You come into the house, parched from working outside in your garden. Turning on the tap, you wait for the water to get cooler, and then fill a tall glass. Drinking it all down, you feel quenched and satiated. However, could that seemingly good-tasting, fine-smelling water be hiding toxic, unhealthy and environmentally unsafe ingredients?

The answer is a disturbing yes.

Most people are surprised to learn about all the impurities that regularly leach into our water supply. Even if you have a private well, you may be susceptible to unknowingly drinking water tainted with the following substances:

Pharmaceutical and over-the-counter medications – It’s not uncommon for people to flush their unused drugs down the toilet or send them flowing down the kitchen sink drain. Unfortunately, those pills, tablets and syrups wind up in our drinking water. While the amount of them can vary widely, the possibilities of unwittingly ingesting hormones, antidepressants and more is horrifying. It can be especially worrisome if infants, toddlers and children are being exposed to these items.

Chlorine and other chemicals – If your water comes from a public water supply, you can count on it having been filtered and strained through municipal treatment centers. The chemicals these treatment facilities commonly use include chlorine. Although chlorine does kill off bacteria, the chlorine itself isn’t necessarily gone from your tap water. This means you might be frequently drinking small doses of chlorine, which is poisonous to humans when taken in larger quantities.

Pesticides – Your neighbors down the street may be innocently creating a health hazard when they hire a professional to spray pesticides on their lawn and around their property. The same is probably true of the local golf course. The chemicals used in pesticides soak into the earth and into the water table. This means that even if you have a well, you could be exposed to pesticides being used to keep homes bug-free or grass greener.

Metals – Metallic particles can land in your drinking glass every time you turn on the faucet. Some of these metals may be naturally occurring in the soil, but others may be from inside your home via your pipes. If your pipes are older, they may contain lead. Even if they are newer, it’s commonplace for the metals to break down over time. Who wants to drink metals, which are poisonous to the body’s system?

Fluoride – Cities, boroughs and other types of municipalities often add fluoride to the public water supply to help support healthier teeth. Still, you may not appreciate this addition to your water. Some reports suggest that ingesting doses of fluoride may have a connection to cancer, especially in young boys.

So what do you do if you discover that your drinking water isn’t as pure as you thought?

First, don’t panic. You can take action starting today by getting your water tested. There are home tests, as well as experts who will come to your house to check your water quality. If you discover that you have a problem, you can install a product that will solve your issue, such as one that focuses on filtering out chlorine or removing fluoride.

Other ideas include boiling your water regularly. Though this will not ensure that all contaminants are removed – metals, for instance, cannot be boiled away – it will at least cut down on any disease-causing bacteria that may be present in the water.

We all do our best to make sure our water is safe for us, as well as our loved ones. By being cognizant of the realities of impurities in our water, we can take charge and lead an even healthier lifestyle.