The Water We Drink

Accessibility seems to be a recurring topic in this course and I have been excited by our investigation of ways to bring science to the masses. From our investigations with our Foldscopes to our discussion today with Janzen and Winnie about improving bioliteracy in Costa Rica by enabling the every day person to play a role in classifying their environment, I believe that the little things like this will have big impacts later on as we grapple with the need to improve our relationship with the planet. One topic that deserves a lot of attention is availability of drinking water especially since some estimates predict that 2/3 of the world will be water insecure by 2025 which is not far away at all.

Moving on to the topic of my investigation, I wanted to look at the tap water in my apartment to understand to what extent the water I drink on a daily basis is clean or not. Specifically for me, I’m from NYC which is widely regarded as having the best tap water in the world so I’m a bit hesitant about drinking water from other places even if it’s something as simple as the tap water from a few miles outside of the city in New Jersey. It’s not that I expect there to be anything ridiculous in there and I know that the water I’m drinking is much more purified and safe than the water that people are drinking in areas where water is a limiting resource but I thought it would be an interesting source of study.

Here we have some of the images that I obtained from analyzing some drops of water from my kitchen source which is the primary source from where I normally get my water. As you can see, the area was pretty clear and I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of bugs crawling around which was more my own fear than any presented representation of what my kitchen sink water actually looks like. There were a few parts in there that looked like skin cells which wasn’t too surprising because I transferred the water from my sink to the foldoscope using my finger so there could have been some shedding there. Additionally, I also saw some slightly moving shapes that looked like bacteria based on the Foldoscope guide but it was way less than I was expecting. All in all, the water I’m drinking from the tap is much cleaner than I expected and this experiment has made me more comfortable with drinking from my kitchen sick. It could be interesting to look at different tap water from different states to see if all of the water is equally as clean.

This work was done in accordance with the guidelines of Professor Pringle’s EEB 321 classroom investigation.

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