WA­TER: HOT OR NOT by Bon­nie Halper

Athleisure - - Athleisure Beauty -

There’s no dis­put­ing it: wa­ter is hot. Walk into any cor­ner deli and you’ll not only find your pick of brands, but also your choice of sparkling or still and a se­lec­tion of fla­vors as well. But truth be told, wa­ter is not as hot as it used to be.

Not the wa­ter in which you shower, or with which you wash your dishes and cloth­ing. In fact, it’s not hot enough to kill most bac­te­ria.

The Dirt on What Hap­pened

Start­ing back in 1992, the Fed­eral govern­ment started pass­ing a num­ber of reg­u­la­tions in the name of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, with­out any fan­fare or pub­lic an­nounce­ments, and as a re­sult, your wa­ter is now 120 de­grees, or just slightly higher than the tem­per­a­ture at which yeast blooms. “But rais­ing the tem­per­a­ture above 120 de­grees is rec­om­mended by many health ex­perts to re­duce the risk of ex­po­sure to bac­te­ria,” says SF­Gate, “as long as cau­tion­ary mea­sures to avoid scald­ing are im­ple­mented, as well.”

Such as wear­ing the proper gloves when you’re hand-wash­ing dishes and be­ing care­ful not to take a swim in the dish­washer. In fact, don’t even think about it.

Ac­cord­ing to the Foun­da­tion for Eco­nomic Ed­u­ca­tion (FEE), wa­ter tem­per­a­tures need to be 140 de­grees in or­der for things to get clean. In fact, 120 is the low­est-pos­si­ble set­ting for clean­ing, but 170 de­grees gives you the sure thing.

The Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of San­i­tary En­gi­neer­ing rec­om­mends set­ting the tem­per­a­ture of home wa­ter heaters to 135 de­grees to 140 de­grees Fahren­heit, a range shown to de­stroy bac­te­ria. As for 120 de­grees, it’s the per­fect tem­per­a­ture for your tank to breed Le­gionella pneu­mophila, which is the bac­te­ria that causes Le­gion­naires’ Dis­ease.

Of course there are anti-bac­te­rial soaps and cleansers, but as a re­sult of their now fairly wide­spread use, many bac­te­ria and dis­eases have grown re­sis­tant to even our strong­est known an­tibi­otics.

And speak­ing of anti-bac­te­rial soaps, ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post, Tri­closan, found in an­tibac­te­rial soap and other prod­ucts, causes can­cer in mice. The type of can­cer that the mice in the study de­vel­oped, called hep­a­to­cel­lu­lar car­ci­noma, is the third-lead­ing cause of can­cer deaths world­wide, but rel­a­tively un­com­mon in the United States. Most cases of hep­a­to­cel­lu­lar car­ci­noma are caused by chronic hep­ati­tis B and C in­fec­tions.

If you have a home wa­ter heater, it is pos­si­ble to push the dial be­yond 120 de­grees (many ship set at 110 de­grees, just to be on the so-called safe side). Just takes a bit of ef­fort, and re­mem­ber that the wa­ter will be hot enough to scald you. Wear gloves when do­ing dishes – and en­joy the clean clothes! If you have no con­trol over the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture, you still have al­ter­na­tives, and truth be told, many peo­ple do a cold wa­ter wash in the wash­ing ma­chine any­way, where the wa­ter, again, needs to be 140 de­grees to kill germs: the fe­cal mat­ter in your dirty un­der­wear can carry bac­te­ria that can lead to hep­ati­tis A virus, norovirus, ro­tavirus, Sal­monella, and E. coli poi­son­ing. How to com­bat this? Bleach, of course, in­clud­ing bleach de­signed for non-white cloth­ing and cold-wa­ter washes, or good old-fash­ioned vine­gar in the liq­uid chlo­rine bleach dis­penser.

Speak­ing of vine­gar, af­ter cut­ting meat or poul­try, you might also want to wash down your cut­ting board and uten­sils with vine­gar as well, to kill the germs that your so-called hot wa­ter won’t. In fact, a sprayer bot­tle filled with ½ vine­gar and ½ wa­ter is a great cleanser and some­thing you might want to con­sider keep­ing on hand in your kitchen to rinse down coun­ters, et al.

The Pres­sure’s Off

It wasn’t sim­ply the wa­ter tem­per­a­ture that changed. It was the pres­sure as well, thanks to yet an­other govern­ment man­date that re­stricted the flow, in the name of sav­ing wa­ter: your shower now has a flow re­stric­tor, which is why you’re not en­joy­ing the same ex­pe­ri­ence as your grand­mother – or peo­ple in most other coun­tries around the world who have ac­cess to in­door plumb­ing. Even Se­in­feld’s Kramer no­ticed it.

But it’s not just the show­er­head that changed. It’s the wa­ter pres­sure, too, thanks to yet other EPA man­dates on state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments. While in most cases you can hack your show­er­head, not so with wa­ter pres­sure. There’s just less wa­ter flow­ing through the pipes, again, in the name of con­ser­va­tion.

Prior to 1994, show­ers dumped 12 gal­lons of wa­ter on us per minute, but due to Con­gres­sional leg­is­la­tion, they now only push out 2.5 gal­lons. Mean­ing that you’re tak­ing longer show­ers, and even then, you might not be get­ting all of the soap off your body or out of your hair.

While none of us has any­thing against wa­ter con­ser­va­tion, truth be told, ac­cord­ing to the FEE, “do­mes­tic wa­ter use, which in­cludes even the wa­ter you use on your lawn and flower beds, con­sti­tutes a mere 2% of the to­tal, so this un­re­lent­ing mis­ery spread by govern­ment reg­u­la­tions makes hardly a dent in the whole.”

Wa­ter, Clean and Sim­ple

The amount of wa­ter the hu­man body needs varies from 50% to 75%, de­pend­ing on age and gen­der, but one thing is cer­tain: we can’t live with­out the stuff. Just con­sider all of the wa­ter sources in your home, in the kitchen, the bath, the laun­dry. It’s great hav­ing modern and even con­nected ap­pli­ances that make our lives eas­ier. And they’d make our lives even bet­ter and help us to live even health­ier lives if bu­reau­crats would stay out of the wash cy­cle. But it all only con­firms what we al­ready know: that pol­i­tics can be a dirty busi­ness. And it may be time to turn up the heat.

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