Post and Samoyed dog Knute

How did you get started in photography? What most interested you about shooting landscapes and nature?

I grew up with cameras. As a kid and younger version of myself, surfing was my passion and so I always brought a camera along as I traveled the world in search of waves. I really got into photojournalism as a young field scientist when I started thinking more deeply about using a camera as a tool to tell a story. I loved the ability to capture the moments of being a scientist in the field that most never saw – the subtle moments of an immersive life. 

How would you describe your photography style? How has it changed over the years?

I would say my style has a heavy focus on environmental and conservation narratives. I try to bring the view into the moment, and really paint the picture of what’s unfolding. I think what’s unique about my approach is that I typically paid my images with some deep, nerdy writing, and so the entire collection of images may be coupled with the text to reveal the whole story as I saw it. 

Tell us about one of your favorite outdoor adventures. What made this trip memorable?

Lofoten Islands, Norway is my absolute favorite place on Earth. There’s surf, incredible fishing, and birdwatching, endless mountains to explore, great skiing, and a culture that suits me well. My great grandparents are Scandinavian, and so it feels a little bit extra like home. 

What’s in your camera bag right now?

I always have my Sony A7rii, a few good Zeiss lenses like a 70×200 f4 with a doubler, 35mm 2.8, 55mm 1.8 and an 85 mm 2.8. I also ALWAYS have my binoculars in there. Honestly, I tend to have those in my hand more than a camera. And of course, my LARQ bottle which keeps my hydrated while I shoot.

What do you like to do in your free time (when you’re not shooting)?

I love surfing, gardening, hunting, mountain biking, running, hanging with my puppy, Knute, and of course spending time with my wife, Rachel Pohl. 

Charles Post with dog Knute and LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition
Charles Post, Knute, and LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition in Black/Clay (32oz / 950ml)

How do you stay hydrated on the go? What do you love about LARQ?

I always have a bottle of water within reach. I don’t go anywhere without one. And so, having a LARQ bottle with the ability to purify water wherever I go is a major bonus. 

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.

I’m an ecologist with a passion for protecting our natural environments and wildlife but I also bowhunt, and take pride in being able to harvest an animal just a mile or two from my home, and feed my family for months and months. There’s nothing like having a hand in the food you eat. I also grow veggies, have an orchard, and well over a dozen berry bushes growing on our land of the currant, thimbleberry, Saskatoon, gooseberry and raspberry varieties.

What kind of causes or nonprofits do you support? Why are they important to you?

I support environmental NGOs like the Audubon Society as an extension of my love for birds and also support The Nature Project, a non-profit I co-founded of which I am the Vice President of the Board. TNP focuses on creating opportunities for underserved youth to experience nature while in the company of mentors, all of whom are professional athletes, and many of whom are NFL players. 

Charles Post with Knute and LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition

What do you like most about what you do?

I love the freedom and flexibility to do what compels me and keeps me fulfilled.

Name 3 of your favorite locations you’ve shot. Why were these your favorite?

  1. Lofoten, Norway
  2. New Zealand
  3. Zapata Ranch, Mosca, CO (

These are my favorite because of the wildlife and quality of the subjects. All three are just brimming with substance and dynamism thanks to the people and the wild settings.

What is your dream location to shoot? Why?

Gates of the Arctic National Park, Iceland, or Svalbard to see the wildlife like reindeer and musk ox, arctic fox, and seabirds. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Why?

Lofoten, Norway because there’s surf, incredible yet few people, abundant wildlife, huge mountains, and a rich culture that values nature and time outside. I’m truly hoping to / planning on moving there!

What are 5 things you can’t live without?

  • My wife, Rachel Pohl
  • My dog, Knute
  • My binoculars
  • Good hiking boots
  • and a good cap

Follow Charles along on Instagram @charles_post or check out his work at!



Creator Series: Through the lens of Mason Strehl

At LARQ, we’re all about adventure, and we’re getting out there this summer in a safe and distant manner. Escaping into nature can be the reset you need. But don’t just take it from us. This week, Washington state-based outdoorsman, photographer, activist, and writer–Mason Strehl gives us a look through his lens at adventures.

Mason’s work really captures the beauty of the places he’s traveled, and makes you feel like you are right there in it. He’s living the dream, on the road, traveling to gorgeous sites right in our own backyard.

