The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization environmental watchdog, released a searchable database Thursday that shows almost 50,000 public water systems in the U.S. are contaminated with dozens of harmful chemicals.
Some of the chemicals found in your drinking water include – arsenic, hexavalent chromium, radiation, chloroform, perfluorooctanoic acid, Bromodichloromethane, Dichloroacetic acid, Barium, and Uranium; and that’s just scratching the surface of the 250-plus contaminants the group discovered.
EWG researchers spent the last two years collecting data from independent state agencies and the EPA for drinking water tests conducted from 2010 to 2015 by 48,712 water utilities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers tested the utilities for approximately 500 different contaminants, finding a whopping 267 contaminations of Americans’ water supplies.
EWG’s database is an interactive map where you can click on each state and review their test results.
In the results are listed contaminants found above health guidelines and above legal limits.
A subsequent report released with the database noted that contaminants detected in the nation’s tap water included:
“Legal is not safe,” argued Nneka Leiba, director of Healthy Living Science at the EWG. “In many cases, it’s far from safe.”
Overall, the organization found more than 250 million Americans are drinking water with “unsafe” levels of various contaminants.
Last year, the EWG found that two-thirds of Americans’ water is contaminated with the carcinogen that Erin Brockovich exposed – chemical chromium 6 or hexavalent chromium – affecting the tap water of more than 218 million Americans. That’s an additional 32 million Americans that are affected by other chemicals highlighted in this new study.
A 2008 study by the National Toxicology Program found that chromium-6 in drinking water caused cancer in rats and mice that were exposed to the chemical.
EWG is urging consumers to use a drinking water filter to reduce the level of chemical intake in the human body. They’re also pressing the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to update their rules on chemical contaminants found in drinking water that “can pose what scientists say are serious health risks – and still be legal.”
“Americans deserve the fullest picture possible of what’s in their tap water,” EWG President Ken Cook said. “But they won’t get that information from the government or, in many cases, from their utilities. The only place they’ll find that is EWG’s drinking water report.”
“Just because your tap water gets a passing grade from the government doesn’t always mean it’s safe,” Cook added. “It’s time to stop basing environmental regulations on political or economic compromises, and instead listen to what scientists say about the long-term effects of toxic chemicals and empower Americans to protect themselves from pollutants even as they demand the protective action they deserve from government.”
It’s been 20 years since the EPA last passed any new drinking water regulations. Regardless, it’s clear that municipalities have not been following them.
If you’re in the U.S. you can check your own water supply by visiting the Tap Water Database, which allows anyone in the U.S. to enter their zip code or local utility’s name and find out what’s lurking in their local water supply.
Written by Aaron Kesel
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