Saturday, October 26, 2019

Hormones in our water supply and should we be worried

Hi Chen Ko

I stumbled upon your blog while trying to find out more information about Singapore's water supply.

Could you let me know about your views for the need of a water filter/purifier to remove hormones from our water supply?

Is there a need for this given that we recycle our water using NEWater and there might be some hormones in the water?

Many thanks in advance for your time!

P/S - appreciate if you could reply via email.

Best regards

Hi C,

A few issues to consider before making a decision about getting a water filter.

  1. In recent years, many chemicals have come to the forefront of drinking water quality – pesticides, pharmaceuticals and of course, hormones. Some of pesticides and pharmaceuticals actually have hormonal properties.

  2. It is true that wastewater treatment does not remove them effectively so they end up in our water sources e.g. rivers, lakes, reservoirs.

  3. Same with water treatment – they are not effectively removed either so they end up in our tap water.

  4. Much controversy still surrounds how safe they actually are in our water. Regardless, their concentrations are pretty low in tap water. The question is everyone’s mind is: are they safe as such low concentrations? Unfortunately, there is usually no conclusive answer.

  5. Is it possible to remove them from your tap water? Technically yes. If you invest in an RO (reverse osmosis) system with both pre and post carbon filters, that should work. As for other filters, it is hard to say how effective they are against such chemicals. Naturally, no water filter is certified to remove them due to point 4 above. I mean – we can’t even decide on a safe level for them so how low a level should they be removed to?

  6. Finally, if you are really worried about consuming them and want peace of mind, do get an RO system as mentioned above.
 Notice that I did not talk about the adverse effects of consuming hormones, pesticides, pharmaceuticals. Feel free to search them up on internet. There are some interesting anecdotes for reading and pondering.

Hormonal pills. Not everything is used up in the body. Some unused chemicals are excreted in the urine and faeces.

A full blown reverse osmosis system with pre and post carbon filters (and a few other supplementary filters)

Friday, October 25, 2019

Mineral deposits clogging up piping in northern part of Singapore

Hi Chen Ko,

I stumble upon your blog while looking for information on hard water in Singapore.
Not sure if you will be able to shed some light on what we have encounter.

Here is my story..
We moved to northern part of Singapore 3 years ago.
Within 6 months, we start to experience shower drainage clog.
Brought the plumber and got it clear.
And, we were careful to clear the hair and dirt so it will not flow down the drain.

But the problem came back repeatly.
And finally, we got to know what really cause it to clog is the the mineral deposits.
The last time the plumber came the flakes of those chalk like deposits surface.

We notice the main pipe drainage too had the limestone thing forming on the surface of it.
This makes me concern about our drinking water. 
We do not use any filter at present.

I don’t understand about this hard water thing.
I lived in the northeast area for decades and have never had this kind of issue.

Appreciate if you can help us to understand more on this.

Thank you.


Hi CH,

This is very strange as SG tap water is supposed to be 'soft', meaning that it should contain a low level of hardness. For those new to hardness, it refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium salts in the water. (Though other metals can also cause hardness, these 2 are  usually the main culprits.) And I can't imagine any other sources of hardness in the distribution network.

For those folks using alkaline water, it does indeed contain elevated levels of hardness. But they are suppose drink that stuff and not pour it down the drain. CH here mentioned not having a water filter but do you have alkaline water at home?

A couple of suggestions:
  1. Get a DIY kit to measure the hardness level in your tap water. The level should not go above 75mg/L calcium carbonate.
  2. Then again the mineral deposits may not be due to hardness. Scrap some off and send them for chemical analysis. However, this may not be cheap so try the above DIY test first.
In other countries e.g. USA, hard water is common in some communities and households are expected to install a water softener (not the laundry detergent kind) to manage this problem. 

Do let us know the outcome and good luck!

Hard water deposits in sink

Hard water deposits around faucet
An extensive water softener system for the whole house

Floor cleaner odour in tap water in Tampines

Dear Mr Ko

Thank you for providing access to my subscription request .

I live in Tampines in a HDB apartment. Past 3-4 weeks the water in the kitchen was smelling like soap/perfume and taste is also soapy/chemical.

I complained to the town council and they sent a maintenance person to flush  the inlet pipe to the apartment but that hasn’t helped . The water in the bathrooms are fine - no odour or weird taste.

The partition under the kitchen sink had a strong odour which smells similar to the one in the water; in my assessment it seems to come from the floor cleaner AJAX that we are storing under the sink. That is a new 3 litre can bought recently and this water taste changed after that only . We haven’t yet started to use it . After I suspected this may be the source, i removed it and all other items stored under the sink compartment. The odour in the compartment gone now after leaving the compartment open for 10 days .  But the water still seems to smell and taste weird .

Logically also I am unable to comprehend how the odour or contents can get into the water pipe if the source is from the Ajax plastic can.

So how do I test the water quality if it is safe to consume ?

Please do help if there are any DIY water quality testing kits and it’s reliability. If not what can I do to get this tested ?

Thank you for your help .


Dear B,

Since PUB is providing the water to your house, I suggest that you call them up. They have the resources to test your water for its safety. However, do not expect them to share the results with you. More likely, they will simply tell you whether the water is safe or not but I suppose that is what you want to know.

Regardless of whether you contact PUB, you should trying airing your under-sink partition now and leave it open. In the event that the water is safe and the taste/odour issues persist, your option probably falls either on replacing the piping under the sink or getting a water filter with a good activated carbon element to remove the taste/odour.

Good luck

A ubiquitous floor cleaner