We assume that our drinking water is safe. However, the crisis in Flint, Michigan proved that this is not always always the case and to trust the authorities in charge of the water supply may be naive. Water EWG, Environmental Working Group, suggests that the amount of chemicals considered safe by the government is actually too high and recommends that we should always know what is in our water. Cities and municipalities should test water frequently and release those tests for the public to see. EWG has also conducted independent water testing in many areas across the country and it found that there are high levels of dangerous chemicals. Here are few of the bad guys.
Lead: Yes, lead! This metal can leach from lead pipes and plumbing fixtures, especially when the water flowing through them is corrosive. It can cause neurological and behavioral problems in children and adverse health effects in adults.
Atrazine: This is an endocrine-disrupting chemical and is one of the most commonly detected pesticides in U.S. waters. Studies show contamination is most common in drinking water across the Midwest and the South.
Pathogens: Bacteria, viruses, and parasites can find their way into water supplies that are inadequately treated to kill germs and cause illness. In 1993, a waterborne-disease outbreak in Milwaukee sickened more than 400,000 people.
Chlorine treatment by-products: There are chemicals used in drinking water’s disinfection process, such as trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, that may cause cancer and reproductive problems.
Arsenic: The EPA estimated in 2000 that nearly 36 million Americans drank water containing arsenic at or above 3 parts per billion—the level NRDC had urged be established as a drinking water standard. Although the EPA did update the standards it is still worth looking into arsenic levels in your water.
Nitrates: Nitrates can occur naturally in the soil, however it is the fertilizer and manure runoff from factory farms which flows into surface and ground water and ends up in our drinking water.
Radioactive contaminants: Radioactive material from the production of nuclear weapons, energy, and medicines can also get into drinking supplies through leaks or improper waste storage. Exposure can cause cancer or kidney failure.
Vinyl chloride: Used to make PVC plastic products, such as some pipes, this cancer-causing contaminant can leach from older PVC piping and has been found in the drinking water of a small number of communities across the country.
Perchlorate: This is a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel, explosives, and road flares and can interfere with thyroid hormone production. Perchlorate has been detected in the water in at least 26 states, yet there was no federal standard for its presence in drinking water until a lawsuit was filed against the EPA and then they set a standard in 2019.
Pharmaceuticals: Prescription drugs enter our water supply when people release traces in their urine or flush unused medication.
The EWG has a information on water filters that you can use to help minimize these chemicals so you can keep your family safe. www.ewg.org