Meet Mason StrehlMason Strehl, outdoor photographer

How would you describe yourself and what you do in 5 words or less?

I’m an outdoorsman, photographer, activist, and writer.

How did you get started in photography? What most interested you about shooting landscapes and nature?

I got started in photography about 8 years ago. I grew up in central Alaska, so I was always surrounded by incredible nature. I’ve always loved adventuring, so eventually, I found myself with a camera in hand documenting my trips. Backpacking, canoeing, skiing, where I started and it’s moved further into surfing, mountaineering, packrafting, and more. Shooting in the outdoor landscapes and being in nature have always held my heart, and it’s always what I go back to. 

How would you describe your photography style? How has it changed over the years?

I try not to define my style, I think it puts up unnecessary borders in the work you allow yourself to do. My editing style usually keeps consistent, but I try to vary my subjects and how I shoot as I learn. Photography is incredible in that there is always a new area to push into, whether it be studio work, portraits, extreme sports, etc. So yes, my style has changed over the years as I’ve expanded and taken on new projects in different realms. 

Tell us about one of your favorite outdoor adventures. What made this trip memorable?

One of my favorite outdoor adventures was my three months in Patagonia last spring. We stayed in hostels only about 10 nights the whole trip and spent the rest of the time trekking long trips by icefields, massive glaciers, mountains, beautiful rivers, and lots of wildlife. I think we ended up doing over 500 miles of walking in that time.

The weather down there made it interesting – massive wind storms would send winds that could knock you over, and rain made many days tough and cold. But the adventure was there, and a lot of new culture and experience. I think the most memorable and life-changing thing about that trip was just realizing how little you need to live happily. We had everything we needed for 3 months strapped to our backs and felt like we could do anything. 

mason strehl photographer with LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition
Shot by Mason Strehl // Featuring LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition in Black/Pine (950ml, 32oz)

What’s in your camera bag right now?

Gear usually ends up getting in the way of creativity, so I actually have very little in my camera bag. I shoot with a Canon 5D Mk IV and a 24-70 most of the time and my only other lens is a Canon 100-400. Aside from that, a bunch of batteries, snacks, and my LARQ water bottle for hydrating on the go. 

What do you like to do in your free time (when you’re not shooting)?

I like to read, write, design, roast coffee, and sit in the sun with a nice view. 

mason strehl with larq bottle movement terra edition in black/clay
Shot by Mason Strehl // Featuring LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition in Black/Clay (710ml, 24oz)

How do you stay hydrated on the go?

I’m usually terrible at hydrating. When I’m hiking I try to carry as little water as possible to save weight, but try to stop at every stream to drink and purify water. Since getting the LARQ, it’s allowed me to do this much easier – it’s a compact and light bottle that purifies quickly. 

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.

I helped direct a Netflix Documentary about Hip Hop music! It’s called Underdogs. 

What kind of causes or nonprofits do you support? Why are they important to you?

Love this question, I think we need more giving in this world. I support Leave No Trace, I’m carbon negative through a nonprofit called Cool Effect, I give regularly to the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club, and the Access Fund. Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer fund are great nonprofits supporting women’s rights. Recently, I’ve been focused on nonprofits helping with inequality and injustices in the black community and am supporting Colors of Change, NAACP, and the Minnesota Freedom Fund. For coronavirus relief, Direct Relief is my go-to – it gets PPE to doctors in need. I’ve also donated to Native American tribes that are especially deeply affected such as the Southern Utah Paiute tribe and the Navajo Nation. 

Lastly, my absolute favorite Nonprofit is the ACLU – they do a wide variety of issues and fight them legally, one of the most effective ways to bring change. They’re fighting cases of police brutality and discrimination, they fight for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, they fight for access to healthcare and voting rights. They do so much at the local and national level. 

If you’re looking to donate, take a look at some of these – they have low admin costs so most of your donation will go to fighting for the causes!

What do you like most about what you do?

I like the freedom. Most of my work is remote, so it allows me to travel and spend most of my time in nature. 

Name 3 of your favorite locations you’ve shot. Why were these your favorite?

Patagonia – Breathtaking scenery, rugged landscapes, and incredibly kind and fun people. 

Washington – So many trails and the rugged North Cascade mountains. So much to do, so little time. 

Alaska – My home will always hold a special place in my heart. One of the most beautiful places in the world.

What is your dream location to shoot? Why?

I don’t really have one. I guess I’m content to just keep exploring the places I love and seeing them in a new light. I’d love to go back to Patagonia, but just as happy in Washington. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Why?

Right where I’m at in Washington. With a little summer cabin in Alaska. That’s all I need. 

What are 5 things you can’t live without?

Water, food, sleep… haha! Just kidding. I love my books, my camera, nature, my 98 Tacoma, and my few good friends. 

Check out Mason’s work on Instagram @masonstrehl or at his website


Creator Series: Tim Landis

Welcome back to part 2 of the Creator Series where we chat with creators about their life, passions, and adventures. Today, Tim Landis, Pennsylvania-based travel and portrait photographer, father, and husband, tells us about his life through a lens.

Meet Tim

Tim Landis

How would you describe yourself and what you do in 5 words or less?

I love family, photos, adventure

How did you get started in photography? What most interested you about shooting landscapes and nature?

I first started by assisting my wife with weddings and then grew a love for landscapes and nature while having a job that allowed me to travel and see and take photos of landscapes. 

How would you describe your photography style? How has it changed over the years?

Just a little different. What I mean by that is I try to capture landscapes and angles and places that are not the norm of what everyone else captures. It feels like everything has already been done but my goal is to photograph it just a little different. 

I just feel as it has improved and I have honed in on my skills little by little.

Tell us about one of your favorite outdoor adventures. What made this trip memorable?

I would have to say it’s a toss-up between Turkey and Iceland. I’ve been to Turkey many times but this last time was best and I had always wanted to experience Iceland. What makes both of them memorable is that I was able to share those experiences with my wife and kids. To watch them go on an adventure was the greatest!

What’s in your camera bag right now?

I have a pretty standard setup. My Canon SLR and a 24-70mm lens and my 35mm lens, a bunch of cables and batteries, an IPad for editing, and my LARQ!

Tim Landis reading with LARQ Bottle Movement Terra Edition in White/Pebble

What do you like to do in your free time (when you’re not shooting)?

I’ve been really enjoying reading lately. I know that is so simple but it’s true.

How do you stay hydrated on the go? 

What I love most about LARQ bottles aside from how aesthetically pleasing they look, is that you don’t have to worry about your water source. You know you will always be drinking clean water. Honestly, in our fast-paced world, the last thing you want is to have something else you need to be worried about and concerned about. LARQ allows you to get water from anywhere. 

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people.

This is always a tough question to answer. I’m pretty laid back and what you see is what you get…. Hmmm maybe that I once fractured my kidney in baseball. 

What kind of causes or nonprofits do you support? Why are they important to you? 

I really love and support a couple humanitarian efforts that I have worked with in the past. One Child Matters, IJM, and Remember NHU. All are along the same where they are aiding the oppressed, the orphan and the widow throughout the world and preventing slavery and from the sex trade. All I believe are living out the gospel of Jesus Christ which I am a believer in. 

What do you like most about what you do?

I truly love adventures and meeting people from different cultures and lifestyles and trying new things.

Name 3 of your favorite locations you’ve shot. Why were these your favorite?

Turkey – I love the vast difference from urban and landscapes that are incomparable to many

Argentina – Argentina might have been the most eye appealing, especially Bariloche. I got to experience Argentina in a variety of ways.

Iceland – Well because …..Iceland

What is your dream location to shoot? Why?

I dream of going to Norway. I’ve seen so many peers go there and it just looks otherworldly. I’d like to take a crack at it. I also wouldn’t mind seeing more of Iceland.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Why?

I think I would live right where I am right now. I think we always have this thought the grass is greener somewhere else but I have learned to be content with the freedoms I have been given here in the US. I can always visit other places in the world 🙂 The US is a beautiful place too 😉

What are 5 things you can’t live without?

Well if it’s things and not people then here goes. Mostly in this order. I kind of have to say LARQ here right? 🙂 

  1. My Bible
  2. pizza
  3. camera / iPhone
  5. coffee

Take a peek at Tim’s work on Instagram or over on his website at